That’s right we went on a 228 mile ride today. No it wasn’t a trip, it was a Sunday ride. It all started the other day when I asked Donna if she wanted to go have lunch at Turner’s Corner Café at the corner of US 129 and Georgia Highway 9 today. So we got a late morning start and headed up. Here it is July in Georgia and the forecast was for a high temperature of 85°F, low humidity (rare) and mostly sunny skies. I played with the GPS software, Basecamp and created a route that would take us up using some local roads we hadn’t been on before and then transferred it to the GPS. We headed up through Canton, Ballground and Dawsonville before using Georgia Highway 400 for a short time until it ended. After we made our turn onto Georgia Highway 115 we were only supposed to be on it for a short time before making a left turn and cutting back diagonally on some nice crooked local roads. But the GPS showed it was 12 miles until our next turn. I saw what I thought was our turn go past. For some reason the GPS decided that it wanted to route us up Highway 115 to US 129 which would take us straight to Turner’s Corner Café. No big deal, we just wanted to have lunch on the river and watch the motorcycles. Once we got to lunch I brought the GPS in with us and reloaded the route and previewed it. Sure enough it showed the original route. I don’t know why the GPS didn’t use the route as planned but this is the second time this has happened. Both Basecamp and the GPS have the same maps installed.
This was also my first day riding with a new pair of Do-It-Yourself custom molded earplugs. I got mine from Ear Plug Superstore. I’ve tried them before but didn’t quite get them right. This time however I took my time and didn’t second guess the instructions and they worked. They are harder to get in your ear but have quite a good seal. This may sound weird but they’re both quieter and noisier. They’re quieter in that they “muffle” sound well and I needed to turn my intercom up a bit to hear the GPS and Donna. But they’re noisier in that I think there’s more wind noise than my ETY plugs. But then that may be a good thing. I suffer from tinnitus (a ringing in your ears) and if it’s too quiet, the ringing can seem louder, will be irritating and could just make you uncomfortable. But the new self moldable plugs gave me the “white noise” effect that my hearing aids also supply and my night-time sound machine.
I figured that after lunch we’d head back home as it was just over an hour and a half ride. But while eating Donna asked “Where are we riding after this?” So after lunch we backtracked down US 129 a few miles to Georgia Highway 75 Alt until we made our left (northerly) turn onto Georgia Highway 348, the Richard B. Russell Scenic Highway. This curvy stretch of mountain road only runs between Highway 75 Alt and Georgia Highway 180 and isn’t very long. There are numerous pull-offs to view the Appalachian Mountains. It’s a very fun and curvy road but there weren’t many motorcycles on it today. At the RBR’s end we made the turn on to Highway 180 for a very short distance before heading up and over Blood Mountain on US 129 and then headed for Dahlonega and home.
So we had a great Sunday ride of 228 miles. Oh, and along the way today the Magic Carpet’s odometer reached and passed 82,000 miles.
My Blue Knights Chapter had scheduled one of its weekday “Hooky Rides” for today and had planned to ride “The Gauntlet” in northern Georgia. Well, we had only three of us show up for breakfast and to ride. The Gauntlet is a 133 mile loop showcasing some of north Georgia’s great motorcycling roads. We began the loop at the intersection of US HWY 19 and US HWY 129 at Turner’s Corner (the bottom of the attached image below, above Dahlonega, and rode it counter-clockwise). If you’re skilled enough, you can get some wear on the sides of your tires too on this ride. Two of us today are former motor officers from the Atlanta Police Department and the third is just a flat-out good rider. Part of this ride literally has North Carolina on one side of the road and Georgia on the other! For some reason this ride takes all day to complete. We could’ve easily ridden up to Deal’s Gap and ridden The Tail of the Dragon and come back in the time it took to ride this 133 mile loop. We had a cloudless blue sky and started with temperatures in the mid 60’s F and reaching 88° F in Dahlonega when we finished. It really is a fun route to ride. I wore my new Tourmaster Air Tracker mesh pants and they were great on this warm day. I also wore my River Road Laughlin jacket, from Motorcycle House, all day, opening the vents in the jacket as it warmed. The jacket got warm sitting in some traffic in Dahlonega and again in Woodstock on the way home but cooled off as expected once I got moving again. At the end of the day the Magic Carpet got parked in the garage with 81,473 miles on her odometer.
The Gauntlet is marked in red.
Today was the first Saturday this season for “Pancakes On The Porch” at Rider’s Hill in Dahlonega, GA. These are not just pancakes, these are HUGE pancakes. These pancakes are the size of a dinner plate! Don’t ask me how they cook them without burning them and flip them without breaking them. Whatever you do, don’t order two.
My Blue Knights Chapter rode up to Rider’s Hill from various locations to enjoy some of those pancakes with our friends as well as some members of Blue Knights Georgia IX who showed up too. We had planned on a ride somewhere in the area after our hearty pancake breakfast. As it turned out many of our members had “honey do lists” waiting for them back home or just wanted to head home. Maybe they wanted to head home for a nap but I would’ve preferred napping in the rocking chairs on the porch to the symphony of motorcycle engines. One member on his Gold Wing joined Donna and me for a short ride. As Steve put it, “It’s too beautiful a day to not go for a ride.”
We headed north from Rider’s Hill and took Georgia HWY 60 past the “rock pile” and Two Wheels of Suches. We made the right onto the stretch of Georgia HWY 180 which is named Wolf Pen Gap RD on the stretch between GA HWY 60 and US HWY 129 (the map image below DOES NOT do this road justice). Once at HWY 129 we made the right and then headed up and over Blood Mountain and back for Rider’s Hill. After a short break we headed for home. Down in Dawsonville, they were having “Spring Fling Days” and we wanted to avoid any traffic from that (we got caught in road closures for a foot race on the way up), so after we left Dahlonega we took Georgia HWY 52. While on HWY 52 we saw a sign for a street named Myrtle Beach so in a way, sort of, we rode to Myrtle Beach today. We branched off on Georgia HWY 183 before making the turn on Georgia HWY 53 towards Jasper and then on for home.
There were a lot of BMW Motorcycle out on the road today as the BMW Motorcycle Club of Georgia was holding its annual Georgia Mountain Rally up in Hiawassee, Georgia.
The odometer on the Magic Carpet passed through 81,000 miles today and now sits in the garage plugged into the battery tender with an odometer that reads 81,163 miles.
Part of the parking lot at Rider’s Hill this morning for “Pancakes on the Porch”.
Wolf Pen Gap RD between Georgia HWY 60 and US HWY 129.
Yes we took a vacation 2 weeks ago on the motorcycle. But Donna said she hadn’t been on a 100 mile or more day-ride in a long time. The dogwood trees are in full bloom here so we decided to ride. No, the two are not related in any way other than the dogwood trees are in bloom and we rode. I was also trying out my new Tourmaster Tracker Air Pants (you can read the review on this link; wink, wink, nudge, nudge).
Donna had a store meeting this morning but was off the rest of the day. I dropped her off in the car and headed back home. Then when her meeting was over I headed back. There she was on the curb so I pulled up and asked “Hey lady do you want to go for a motorcycle ride?” She said she wanted the Italian hoagie sandwich for lunch at Turner’s Corner near Cleveland, GA and I wasn’t going to argue, nor did I want to. We went and met Sean & Christine (and their Victory Cross Country Tour) and we were off. It’s a destination and route we’ve taken numerous time before but it’s always fun. We headed up towards Jasper, GA and then on to Marble Hill. Before we reached Dawsonville we headed north on Steve Tate Highway (it’s really just a two lane road) until it dead ended at Georgia HWY 136 to HWY 183. It was then literally just down the hill to HWY 52 which would take us to Dahlonega. While on HWY 52 we came up behind a motor home towing a car. They had South Dakota plates so they weren’t local. Now normally we hate being behind a motor home on mountain roads but this guy could drive. He was moving along well enough that we had no desire to pass him. He seemed to not like when an SUV got in front of him on HWY 9. We headed for Turner’s Corner. Along the way approaching motorcyclists were patting their helmet warning of the police ahead. It wasn’t long before we found the Sheriff’s car on the side of the road. There was a motorcycle in front of us and the female passenger waved at him as they passed. He stuck his arm out the window and waved back. We know he was out there looking for scofflaws on the curvy road but he was also waving at passing motorcycles too. After lunch we rode up US129 on Blood Mountain and it’s combination of sweeping and sharp curves. After Blood Mountain it was a short trip over to The Richard B Russell Scenic Highway (GA HWY 348) and its nice curves going up and down the mountain. On the way back down, heading south we noticed we were on fresh asphalt. Sometimes motorcyclists are so easy to please! The new asphalt was nice and smooth. The tires gripped the curves like glue and we took those curves at a higher speed and even left some scrape marks in the new pavement. Once we reached the bottom at HWY 75 Alt. Sean took the lead and took us on Adair Mill RD eventually bringing us out on US 19 where we headed up to Rider’s Hill for ice cream. While sitting in the rocking chairs not one but two of the new BMW R Nine-T motorcycles pulled up. The tall, bald-headed guy looked familiar but at the moment I couldn’t place him. I went inside and noticed the owner of BMW Motorcycles of Atlanta in the shop. He was with the bald-headed guy who I now recognized to be BMW factory rider Nate Kern. The owner, Bob recognized me and we chatted for a moment. They headed out and Nate got on one the new R Nine-Ts and Bob the owner got on his R 100 Dakar. From there it was time to head for home. The only bad part of the day was the yellow pollen that coats everything, including us, this time of year.
The Magic Carpet amongst the dogwoods at Rider’s Hill in Dahlonega, GA.
Today was the BMW Motorcycle Club of Georgia’s annual Toy Ride to the Towns County Georgia Sheriff’s Office. The club holds its Georgia Mountain Rally every spring in Hiawassee, GA which is located in Towns County. The county and the area are extremely hospitable to the visiting motorcyclists and this one of the club’s ways of thanking the community. The Sheriff’s Office is the dropping off location and distribution center for toys that will be distributed throughout the county from several sources or from deputies who have found children or families in need of some help during Christmas. Toys can be picked up at the sheriff’s office or even delivered. In some cases toys are even left secretly by deputies. The club asks motorcyclists to drop off unwrapped toys at the two Atlanta area BMW Motorcycle dealers. Then on the day before the ride Blue Moon Cycle’s toys are brought to BMW Motorcycles of Atlanta, where the ride to deliver the toys leaves the next morning. Any motorcycle is welcome to ride and help spread some holiday cheer. This year we filled the sprinter van up! There were even 5 bicycles loaded into the van.
This year, my friend Sean joined me on the ride on his Victory Cross Country Tour. As I was riding to meet Sean for the ride to the dealer it was 40 degrees (F) and there were a few snow flurries floating around. Perfect weather to help out Santa Claus! We got to the dealer where the riders were treated to hot drinks and breakfast before we all helped load the van. There were about 30 -35 motorcycles riding up this year. As we headed up north the temperature was dropping and the sky was still overcast. The heated grips and heated seat were put to use. Every year we have a scheduled stop in Blue Ridge, GA. In Blue Ridge we were greeted with snowflakes falling from the sky and a temperature of 34 degrees (F). Again, perfect for Christmas! I looked at my phone and was greeted with a weather advisory for freezing mist and freezing fog for the Blue Ridge area. After our pit stop we were back on our way to Hiawassee to deliver the toys. As we rode on, we could see snow at the higher elevations. The sheriff and his staff were there to greet us with coffee, hot chocolate and Christmas cookies while we unloaded our toys to be added to what had already been collected. I don’t know how anyone was able to get any work done at the Sheriff’s Office as the offices were all filled with donated toys. Their goal is that no child in the county should not go without a Christmas toy.
After dropping off the toys our group started splitting up to head for lunch and home. Sean and I took a ride up and over Blood Mountain on US HWY 129, looking at some snow-covered mountain tops. On most of our ride to lunch the temperature had dropped to 31 degrees (F) and we could even see some of the freezing fog at the higher elevations above us and at Brasstown Bald, the highest point in Georgia. We stopped in for a leisurely lunch at Turner’s Corner Café before continuing on for home. Sean had made an observation today too. As most motorcycles were BMWs (there was Sean’s Victory, a Triumph Tiger and Suzuki V-Strom also) he noticed that most riders were wearing armored, fabric riding gear and full faced helmets, including him, instead of jeans and leather jackets. He also noted there wasn’t a “beanie” helmet in the bunch.
It was fun to help out Santa Claus. I also tried out a feature on my phone that’s called “BlackBerry Storymaker” that can make a “story” from pictures or video and that attempt is right below here.
I was supposed to go to a Blue Knights meeting today but I played hooky. It was too good a day to ride just a few exits on the interstate to go to lunch meeting and then go home. Since I’m not a Chapter Officer anymore it was easy to do.
Donna said she wanted to go for a “long ride” today. It was our first fall ride of 2013. The leaves are already changing and dropping (or is that FALLing) here in north Georgia and it’s only the last weekend in September! Maybe all the rain we had this summer has something to do with it. We had no plan, just a direction and a couple of lunch ideas in our heads. It was a beautiful, cloudless blue sky and the forecast was for a high temperature of 77F. Actually for most of the day’s ride it was in the upper 60’s for temperatures and was great. We were on Georgia HWY 53 headed for Dawsonville when Donna asked “What about that road past Big Canoe?” I told her it would take us straight out to GA HWY 136 and we could take that on up to GA HWY 52 and then take HWY 9 right on into Dahlonega. “Yeah. Do that.” came through the headset. So we took Steve Tate HWY passed Big Canoe and then with its tree covered hills and curves. When we made it over to HWY 52 we were passing some pumpkin fields. It was really feeling like fall now. We passed a “pumpkin patch and corn maze” where traffic slowed just a bit. It was odd that we didn’t see any other motorcycles along our route until we got to HWY 9 and headed for Dahlonega. Donna wanted to stop in at Rider’s Hill for a short break after I told her that our lunch stop would Turner’s Corner Café, to which I got an excited “Yippee!” through the intercom. We left Rider’s Hill behind us taking GA HWY 9/60 to the Rock Pile was it was US 19 though the hills and curves until Turner’s Corner Café where we had lunch out on the deck overlooking the intersection and the river. A couple of sport bikes made the left and headed up US 129 and up Blood Mountain. When one revved his engine out of site, Donna said “Let’s go that way! How long will it take to get home?” Even though home was to the south and that route would take us north, a little math from a sign for Blairsville told me we could there in 30 minutes. So I told Donna that Blairsville was about 30 minutes away and I knew home was an hour and a half from Blairsville so I’d get us home about 5:00 pm. “Let’s go.” Going up Blood Mountain wasn’t a special ride for us, we’ve ridden it numerous times. But it’s a nice fun, curvy road with a good surface and good visibility. We were passed by bikes going the other direction in the curves that looked like they were on a race track! Not just the leaning but the speed! Local resident’s have been “venting” in a the Atlanta paper’s column “The Vent” about the speeds of motorcycles this summer. They know motorcycles have always been on the road but they’re now complaining about the speeds and I see why. It’s only a matter time before the Georgia State Patrol begins a dedicated enforcement action. I don’t care how a good a rider you think you are, it’s a public roadway and not a personal raceway.
It was a good day and fall is in the air!
We stopped in at Rider’s Hill before heading for lunch.
We weren’t the only motorcycle at Turner’s Corner Café. There were actually quite a few.
Donna dining on the deck at Turner’s Corner Café.
I met one our blog readers and a fellow reader of the bmwlt.com message forum today. Scott and his wife are vacationing on their BMW K1200LT from Michigan and are staying up in Hiawassee for a few days. Scott had gotten in touch a while back so that we could get together and ride while they were here. Today was that day. Unfortunately Donna had been put on the work schedule and couldn’t get anyone to swap with her so it was just me today. I had a great cool ride from the homestead up to Hiawassee. Around Blue Ridge it got pretty foggy and the mountains were shrouded in the fog.
We planned on meeting at the Blue Otter Restaurant in Hiawassee before heading out for a ride that included lunch. As it turned out, the three of us had all skipped breakfast and were hungry so we just decided to start with lunch right there at the Blue Otter. We then headed through Hiawassee before heading south down Georgia Highway 17 towards Helen. We made the turn on Highway 75 Alt and I wanted to point out Goats On The Roof along the way in Scorpion Hollow (unincorporated) but as we approached, there were no goats and the property was vacant with a large “For Sale” sign out front. We then turned back north on US Highway 129 to head up Blood Mountain and head for Blairsville. We stopped for a break at the Appalachian Trail crossing and I asked “Was that stretch of road okay?” It must’ve been a good choice because both Scott and his wife were grinning from ear to ear while taking off their helmets and nodding their heads. But soon it was time to head back down the mountain and for Blairsville where we’d say our goodbyes.
It was fun to ride with another K1200LT also. You usually don’t see many of them out on the road, let alone two of them together.
Scott it was a pleasure and fun riding with you guys today and we wish you a safe journey on the rest of your trip and on your way back home.
The route taken by our two BMW K1200LT motorcycles today.
My Blue Knights Chapter rode a route in north Georgia today that is known as “The Gauntlet“. It’s a 133 mile route of twisting and curvy mountain roads. We had 5 motorcycles with 9 people (3 motorcycles were 2 up) meet for breakfast in Dahlonega before departing. When we headed across the Richard B. Russell Scenic Highway we ran into fog that was so thick it felt like rain. Then on the way down that mountain we did get roads wet with rain. We stopped to don some raingear and to decide if we should continue. We decided that if it looked like rain at our turn for Hiawassee, we’d head for home. The skies didn’t clear but the clouds stopped leaking so we headed for Hiawassee and our lunch stop at the Blue Otter on the shores of Chatuge Lake. After lunch it was time to finish the route and head for places like The Biker Barn and more curvy roads around Nottley Lake and points south and east. The group was just the right size to easily keep together. We’ve actually ridden every one of these roads, except for one before but this was the first time riding all of them in the same day. It makes for a long day of riding and we put a total of 248 miles on the Magic Carpet today
Yesterday was Mother’s Day here in the US. Donna and her sister took their Mom to lunch and then Donna had to work later that afternoon. I called my Mom who lives in another state. But what did I do on Mother’s Day? Why I went for a motorcycle ride! Now some may think this unusual but Donna has even requested to that before on Mother’s Day and birthdays. I guess I’m one lucky guy.
My Blue Knights Chapter had to cancel a ride the day before because of a forecast of a high probability of thunderstorms. Those thunderstorms never materialized. But there’s an old aviation saying about cancelling a flight that can be compared to motorcycling, “It’s better to be down here wishing you were up there than to be up there wishing you were down here.” So on Sunday a friend, Sean, and I went for a ride. We were going to pre-ride a route for an upcoming Blue Knights ride. We met in Jasper, GA under a nearly cloudless blue sky with temperatures already warming into the mid 60’s. We took off and headed for Talking Rock before heading up over Burnt Mountain on GA HWY 136. I don’t know what it is about Burnt Mountain but it’s always significantly cooler up there. Along the top, the temperature dropped down to 51 and when Donna and I were up there about 2 months ago there was snow on the side of the road when the mountain tops in the area hadn’t seen snow for over a week! We headed on through Dahlonega passing Rider’s Hill and making the turn at the Rock Mound for Turner’s Corner and US HWY 129. Turner’s Corner wouldn’t be our lunch stop today as we were going to have BBQ in Blairsville. But now it’s time to vent. Some people shouldn’t ride motorcycles. Or if they do, they should pull over and let the line of cars and motorcycles pass them. On US 19/GA 9, between GA 60 and US 129 we got stuck behind a couple on a Kawasaki Vulcan cruiser, a “Harley-A-Like” bagger. He had highway pegs mounted high up on his crash bars. He had the pegs angled so his feet pointed to the sides of the road. This guy literally looked like he could’ve been at the gynecologist’s office for an exam! That was just to paint a picture. He would go along at 45 mph or higher; until he reached a curve. When he reached a curve his brake light would come on and he would slow dramatically. Come out of the curve and he’s speed up until the next curve and repeat it again. The entire stretch of road is probably a no passing zone and there was car between us, so I didn’t pass them. Then I noticed (because I had nothing better to do while creeping along) that when he would brake in the curves that his feet were still up on those highway pegs! He was braking hard using only his front brake in curves. When we got to US 129 to go up and over Blood Mountain, this guy on his Kawasaki sadly turned left. Great, now we were going to be behind him on a really curvy road! He started his routine all over again. But luckily, it wasn’t long before we got two lanes on our side of the road with a nice sign that reads “Keep Right Except To Pass”. So I drop to 4th gear, pull out into the left lane give the gas; good. I wanted to pass this guy as quickly as we could! Then to my amazement as I’m parallel to him, he begins changing lanes into me in a curve to the left. I saw the shock and panic on his face. I’m sure that if I had hit my horn he would’ve wrecked. But we put him in our rear view mirrors. It wasn’t until we stopped for lunch that Sean told me how close that Kawasaki had gotten to me. Since Sean and I were both riding solo, we rode a bit more “spirited” than if our wives were with us. The BMW K1200LT is an 850 pound touring motorcycle can that do a pretty good impersonation of a sport bike at times. We got to a nice sweeping, angled and sharp right curve and I was really leaning into to it, “motor officer style”. That means pushing the bike over while your body is upright. Suddenly I felt my right foot peg scraping the road! I guess I was leaning a bit far! Usually when riding 2 up and we’re leaning like that, the side stand on the left or the center stand on the right will scrape first as a warning. I didn’t get that warning being solo and it surprised me a bit. I got to thinking later and realized that those foot pegs are pretty high off the ground to begin with. In the same spot Sean drug the right floorboard of his Victory Cross County Tour through the whole curve. We had a really good time going up and over the mountain. If you’ve been in the area you know what a well maintained, curvy and fun road US 129 over Blood Mountain can be. We stopped for lunch in Blairsville before getting back on the motorcycles and taking a more sedate and leisurely route home. As we were getting ready to leave the BBQ restaurant, a group of 5 Triumph motorcycles pulled in just in time to take our parking spots as the lot was full. I even made it back home in time to kiss Donna before she headed off for work. But I did cook her a dinner she wanted when she got home. Now Donna wants to go for a ride because it’s been a while. Where should we go………..
The Roadrunner (L) and Magic Carpet (R) at our lunch stop.
The bronze colored area in the circle is where I scraped.
The foot peg I scraped is in the circle. You can see how high they are. WOOHOO!
Our route on Mother’s Day.
Yep, you read that right we have “Date Rides” and today was one of them.
It had been a while since Donna was on the back of the Magic Carpet. In fact she may not have ridden yet this year. This past Wednesday we woke to a dusting of snow on deck and rooftop here in northern Georgia. Further north in the state they had snow on the ground again. Fast forward to today, Friday. The forecast was for temperatures just above 60 degrees and for a cloudless blue sky. Over morning coffee we decided it was time for a “Date Ride”.
We headed north from the house going through Canton and Jasper while headed for a different than normal route, going through Talking Rock, Georgia this time. In Talking Rock we took GA HWY 136 over Burnt Mountain were there was still some snow along the side of the road at the higher elevations. There was also a good bit of the gravel that GDOT had so generously spread on the road, especially in the curves on the mountain. There was enough that you could see it in the center of the lanes so we didn’t take the curves as “spirited” as we would’ve like to blow out some cobwebs. The plan was to head up through Dahlonega then up over Blood Mountain and have lunch in Blairsville before heading for home. Now here’s the advantage to a “Date Ride” with just the two of us. We changed our plans along the way while riding. We decided on lunch at Turner’s Corner Café in Cleveland and then heading for home.
During the ride, Donna said she was formulating an article in her head about the floorboards that she likes. I like the ear plugs so much that I recently got some E.A.R. Do It Yourself Custom Molded Ear Plugs. The jury is still out on the custom plugs. I had to raise the volume on the intercom to hear it and the GPS (and they were muffled) so they’re definitely quieter. But there seemed to be more wind noise. The other Etymotic plugs I had gotten are designed to block sound but let conversation be heard. I’ll have to try them both on a ride one day to compare them better.
It was a really great day for a “Date Ride”.
Until next time, Ride Safe.