Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Little River Canyon, Alabama

I really wanted to title this post "Beemers in the Mist".  For the first time grabbing a new electronic item I did not instantly mesh with it and learn it's intricacies through osmosis.  Therefore, I did not capture images of our group swirling through the mist along the quiet highways.  But what am I going on about, you ask?

Some old and new friends gathered to take a jaunt into Alabama and visit Little River Canyon.

It did live up to its name.  It had a river and was a little canyon.  :-)  All joking aside, it was very scenic and attractive.  The only drawback was the road rimmed the canyon and wasn't anywhere near the water.  Great for scenery as there was an overlook every mile!  Not so great for cooling off by lounging in the water.

The ride from Atlanta was mostly uneventful.  But you could say the premonition for trouble came at breakfast when the gentleman leading the ride turned to us and asked if we had input the route into our GPS'.  Any other ride of the year, with any other group of people and we would have already done precisely that.  Nothing against everyone else, but it is nice to have your own idea of where you might be going instead of relying (or forcing) everyone else to look after me.  This was one instance where Mr. Oilburner and I were completely willing to trust in others and just see where the roads lead.

To give a little background, two of the gentlemen in the group work for a BMW motorcycle dealership, and can snag any bike off of the showroom floor for a ride.  Which is precisely what these two had done.  However, neither of the bikes had been set up for GPS and the leader was running with paper maps.  Knowing that I usually keep my GPS updated was the reason for his earlier inquiry.  We had a chuckle that Mr. Oilburner and I were "unprepared".  We agreed that if it looked like he was getting a little "off-course" to let him know.

With this edict we set off towards the small hill country.  The clouds were low surrounding us, and I was happily thinking up my blog title with a great picture to back it up.  Alas, no go. Other events will have to suffice.

Our destination was a mere 100 miles from our meet location.  Not bad at all, giving us plenty of time to ride the canyon and stop at the overlooks.  We all figured that taking the highways would get us there rapidly and painlessly and we could play, rather then add an hour to the trip on back roads.  Mr. Oilburner and I were quite content to enjoy the scenery and empty highway until I began to comment that my GPS would rather we had turned right instead of left.  No matter how much I may hate to admit it, but there is more then just MY way to a destination so I sat back and didn't obsess.  Leader could stop if he wanted to.

I grew concerned as the sun was now directly covering my left shoulder instead of behind and slightly to the right.  Means our course was taking us south-southwest when we should have been traveling northwest.  Um...ok.  Given that there isn't one single straight stretch of road in Georgia this highway just might veer back northwesterly.  Another 5 miles and it was blatantly clear that we were headed due south and something needed to be done.

About this time Leader seemed to have his own concerns and pulled to the shoulder.  I coyly rode up and meekly asked if he believed he was headed in the correct direction.  He grinned and asked me if I could get us back to the right road.  No problem!  Have GPS will lead!  I headed away, making the others scramble to catch up as they were enjoying ribbing Leader.  I executed a perfect u-turn, feeling like I was pivoting on my cylinder head and putting all behind me to shame.  (I may be exaggerating this a little in my mind, but I was riding with a group of extremely experienced riders and wanted to look like I belonged there.) :-)  Mr. Oilburner assures me that my u-turn was quite respectable.

The first stop-light we hit to bunch up and a fellow rider asks me just how far out of the way Mr. Leader took us.  He rolled his eyes and laughed, storing away the "10 or so miles" answers for latter heckling.  I was basing the 10 mile estimate on the distance to our turn, thinking we would be on the correct road.  Later we determined that our little detourr was closer to 40 miles.  Mr. Leader didn't live it down all day.

But my route back to our objective was a great cutoff through small country lanes.  Much was said about the single-wide trailer homes with expensive trucks, motorcycles and cars along here.  My concerns with leading the group a little astray and not riding the roads fast enough were washed away when Mr. Oilburner expected that no one minded as they were all busy looking left and right and not paying attention ahead.  :-)

In short order we were back on solid ground and looking good to approach our destination in 20 miles.  Leader took back over as everyone felt he couldn't get us into too much trouble in that distance.  And our little time for chatter gave me the opportunity to play with my new gadget and actually get it working.

I broke down and purchased the GoPro HD.  I'm reluctant to create a permanent mount point just yet and made due with the suction cup on the tank trick.  What do you think of the pictures?

Our little group clustered at a map of our canyon ride.

We reach the canyon and have a grand time.  We pull into every turnout.  And they are all gravel.  Not a problem for the guys on the borrowed GS'.  I'm only apprehensive.  But Mr. Oilburner is riding that RT like it's a dual sport with knobbies.  He goes careening through the deep stuff, catching a little air.  I managed to get it on video and will have to share with you once I figure out how to post it.

Our merry band of bikes.

Gorgeous colors.

Mushroom rock growing in the middle of the road.  
Rude riders that we are, we just parked in the middle for photo ops.

It was wonderful actually stopping at overlooks, with actual landscape to look over.  Instead of the usual gas stations other groups take breaks at.  We would dismount, peel our gear off, oh and ah the scenery, sit and chat while the breeze cooled us off, then head on down the road to do all over again in another mile.  Great group of individuals that enjoyed laughing and relaxing.  The only drawback was having to peel our sweat soaked gear back on again.  But the alternative wasn't an option as we made smarmy remarks about all of the road-rash-waiting-to-happen-harley riders.  :-)  Seriously...can you imagine pulling your jacket back on, only to have the mesh liner stick to your arms and be pulled halfway out the arm hole near your hand?  Rough readjusting all of that! 

293 miles
2 scenic "detours"
4 wonderful overlooks
1 HOT and STICKY day (temp gauges varied, but all agree it was near 100F)
1 missed section of the canyon to go back for
1 great ride with the worst miles to time ratio ever!  (293 miles in 12 hours door-to-door for us)

Can you see where we took the major detour? :-)


  1. Does the canyon rim road still have that very steep section in it? I remember years and years ago having to go up it in 1st gear in a VW bug. I remember the great scenery too.

  2. No steep sections on the small-ish portion that we did ride. We missed the turn to continue down to the southern end. We were thinking the southern end might actually go towards river level. Could that be the steep section? With temps reaching 100F and getting late in the day we decided to save it for another day.

  3. I always think that the "scenic detours" make the ride something special!

    I certainly get lots of them with my Tomtom.

  4. HI Nikos! Yes! I completely agree. So TomTom's get goofy like Garmins too? :) We have the best views of fabulous barns and pasture with horses or cows. Or the opposite with dirty trailers, broken down vehicles parted out in the front yard and bags of garbage. ;)

  5. Love the pictures! Don't know that I'd trust in a suction cup, myself, though. :)

  6. I'm apprehensive about the suction up as well. Original intent was to tie a safety cable to it. But I ran out of time and inclination in the morning. I was a little more comfortable having it mounted within inches of my knee. It would have been a different story if it were more out of sight.

    You might understand the massiveness of this suction cup when I post a picture of it. I liken it to the suction grab handles for glass handlers.

  7. Dear Lori:

    Once again. I am grateful that you were willing to risk your new camera (on the integrirty of the suction cup) for the benefit of others (like myself) who are still considering this kind of media.

    On several occasion, I have loast an entire troop of riders, numbering 15 or more, adding two hours of delay onto a 90-minute ride. It can happen to anyone.

    Great story. I love your straightforward writing style. You should do this professionally.

    Fondest regards,
    Jack • reep • Toad
    Twisted Roads

  8. Dear Jack,

    When you are with the right crowd getting lost is either mandatory or recommended... Either that is the way of the person, or it is just more fun! I truthfully don't think I have been on a group ride yet that didn't involve a u-turn or two. :) Let's hope your troop didn't think lynching was required for your scenic bypass.

    Thank you for the wonderful remarks. I don't take that lightly coming from someone that I absolutely enjoy reading. I frequently elbow Mr. Oilburner awake at night so I can read him your latest. I'm usually laughing so hard I am repeating everything...all the while laughing harder.

    I have been thinking of pursuing that avenue...just need to figure out where to start. Meanwhile I will practice here.