27 July 2012

Ride Report: Eluding the rain

15 July 2012

After I helped (or got in the way) Cruzman get my rear tire on, we decided to hit some of our favorite roads instead of the 400 mile ride I'd planned.  In my rush to get the tire changing stuff ready for when Cruzman arrived, I neglected to put my rain gear in my case.  That would come back to haunt me later.
We decided to take the quickest way to the mountains from my house so we could make up for our late start.  The plan was to do Blood Mountain and then Richard Russell into Helen then eat lunch at the Cafe International.  I wanted to buy Cruzman lunch for insisting on coming over and getting my rear tire on.  He refused to let me get depressed about buying the tire changer and not being able to use it.  Fortunately for me, we did use the other stuff I bought so there was some consolation in that.

As we got closer to Helen, the blue skies were turning gray so I made an on the fly decision to go straight to Helen instead of Blood Mountain where the skies looked the grayest.  No sooner than we made the turn on to 75 from 129 did the rain start to fall.  It actually felt good because I was hot and things cooled off a bit.  We stopped long enough to put the rain covers on our tank bags before going straight to Cafe International.

We got there a little after they opened for lunch but still didn't get a riverside table.  That was all right though.  We had the friendliest waitress we've had in a long time and she gave us spectacular service.  My open face prime rib sandwich was perfect and Cruzman's roast beef sandwich looked good too.  Cruzman smartly ordered the Red Velvet Cheesecake for desert and OMG was it good!

If we had to turn around and go home, I would have been happy on a full stomach but the skies were blue and the road was calling so we took off heading for Richard Russell then Wolf Pen Gap.  The plan was to do RR Scenic Highway to the "Suches Loop".  After the rally, I was looking forward to getting onto some technical roads and this was the closest technical route around.

RR would be just the warm up we needed and give us time to digest the great lunch.  Unfortunately as we reached Hog Pen Gap, the skies started looking gray again.  I had no desire to ride Wolf Pen Gap in questionable weather and decided to call another audible in an attempt to skirt the storm that appeared to be looming over where we wanted to go.  Instead of WPG, we continued on 129 towards Turners Corner until we ran into the rain then turned around and rode back to Neels Gap.  Once at Neels Gap, we decided not to stop but to run down the mountain again.

Since this was during the middle of the Tour de France, there were plenty of wanna-bes on the their bicycle attempting to ride Blood Mountain.  Some looked like they were doing pretty good but others appeared to be struggling and one woman had clearly "cracked" as the announcers for that bicycle race like to say.  She was still pedaling uphill but she probably would have covered more ground walking.  The pain etched on her face made me hurt!

On the way back up, I was concentrating on the road so I didn't notice her.  On the way down for the second time, I didn't see her either but I did see a Yellow Jersey clad beer bellied fella steadily making his way uphill.  (Review of one of my RR videos and I think you'll see the same guy!)  Tour de France seems to inspire every bicyclist to attempt to climb the most challenging mountain they can.

When we hit the rain for a second time, I made an ill fated attempt to reach Turners Corner but the rain intensified so we turned around and went back to Neels Gap where there were still blue skies and no rain.  We took the opportunity to use the facilities and discuss where we should go next.  I didn't really care about getting rained on as much as I was concerned about slippery roads.

In the end, we decided to brave the rain and head over to Rider's Hill where we could ogle the motorcycles and hide from the rain indoors if need be.  The worst of the rain was passing so we missed the heaviest shower as we took 129 to 19 over to Rider's Hill.  As usual, they had plenty of European bikes to ogle.

When I win the lottery, I'm going almost straight there to get my MV Agusta F3 (I'll take donations until then).  They didn't have any on the showroom floor but they did have the F4, a new Moto Guzzi that had me considering another bike, and many Aprillias that made me wonder if I could fit their wheels on my FZ1.  When we pulled into the parking lot we were greeted by an orange KTM RC8.  The biggest surprised came in who was riding it:  a black lady!  It's the first time I've seen an ATGATT black lady (other than me) on a sport bike since I've been back in Georgia.  I was stunned and unwilling to interrupt her conversation to introduce myself beyond the usual Southern Black Folk nod.  I say Southern because when I nodded to Black Folk in So Cal, they looked at me like I was crazy.

After quenching my thirst (with a Coke, what else?) and ogling the bikes, I did talk to her briefly.  The RC8 while beautiful is not the best machine to get to the twisties on if you live in Metro ATL.  I imagine once there though it's sport riding nirvana.  She said she was going to turn it into a track only bike.  Maybe I'll see her at the track when I get my MV?

From Rider's Hill, I let Cruzman take over lead because he said we were going to ride Wolf Pen Gap because he wasn't scared of the weather.  It was okay, I do know how to go slow.  However when we got to WPG, he changed his mind and said let's do 52 instead.  Okay.  We took 60 North, a road I don't think we ride enough because of 60 South, to get to 515 and the 20 minute "highway" slog over to 52.  I knew there was another way but I couldn't remember the name of the road (Dial) so we went the way TomTom told us to.

Until we got to the turn and I decided to see the Dam since we were just kind of roaming around.  For the first time that day, I remembered I had a camera and finally took some pics.

It was around this time my dawgs started popping into my head.  I didn't say anything because I was enjoying the ride but I knew they were "calling" as I told them to do if they need me while I'm out.  My brother was supposed to stop by to walk the dawgs while I was gone but their persistent interruption of my thoughts made me think he didn't make it.  I wasn't in any area where I had cell coverage so I waited until we stopped again to call to see if he had.

I suggested instead of 52 which meant we would be in Chatsworth that we ride 106 since it should be much clearer than it had been when I last road it with snow and gravel on the ground.  Cruzman agreed so that's where we went after the dam and getting gas.  I passed him on 515 and took the lead again because once I get the lead mentality, riding behind is a little difficult.  Difficult may be a strong way to describe it.  I certainly felt less "smooth" behind Cruzman than I had earlier in the day.

Cruzman took me to see the cave that he and iluvmyfz1 found the last time they were in the area then we stopped for me to re-attach my bluetooth unit to my helmet since the heat made the attachment plate come off.  I had cell service then and was able to confirm that my brother had yet to show up at the house but promised he would.  Poor Dawgs!

Highway 106 wasn't what I remembered it to be when we finally got there.  It's a good cruising road but no where near a technical challenge.  Before long, we were on Highway 9 heading into Cumming where we decided to have dinner at an Italian restaurant off of 20.  I got a Stromboli and it was the best one I've had since my childhood.  I don't remember the name of the place but I do know where it is so I can go back.

The sun was nearly down by the time we finished dinner and parted ways for home.  I got home around 10, about 12 hours after we left this morning.

Thanks for reading,
patrice, theWolfTamer

My pack grew by one Akita (Lexxi)!  Unfortunately, Prince is missing after he followed Lexxi when she broke out of the house to chase a cat.  Lexxi came back but I suspect someone scooped Prince up preventing him from doing the same.

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