Thursday, July 29, 2010

Riding by Waterfalls

We made plans to ride with a friend we hadn't ridden with for awhile.  We made the plans for Saturday.  And we went to bed way too late after my getting home late on Friday from Birmingham.  This made for one extremely grouchy BeemerGirl Saturday morning.

With the heat and humidity we all agreed it would be nicer to head out early and decided on an 8AM meeting point about 30 minutes from my house.  Eight?  Back up the clock here:
  • 30 min to get there
  • 20 min prior to lock the house, water the dog, gear up
  • 30 min prior for showers and dressing and dashing around the house to gather clothing and gear
  • 15 min prior to make sure the dog is up, fed and pilled in time for her morning constitution to take place so we don't have presents on the carpet
If I have to be there by 8, I have to get up at when??  6 AM??  I went to bed when??  1 AM??  This was gonna be difficult.

I woke up sore and a little stiff, but the warm shower worked that out.  The really good news was that the tush didn't quell at the sight of the saddle.  And for once I didn't need fuel immediately, so that meant I wasn't suiting up with that fine layer of sweat as lubrication to ride a mile down the road to half undress to fill the fuel tank.  Then fighting with gloves to convince them they needed to cover all of my hand, not just fingers and fleshy part where you are stuck because I am so sticky!!

No.  I was able to suit up with the requisite sweat and hit the road to try and cool off.  We reached the meet location and filled up there and we were soon underway, heading to points Northeast.  For speed and time we took the highway up and veered off to start the waterfall trail on some baby twisties.

I was doing good until the point we turned off the main road.  Mr. Oilburner asked if we needed a break and since I never really answered he took it as a sign to go forward.  But what actually happened was another 10 minutes down the road my legs started to feel cramped and were screaming at me to stretch them.  But it was too late.  We had hit the beginning of the twisties on these tiny little roads and Mr. Oilburner and Alex were off at a gallop.  Being a little befuddled and completely out of sorts I was approaching everything slower.  I was expecting some tiny farm animal or another to come bounding out of some yard or field at me.  And the turns?  Kudzu was covering the white lines of this tiny, barely two lane road.  Every turn showed me that I was working my way through this area at a turtle's pace compared to the two hares in front of me.  (I will use hare's because it isn't polite to say what I would really like to call them.)

So here I am, finally on Warwoman Rd.  And absolutely no opportunity to stop and document me...on Warwoman Rd!!  And the two knuckle heads are racing farther away by the second.  Then I realize I am on these wonderful roads in a gorgeous valley with great lighting.  Something Scooter in the Sticks would completely take advantage of.  Now I am losing ground AND missing out on this great opportunity to take pictures of my motorbike!!  Grouchy doesn't even begin to convey the mood that I am in.

Almost completely through the best part of the valley I decided to pull over and finally switch the GoPro on.  But it is really too late.  I still started the camera and continued on, but the scenery and lighting wasn't nearly as nice.

Grouchy feelings and ignoring querying over the scala Mr. Oilburner rightfully deduced that I was completely out of sorts.  Which kinda spoiled the road and scenery for a ways.  And it added nothing to the mood that the waterfalls were proving difficult to find. One just could not be found.  And the other one was only spotted by me, after passing.  To be fair, it was difficult to see and regularly had to be trimmed back for viewing.  But having to park in someones driveway was annoying.  Especially when they wanted out!

 You can only see this thanks to the trimming.

Avert thine eye's grandmother.  Here I am in one of my cranky moments. Mother, you can look since you taught me this when I was 4 y/o.  :)

Giving my best FYYFF pose and showing my feelings.

I know that I was a royal pain in the ass and appreciate that Mr. Oilburner and Alex put up with my bad temper admirably.  After a few minutes of walking around and seeing the fabulous waterfall I was a mite better and we continued on.  Only a couple miles down the road is the wonderful artsy town of Highlands, NC.  One of those places that tries to showcase local stuff with this wild flare and charge outrageous prices.  This did result in another dismount only minutes after sweating back into our clothes, but Mr. Oilburner promised me ice cream.

Once I was happily working my way into a scoop of coconut ice cream (YUM!) we started trolling the shops along main street.  We did all the window shopping we desired, with some strange looks from the proprietors.  See, this is supposed to be a nice, rich, vacation area and they expect people to dress appropriately.  We are these clean cut people walking along the street in riding pants and boots and helmet hair.  Oh well.  They'll get over it.  There wasn't too much we were interested in, or could afford, anyway.  Alex and I were enamored by the balancing metal yard art, but felt the 4 foot, metal pole wouldn't do well to transport by motorbike.

Now that I am stuffed with ice cream and mad at myself for giving in and eating it in the first place, we head back to the bikes to continue on.  With parking at a premium in this town motorbikes will tend to congregate together and we found this parked next to me...

Search and Rescue Harley Davidson.  No, I will not comment on what they might have been "searching" for...being that it was a Harley.

Just down the road is our second waterfall.  Well known in these parts, Bridal Veil Falls, actually spills over the roadway, giving vehicles access to drive behind the falls.  Of course, this makes for much lolly-gagging and gawking.  In my mind I had always pictured the fall on a side street or turn off from the main road.  In reality, it is right on the road with just a little lay of pavement to make the detour behind it.

  Lots of cars/people and I didn't want to mess with it.  This is the best shot we could get.  Mr. Oilburner didn't want a picture.

We hopped back into the groove and made our way to the next fall, Dry Falls.  No, they weren't dry.  But we didn't go see it owing to the new large decking and steps.  We assumed it was going to be a bit of a walk/hike.  We were not up for that in our riding clothes and the day was turning out to be warm.  Heading towards home later in the day I discovered that there was a jut to the walking platform that probably gave a good view of the falls that was within steps of where we had parked.  Just goes to show you how annoyingly impatient and stupid we can be.

On the road again...  This time to our final lookout of Cullasaja Falls.

Cullasaja Falls

One of the best parts of these falls/this area is the road.  Tiny, narrow, shear rock walls on your side, baby twisties out the wazoo, long views into tree-covered valleys.

Beautiful valley dead ahead.

Sheer rock cliffs hugging the road, and narrow lanes.

Just to give you a little scale of these rocks.

We did pass the falls parking area.  Not a problem considering the size of the parking area and the blind curve just ahead.  It was only a mile or so down the road and we were able to turn around.  Check out this deteriorating parking pad that will accomodate about 2.5 cars.

Parking pad for the falls.

My baby.

Unless you wanted to be a billy goat for a few hours and attempt the [illegal] path down to the falls there wasn't much to do here.  We sat around on the rails, stretched our legs, posed for the camera and just chatted and laughed.  People came and went and we waved to the myriad of bikes and bikers on the road passing us by.  Time to suit up, though, and a family with young children had just stopped.  The boys were about 5 and 7 and more enamored with the bikes then the falls.  One just wanted to be part of the scene and wished us a "good ride" as he hopped back to their car.  Cool kid.

The jagged heart and shininess caught my eye.
I later comprehended the leaf being strangled in the background.

We suited up and determined it was hot and time to point the bikes towards home.  But there were many good roads between here and home; including the border hwy between North Carolina and Georgia of 246/106.  This isn't one that you can easily speed on since there is slower traffic.  But hairpin turns and 10% downhill grades can make for some fun.  I was actually able to capture a little of this on video.  

The roads were wonderful all the way home.  We took most of the ones less traveled and were regaled with some interesting sites of summertime redneck activities.

The one bridge that did not post signs of "No Jumping or Fishing from Bridge." 
So what do people do?  Jump from the bridge, of course.
There are a few more pictures that can be viewed on flickr.

279 miles
1 extremely grouchy BeemerGirl early in the day that didn't take many pictures
many baby twisties to play in, only one car on my side, this trip

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Small Milestones

It appears that I have stopped paying close attention to the total mileage on my bike since reaching my "ownership" milestone of 18884.  I mean, I do pay attention to it in a cursory way.  I want to make sure I perform, or have performed, the necessary service at all the required intervals.  But beyond that it hasn't crossed my attention.

In addition to the regular odometer, my bike has two tripometers.  One I keep set to the current ride out of the driveway this morning.  The other is set to keep track of the mileage on the current tank of fuel.  So I usually have one of the tripometers displaying at any given time.  I might flip through the odometer on my way to one of the tripometers.  And it may catch my attention, or not.

On my way to grab some tags the other day (write up forthcoming) I became aware that I would probably reach the 25,000 mile marker while on my way home.  Do you know how long a mile is when you are waiting for your odometer to flip?  It is interminable!!  I had to negotiate new road constructions, new stop lights and traffic, ever keeping an eye on my odometers hoping I would be someplace near a parking lot.  I was getting ready to make a few laps around the hospital just to flip it since I wouldn't have stopping opportunities on the highway.  Luck would have it that it flipped just before the highway transition and I was able to pull into a parking lot and snap my little proof.

Bikes odometer at 25,000 miles.

Just 75,000 more to go to feel she is broken in.  LOL.

I have been sneered at for this post (a little) since there isn't a frame of reference.  I did not put all 25K miles on this bike.  I did purchase it when it was 11 months old with 9442 miles under her shoes.  Hence my illogical but deeply seated fantasy that she wasn't really mine until I had put more miles on her then the previous owner did.  Making 18884 a magical number to me.  But as I said, upon reaching 18885 I haven't really given the mileage a second thought until I remembered that she needed her 24K rub down and fondling.  Still all a moot point since she is almost up to 26K now.  :)  Happy roads to you and may your take as good a care of you.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Birmingham Knows Hot

Let me ask you a question.  Exactly how hot do you have to be that 94F feels blessedly cool?  I don't know, but I can tell you that our temp gauges all read over 100F, and when we hit that pocket of air that was 94-95F it was downright refreshing.

Daniel's pannier stickers.

Today was the day Daniel was beginning his epic adventure to the Arctic Circle/Prudhoe Bay, Alaska and there were actually a few of us that wanted to go along to witness this occasion.  You will need to visit his website ATL to the Arctic to see more send off pictures and hear his family's side of the departure.

We met up at Blue Moon Motorcycles in Norcross at 10 and managed to get under way by 10:30.  In all 7 bikes accompanied Daniel out of town, with one person peeling off early.  It felt a little like a mad dash to get onto the freeway.  And it definitely felt like regular Atlanta hitting stopped traffic at the 285/20 interchange.  The good thing about being on a bike in traffic is being able to zip through cars and jump into the lanes way down the road.  The bad thing about being in a large group of bikes is that you aren't able to do that.  :-)  Our fearless leader made all of the right decisions and we made it onto I-20 West without trouble.

From here it is just a ride due West to Birmingham, Alabama and Daniel's first stop at Barber Museum.  This little leg of the journey is 130 miles of flat and easy interstate riding with nothing to look at but the bike in front of you.  I hadn't anticipated ending up riding third, right behind Daniel.  And I had turned the GoPro at a 90 degree angle to direction of travel, hoping to catch some side shots of the country.  But it dawned on me that I could try to snag some images of my fellow riders!  So I popped out of formation, rode up next to Daniel and by pointing and miming hoped I had made my intent known.  By this time our fearless leader was wondering what I was up to and had slowed down.  I made the same gestures to him and I think he got the idea as well.  I moved back into the fast lane and the rest of the group moved into the slow lane.

Now this is another area of "stupid user" issues with the GoPro.  Looking at angles and elevation I knew my throttle arm would be in the shot, but thought it would be low in the frame.  Well...never assume...  I've wound up with 1500 shots of my arm on prominent display with a few discernible features in the background.  Sometimes.  Live and Learn.  So these are the shots I ended up with for Daniel and his motorbike.

Daniel and his steed.

Daniel and his loaded steed more visible.

Fearless leader, Paulius.

The camera managed to capture one good image of some strange things seen on the road.

Sharing the road with a tank.

The most emotional experience wasn't captured though.  Just before reaching the border we slowed down our convoy and moved into the right lane.  No one was quite sure what was going on, but fearless leader wasn't concerned.  Till suddenly we saw in the shade of an overpass a couple cars on the side of the road and a large group of people waving signs and cheering.  I assumed they were more of Daniel's supporters and was very happy they were seeing him on the road.  I found out later they were his sister Kris (the one he started this for), her children and husband, and Daniel's father.  They had driven down from Rome to see him off!  Sitting here crying just writing this.  Fearless leader had known about the surprise visit and was anticipating them.  This was a complete surprise for Daniel and just helped him on a little more.

We arrived at Barber in due time, extremely hot and sweaty!  Barber was great and gave us complimentary tickets to the museum.  I have had opportunities to go to Barber in the past, but never took them.  I mean, it has seemed interesting, but nothing that I felt I wanted to go out of my way for.  I was wrong and will admit it.  If you don't go for the museum you need to go on a track day.

The museum is definitely something to behold with the architecture and the volume of vehicles.  It is 5 levels of fabulous displays mostly of motorcycles, but containing a couple other hot vehicles.

We were only able to spend about an hour here.  Not nearly enough time.  But Daniel needed to press on and we all needed to eat.  To spend our last minutes that we could, we traveled about half a mile down the road and had a last meal of sandwiches at Bass Pro Shop.  I've never seen a deli in one, and this one was nice!

We had a humorous farewell and conclusion.  We were all kinda expecting to watch Daniel ride off into the sunset.  But he kinda was waiting around for us to leave first.  We didn't get the hint until he finally spoke up and told us to leave because he wanted to say goodbye to his girlfriend without us hanging around.  :-)  We laughed, we hugged, we cried.  OK.  The guys didn't necessarily do that but Daniel's girlfriend (BK), his mother and I did.  I've had the chance to get to know them over the last couple of days and they are wonderful women.  So we suited up and headed off.  Our dramatic exit was a little marred by a couple people taking an exit out of the parking lot that was closed.  Necessitating u-turns and ride-bys.  ;-)

We stopped at the corner station for gas and were able to honk and wave and make spectacles of ourselves for Daniel's benefit when he rode by.  God speed, safety and blessings of fun on you Daniel!!  (Since I have taken so long in writing this Daniel has busted his rump and has reached Idaho to meet up with his brother, who will be riding a ways with him into Canada.  Read his blog to see his road pictures and updates.)

Now for the rest of us...towards the end of lunch our little return party felt it might be fun to ride Cheaha.  Cheaha State Park contains the highest elevation in Alabama at 2,407 ft. above sea level.  With some nice, twisty roads to boot.  Wanting to approach it from the back, and not wanting to take I-20, we navigated the side roads to the park.  This was an interesting adventure as the leaders GPS connection was tenuous and would cut out/reboot the unit every time he hit a bump.  And this is Alabama; bumps are everywhere.  Another guy stepped up and we wound our way around the country side.  This comes back to our temperature issues.  Yes, on the way to Barber hitting patches of air that were 94F were actually feeling downright cool.  On these backroads we never did experience cooler temps until we climbed the peak into the park.  At our halfway point hydration stop we started comparing temp readings.  Paulius'  read 104F. Phil's read 102.  I had stopped looking at mine when it read 100.4F and sweat is streaming down my face while we are moving at 55 MPH.  Sweating is normal and expected at a stop, but while moving at speed with the helmet shield cracked?!?  Highly unusual.  I think we all sucked down about half a gallon of liquid each, huddled in the shade of a cement brick building with an occasional breeze flitting by.

Hitting the twisties on approach to the park the main pack took off and had some fun.  Bringing up the rear I slowed down and took my time.  1) These are unfamiliar roads to me, plus narrow and twisty and I didn't want to ride fast.  2) My dark visor shield, the shade of the trees and the light gray color of the road prevented me from discerning if there was any gravel on the road. 3) I wanted to look around at the sites.  So I took it easy and every once in awhile I would round a corner to see Phil waiting to catch sight of me.  Then he would continue on to wait again in a couple miles or the next road intersection.  :-)  Thank you Phil!  The only time I questioned if they had taken a different direction was one I saw the swim lake.  We had been taking about water and rivers and cooling dips and I wasn't sure if they could have passed up that opportunity.  Alas, they had.

We made it to the peak and stopped for more hydration and salty snacks.  The campground store was well equipped with food/drinks and park benches for us to sit in this downright cool 86F shade!  How long has it been since you could say 86F was cool??  We rested and chatted for about 30 minutes before hitting the road again.  Most of us were still about 2 hours from home and it was approaching 6 pm EST.  I texted Mr. Oilburner to let him know I was on my way.  He texted back that it was raining up a storm at home.  When I told the guys the consensus was to hurry up so we might be able to catch some of that rain!

The return road down the mountain was wide, sweeping curves made for speeding.  But my trepidation won out on the light colored road again.  This time someone else was bringing up the rear and I slowed him down a little.  The other guys had gone ahead.  And either they took a turn we didn't or they had roared on through to the freeway, because we never saw them again.  My tail gunner and I hit the freeway and headed East.  The rest of the ride was uneventful.  Mark peeled off a little after the border crossing, leaving me to Atlanta freeways and rain.  I wasn't worried since I have my highly visible saddle bags with reflectors on that all cagers shun.  I didn't encounter wet roads until the I-20/I-85N transition.  And even then it was rapidly evaporating.  I didn't hit any rain myself, just the remnants of a heavy rain and large puddles.  I took the long street home that curves in front of the house so Mr. Oilburner could see me or hear my blaring, blatting horn and would come rushing to open the garage door for me.  :-)  I had been on the bike for about 2 hours by this time and couldn't manage to get out of the saddle.  I just had to sit there a few minutes, flexing the legs before even thinking about dismounting.

The day amounted to 355 miles at about 11 hours total time.  It was bloody hot and humid like you would not believe.  I felt for Daniel that was going to have to go through a couple more days of this.  But soon enough he would be hitting the unseasonably low temps that North America is experiencing.  It was a special day for what it was: seeing a friend begin his epic adventure.

355 miles
My fifth state: Alabama
Horrible 102F+ temps
Riding with a friend at the beginning of his journey

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Technology and Perfectionism

I think I may have mentioned in the past that I am an adept procrastinator.  If you add obsessive and perfectionist to that mix it can create trouble.  Then throw in a large handful of technological problems and you have me banging my head against the wall, murmuring quietly to myself.  OK.  Not so quietly.  More like screaming in frustration, banging the keyboard on the desk and trying to refrain from slamming my monitor against the wall.  That's about where I stand right now with the three rides that I have been wanting to write about, but they continue to sit unformed in the Draft bin.

It all comes down to the GoPro.  I like the unit.  Don't get me wrong.  But there is a reason that I am not a cinematographer!!  It could be that sometimes I lack patience for something that isn't my passion.  (And I am sure my mother is vehemently nodding her head in agreement at that.)  But I think it might have more to do with my cheap ways and not wanting to fork out big bucks for robust video editing software.

So this particular incident of procrastination comes because I decided to video two of the last three rides.  One ride I just turned the recorder on and forgot about it.  I wound up with 4 files, 4 GB each and covering about 3 hours of time.  Free video editing software that I do encounter just doesn't handle files of that size quickly.  Either the easy software doesn't handle the excessive file size, or it isn't easy software.  It all just boils down to my inability to work with the files, to show you my boring rides!!

And that is the crutch, isn't it?  How boring is 3 hours of my riding time?? I mean, it is boring to me.  Therefore it will be exceedingly boring to you.  So I am trying to extract still images from the video and create a very quick slide show.  But there again...the keyword is trying.  I have part of the work flow down.  The last part that puts them all back together isn't working too well for me.  I have begged a friend for help, so am currently, helplessly, not-so-quietly getting frustrated right now.

Why the push?  It comes back to that obsessive part.  I can't write new ride reports until I have the previous ones written.  And I have a really cool ride coming up tomorrow that I want to write about immediately.  Therefore I have to write up the three that I have ridden and not written about.  Does this make sense?  I know, it doesn't to me either.  It is just part of who I am.  And I am pretty sure my mother is once again shaking her head in that knowing manner.

So...I am going to give a fairly quick account of the rides and later post any videos that I do manage to produce.You game?

Ride One:  

July 11th.  Now this one was definitely an uneventful ride.  I was invited to ride with another all ladies group that love the mountains.  They will meet up at a biker joint that serves lattes to have their monthly call-to-order.  Then they decide where to ride that day.  The decision to plan the ride then is helpful since it takes the current participants into account for their skill level and desires.  I piped up and said I was willing to ride any road except Hwy 19.  My mental hangup to that highway are the hairpin turns that gain 50 feet elevation between entry and exit without any guardrails. I think it might also have something to do with knowing an experienced rider low-sided on one of those turns soon after I purchased the R12R and was invited on that ride.  Who knows.  It still scares me.

They didn't have any issues with that and we plotted a fine route up to Seed Lake and on to lunch.  The bulk of the route was roads that I am very familiar with.  I was able to just sit back and let someone else do the worrying.

As stated, this was an uneventful ride.  We rode, we stopped for a short break, we rode some more, and more, and more, and then stopped in Helen for lunch.  Helen, weekend, summer.  Enough said.  This is a no stoplight tourist town.  Traffic is very, very bad in the summertime and can back up for a mile or more on both ends of town at the same time.  I try to avoid it at all costs.  But this was the place.  Since the ride was lasting longer then I expected I said my goodbyes and hurried home.

A great group of women with a very relaxed and enjoyable riding paradigm.  I will go out with them again.  But I do still enjoy smaller groups or riding alone.

216 miles
Warm, but don't remember the exact temperature readings
No pictures other then what comes from the video

Ride Two:

July 17th.  Mr. Oilburner and I decided it was time to go after another tag.  It was only an hour away and he knew where he wanted to take it.  There were a couple other people expressing an interesting in picking this one up, so we woke up early to reach the location by opening time.  Too bad opening time didn't include the access road to the location.  Since this is a very busy park/national battlefield the road to the upper parking level is closed on weekends so people can walk/hike it without fear of being run over.  The park does provide a shuttle service but fat lot of good that was going to do me getting a picture of my bike next to the tag.

We assumed a pictorial snag of the entrance wouldn't be valid since it wasn't the location and the bike.  We briefly considered hiking/shuttling to the top and that taking a picture of us in our gear might do it.  But we were no longer ambitious about this tag, or going any distance in our riding gear.  We reassessed our options and just headed into the mountains.  Without any particular destination we took turns at random.  One location I will have to return to is the single lane, metal grated bridge in the middle of the hills and hollers.  I thought the GoPro was taking video, but apparently the battery had already expired.  Great photo-op location!!

Upon posting my proof that the road was closed, the tag owner deemed it valid and all gave me the win.  Unfortunately, I posted it late Sunday night, hoping others would post rants before me.  Not expecting the snag to be given to me, I didn't have a destination tag.  I was going to have to ride Monday to find a place for it.

But back to Saturday.  We wound up near Helen, again, via the back roads sans traffic.  We stopped at Goats on the Roof.  Yes...Goats on the Roof.

It was nearing 1 PM, and in typical BeemerGirl fashion, I was getting unreasonably grouchy since we hadn't eaten.  Mr. Oilburner knows the drill and proceeded directly to food.  We stopped at Sonic, quickly ate and headed home since we needed to clean up for a party.

220 miles
Goats on the Roof
Disappointing snag to a tag, but wound up being awarded the win

Ride Three:

July 19th.  I had to go find an appropriate place for the tag.  And since I was out, and knew the location of the North GA Tag, and had to place mine for the GA Tag (all of Georgia, not just the north), I decided on a double tag.  Rode the 40 miles to Gainesville to snag the N. GA Tag.

I then took it here:

A nearby park that was a major destination for me while learning to ride.  And I will add that someone snagged it the very next morning!

Then I dropped off the GA Tag here:

I can't tell you this location as no one has picked it up yet.  The clues: If you know anything about engines, this company started producing them in 1876. The sculpture is made of engine parts and forms the company's logo. Also...located at the company's headquarters.  A couple of people have it figured out, but no one has picked it up yet.  I don't blame them too much since this is urban...but the quickest I could do, and I really do like the sculpture!

100 miles
Actually rode a couple roads I have never been on before!  But was amazed to recognize intersections.  Wondering if I can combine all tracks I have in history and see the coverage of the state.  :-)

Side Ride 4:

July 21st.  I know I initially said three rides.  But I have to add this quick jaunt from last night that is a precursor to tomorrows full blown ride.  A local guy by the name of Daniel is riding to the Arctic Circle/Prudhoe Bay, Alaska to raise awareness and funds for Breast Cancer (Susan G. Komen).  His sister was recently diagnosed and it has hit the family hard.  They are pulling together, but his sister has five young children and a loving husband...and she wants to stick around.  This ride is Daniel's way of helping everyone's sisters.

This is his basic setup

Horribly fuzzy.  This was the motorbike turnout.  Good crowd, good people.  Raised almost $1000 raffling off a GoPro camera.  GoPro donated it to the cause.  And the winner turned around and auctioned it off to the crowd for additional funds.

You can follow his blog at ATLtotheArctic.  I have also posted a quick link on the left hand side of my main page.   

So the plan tomorrow?  Ride Daniel out of  town!!  Though not on a rail.  A group of supporters and enthusiasts are meeting up to start his journey with him, riding him to the state line and a little beyond.

Friday, July 9, 2010


It just seems so wrong to be waking up at 6:30 AM on day two of a three day weekend!  Why would I do that??  Sometimes things just come together that are supposed to be and this day was another spectacular weather day that could not be ignored.

We didn't have any intentions of riding but the temps were perfect and someone posted up a new tag...

What can I say...we took the challenge personally.  We had ferreted out the location of the new tag and verified it with Google's Street View.  We were out the door and on the bikes within 30 minutes.

To make the most of the cool morning air and light traffic we hopped on the freeway and took off!!  At a distance of 65 miles it shouldn't have taken us long.  So it was disheartening to see the electronic signs notifying us of traffic along our intended route.  Even Mr. Oilburner's GPS traffic seconded traffic issues.  But all color indicators couldn't tell us exactly where it was.  So on we went.  And as it always happens, just after the point-of-no-return, the brake lights become visible...across all five lanes.  Traffic was stopped.  Just stopped.  We actually discussed turning around and going up the on ramp, but I wasn't ready to break the law that much today.  Instead we ride down the breakdown lane through the gravel, fragmented bumper parts and broken glass.  Clenching my teeth and white-knuckling my grips to ride over those "wake up" grooves I didn't have time to identify the various articles of clothing; nor did I want to.

It was very uplifting to break the law, even to such a little degree.  :-)  Sorry, no pictures, no evidence.  I hadn't recharged the battery in the GoPro last night.

The remainder of the ride was mostly uneventful.  One little mishap of an idjit pacing me (in the lead) and then wandering into my lane.  But it was all good after that and afforded us the sight of a coyote on the backcountry roadside towards our destination.

Are you wondering where the new tag was??

Pine Log (The City of) and the trestle underpass.

And we knew exactly where we wanted to move it.  That little known and never visited (by many but us) the Gaol in Greensboro.  Can you tell that we really like that place?  More people need to know about it.  
The Gaol

I can only tell you about the location of the Gaol simply because someone picked up our tag the very next morning!  (Not that I haven't posted about the Gaol location in previous blogs...)

Sometimes you just have to love being on the bikes.  We stopped for a quick breakfast at a gas station Mickey D's...only for sustenance.  Half way through the meal an older gentlemen approached us to talk about the bikes and our destination.  Turns out that we had passed him (in his cage) about 80 miles back.  We turn up at the same gas station and he bends our ear on bikes he rides, bikes he wants, friends and destinations.  I just love chatting with fellow riders!!

280 miles - mostly freeway
140 miles between tags
Glorious weather and temps - starting to become warm by the time we were nearing home
Ready to be off the bikes - setting a record 5 hours round trip
Home in time to sit on our fannies the rest of the day until it was time to light up the sky with fireworks

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Bad, Bad Video

You know the expression "A face only a mother could love"?  Well, these videos are footage only a mother could love.  I shot this a couple months ago while my brother was in town riding with us.  It is crappy video taken on a camera that was never meant to be affixed to a motorbike.  It could not handle the engine vibration or the windshield.

Watch these videos at your own risk!!  I will not be responsible for replacing your keyboard if you vomit on it due to motion sickness.  You are on your own with hearing specialists, hearing loss and hearing aids due to the loud engine noise.  Please look away if the shakes get to be too much.  Please turn the volume on your speakers down!!

These are meant for mother and grandmother to see so they can watch Brother ride.  And proof that I didn't kill him, nor coerce him into riding.

For all others, this is a small, very small, portion of Hwy 60 north of Dahlonega, GA.  It is the small section between the Hwy 19 split and Woody Gap.  Hwy 60 is one of many attractive roads for motorbikes, sports cars and suicidal bicyclists.

Click for Video 1

Click for Video 2

Click for Video 3

Again, you have been warned...

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Off-roading an RT

The title isn't quite as fancy or drastic as it sounds, but I still get a kick out of watching the RT spew gravel.  Mr. Oilburner assures me that he was completely in control, despite how it looks on the video.  Given his many years of off-road riding I would tend to believe him.  But who catches air with an RT?!?!  ;-)  Beware, there is the sound of my little sewing machine engine...don't blast your ears off.

Big hugs and thanks to DaviMack for pointing me to VideoSoft video editing and dubbing software.  Worked like a charm!!

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Barn, Dinosaurs and Military Vehicles

This was going to be a rare weekend.  Not only is our nation celebrating  Independence Day, giving most people a three day weekend, temperatures were actually going to be reasonable!!  Our June temperatures here have been more of what we generally experience in July and August.  We're talking temps in the high 90's with humidity readings to match.  Talk about miserable conditions to do anything in.  But brutal in full gear.  The type of weather that, even if you douse yourself with water hoping the evaporation will cool you off as you fly down the road, it doesn't happen because the air is so saturated with it's own moisture it won't take any of yours!

But not this weekend!!  This weekend was supposed to give us temps in the low to mid-80s with relatively low humidity.  Sixty-four percent humidity is low for us...and we weren't complaining.  So our plans were to definitely get out and ride.

We were really hoping to hit the Tail of the Dragon in North Carolina.  The 11 miles with 318 curves stretch that I have mentioned before?  The road experienced a bit of a rock slide a couple months ago that has shut the route down.  We've heard rumor that cleanup and road repair is basically complete, but the road hasn't been opened for thru-traffic.  Means that motorcycles can approach from the south and ride the 11 miles, but will have to turn around and come back.  Darn the bad luck!!  ;-)

We have also heard rumor that the states (crosses NC and TN) might open it up by the end of the month.  Which means that all the mecca seeking riders, regular cars and infrequent semi's will be back and hitting it hard.  This would be about the last chance to ride with relatively light traffic until cold temperatures and frost keep motorbikes off.

A late Friday night of dinner, shopping at Fry's and hitting Sheridan's Frozen Yogurt hard with friends had us sleeping in on Saturday morning.  For us, the Dragon is a 12 hour riding day.  The earlier you take off, the better.  So our bleary 9:30 rising wasn't going to cut it.  We flopped on the sofa looking at each other and trying to figure out what to do now.  One step outside reaffirmed what an absolutely spectacular day it was and just could not be wasted.  We showered and hopped on the bikes in a half-hearted attempt to pick up the Georgia Tag.

We really didn't have a hope in h-e-double toothpicks of getting the tag.  It has been sitting there for a week or so and this was just one perfect weekend.  But we headed towards it just to give us something to do.  We took back roads all the way across town and into the northwest-ish corner of Georgia.

Since we hadn't eaten breakfast we were keeping our eyes peeled for some little corner cafe or restaurant.  We were simply astounded by the changes that had occurred passing through the city of Ball Ground (no sniggering please).  We haven't been through here in over a year.  Then, it was a quiet, dirty little down with wonderful rock and brick buildings full of...rock...seen through dust grimed windows.  Nothing was open and everything was just dirty!  Now?  The curbs and brick sidewalks have just been installed and look great.  The buildings downtown are being emptied of their rock storage and bringing in actual businesses!

 Downtown Ball Ground.  New sidewalks and curbs!

We spotted one eatery, but it was closed.  Passing the last corner of downtown we hear music blaring from a coffee shop.  Being used to Starbucks and such in suburbia we figured the shop just might have a sandwich or something to nibble.  So we turned around to enjoy the music and a stretch off of the bikes.  We are immediately greeted by a wonderfully smart-a$$ed women that welcomes us in and starts reciting the menu.  Our fuddled minds don't really comprehend what she is saying and we just kinda nod and give her these blank stares.  She catches on that we aren't quite the brightest and questions us with mono-syllabic words.  Now we can get it.  :-)  Mr. Oilburner orders a root beer float and I am steered towards the best chocolate iced coffee I have ever tasted.  Even though this is the first chocolate iced coffee I have ever had, it was still better then the two other flavors I have tried in the past.

She was correct in warning me it would be the best and I would hate it because I live so far away.  This is just beginning to make Mr. Oilburner and I try to figure out how we can get one of our motorbike groups out here to enjoy this.  Did I mention that she has only been in business for a month?  And the shop can be rented for private parties for $10/hr?  She doesn't have a food license yet, but is working on it.  Until then she serves pre-made cake, pies and pastries.  If you are ever in the area please visit The Bus Stop Coffee Shop and introduce yourself to Michelle, the owner.  Oh...and she has live music on Saturday evenings.  GO!!

The owner of The Bus Stop, Michelle.

After enjoying ourselves entirely too much playing cards, swapping smarmy quips and meeting Michelle's mother (proprietor of the flower shop next door) we hop back on the bikes and head for that tag.

We didn't know the exact location of the tag.  We had worked enough clues to know it was on Old Federal Rd in Murray County.  We figured that out because that was stated directly in the clue.  It was the Dennis the Menace reference that didn't mean much just yet.  I managed to navigate us to the beginning of Old Federal, and we just figured we would ride it and see if we could find the tag.  One of the first streets I pass is Dennis Mill Rd and I think I see the rusted barn roof before zipping past.  Hmm...that Dennis the Menace reference seems kinda obvious now.  Yes, we found the place.  We still believe that someone else has already captured this probably, but we didn't care.

Barn Tag on Dennis Mill Rd, Murray County

After capturing our tag pictures we need to decide on a possible location to put the tag.  Just in case we do actually get to tag the barn.  Our desired location was over 150 miles away, but I had an idea for one that would move the tag more towards the center of the North Georgia at least.  We decide on the long way around and head into the mountains.

Since we are passing through Blue Ridge...and Tennessee is only about 10 miles away...and Tennessee sells fireworks...we decide to take another detour...  A restaurant a couple minutes outside of Blue Ridge beckons us since it is almost dinner time.  We just can't pass up some of Pat's Southern cooking at Pat's Kountry Kitchen.  YUM!!  I opt for the trout sandwich and Mr. Oilburner goes for the country-fried steak.

See this huge piece of machinery on the flatbed, ready to be moved.  It isn't even tied down yet!

It was only another 5 miles up to the fireworks.  But one of the big attractions to the place (as if it needed anything else) were all of the military vehicles.  See...we really only went for the vehicles.  No way were we gonna buy the goods they were selling...  :-)

Would be a great truck if not for all of the cancer.

Time is starting to slip by a little fast and we are still 2 hours from home.  We take a look in the store, just to see what they have to offer...  then hit the road.  We still stop by my tag idea, just in case.  You just can't beat some objects left outside of closed businesses...

Just what exactly is this dinosaur doing here?
Looks a little more like a termite from this direction.

We did indeed lose out on the tag.  Since we were expecting it we just figured we had a great day seeing a part of the state that we don't get to very often.

251 miles
Perfect 84F with 64% humidity
Actually enjoyed a couple roads we have never been on
A closer look at the dinosaur that I have been passing for months
It may not look it, but we actually did get into Tennessee...but no we didn't buy any fireworks...
Assorted images during the trip can be seen here.