19 February 2013

Ride Report: LRC...not what I remembered

17 Feb 2013:  Brrr it's c-c-co-cold!
In January when I had dinner with some local members of the FZ1OA, I talked about wanting to ride to Little River Canyon.  The last (and first) time I rode it was with the eFn's right after they got their FJR.  I commented that the FJR was an old man's bike and eFnJustRide proceeded to school me going down the canyon road.  That was at least 5 years ago when I wasn't too recovered from my flare up.  I've been wanting to ride that road again since I am more familiar with Baby and have improved my riding skillz.

I made a route and hoped that I could get to ride it before it got too hot to ride to Alabama.  It was a little too soon in the year to ride it when I routed it because of the distance and the daylight.  Actually, we could have delayed it until next month to have more daylight.  Cruzman and I decided to ride on Sunday rather than Saturday because the forecast was slightly warmer.  The forecast wasn't nearly as good as the weekend before but my wallet was so I set about getting my left glove liner fixed and ready to meet Cruzman right at sunrise in our usual spot.

The last time we went to Alabama, I noticed that my GPS would turn itself off after a bit and decided to get a new one to replace it.  This time I hoped to find one that already had the software I like on it so I wouldn't have to spend hours hacking it to be what I wanted.  I did but when the replacement arrived the week after Christmas, it didn't work so I had to send it back to China hoping not to be affected by their Spring Celebration when the whole country takes two weeks off to celebrate and renew the year.  Right before that I emailed the guy to ask if he'd gotten it but he was already gone on holiday.

eBay wasn't much help either, refusing to refund my money because I didn't send it back via UPS or FedEx so that I'd have tracking to the seller's front door.  I didn't want to spend more money shipping the thing than I paid for it.  As it was, I'd already spent 31% of what it cost me.  Frustrated, I ordered a replacement for my replacement before I got the money back, this time from a US dropshipper.  My new 5" GPS Navigator arrived Saturday afternoon, two days before USPS said it would.  So after I got the glove fixed, I spent a little time getting the route onto the gps and preparing my waterproof case so that it would fit.

I went to bed early and woke up some 3 hours before I needed to.  That still didn't get me to leave the house around the time I wanted.  Even so, I was still there by the 7-ish meet time I requested.  Our usual spot was closed for renovations so we met

across the street where the coffee wasn't nearly as good.

The ride over in the predawn was simply cold.  My heated gear worked great out of the garage but it kept getting colder and colder until I realized I'd pulled the plug.  I hoped for a red light so I wouldn't have to pull over but when you want to be stuck at a long red light you never are--at least I'm not.  I made every single light after I realized the plug was unplugged and lasted about 20 miles before I had to pull over just to plug in the plug.

By the time I got to our meet spot, I was warming again but I'd held out too long.  It would be a theme for the rest of the day.  The S&S coffee was warm but not very good and didn't do much for the chill that was deep in my core.  After breakfast we were KSU at 8-ish, exactly when I hoped we would be.  I made sure this time that I had the controllers and gear plugged in so that the cords wouldn't get pulled.

The replacement First Gear Monarch (2011? version) isn't nearly as warm as the one it replaced.  Cold air gets into the thing from some mysterious place so I never really feel warm in it.  Before this ride, I'd decided that I would likely be better off with the Perf Fieldsheer Flex jacket and the heated liner.  That was until Cruzman texted me saying it was 18* at his house.  When I was getting ready to leave, my mind wouldn't let me put the Perforated Leather Jacket on no matter how warm I remembered the liner to be.  So I put on the Monarch and was paying for it with unknown blasts of cold air.

I should have put my Frogg Togg jacket on like Cruzman did but I didn't.  That Monarch jacket is so drafty that I haven't been able tell if the re-worked jacket liner even works!  I mean, I think it does.  I think I feel warmth but then a blast of cold air will take it all away and leave me wondering "Do I need to re wire it again?".  I was thinking about that and how I couldn't really see my new GPS once the sun came up.

That's not the GPS's fault but how I have it mounted.  It worked okay with the long arm mount that got broken when I had the forks done.  Cruzman and I chatted as we rode west along Hwy 20.  That took my mind off of the too frequent cold blasts that were constantly hitting my chest.  I hoped we could make it to the state border before stopping for our first break but the cold was slowly convincing me that wouldn't be possible.  We made it as far as Waleska before I gave in.  I can't remember now what I did but whatever it was it didn't work and we had to stop again so I could put the Frogg Togg jacket on.

That blocked the drafts but it was too late.  My bones were chilled and I'd be cold for the rest of the day (and likely part of the last two).  My newly repaired right glove had stopped working too.  Something told me to re-solder the plug but the arrival of the GPS led me to believe I'd done enough so I neglected to do it.  My hands were paying for it.  The left was too warm because the right wasn't working at all.  They'd worked perfectly most of the morning, giving me just enough inspiration to fix them yet again.  Well that and Cruzman reminding me how many times he's had to return his commercial ones for repair.

Since we stopped sooner than I really wanted to, I hoped we could make it to Little River Canyon before needing to stop again.  That wasn't the case.  The GPS wasn't charging and kept flashing a message telling me to put it on the charger.  I suspected the last minute case mod I did last night wasn't sufficient enough to keep the plug in the gps and kept pushing it in to no avail.  Finally, I got fed up with it (and was still cold) and decided to pull over yet again.

At least we made it to the state line.  I futzed around with the connector and tried to use my old mount plate with my new GPS before realizing I'd left the bike on but not running.  Baby wouldn't start.  If I'd been by myself, I would have been sitting at the gas station hoping time would let it charge enough so that I could get it started but Cruzman was there and suggested we bump start it.  What?  I read on the forum that doesn't work.

Yea, whatever, get back there and push.

I pushed.  The bike didn't start so we turned around and I pushed some more.  The bike didn't start.  That parking lot wasn't that big and I'm not in shape so I was huffing and puffing when some nice Samaritan came over and offered to help.  He and Cruzman pushed and a few moments later Cruzman and Baby were walking back towards me.  I had my earplugs in, "is it on?"

He revved the engine.  Woot!  While the bike ran, I unplugged the controllers and we were back on the road.  At least it was a little above 40.  I knew the Bilt gloves and my grip heaters would keep my hands warm.  The Frogg Togg kept the chilly drafts out so I was comfortable (but still cold to the core).   It turns out, the state line isn't that far from LRC and I probably could have held out until we got there.  We stopped to use the facilities and go see the falls.

I was trying to get the jacket buttoned up so I wouldn't delay our departure.

A little video of the falls so you can see the mists and hear the sounds.

There were icicles hanging off of the rocks. 
The last time I was here, we didn't stop so I didn't know how beautiful it was.  Since it was a crystal clear day, it was fabulous!  This is where I should have put my video cam on the front mount I didn't get to take video from on my last ride to get a video of the road but I forgot.

The Little River RD was not what I remembered.  It was more like DeSoto Falls than I thought.  I kept thinking that this wasn't the same road that I chased the eFn's down the last time.  I was putting along looking at the scenery trying to remember and Cruzman passed me the whole time telling me about how it was when he rode there a couple of weeks ago with What'sHisName.  It was the road and it shouldn't have surprised me that I didn't remember it correctly.  If it wasn't for the views or the steep declines and inclines I might have been disappointed:  I braved the cold for this?  Yes and it was gorgeous!  I'll go back again on a warmer day.

When I was making the route, I saw a road that looked really promising but when we got there, where the GPS said turn right at was a gravel driveway looking road.  Cruzman said, "I don't think I want to take the driveway."  I followed him farther along the canyon glad that we were there before the leaves filled in and I could get real glimpses of scenery.  When we came to a road on the left, Cruzman said he  always wanted to take it so I encouraged him to do it.  That was before I saw the drop that could not possibly be a road.  I balked before convincing my right hand to let go of the clutch and trust the engine.

The grade had to be about 45 degrees!  I really wished that I'd put the cam on then.  There are no words to describe the short drop that followed that turn nor the beauty of the view from the little bridge that followed it.  If I hadn't wasted so much time before, I might have stopped to get a pic of it but then just like the drop to cross the river, there was a massive climb to get out of the basin.  It was fantastic!!!!

At the y in the road, we chose to follow the Canyon rather than the road that Cruzman said he'd take to go home.  Then we saw another sign that warned trucks away and promised excessive grades and a windy road.  Hell yes.  To me the grade wasn't as extreme as the one we came over to get there but it was longer and really winding.  Bonus was it was newly paved.  I didn't know Alabama had fresh pavement in the state so that was a welcome surprise.

The GPS kept telling me to turn around so that I could get to that dirt driveway, my gas light was on, and soon after that our radios went off.  Time to stop to switch.  While we were at it, Cruzman found the nearest gas on his GPS and I tried my camera on the magic arm.  I used the time lapse and got a decent photo on the way to the gas station.

The sight of the camera bouncing on that magic arm was a little un nerving but it was only a few miles to the gas station and then lunch.  As usual I forgot to take a pic of lunch but I did take one when I thought about it.

This is why I never take pics of the food we eat.  I don't think about it until after it's gone.  We split a sub that in retrospect should have been us going to Wendys to get chili.  At lunch, we decided that we couldn't do the route as planned and cut out the Cloudland Canyon part choosing to take the quickest way to get to Fort Mountain.

I was still cold after a 90 minute break and despite warmer (45?) temps.  For some reason I rushed to put my helmet on and got a dred stuck against my ear that I thought I could tolerate until we stopped again but in reality it was about 10 minutes.

We pulled over so I could get my hair right and no sooner than we got back on the road did my GPS decide that it wouldn't work if I couldn't charge it.  Cruzman said not to worry about it because he knew the way and I didn't really worry but I couldn't stop thinking about why.  The GPS wasn't defective, it was something to do with my charging system.  Could it be the new outlet?  Maybe.  When we got to Rome, I convinced Cruzman to pull over again so I could check it and he graciously did.

Turns out it was the extension and not my new(ish) outlet.  With the old outlet I had to remove the spring so the plug would stay in.  I don't know what made Cruzman touch the tip to notice that I had no spring but he did.  Then he pulled a spring out of his tank bag and fixed my extension!  That man sure knows how to fix a girl's shit.  First he gets Baby running, then remedies that annoying charging thing.  I'm going to miss him we he goes to take care of his family next month.

After Cruzman got my stuff working, I promised that we wouldn't stop until we got to Ellijay.  Yea, that would have happened if I'd put that Frogg Togg back on after lunch but the closer to Chatsworth we got, the lower the sun dropped in the sky, and the more the drafts returned to my jacket.  There was no way I was going to attempt to ride across Fort Mountain without the Frogg Togg on.  So we stopped at the gas station where I connected the controllers again, plugged in my heated liner, and put the Frogg Togg jacket back on (but not the broken glove liners, remember that).

For the first time I actually met the stereotypical Harley riders while we were stopped.  Right after Cruzman went inside, three Harleys pulled up, the third one dog paddling to get to the gas pump.  They'd just coasted some 11 miles down Fort Mountain to get there and were looking to fill up and get beer.  The only thing they didn't need was oil but that's because they all had Harleys that were FI.  As usual, Cruzman talked to them a bit about bikes and cold then one of them regaled us with his racing history and how expensive dyno equipment was.

I like for Cruzman to lead over Fort Mountain.  He rides it so well and looks good doing it.  It's easier to watch him when he's in front while I try to see if I can keep up with him better than the last time we were there.  The last couple of times I have so I guess I'm making progress.  We stopped at the new overlook once we passed the state park.

My first Pano shot with the X500

probably should have tried the pano shot with the zoom on though.
With most of my gear issues straightened out, I was motivated to ride as far as I could stand without stopping.  We made it all the way into Cumming from the overlook without stopping.  That's more like it!  By the time we stopped, my hands were frozen!!!!  I thought about going inside to get a cup of something warm but that meant using my frozen hands to take off my helmet.  Instead, I opted to use my broken glove liners and have one warm hand for the 30 mile ride home.

After 13.5 hours and nearly 400 miles (the last one leaned over with my right hand gripping the engine), I pulled into my garage needing to pee something awful.  At least I wasn't the only one:  The girlz were glad I was home too.  It wasn't the planned route but it was a good time anyway.  BTW, I'm in the market for a new winter jacket.  There's no way I'm going to try to make it though another winter with that drafty ass First Gear Monarch.

The day's track
Thanks for reading,
patrice, theWolfTamer

Since you're not here, you won't mind right?

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