13 March 2012

Ride Report: The Franklin Loop

3 Mar 2012:  Are those snow flurries?

I didn't do a real ride in February.  In fact, I didn't do much last month.  I did ride the bike to look at houses but that's about it.  The weather was part of it, my lupie mind the other.  I just didn't feel like riding.  I couldn't stop thinking about my bikes though and have mental plans for both of them.  February was pretty much a wash as far as getting a "real" ride in for the month, so Cruzman and I planned to ride together the first weekend in March.

I couldn't find my copy of the Motorcycle rides book one, so I was glancing through book 2 to see what was close by.  Book 1 is full of close rides and there were some in the western part of the state that I was thinking of exploring but without the darned book, I settled for something good from the book I could find.

I recommended The Franklin Loop and Cruzman agreed.  With the main part of the route decided, I just needed to figure out a way to get there and back that would be interesting too.  Another hour in the mapping software and I had a route that I just needed to verify that all the roads were paved.  In the process, I found a great site that has many of the unpaved North GA roads on a google map where I discovered I needed to alter my route a little bit.

In my quest for riding new roads, I'll pick the twistiest line near where we are.  This time I saw they were un-paved and took them off the route before we got a mile down the road, not that Cruzman minds but he said something about meeting someone and I didn't know if they'd be with us all day or not.  Anyway, that twisted line has me thinking I should ruggedize my VX and go explore some of those roads.  (It's cheaper for me to do that than to get a new bike).

I emailed my final version of the ride then got all of my electronics charging and checked the bike so I'd be ready for the next morning.  I put air in the tires so all I needed to do was stop by the gas station on my way to meet Cruzman and the new guy.

The next morning, I was leaving the house with plenty of time to get gas and be on time to the meeting spot for once.  Mostly due to the dawgs being more interested in the treats in my pockets that running off and not coming back when I wanted them.

I'd completely forgotten about riding to see the house early last month and putting the bike up without getting gas.  I knew that I needed to go to the closest gas station but I thought I had at least 10 miles to do it.  I wasn't too far off.  About a mile and a half after I passed the really expensive gas stations, I ran out of gas for the first time ever on the FZ1.  There goes getting to the meeting spot on time!  I sent a text to Cruzman so he'd know why I was late this time.

Since it was early on Sunday there wasn't much traffic and I was only about a half mile from the gas station.  I was going to have to push the bike.  Much easier said than done.  There were inclines that I hardly noticed when riding that had me huffing and puffing and stopping every so often to wave at passing cars to see if I could get a little help.

No one was stopping.  Push, push, try to ride down a not steep enough incline, push, rest.  Wave.  Curse.  Push, push, rest, rest, wave.  Curse.  How can people not stop?  Push push, wave.  Hey, they're stopping!  Thank God.  I got a ride to the gas station which seemed to be much farther away than the 1/2 mile the gps said.  The guy had a gas can and I was able to get nearly 2 gals of go juice to get me back to the station so I could fill the rest of the way up.

After the gas tank was full, I sent a second text to Cruzman to let him know I was finally on the way after about a 30 minute delay.  I could imagine him laughing when he read it because on our last ride I was teasing him about his gas gauge being inaccurate after he installed his multigauge.  Uh, not a good way to start a morning.  I don't suggest it one bit.

I arrived at the meet spot about the same time Cruzman was calling to find out why I was so late.  I guess the texts weren't necessary.  Fortunately he was kind enough to buy me a bottle of water since I hadn't taken the time to do it when I was getting gas.  Then I met iluvmyfz1 who informed me that Cruzman had laughed loudly when he finally read my texts and gave me a big hug.  I needed it!  Cruzman was still laughing when I finally saw him but he offered me a hug with my water so he was forgiven.
Baby, Stella, and Xena
Cruzman and iluvmyfz1 had some business to conclude before we got started.  It didn't take long before we were heading to Rider's Hill taking the scenic Hwy 9.  It was a pretty much uneventful ride up except for the gusts of wind that moved us around a little bit.

iluvmyfz1 is a really nice guy, from what I could tell during the hour or so we spent at Rider's Hill drooling over bikes and stuff.  He had some family obligations so he wouldn't be able to hang with us for the rest of our ride.  He only had about hour or so more before he needed to head home.  We left Rider's Hill heading towards Helen and Hwy 17, which is creeping up my list of favorite roads.
Xena by herself.  That custom paint is awesome!
The wind was still a bit of a factor that added to the normal challenge of mountain riding as we wound through some different roads making our way towards Helen.  Then for some reason, the GPS stopped talking to me and I missed a turn but noticed it in time to turn around before we were too far off course.  Later, when we got to Alt 75, Cruzman suggested we stop at Richard Russell to see if iluvmyfz1 wanted to take that back to Blood Mountain and go home that way.  But when we did, he said he'd just go through Helen.

Having to stop to ask made me realize what a great convenience having the comms were.  Cruzman and I have started to just talk going down the road with the addition of the BT headsets.  After iluvmyfz1 split off from us, we talked about a little bit of everything as we rode up Hwy 17 towards Hiawassee.  He also reminded me that we'd (he'd) forgotten to get a group photo of the three of us before we left Rider's Hill.

But once we got on Hwy 64, all I could do was complain about the cold and the wind.  I was miserable!  I wanted to stop at the overlooks but was too cold to get off of the bike to take pics.  Then I saw snow flurries!  Snow flurries?  I don't remember that in the forecast.  I was ready for the gusts and the 50 degree temps but snow flurries?  Cruzman was happy to see them and even made up a song about us riding in the Flurries that thankfully I don't remember.

He was also excited when he realized where we were and anxious to ride Wayah Rd while I was seriously thinking about going home.  I just didn't want to be cold anymore.  I have lost some weight so my heated jacket liner isn't as snug as it used to be.  I could feel the cold everywhere!  The thing is, we've ridden in colder and I didn't complain one bit then.  But then it wasn't gusting wind and flurrying snow.  Then I hadn't ran out of gas earlier in the morning.

We'd just gotten to the "Franklin Loop" part of our ride and I was already thinking of alternatives.  If it was cold here, it'd be even colder on the rest of the loop.  Good thing for the comms because Cruzman talked me down.  It was nearly noon-ish so we decided to continue into Franklin rather than taking the left onto Wayah Rd.

I have never been so happy to see a Wendy's in my life!  All I wanted was a big bowl of chili hoping it would warm me up and improve my mood.  Cruzman was doing a great job at ignoring my moodiness.  Combine that with the chili and after Wendy's I was ready for Wayah Rd.  I'd also taken the time to plot another way home that didn't include Hwy 19 or 28 during lunch.

Wayah Rd was much as I'd expected except the tar snakes were too cold to be slippery.  As we neared Wayah Bald, the snow flurries intensified but none of it was sticking.  It was really dirty in spots so we were very careful going around the many twists and curves.  We even had cars lined up behind us as we avoided gravel and other debris.

A little past Nantahala Lake, we took Junluska Rd into Andrews then 129 over to Marble and 141 back towards Georgia.  I guess I should call this ride "The Andrews Loop" instead.  We stopped at Big D's parking lot to stretch and rest a little bit.  Riding in the cold is more tiring than I'd like to admit.
Giving Stella and Baby a rest in Marble, NC
Stella and Baby looking back where we came
Cruzman enjoying the snow flurries
me pretending to enjoy the flurries
Despite all the research not to have dirt roads on this ride I managed to still have about a mile or so on this part of the route.  The sad part is we didn't end up where I thought we would!  I'd put my waypoint in the wrong spot or misestimated the distance to where I wanted to be.  I was glad I'd resisted the urge to clean the wheels and header before this ride because they just got dirtier.

We made one more stop at the 4-way on Long Branch RD before taking 400 homeward.  It was a 326 mile day.  Despite the cold and the damned snow flurries I still had fun.  I guess that old saying is true:  Any day on two wheels is a good day.
Testing the zoom on my new camera
Thanks for reading,
patrice, theWolfTamer

Ride track for the day

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