07 November 2013

Trip Report: Spontaneous Overnighter!

5 Oct 2013: TWoS

The Atlanta Area FZ1OA members planned to get together in September but the weekend was rained out.  Cruzman was desperate for a get away and unbeknownst to him, so was I.  We joined a few other forum members for a Wednesday night dinner and on the way discussed the possibility of spending the night at the re-opened (and re-named) Two Wheels of Suches campground.

The timing worked out perfectly for my wallet because I hadn't spent the money I reserved for the trip the month before.  I couldn't decide what I wanted to spend it on (other than bills) so I just held on to it.  When Cruzman mentioned the overnighter, I was quick to say I'd go--even before he invited me.  At the dinner, I learned that Copperdawg was in town.

I've admired his products for the Gen2 FZ1 and wished that he'd make something for the Gen1 for a few years now.  I also love the way his Gen2 looks.
Eventually we agreed we'd meet in Blairsville on Friday morning and ride around the Deals Gap area.  Instead of going home, Cruzman and I planned to spend the night at TWoS then ride around the area before going home the next day.

That gave me two days to put on a new rear tire.  On the way home from the dinner, I realized my old one needed changing sooner rather than later.  It looked okay but felt kind of greasy.  For that BT023, being near the tire wear indicators did not mean I could get a few hundred more miles before I changed it.  Luckily I had a nearly new set of Michelin Pilot Pures ready to put on.  Unfortunately, my tire changer is buried in garage mess.

I planned to check my swingarm bearings when I removed the rear wheel to change the tire.  Instead of expending the energy to dig out the tire changer, I took the wheel off and called Over TWO Customs to see if they could change the tire.  For $20, I had my Pilot Pure put on my rim and by Thursday night was ready for the trip secure in the knowledge that my swingarm bearings were fine.

It didn't occur to me that there would be a big difference between the Pure, a sport tire, and the BT023, a sport-touring tire.  I left the house in the pre-dawn hour Friday morning, very glad to be on the bike and looking forward to an awesome two days of riding.  It was a bit chilly at first but I had the liner in my Fieldsheer Flex jacket so it felt perfect as the sun rose.

For the first time in a very long time, I wasn't meeting Cruzman in Cumming so I chose a different route to get to Blairsville.  The idea was to avoid 985 for as long as I could.  I had a great route programmed into my gps but after about three miles, I realized that the backlight on it wasn't working.  As the sun got higher, it was impossible to see the screen.  Before I got too far, I pulled over and called up a similar route on Google Maps and used my LG Spirit 4g as my navigation device.

I really don't like using my phone as gps, especially since it has to be inside the tank bag and I can't see the screen, because I'd rather have it for a phone when/if I need it.  The other reason is the lack of saved tracks.  I like to know where I went and how fast I was going while going there.  Tracks tell this story very well.  They also let me put them on maps and take screenshots for this blog.  So I have no map of how I got to Blairsville.

I do know that I rode past Fort Yargo State Park, through Winder, Braselton, and Gainesville before getting onto US 129 just outside of Cleveland.  I took Hwys 81 and 11 at some point and rode through some beautiful country side lined by trees that made the morning even cooler.  I made good time even though I stopped for coffee and biscuits just outside Lula and arrived at our meeting spot about the same time as the guys did.

Copperdawgs Concours, Cruzman's Stella, and My Baby
After a bit of breakfast for Copperdawg, we took off for Tellico Plains via US 129 and Hwy 64 with me leading.  My new rear tire felt good but I thought it was kind of slow to warm up on the cool morning.  I figured with the temperatures rising I'd have better grip on Hwy 68 into Tellico and on the Cherohala Skyway into Robbinsville.

I was right and wrong.  The sport rear tire has tremendous grip, way more than the sport-touring front tire.  At times it felt like the rear tire was doing the steering instead of the front.  The front just didn't turn in as fast or hold as long.  For a while, it felt like I'd put the OEM forks back on for the ride.  Naturally, that didn't occur to me until I scared myself for the third or fourth time while riding over the Cherohala.  I'm sure Copperdawg must have thought I didn't know how to ride!

I kept searching for the right lines and readjusting mid turns all day long.  Cruzman noticed it and asked me what was wrong.  It didn't help that I'd decided to be really mindful of my inputs and reinforce some better habits during the ride.  I thought that was my problem...right until that deep right hander on the Cherohala that you can take almost at the speed limit (cough, cough) right until it decreases on you.

The front end felt like it was going to keep going straight while the back just bit in and begged for more.  That's when I decided to slow my dumbass down before I went down.  After a brief break at the top of the Cherohala, Cruzman took the lead and Copperdawg followed him to take video.  He has some video of me riding awfully on the first part.

From that stop, we rode through Joyce Kilmer Forest on our way to Deals Gap and the Dragon.  They left me on the Dragon as I'd decided I'd take it easy since I wasn't sure what was going on with the front end of my bike.  It wasn't until I was on the way down the Dragon that I realized it was only the sport-touring front tire and not something actually wrong with the bike.

View from the new patio at the place across the street from Deals Gap Resort.  It's a lot of steps to get to that view.
We ate at the place across the street from the Deals Gap Resort, mostly because I had a taste for BBQ and they have a big pit in the front.  I got pulled pork that was very good but the side dishes left a lot to be desired.  It would have been perfect if I'd gotten the Potato Salad from DGR and then had their BBQ meat.  I have to remember that for next time.

It was nearing 3 o'clock by the time we finished lunch and Copperdawg had family to get back to so we said our goodbyes at DGR.  He chose to take the quickest way home while Cruzman and I planned to meander towards TWoS.  We took my favorite Hwy 28 but with my front and rear tires not getting along, it wasn't nearly as much fun as I hoped it would be.  The scenery, on the other hand, is exceptional.  The stuff you don't notice until you slow down enough to take other things in.

It was sometime along there that I really lost all motivation to be in the twisties.  All I could think about was getting home and putting the matching front tire on.  I remain amazed at how sensitive I am to the little changes, although I'm not certain that different types of tires is a little change.  I probably would have been fine with the ST on the rear and the Sport tire on the front but not the setup I had.  Actually it wasn't bad as long as I didn't get too fast.

We arrived in Hiawassee as the sun was getting ready to go light the other part of the world and ate at the same Mexican restaurant we ate at the last time we were there.  I had a salad with tilapia, beef, and shrimp that was very very good.  The salsa was a bit garlicy but overall a decent place considering where it is.  By the time we got done, it was dark and the Braves were beating the Dodgers.

It meant a night ride into TWoS taking 76 to 17 to 180 and Wolf Pen Gap Rd.  Those can be challenging roads in the daytime, by night well let's just say they're not for the faint of heart--especially Wolf Pen Gap.  Since you're reading this, you know we arrived safely and without incident.  We didn't even see bigfoot, and I know he lives around there.  I saw it on Animal Planet.

By the time we got to the resort, I was very happy to be getting out of my leather pants.  My knees were buzzing and aching.  This was maybe my third ride in them and now I knew they were wrong for me.  They weren't going to break in anymore to be comfortable for me to wear.  Unfortunately the only other choice I had to was to ride in blue jeans which really isn't a choice because it doesn't feel safe at all.

The new owner's haven't done much to the old TWO to make it the new TWoS except that the attitude is completely different.  Not bad or good, just different.  The old owners really infused the place with their personalities.  I realized it was one of the things I liked about the place in the past and really missed it now.  One of the first changes you notice is the paved entry pad at the top of the gravel parking lot.

In the past, it was fun to sit on the porch watching to see who would wipe out on entry.  We stayed in room 2, I think, with double beds and access to the communal kitchen and living area.  It was super clean and homey with free wifi.  I loved the leather recliners and big screen tv.  They also have a huge camping area across the stream in back.  A very nice place to be for a motorcycle weekend.  I can imagine a rally there would be spectacular!

Cruzman had turned Baby around without me even noticing it!

The next morning, we woke up and learned it was the weekend for the Indian Summer Festival and the Run Above the Clouds 10k.  That Run Above the Clouds is aptly named.  Early in the morning, you are among the clouds.  As you can see in the pics above, with sunrise, the clouds moved out and the day dawned beautiful and clear.  A perfect day to be on the bike, even with the wrong pants and front tire.  We lingered around until the temps warmed up before heading out to ride Wolf Pen Gap by daylight like it should be ridden.

Then over Richard B. Russell where the other guy sharing the resort with us said there was new pavement.  There was, but only after the county line just after whatever gap that is.

When the guy said "freshly paved" I had no idea he meant that the trucks had probably just pulled out the day before.  The fresh pavement made a good road a little better.  After Richard B Russell, we headed towards (but not into) Helen to get onto Hwy 17 and take it back over to 180 then to 129 where we stopped at the new(ish) Byron Herbert Reece history center between Vogel and the hiking store for a bathroom break.  I love these kinds of places and plan to go back for the tour and all.

Cruzman had to be home earlier than he planned so instead of riding more, we headed out of the area.  I wasn't as disappointed as I could have been because of my pants and front tire.  I wanted to go home too.  We split off just outside of Dahlonega.  I was home before 4 and happy to have been able to take the opportunity for a last minute overnighter.

The next week, I ordered new pants from motorcyclecloseouts.  They fit better around the knee and thighs so no more fatigued legs.  I still haven't worn them all day yet but suspect they are an improvement over the long legged Sedici pants they'll replace.  Anybody want a pair of slightly used leather pants for $80 (what I paid) let me know.

Thanks for reading,
patrice, theWolfTamer

New to me rims with a brand new front Sport tire.  Same brand and type as what's on the rear.

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