27 October 2012

Ride Report: Another Long Day...Maybe

16 Sep 2012.  The day before the ride, I discovered that the charger in my tank bag wasn't charging.  Actually I thought I'd have to replace the 12v accessory plug but it was the outlet inside the tank bag.  I have another one but it's smaller and doesn't fit in the hole inside the bag.  Instead of messing with it, I just switched to my smaller bag.

I also decided to do something about the janky look my rims have earned since I started trying to change my tires myself.  They are all nicked and gouged from trying to put the stone sided Bridgestone sport touring tires on.  Cruzman keeps saying I should switch to the Michelins because they're softer.  They may be but they're also usually $30-50 more per tire and seem to perform about the same.  That's enough to pay for a ride like today so I just need to learn how to get the damned things on without having to call Cruzman over for help.

I read about using aircraft paint stripper to remove the paint on the rim and leave the bare metal showing and decided to give it a shot.  It should look better than the nicked up paint on there now, I hope.

If you look closely, you can also see I have installed a Five Stars Rack.  I got it from a guy on the FZ1OA forum even though I knew Cruzman had plans to make a rear rack for me.  I couldn't resist the Five Stars Rack because it has the reputation for being the best rack for the Gen 1 and they don't make them any more.

Back to the stripped part on the rim.  I only intended to strip the outer portion of the rim and after I got it done, I couldn't decide if I liked it or not.  So I didn't do the other side hoping Cruzman could give me a good opinion.

We planned to meet at the Waffle House on Hwy 20 in Buford at our usual O'dark-thirty time when we want to ride a lot of miles.  The weather was September cool in the morning so I made sure I had the liner in my jacket and some thermals under my shorts hoping that I'd need to shed layers as the day warmed up.  I tossed my winter gloves in the tail case too, just in case.

I arrived at our meeting place to see that it was dark and now a bail bondsman.  I tried to call Cruzman but he didn't have his phone mated to his headset so I just waited and used the 3g on my phone to find the new location for the Waffle House.  One thing I knew was that it wasn't the way I came.

I heard Stella long before I saw them.  Surely, I thought, that can't be Cruzman but about 5 minutes later I realized it was.  His Akrapovic muffler sounded great bouncing off of the pre-dawn air.  I told him that I knew where the new Waffle House was and we took off across the interstate and found it at the next "block".

We caught up over the Waffle House All Star breakfast and decided we'd take I-985/441 towards Clayton then Hwy 197 to Hwy 256 to Hwy 17 just outside of Helen.  Somewhere along 985, Cruzman suggested we ride the road with the waterfalls.  In Cruzman speak, that's Hwy 28 out of Highlands.  Instead of taking Lake Burton Rd over to 197, we kept straight into Clayton and stopped at the BP on the corner of Warwoman RD.

We gassed up and a few minutes later, Mr and MrsTwisty pulled in on their new Super Tenere.  They'd camped off of the Dirt-a-hala the night before and were planning to meet the eFns among others from the FJR forum.  We talked for about thirty minutes before deciding that we had too many miles ahead of us to keep shooting the shit and kind of waiting to see the eFns.  I promised to keep in better touch with MrsTwisty (I haven't done it yet) and as we were about to mount up, the eFns pulled into the station.  We said a quick hello/goodbyes as Cruzman said it'd be impolite not to speak.

I led us up Warwoman RD toward Hwy 28.  It was very clean and pretty much traffic free.  The road that is, I don't know where all the little bugs were coming from but my face shield was getting covered with them.  My mp3 player wasn't playing through the headset so combined with the bug covered shield I decided we should pull over at one of the pull outs along Hwy 28 that I've always wanted to stop at.

We did but the darned thing was overgrown so you couldn't see much but shrubbery.  I figured out what was going on with the radio and got my shield cleaned off and we were on our way again.  We saw a lot more sport bikes on Hwy 28 than we normally do and noticed a few parked in town when we went though Highlands.

After the conversation with the Twistys, I was overly sensitive to making passes.  Not to mention the part of Hwy 28 leaving Highlands is narrow, newly paved, and often has plenty of car traffic on it.  We got stuck behind a Mercury SUV that was crossing the double yellows just to speed down the road.  It was a reminder why I don't like riding that road too often.  It has great views too which add to the challenge.  You either need to pull over so you can look at the views or concentrate on the road and the murderous oncoming traffic.  This morning, you could do a little of both because the road wasn't that busy.

Since we stayed so long in Clayton, we didn't plan on stopping until we got to Deals Gap but the roads were still wet from the shower that passed through the area earlier that morning.  That wet road and my chain were not getting along.  It'd loosened up and was slapping against the frame at slow speeds.  I hoped a little lube and maybe some tightening at our next stop would get rid of the problem.  I guess it was finally getting to the time when the tight/loose spot on the chain was going to be more of a problem and started thinking about replacing it.

Once we left Franklin, we hadn't seen a lot of sportbikes like before.  The motorcycle density changed from sportbikes to cruisers and big touring bikes.  We didn't get the memo to avoid the area so we kept riding our intended route.

Riding on Hwy 28 convinced me the time was now rather than later.  I should be happy that it lasted as long as it did after the rear wheel bearing thing but I'm not.  The ride on 28 seemed interminably long, likely due to the chain clattering on the frame.  Of course, I could have been going a lot slower.  I guess Cruzman got tired of hearing me complain about the chain so we stopped at the BP on 74 long enough to adjust the chain.

Cruzman told me that he liked the rim and I needed to do the rest.  I still wasn't convinced.

The clattering went away only to be replaced by a seriously loud whine.  I'd forgotten to lube it when we adjusted it and made a mental note to do it at lunch.  After adjusting the chain, it seemed every motorcycle we passed was a big guy on a little cruiser.  The cruiser may not have been little but the guys were big enough to make them look little.  Fortunately, they were going the opposite way so we didn't have to pass them.

Hwy 28 was awesome all the way from the time it returned to a 2 lane road to Deals Gap.  Cars moved out of our way or was passed, legally even, the roads were dry and clean, the weather was perfect.  Eventually the whining of the chain kind of faded into the background noise and I noticed that I felt faster.  I was being smooth again for the first time in a really long time.

Before I knew it, we were already at Deals Gap.  It was around 1.  After ogling the bikes, we decided we'd get lunch there and talk about what we'd do after lunch.  Over a bacon burger and chicken tenders, we decided we'd ride the Dragon up to the bridge then decide what to do next.

Police presence was pretty high and I understood why all the sportbikes had left the area.  It was a speed limit ride all they way up and we saw the wrecker rescuing a bike.  Here are some photos from the photog sites:

Once at the bridge, we decided to go back and ride the Cherohala.  More pics from the photogs sites:

Note to self:  Figure out what the heck is up with that bulb.  Turned out to be blown and the wiring has been replaced with a spare Cruzman gave me and a 2w LED in on side and a 1W in the other.  Now it looks basically the same but the reason isn't failure.  I'll get a matching 2w for the other side once I'm certain it's not going to blow just as quickly.
I like the way the headlight is showing on the road.  We encountered a few sprinkles on the way down.

It got a little wet on the way down as we rode through some sprinkles but it was short lived and we pressed on deciding to ride through the Joyce Kilmer forest.  That road is a little bumpy but once you make the left turn after the campground, it gives way to good pavement and sweepers that make me want to take them at high speeds.  So that's just what I did, after warning Cruzman I was going to get a bit stupid.  Hammer down!

Once we turned onto the Cherohala there was an ice warning sign that gave me pause for a few seconds.  Ice?  This soon?  Once that thought passed, I kept up the quick pace forgetting all about it.  Since we already had our potty break, I decided I wouldn't stop at our usual spot unless Cruzman said something.  He didn't so we zoomed on by.

Traffic was really light; we only caught up to two cars.  The first was a Honda Civic that I smelt long before I saw.  He was burning up his brakes going down hill!  He pulled over before we had the chance to consider if we should pass or not.  The next was a green minivan that was doing the speed limit more or less.  It made us slow down but I decided not to pass just because I wanted to ride double the speed limit.  If they were going much slower than the speed limit, I likely would have.  Cruzman disappeared in my mirrors a couple of times anticipating the pass that wasn't coming.

We took a long break at the Cherohala Market after gassing up.  It was only 4:30, about the time I expected but much earlier than Cruzman predicted before we left the bridge at the end of the Dragon.  We decided we'd take the roads we took when we rode up back in December, through Reliance, TN over to 64 near the river.

Notice how I haven't mentioned lubing the chain yet?  I forgot and would only remember when it started crying again.  Poor chain.  I needed to remember to lube the thing at the next stop.  I said that many more times before actually pulling over to lube it.

Riding that road again was so much different this time than it had been back in December for me.  I think then I was feeling the effects of the front end swap in need of tweaks.  This time, I was right in Cruzman's tracks.  We even got behind a Camaro as we headed across the river.  Fortunately for us, he turned right and we turned left.  There's a camping area along there that I think it would be nice to camp at the next time I go up there with that intention.

There was plenty of traffic once we got on 64 making up for the absence of it most of the day.  We even got kind of hemmed in and missed our turn onto 411.  Now that I'm thinking about it, we must find a different way.  That stretch of 411 is sooooooooooooooo boring!  I always get sleepy so we have to stop in Chatsworth just for me to wake up (and use the bathroom).  This time, we stopped at Hardee's and I got an apple pie too.

After the break, we took Hwy 52 to Ellijay.  It seems like we're always riding that near sunset.  We got stuck behind a green Jeep Cherokee and turned around so we could get some clear road.  Cruzman really rides this road well.  He asked if I wanted to lead, but I told him no because I know how he rides the road.  I was feeling better on the bike than I had in a long time and was surprised that I was keeping up with him rather easily.  Yes!!  Got to love having a bike with the suspension dialed in.

Once in Ellijay, the sun was well and truly gone.  We decided to take Hwy 52 to Hwy 183 to Hwy 136 to GA 400.  There were plenty of cars to follow for most of the time until finally it was just Cruzman and I and one other car off in the distance behind us.  The bad part about the HIDs is when someone else has them they can be annoying in the mirrors.  I had mine on high (until traffic approached) relying on Cruzman's to fill the void.  My little LEDs work for that too and after I stopped looking in the mirror, I was able to concentrate on the darkness ahead.

This time we weren't in the National Forest where bigfoot has been seen so I wasn't worried about her, just deer.  I got a little confused going through Dawsonville and missed our usual road.  We ended up taking the road that puts us at 400 at the Outlet Mall instead of before it.

I finally decided to just pull over and put some lube on the chain in hopes of quieting the whining.  It didn't work.  We gassed up in Cumming and decided to get dinner before we said our goodbyes.  Dinner was excellent for Applebees.  We checked in with our families and Cruzman learned he'd have to ride through rain to get home.  I checked the radar and thought I might be able to miss it.

I didn't.  I hit it about 4 miles from the house and seemed to have to stop at every light after the rain started.  I got home to pissed off dawgs after 472 miles in 17 hours.  It was a spectacular day!

Thanks for reading,
patrice, theWolfTamer

Our ride:  17 hours, 472 miles, 3 tanks of gas, and 3 meals.
I almost forgot:  I decided to do the other side but kind of messed it up.

TheLawman came over and said it looked great but I need to even it out and do the front.  He's right.  I'll do it one day.

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