21 March 2015

Ride Report: EOW Rally Day 2

Monday, March 17, 2015: Inaugural Blairsville of Winter Rally Day 2.

We planned an earlier start for Day 2, leaving around 8:30 to ride Hwy 68, the Cherohala Skyway, the Tail of the Dragon, and Hwy 28. The early start time meant riding in temps below 50 degrees and using the liners again.  Since I was wearing blue jeans beneath the riding pants, I didn't they needed the pant liner.  My goal for the day was to be smooth on the bike and to take more pics.

No homemade blueberry muffins for this morning.  We had McDonald's McMuffins instead.  Not long after we left McDonald's, Cruzman pulled over at a bike shop hoping to get a balaclava since the wind chill at speed is icy with ambient temps below 50.  They were closed but I had a spare one since I was using my face mask with the longer neck guard.
I was not amused that he was taking pics now.
This time we planned to fuel up at the Hot Spot where 129 meets Hwy 64.  I forgot they put a 24 hour hold on funds when you use a debit card and was short on funds the rest of the day.  Next time I'll use cash only.

The morning was bright and clear with dry roads.  It was nice to be "on the route" within 30 minutes of leaving.  Another thing that makes this overnighter feel like a rally.  Out of the gate, we were on Hwy 294 heading towards Tellico Plains.

I neglected to adjust the shifter position but was determined to do it at our first stop in Tellico, the Cherohala Market.

Naturally it is now marginally too high instead of drastically to low but more liveable so the next change can wait a bit.  If I have one complaint about the Danmoto 2nd Generation Rearsets its adjusting the shifter is unnecessarily complicated.  To do it, you must first remove the heel plate, second loosen the jam nut on the female rode end, and third remove the bolt that holds the female rod end before you can adjust the height.  Thing is, you can't really tell what that height is until you first install the bolt that holds the female rod end.

I did not want to even touch the shifter rod as you would do with the stock setup.  Yes, it works to lower or raise the lever but it also changes the angle of the shifter.  At some point I'll be saying I love that those adjustments are separate, just wait.

I'd just warmed up and didn't really want to ride through the chilly air I anticipated across the top of the Cherohala so we decided to take Hwys 360 and 72 to US 129 to ride down the Tail of the Dragon.  With the shift lever higher, I stopped thinking about where my foot was which allowed me to concentrate more on the mechanics of make the bike turn.  Weight peg, press tank, push bar until I didn't need to concentrate on that by the time we reached Hwy 129.

I missed the turn where Hwy 360 changes direction and couldn't even blame it on the GPS since I was riding from memory.  Heck, with my memory it's a wonder I remembered any of the way.  We'd synced our comms so Cruzman got us headed on the right road when he insisted I turn around.  His memory is bad too but when he remembers it's spot on so I turned around.

The last time I was on these roads was at an actual rally where the pace was spirited.  I didn't think I was leading a spirited pace but memories of idiot pickup drivers and loud imports added color to our conversation.  Once on Hwy 72, we had the opportunity to be hooligans and took it.  (There should be a video showing me passing and leaving a cruiser but since the sound is terrible I decided not to edit or post it.  The other videos have youtube music that is terrible.  I didn't want to do that to this.)  I'll just say as soon as the dotted yellow appeared, we left the cruiser to listen to our loud pipes.

Somewhere along the way, my gps came away from the mount and I pulled over.  This allowed yet another red Corvette Stingray to come up behind us as we approached Tabcat Bridge (mile 11.1), the beginning of the Dragon for us.  I saw him in my tiny rearview mirrors as I was leaned over to take the right hand curve.  He was all over Cruzman's tail so I expected him to be on mine before the next curve.

He wasn't.  Cruzman told me when the guy passed him that he'd be on my tail soon.  I managed to make it to a pull out before he was pushing me along.  I'd decided that I wanted to do a speed limit ride and let Cruzman past too.  That's when the wonder began.  I was all alone.  Not much on coming traffic, no one else on my tail.  Just me and the Dragon.  Weight peg, press tank, push bar.  Throttle off, tip in, maintenance throttle.

I was even startled when I heard the first oncoming bikes after riding for miles with just me.  I had memories of my first ride as I craned my neck to look up and through some curves, still with nothing scraping.  Weight peg, press tank--the photographers are out?--push bar.  Who is that?  US 129. Throttle off, tip in--I hope I looked good in that photo--maintenance throttle.

Cruzman in the zone?
I think it was the first time I've enjoyed riding the Dragon for the first time in a couple of years.  Maybe if I can get my riding back to instinct instead of thinking about every movement, it'll happen more often.  This is the one road where I feel like I don't have any margin of error so I try to ride well within myself.  On this day it must have meant being invisible as well since none of the photographers posted a pic of me.

We ate lunch at the Deals Gap Resort Restaurant.  Cheeseburgers and fries.  Even the food tasted better!  Could so much time off of the bike make food taste better?  Hopefully it will be as good for the FZ1OA rally in June.

As usual with me, after lunch I got better.  From DGR we took Hwy 28 toward Franklin with the intention of riding to the bridge and turning around.

Oscar is my watch dawg.  He's kept me safe since I started driving at 17.
Hwy 28 is like a salve for my riding.  The moment we left DGR, I was no longer thinking about the mechanics of riding but just riding.  The mechanics were still this but the thoughts as I did them were gone.  By the time we reached the climb around the lake I was even convinced I didn't need to service my forks.  Baby was perfect, as always, and I was getting better.

I've been resisting the urge to mention how perfect the Gen 1 FZ1 is as a sport bike.  I can't do it anymore.  Cruzman and I spent a few conversations discussing the virtues of our 10 to 13+ year old motorcycles.  With the mods we've done (suspension and tuning), our bikes are perfect for our needs.  As every motorcyclist must think about the next bike it's hard to consider anything currently on the market without thinking "it doesn't do this better than my FZ1."

The thing is the more miles you put on it, the better the bike becomes.  I got the feeling that Baby wasn't truly broken in until 32 to 35k miles.  Now that I've upgraded the suspension, I can say that stock suspension is probably it's weakest point.  I don't know if my stock suspension was ever adjust right but I do know my current set up is.

As we're riding along in the bright sunshine, strafing curves or stalking cruisers, our machines are revelling in the doing.  Each curve gets smoother as my muscles and joints start complaining from too many months off of the bike and not enough working out for when I do get to ride.  Esses, switchbacks, sweeping, or tight the FZ1 flows though all curves with ease.  Stock suspension required muscling to transition from side to side.

We took a decent break at our usual spot before gearing up and going towards the Cherohala Skyway on Hwy 28 and 143 through Robbinsville.  Because we'd talked about me taking more pics, I didn't think Cruzman would mind if I stopped at some of the scenic pullouts to capture the scenery.

Like I said before, I like to ride too much to stop and take pics often and sooner rather than later forgot about pulling over to take pics.  The rest of the Cherohala and Hwy 68 were on the menu.

That was it as far a stopping to take pics.  We both failed at taking action shots but in retrospect one of us like the middle pic above would have sufficed.  I felt really smooth after lunch but those hours ended more quickly than I would have liked.

Before long, we were back in Blairsville.  We had dinner at Fatz before retiring for the night.

Just like when going to a rally, I put this tire on to get the last good miles out of it.
Tuesday, 17 March 2015: I'm coming home, tell the world.

Like the end of a rally, departure day reveals a variety of methods for the participants to get home.  I was looking forward to getting home where I had a few goodies waiting for me, but that's for another post.

Cruzman and MrsCruzman host an awesome invite only Rally!  I'm eagerly anticipating the next End of Season rally.  This one was fairly intimate with just the three or two of us but didn't cut corners on the fellowship and friendliness.  I don't know what made me special to get the invite but I'm grateful to have been included.

Mileage tally:
Saturday mileage: 98
Sunday mileage: 255
Monday mileage: 318
Tuesday mileage: 93

Thanks for reading,
patrice, theWolfTamer

Not like a rally:  Not the tent, but comfortable none the less.

1 comment:

  1. You have to admit the personalized "Wolf" blanket makes you feel warm and cozy. Next time the basement will be finished and we will have room for 3 or 4 more....


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