05 July 2015

Trip Report: 2015 FZ1OA Rally

10-14 June 2015:  Rally Summary.  For this year's rally I thought I'd try to take more pictures and video so I could really document it.  That didn't happen.  The rally was at a new old location, The Deals Gap Motorcycle Resort.  I learned from last year's rally to not get too exiced about seeing my FZ1 family or I'd barely remember it.

Leading up to departure, I was wavering between riding up on Wednesday or leaving Thursday with Cruzman and whoever else from the area.  I didn't actually decide until Wednesday afternoon as I loaded the bike.

Cruzman and his wife were going to their cabin Wednesday so they could leave from there Thursday morning to meet iluvmyfz1 and WLFMAN in Tellico Plains around lunch.  By the time I got done shopping and loading the bike, I would arrive at their cabin about the same time as they did.  Decision made.

On my last ride, I discovered that the extended "kick" that I put on the side stand when I installed the rearsets was too extended.  I scraped it really good on the ride down Blood Mountain into Cleveland.  Before the rally, I shortened the "kick" anticipating the curvy technical roads waiting for us.
Living with 20-something year old boys has some benefits.  I will deny I said this if asked in person.  Oddly, the Bud Ice cap kind of matches the Yamaha blue.  That wasn't my intention.  I just picked up the first bottle cap I saw.

My new kick is better than the old one because of the bottle cap.  Now I'm thinking about making a knob for my tail case so I don't need to constantly remove the key.  I drink enough Coke not to need the boys for this one; I am an Atlanta native after all.

At dinner, the Ham steak special was not Ham but hamburger.  The waitress came back to tell me that that a while after she'd taken my order.  It was very good even if it wasn't a true ham steak but more like a deconstructed burger.

Since we were leaving from Blairsville, we were able to have a leisurely morning.  I was ready a good 10 minutes before Cruzman's announced KSU departure time and we seemed to make record time getting to Tellico.

iluvmyfz1 and his wife were staying at a resort there but met us at the very quaint Tellico Cafe, in the heart of downtown Tellico.  My breakfast omelette was very very good.  WLFMAN arrived a little while after we did.  Since we were less than 100 miles from our destination, we weren't in too much of a hurry.  The skies appeared to be clear despite the forecast for afternoon showers near Deals Gap.

About 3 miles outside of Tellico Plains on the Cherohala Skyway, we rounded a curve to the debris and aftermath of a motorcycle crash.  There were people in the ditch, bikes with thier broken bits in the road.  It was clear we were first on the scene.

We were there until the first responders took over from us.  The real first responders, not arrogant Euro travellers who claimed to want to be helping.  I don't think I'll ever forget iluvmyfz1 pausing from directing traffic to yell "What the F**k are you doing?  Get that guy out of the road!"

I turned to see the short Euro guy with all the attitude trying to get the old dude who'd caused the wreck to sit up despite him complaining of back pain.  At the same time, the distant sound of approaching sirens began.  iluvmyfz1 sounded mad enough to fight but I'm not sure if he was.

Once the LEOs determined we hadn't actually seen the accident and that one of the guys had left the scene (despite us telling him we had help coming), the told us to leave since we were blocking the road.

While directing traffic, I noticed a few wet cars and suspected there was rain ahead.  A glance at the sky confirmed my suspicions but I thought we'd be gone in time to gear up for the rain.  The LEOs arrival took all that time away.  It was not raining when we finally rolled away from the scene but a few curves later, we were soaked.

A few curves after that, I had lakes in my boots.  By the time we reached a spot where we could safely pull off, there was no point in putting on rain gear.  I couldn't even get my rain cover onto my tank bag.  I only had one rain cover for my saddle bag.  I (think I) lost the other one last year on the way home from the rally.  I did not put my stuff in waterproof bags inside the saddlebags like I usually do.

We rode through small hail out of the storm and 20 minutes back into it as we took the "shortcut" to get to Deals Gap.  I was miserable.  I'm certain I rode for half an hour or more without releasing the grips, just doggedly riding hoping the rain would stop.

When iluvmyfz1 and I checked in at the resort, we left a puddle in front of the counter.  I went barefoot for about an hour until I finally got the tent setup and my really damp stuff out of the saddlebags.  Then flip flops after that.  Mercifully, the storm moved out of the area taking with it my determination to take more pictures and video.

After watching other Rally people arriving in the wet, then drying afternoon, iluvmyfz1, his wife and I put our saturated stuff back on and took off toward the sunlit skies hoping it'd get our leathers less wet.  It did.
First night, I had the campground to myself.
Next morning, I put on my damp (still wet) leather pants on and prepared to steam dry on our little ride of the Dragon Cherohala loop.  During breakfast it started raining.  I stubbornly refused to go until the shower passed.  Turns out I wasn't the only one.  That loop takes maybe 3 hours to finish so I figured it didn't matter if we left when we planned too or not.

We left around 11:30 going to Franklin, NC with Caffe Rel as our lunch destination.  It seemed none of the other planned rides were going there so we might as well get it in while we could.

Every time I thought I felt rain, I was pulling over to put my Frogg Toggs on.  After experiencing the direct aftermath of crashing the day before, I was a little cautious with my pace.  In one of the first curves on Hwy 28 after turning from 74, I had a squiggle that forced me at least a foot off of my line.  I slowed down even more.  MrsCruzman had no trouble keeping up with me.  In fact, I couldn't get rid of her.

Caffe Rel was everything I expected and then some.  I ordered a little too much when I added the roast beef sandwich to my snails and tails.  It was so very very very good.  I got through half of the sandwhich before common sense over took me.  It was too hot to get too full and ride back.

When we reached Robbinsville, NC, MrsCruzman and I decided to go back to the resort while Cruzman and YamahaMan444 took the Cherohala and the Dragon back.

Extremely slow Harley riders (35 in a 55 mph zone, 12 or 13 in the sweepers) forced MrsCruzman and I to explore a little.
That's about how close MrsCruzman followed me down HWY 28.

The Tapico Lodge have a riverside and inside restaurants.  The rally group planned to go their for the Saturday night meal.  I actually missed the grilling even though we still had the night time gathers.  The wood was too wet to start a fire the first two nights.

Between the Harley riders and 20 or more corvettes, the ride back to the resort was torturously slow.  MrsCruzman went on to Fontana to rest before we all gathered for dinner at Fontana's Wildwood cafe.  I forgot I had my Caffe Rel half sandwich in my case but the potato salad was still very good.

That night, there were more campers.

Next morning, I again decided not to ride the Dragon.  I hadn't since I got there.  I decided to join PJ's group ride to the Wheels Though Time museum.  I know I went last year but this year I've been reading about the old bikes and wanted to see some of the motorcycle history with my new perspective.

I never made it.  For the second time this trip, I came around a curve to discover a bike down.  This time I knew the guy and his wife was on her own bike not too far behind me.  He had at least 3 broken ribs with minor damage to his FJR.  I stayed with them the rest of the day to be support and try to do anything I could to make a miserable thing less so.

My reward was Caffe Rel.  I would have done it anyway.  It was the first time I experienced Hwy 28 in something other than a motorcycle.  I got a little queasy in the back of their truck.

I met some really cool people just hangiing around at the Deals Gap Resort.  We got back just before the group left for Tapico Lodge.  I was too full to even think about going.

Despite all of the crashes it was another awesome Rally.  Fantastic to be reunited with my FZ1 family and meet new members of it.

Cruzman was going to help YamahaMan444 with his broken shifter/peg limp to his house to get repairs and iluvmyfz1 and his wife planned a leisurely pace home.  I decided to ride home alone for only the second time.  I made a four hour trip take twice as long by spending at least an hour in the Catoosa river when I got hot and taking a different way home.

I got in my Dragon Time before I broke camp.

Thanks for reading,
patrice, theWolfTamer
Dinner for me..
A treat for my girl.

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