23 June 2012

Trip Report: FZ1OA Rally Ride Day 2 and Going Home

9 June 2012:  Ride Day 2

The plan: meet at the Fontana Gas Station at 9.  We weren't even sure where we were going.  With a little extra time in the morning Cruzman left me at camp to ride the Dragon I went to the Lodge for a cup of coffee and ran into iluvmyfz1.  It was a good thing too because he arrived after dark the night before and wasn't sure where the gas station was.
It's not that hard to find.  I have all the confidence in the world he would've stumbled on it eventually.

We had to wait a bit for Cruzman to join us.  Once he did and all the Gen2 FZ1s gassed up, we were off.  The plan was to take Hwy 28 in to Cashiers, eat BBQ then figure out how we'd get back to the resort.  Sounded good last night and still seemed solid by the light of the morning.

Cars go up to the mountains, too.  I can't remember what kind the first two are but the last one is a Corvette.

After getting gas (and air for my leaky tire) and discussing the plan, we were off.  eflyguy was leading the ride again.  82Packer, FastnFurious (FnF), LocoFZ1, two other guys who's screen names (or real ones) I can't remember, me, iluvmyfz1, and Cruzman joined on the ride.  Not long after getting on Hwy 28, we got stuck behind a RV so we pulled over for some reason or other.

Once back on Hwy 28, I realized I was feeling friskier than usual in the morning and being in the back of the pack wasn't the best place for me.  My steering felt better than it had all weekend thanks to FnF and Cruzman and this was the right kind of road to test it out on so I passed the guy in front of me and managed to keep up with the guys in front.

My favorite part of Hwy 28 South was ahead and I knew FnF and 82Packer would probably take off and leave us for a more "sporting" pace.  I felt sporty, but not that sporty.  

iluvmyfz1 and mrsiluvmyfz1.  Photo Courtesy Cruzman
When we got there, I was the 4th bike in line.  I was appreciating the pace that was being set by efly and really wished my video cams were working.

LocoFZ1 was right in front of me with is integrated tail light.  Since we'd never ridden together, I was very conscious of leaving the proper amount of space but after awhile I found myself at my usual following distance.  I doubt it un-nerved him but after a bit, he waved me by.  Later I learned he was worried about braking before the curves so I'd know he was braking.  Not something I ever think about unless I know the person following is a newbie and I've dialed the pace back some.

I would check my mirrors periodically for the headlights of the bike behind since these were roads I ride a lot and many of our group were new to the area.  iluvmyfz1 and Cruzman were back a bit so I lost sight of them early on but once we reached the area that is a little more populated, I kept checking for them in my mirrors.  We were so far ahead that the comms didn't work.  I assumed we'd pull over at the BP that's just before you enter Franklin so we could all regroup but when we didn't and I couldn't reach Cruzman or see them, I turned around.  No sooner than I did, did they crest the hill.  I guess I worried for no reason.

We took a break in Franklin at the Hot Spot
Photo Courtesy 82Packer
where efly let every one know we were progressing to the "scenic" portion of today's ride and that he planned to pull over to take pics.

Leaving there, we got a little separated in town.  82Packer and I had a little fun catching up to the rest of the group.  My gps must have been malfunctioning because it read "Top Speed:  115mph" for the rest of the day.  I never went that fast.

I was surprised to see that the Dry Falls area was closed and guessed that must have been the construction "they" were talking about on 28 South because that was the only sign of it.  Bridal Veil Falls was still open though.

I had to find a spot where my more upright bike could park.

Photo Courtesy eflyguy
Photo Courtesy 82Packer
It's not far from Bridal Veil Falls to where the lunch spot.  On the way, we got to pass some of the best views in the area.

Did I mention my new camera has an awesome zoom?

If you go there at the right time of the year (the fall, I think) you can see a "sleeping bear" shadow.

mrsiluvmyfz1 and me
From there, it was BBQ time!

I've passed the place often enough and heard that they had some of the best BBQ in the southeast.  If they say so.  Maybe because I'd been having teeth problems all week but to me it was nothing spectacular.

During lunch, we decided we'd ride 281 over to 107 and once there we'd decide if we would take a straight shot back to the resort or find some more back roads.  I suggested 281 because I remembered how much fun Cruzman and I had on it last year and wanted to ride it again.  What I didn't count on was the amount of gravel on the road.  Last year it'd been clean, even after the morning rain shower.  This year?  Not so much.  Every other curve had gravel in the middle of it making a technical road even more challenging.  We survived!

Photo Courtesy 82Packer
After a final potty break, we decided we'd head straight back to the village.  I'd forgotten how far getting back to Fontana seems when you take Hwy 74.  It doesn't matter if it's 5 or 50 miles, it seems like a long way!  It was a welcomed site to see eflyguy pull into the BP where we always stop when in that area.  I needed to stretch my legs a bit.

After the Gen2s got gas (for the third time to my one), they took off leaving Cruzman and I at the gas station to discuss our evening plans.  iluvmyfz1 decided to leave the group when we got on 74 and they passed us while we were still sitting at the gas station.  After a good long break, Cruzman and I headed back to Fontana to try to catch up with iluvmyfz1 to see if he wanted to ride the Tail of the Dragon later.

Right after making the turn at the Dam, Hwy 28 has some really nice curves for a few miles.  They are switchbacks that climb up the mountain.  Some where in the second curve I realized Baby was handling that section much better than he ever had before.  The new suspension work was doing exactly what it was supposed to.  Before I knew it, the section was over and when I looked back, Cruzman was still back in the twisty bits.  With only a mile or so left to the resort, I sat up and waited for a few seconds so he could catch up.  That's probably the first time in a very long time that I've left him on a twisty section before.  Baby felt rock steady in every curve, whether I was on the gas or not.  I finally understood what efly meant when he says, "The bike feels like it's on rails."  Now mine does and I was itching to ride the Dragon again.

We found iluvmyfz1 and his wife at their cottage and chatted a while before going to ride the Dragon.  He insisted mrsiluvmyfz1 come along despite her saying he would ride the Dragon by himself.  Since I knew he didn't know the road, I was very careful when I was in the lead to hit the brakes to slow down so he'd know when the curves were coming.  That was very hard to do this time because riding that section of 28 was still fresh in my mind.

I kept wanting to push it a bit more but didn't because I didn't want to do something stupid while leading others.  Cruzman decided I would lead us up the Dragon as well, once we dropped mrsiluvmyfz1 off at the store.  That way he could give iluvmyfz1 any tips or suggestions he may need once we got to the overlook or bridge.

Since it was after 5, the Saturday traffic on the Dragon was bound to be light because most everyone else would be heading home.  Once we got to the Deals Gap store, we saw the parking lot was pretty empty compared to earlier in the day and they were getting ready for the Fiddies Races.  We went into the store because I was looking for some new pink dragons.  The place was full and the line was long so I looked around some more.  The red Frogg Toggs caught my eye and made me remember a conversation at lunch about rain gear.  Unfortunately the restaurant was closed for some private party but mrsiluvmyfz1 found a good spot on the porch to wait while we took her husband to pop his dragon cherry.

Despite our best efforts, we still got stuck behind three cruisers.  The first one pulled over as soon as he saw the next pull out (out pull) spot.  The other two proved to be a bit more troublesome.  I had to tail gate the second one before he finally pulled over.  The first one was a pure ass about it.  He would speed up in the straights and go slow in curves.  This meant that if I wanted to pass him in the straights, I'd have to get up to a speed that I wasn't comfortable with just to pass him then slam on the brakes to make the curve not knowing what would be coming out of that curve to greet me.

Instead I waited until we got to an area where I could see the road ahead through the curve we were approaching, the straightaway that followed, and partially what was coming out of the curve behind that.  It was as clear as I'd hoped it'd be so I passed him in the curve with my exhaust screaming.  Unfortunately I had to slow down to wait for iluvmyfz1 and Cruzman to get by.

Photo Courtesy Killboy.  You can tell by my shield being up that we weren't even riding the speed limit.
iluvmyfz1 inaugural dragon ride.  Photo Courtesy Killboy
If you click on the link, you can see the cruiser in the background.  Now, imagine him honking his horn.  He did that through the next few curves until I realized both guys were behind me and I resumed riding the speed limit.  Things would have been much simpler if he'd just followed directions.
Photo Courtesy TournR1
eflyguy was waiting and joined us when we passed him.  At the last moment, I decided to ride all the way to the bridge instead of stopping at the overlook since the cruisers had kind of tainted the ride.  Once there, iluvmyfz1 was thrilled!  He'd just conquered the Dragon and was hooked--like all of us.

Then we went back to the overlook to commemorate the occasion.

From L to R:  eflyguy, theWolfTamer, iluvmyfz1, and Cruzman

Track from Ride Day 2
After that we picked up mrsiluvmyfz1, rode to the campground where I changed from my riding pants that fall off to jeans, then Cruzman and I rode up to Fontana Dam so he could call MrsCruzman, and finally to the firepit for some home made BBQ.  Only we didn't get BBQ because they'd put it away by the time we got there.
The firepit was really lively!  We shared it with another group that night and there were fireworks that we could only guess were set off by some Harley riders.  Cruzman and I left long before the party ended because we wanted to get up early to ride the Dragon again before we broke camp and headed home.

10 Jun 2012:  Going Home
I woke up around 5 a.m. to the sound of rain bouncing off of the tent.  This didn't sound like a quick shower and I suspected our plans to ride the Dragon were all wet.  I went back to sleep hoping that when I woke up again, the rain would stop.  When I woke up again it was full daylight and raining harder than earlier.

I started to wish I'd braved the line at the Deals Gap Store to get the pink dragons and the Frogg Toggs but I hadn't.  The rain slowed a bit then poured more before Cruzman crawled out of the tent saying he was going to find iluvmyfz1 instead of waiting for him to come to the campground as planned.  I asked him if he could go to the Store to get those Frogg Toggs for me while he was gone (he already had some).

It wasn't long before he was back with iluvmyfz1 and my Frogg Toggs.  We decided we'd eat breakfast at the lodge then come back, break camp, and head home.  The Dragon could wait for another dry day. After we said our goodbyes to the other FZ1OA members that were still at the campsite it was a long mostly highway ride home.  Fortunately we rode out of the showers the farther south we got, contradicting the weather forecast, and didn't hit them again until we each got close to home.  I barely missed mine but Cruzman was stuck in his for the last 5 miles to his house.

Props go to Cruzman for taking the route back that put me closer to home than one that would have put us kind of in the middle.  He took great care of me and my leaky rear tire (I didn't even mention about how my tire gauge broke so I couldn't even check the tire pressure) the whole trip!  

Thanks for reading,
patrice, theWolfTamer

From L to R:  eflyguy,  iluvmyfz1, Cruzman, and theWolfTamer

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