14 June 2012

Trip Report: FZ1OA Rally, Ride Day 1

8 June 2012:  Little River RD, again?

The last two years (my only two years) I've spent the weekend riding with whoever I rode up with.  This year I made myself a promise that I'd ride with the largest group I could find and try to get to know more people.  That meant I had no idea where I wanted to ride only that I wanted to ride.  We decided to meet at eflyguy's cabin at 7 the night before at the fire pit.  There were about 5 or 6 guys around at the time and the plan was to have a good ride and be back kind of early.

As usual, Cruzman beat me up and was about and moving before I could even accept that I was awake.  Still I managed to get ready and we were basically in time to meet at efly's cabin.  I don't think efly was one of the 5 or 6 guys around the fire because he looked fairly surprised when we all showed up!  He was the man with the plan, at least the only one to say he had a plan, so he was the one to follow.

We were KSU and roaring down Hwy 28 around 7:15.  It's the part known as the "skullcracker run".  I don't know where they come up with those nick names!  Along with eflyguy and me, there was Fastnfurious, 82Packer, Cruzman, hokipokie, and jpgrfan (you can find out about them on the FZ1OA forum by following the link in my favorites).  We got stuck behind a car and Fastnfurious decided it was enough before letting his full Muzzy loose and roared past the three (or four) bikes in front and the car.  I didn't see him again until we got to the intersection of Hwy 28 and US 129!  I heard him for a while though.

From there it was up the Tail of the Dragon to the Foothills Parkway where we paused long enough for efly to get a picture.  This time Fastnfurious didn't take off alone; hokipokie went with him.  As we were crossing the Parkway I realized that it'd be a while before it warmed up any and I was grateful that I'd remembered to bring my fleece pullover since I'd left anything else that was cold weather related at home.
Photo courtesy eflyguy
Photo courtesy eflyguy

We all got back together for the run into Townsend where we stopped and gassed up.  Then it was into the Great Smokies park and on to Little River RD.  I was convinced we'd be mired behind traffic along the scenic, very tight, and very technical two lane road but we weren't.  At least not completely mired.

Near Gatlinburg, TN, Little River RD gives way to Hwy 441/Newfound Rd.  There was only one spot of construction on it this year that forced us to stop while the other side of traffic was let though.  It gave us a break and the chance to drink water and talk for a bit right there in the road way.  efly warned us the night before that he wanted to stop to take pics along the way.   I wasn't all that disappointed because I'd often wanted to stop to take pics.
Photo courtesy eflyguy

Not long after they let us through, Morton Overlook appeared so we pulled in to take pics.
The view from Morton Overlook

Using my zoom to get a clear pic of that road

The group for the day
Photo courtesy eflyguy
Photo courtesy eflyguy
Me and Cruzman
A little over half a mile later we pulled into Newfound Gap scenic area before continuing on towards Cherokee and the Blue Ridge Parkway.  The whole time I was wracking my brain trying to remember the 74 efly mentioned.  It wasn't until we got there that I realized he meant the Great Smokies Highway!  Darn, the ride was over.  Next lunch at Caffe Rel in Franklin, NC.

Photo courtesy eflyguy
Lunch was pretty good even though they wouldn't let us push our tables together, "We don't do that at Caffe REL."  Someone said they heard the hostess call out there were a "gang of bikers" outside.  That probably explain why the sat us next to the bathroom and gave us the rudest waitresses they could find. That's not going to stop me from going back though, next year I'll show up with a bigger "gang"!

Track from the day of riding
After lunch we took 28 south back to Fontana where we said our good byes.  Cruzman and I were looking for iluvmyfz1 who was supposed to arrive that morning.  He hadn't heard from him while we were in an area to get cell service and I think he was getting worried.  He went to see if they'd checked in yet while I went and got refreshments for the evening at the fire pit.

I had another issue.  By the time we got back to Fontana, my steering had loosened again.  I suspected it was the bearings seating but it didn't stop me from getting annoyed.  The problem is supposed to be fixt.  I've spent every moment since I got the bike back thinking I was hearing something or feeling looser steering.  Before then it was mostly my imagination but to have it actually happen was maddening.

I put the bike on the center stand and started to move the front end just to be sure I wasn't losing my mind.  I couldn't help thinking the only way I wouldn't feel anything is if I had the steering stem and bearings done over.  Cruzman told me I wasn't doing it right before showing me what right was.  Either way, the steering was moving.  Not as much as before I took it back but moving none the less.

We went back to the campground and asked Fastnfurious if we could use his tools.  I should say if Cruzman could use his tools--I was too angry to do anything but fuss and cuss!  MrsFastnfurious and Sloth calmed me down while the boys set about finding a solution for my problem.  Them and the cold Miller Genuine Draft in drank.

By the time I finished my MGD, Cruzman told me he'd done his best and it was better but not completely fixt.  He also said he knew how to fix it and Fastnfurious agreed.  Somehow just hearing that made me feel better.  After that we went to our site to relax and figure out the best spot to wait for ilfuvmyfz1 to show up.

It took us a while to decide that the best thing to do was to wait at the Deals Gap Resort.  I was very careful about the ride up, concentrating on my steering to see how it felt and responded.  It felt pretty good but remained in the back of my mind, likely affecting the way I was riding.  In fact, there's no telling how long that has been affecting the way I've been riding.

We loitered at the DGR for a bit before deciding to go to Robbinsville for gas then head back to the fire pit.  For once, I stopped to get a picture of the water release at the Cheoha Dam.

It was on this ride to the gas station and back that I began to feel my confidence building in the front end mod.  Up until then, with all the troubles I'd been having, I was beginning to think the only solution was going back to stock no matter how much I loved the way he looked with the USD forks.  On the way back, I thought it felt like it was getting tighter and not looser because I couldn't feel it move every time I stabbed the front brakes like I did earlier in the day.  Was this the light at the end of the tunnel?

We stopped at the camp ground long enough for me to change into a pair of jeans.  I'd grown tired of pulling my riding pants up all day!  Then went straight to the fire pit.

iluvmyfz1 finally showed up well after dark.  Probably about the same time we did the night before, much to Cruzman and my's relief.  We socialized for a bit more then returned to the campsite so we could get rest for tomorrows ride, again to be led by eflyguy.

Being at the rally this year felt like coming home to see old friends.  Just hanging out at the fire pit and listening to the guys talk crap and maybe talking a little myself was so much fun!

Thanks for reading,
patrice, theWolfTamer

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