Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Bridal Veil Falls...Part Deux

I don't know if you ever experience this.  But I'm noticing the trend more and more.  It seems that I will go someplace new...and then revisit the same place a couple more times, with different groups over the next couple of months.

I first noticed it with Rock Eagle.  I went there on my first long distance solo ride (which I hadn't seen fit to write about since I didn't have this blog up yet).  Then took Mr. Oilburner there the following weekend when he came home because it was just so cool and he had to go.  And the a couple weeks later took a friend out there for the same basic reasons.

Standard staging area photo.

It has happened a couple more times throughout the last two years, so it wasn't surprising when our Meetup (.com) group came up with the Bridal Veil Falls ride.  Mr. Oilburner enjoyed last weekend so much that he was dragging me out to this one.  (Hard drag.)

It was the standard meet at IHOP, eat breakfast if so inclined, introductions to the new faces and oogling over each others rides.  But hop on the interstate, get started and we are a fluid group of 11 bikes weaving along the roadway. (No photos...sorry.  Just not a good vantage from halfway through the pack.)

We slab it up to Helen to make time for the fun spots later in the day.  Helen's stop is again the gas station, with a little more mud buildup from the heavy rains over the last couple of days.


Taking a last minute look over on the bike I notice the rear shaft seal is a little loose (as usual on this baby) and much sand seems to have accumulated.  Just what I get for the rain and dirt riding I have been putting her through lately.

Just a little bit of sand accumulation.

I grabbed some paper towels and wiped it away as best I could, then tucked the seal back in.  The shaft appeard pretty good under all that gunk.

We hit the road and roared through a country curving highway.  It was repaved last year and in excellent condition.  I could have done without the excessive speeding, and ultimately slowed down from the pack.  But the road was gorgeous!

We met back up into the pack, but were missing two members.  It seems they missed the turn onto this road.  While the leader backtracked to find them, a new leader was appointed to take us up to Clayton.  Thankfully the new leader missed a right hand turn and lead us up the twisties past Lake Burton.  Compared to Hwy 75, this is my next favorite.  And I was mightily pleased with myself and the speeds I ran it!  I managed to keep up with Jerrold!  (Saying a lot since Jerrold is extremely experienced, talented and on an automatic scooter!)  I smiled internally thinking that I couldn't wait to see the video.  Alas...one of those huge drawbacks to the GoPro when you can't tell which mode you are in or if the camera is recording or not.  While I thought I had been recording this journey, I wasn't.  Argh!!  I don't know if I will have the guts to run it at that speed again any time soon.

Literally, the end of the road.

We reached the end of the road in no time and pulled over to wait for the remaining pack.  Of the 9 riders in this group it was just 5 of us waiting.  We kinda think something might be up when 5 minutes have passed and the only bikes that have come up are not part of our group.  A couple more minutes and a 6th person has joined us, only to inform us that one of the group went down.  The rider was okay, the bike was upright, two of our group were with him and a passing truck had stopped.


We debated about turning around, but were discouraged from it due to limited stopping places and fragmenting our group even more.  All the while, two of us were trying to reach the leader, but mountains and cell coverage are sketchy at best.  With one person successful at reaching him, we are told to stay put and he will be here in about 5 minutes.

Five minutes pass and still no leader.  We give it another five.  Then another.  Turns out the leader was a little farther away then any of us expected, having found the two lost riders and just taking them up Hwy 75.  Our little group is now down to just two fragments.  Phone calls pass back and forth with the two helpers down at the spill site.  The downed bike is upright, the rider is fine, no scratches on him, the bike appears rideable except for the bent shift lever.  (Not cluthc lever.)  In an attempt to bend it back into a useable position the aluminum broke,  The McGyvers of the group, along with the good samaratins passing by zip-tied an allen wrench in place.  It would have worked, except the bike wouldn't start.  We of the lead group didn't know this until hours later.

Thinking that the situation was handled and the riders didn't want us back there, we looked forward and continued on with the journey.

Looking towards the road we would be taking.

We make good time to the falls again.  This time I am in a better mood and grab the camera.


This is for Bobskoot to show you just how close the road is to the fall.



I may have been in the mood to take time and pictures, but the group definitely was it and wanted to high-tail it into town for some overdue lunch.  It was a pizza joint, but the salads were extremely fresh.  Yes, we did have pizza too, but way to good to remember to take pictures of.


After lunch we scrambled towards home through more twisties, of course.  We headed from NC, cut across the corner of NE Georgia and ran into South Carolina.  Three states within 20 minutes.  Cool.  We made a last pit stop in South Carolina to try and cool off before merging onto I-85 and heading home.


I've posted a few more pictures over at Flickr.  I'll get the hang of riding and pictures soon.  Maybe.  While I didn't manage to take any video for the beginning of the ride Mr. Oilburner affixed the camera to his bike and managed to catch some video of me in the twisties.  Unfortunately the location was subjected to wind buffeting.  I will try to clean it up and post a few minutes.  I'm not sure if it is salvageable.  :-)

274 miles
3 states and 1 waterfall
Abundant twisties and completely proud of myself in them.  I wasn't the slowest of the group!
Unfortunately one rider down that we learned had to be towed home.  One really good rider that volunteered to stay with him until the tow truck came.  (Wish we had known.  We would have gone home to bring the trailer back for him.)
Again, good friends, old and new

Playing in the Twisties

There is a highway up the hills that I enjoy more and more as I gain more experience.  This little highway isn't too long, isn't too short, isn't too narrow, isn't too tight.  It is just right.  (Do I sound a little like Goldilocks here?)  The more I ride it, the more comfortable I am on it.  The more comfortable I am, the faster I can ride it.  Vicious cycle.  Lately I have been traveling north on this highway, which just happens to mean the twistiest part is uphill and on the inside.  Which I enjoy to no end.  I am pretty comfortable with it downhill, but haven't been running it in the direction lately.  Have a look and see if you think I enjoy this roadway enough?  I believe I picked a pretty cool song to go along with the ride, so turn up the volume.

This all started because we finally decided to take a ride with our favorite meetup group.  Mr. Oilburner involved us long ago with a great Meetup (.com) group in our area that embraces diverse riders, rides and riding styles.  The organizer is a great guy that can handle any situation and really can take charge if necessary.  I didn't ride with them when we initially joined up since I didn't feel experienced enough for group riding.  But we would regularly attend the weekly Coffee and Chats to shot the breeze.

That is all utterly useless information to you, isn't it?  Back to the story.  A ride was planned to run up to Hiawassee and see where we go from there.  It is a fairly uneventful ride with just some good, quiet roads.  Except for Helen...but I've already told you that a thousand times before.

Taking some time to cool of with refreshments and chats.

While my back was turned someone snuck a safety lanyard onto my GoPro.  He had actually accomplished this little task down near Atlanta and I am just noticing. So for those of you who have been concerned about the suction not holding, it now has a safety belt thanks to Fearless!  (Thank you, Fearless.)


The video above was taken minutes after leaving Helen.  I do enjoy that little highway.  We all sorta scattered and went at our own pace.  Some of us were held up a little by other riders.  But there were creative ways to deal with that at times.  :-)

The congregating point in Hiawassee was a little fuel station where we just stood around and waited for everyone to catch up.  The looming decision was lunch.  Hiawassee is rather small and doesn't have a large selection of fair.  Shoneys, Mexican or a steak buffet place was thrown out there, but no one really wanted to make a decision or vote.  So I squeaked up and just said Mexican.  Official vote of 1 ruled. 

It was a nice little place that we basically had to ourselves.  I believe everyone tucked in.  Conversation went the way all conversations go when you put a bunch of enthusiasts in a small area.  Some tales were told that may or may not be believable. 

Time to leave.  The watches said it was about 3 pm.  Two of the party needed to be home by 6. The leader said it was girls choice for the route home.  The three of us just looked at each other.  I was game for anything.  I didn't have time restrictions. Suggestions flew, no one bit. Like lunch, no one could decide on particulars.  One lady suggested a route that would have been great flying down the twisties on Hwy 60.  (Another mecca!)  But the distance would have made it too long a time. 

I finally piped up on a route I have taken quasi-reglarly.  I knew it would get us towards Atlanta by 6-ish and was full of twisties for the thrill lovers.  The leaders kept raising their eye-brows and giving side-long glances as I tried to explain the route.  They finally gave up and just told me I was being awarded leader status.

Here is video of the most playful portion of that route.  It also has some good music to ride along to.  Hope you enjoy.

I think I managed to set a pretty good pace.  The gentleman behind me might have enjoyed going a little faster, but he wasn't pushing me.  Strangely, today it was mostly empty of traffic.  It was nice to enjoy without too much concern for vehicles.

224 miles
Great riding with new and old friends
A little warm, but a good day

Sunday, August 8, 2010

The Tag is On!

Two more tag write ups that I have been putting off.

First:  July 28th took a lovely little saunter towards Madison, GA to capture this little beauty.

Trimble Bridge (area)

I know.  This doesn't appear to be a bridge at all.  See that guy walking down the trail on the other side of the rock pile?  That leads to here:

Trimble Bridge remnants

This was a fun tag to catch for the miles of surrounding gravel roads.  Some would consider this deliciously wonderful.  While others (me) might not be so enthusiastic about it with street tires and little experience.  I can say that I was still fairly excited about it none-the-less.  And part of that excitement came from actually having a little difficulty finding the tag.  This was a well hidden one!  

We took our best guess at the location.  Since it was down gravel roads there wasn't any way to confirm our ideas with a Google Street View.  (Humph...they aren't advanced enough to have all of the roads in all of the countries in all of the world??  They have the Dalton Highway in Alaska for crying out loud!  And my house.  Yes...need to build walls around that...) 

In all, we headed towards the side of the river that "appeared" to have a larger street leading towards it.  It didn't.  And it ended at a little gate that I wasn't about to cross.  Being the South, they have guns (no big deal), but they can be pretty vicious defending their marijuana fields and meth labs down here.  :)

No way am I crossing this fence with the lovely new No Trespassing sign.

Given that we weren't crossing this fence.  And that it didn't matter since the bridge was out, we had to get around that river somehow and to the other end of this road.  The shortest way around was 12 miles.  Not bad.  But I still had to go back a mile of loose gravel into the sun!  We hung a left at the pavement thinking all was well.  Right.  About a mile down the road it turned back to gravel and didn't show any signs of letting up.  I was doing good to reach 20 mph!  Yeah.  And I even negotiated an actual corner!  I would have landed on someones hood it anyone had actually been there, and I never really turned the front wheel more then 15 degrees...but I DID IT!  LOL.

Here is some video to prove it.  I picked the nastiest, most washboard-ish road for you to view.  Mr. Oilburner was checking his speakers when he heard my cackling laughter over the headset.  Not quite what he was expecting.  I was having a grand time over all the bumps.  He was enjoying watching the shock absorber at work.  Ok...and watching my hiney, truth be told.

This was a great road.  I even found the 479 acres that I would love to buy.  Weyerhauser seems to be pulling out of the area.

We made it around the gravel roads and regained solid pavement with a couple more rattles and knocks coming from the bikes.  Upon reaching the other side of the bridge road it was now 2 miles of gravel road...but this one had a few more slopes and slipperies.  I was still game and just followed the leader.  My motorbike didn't always want to follow in the RT's footprints and I squawked a few times when it wasn't going where I thought it should, but we made it.  Now I just had to not dump her in front of the guys walking up from the fishing hole...

With our incorrect location and detour we were sorely behind our hoped for time to reach home.  We started booking it home, but cautiously since it was dusk and I had already seen one deer standing by the side of the road.  It didn't help that we still had our darkly tinted lenses in the helmets.  We stopped to swap them out for clear and let me capture a little sunset.

 Dusk was settling deep into the forest

Sunset over the mirror

But I noticed that my clear lens was terribly dirty and obstructing my view.  We stopped in front of a little church and discovered that it was horribly scratched and mangled.  The only thing we could do was swap in the yellow hi-vis lens to prevent fogging in my shield.  It was quite an experience seeing the night-time world through yellow tinted goggles.  Vehicle headlights were generally yellow.  Except for the people that had new high intensity bulbs.  The bright blue bulbs appeared green to me.  And stoplights.  Ahhh...green lights were a little on the bluish side.  I really need to take a picture through the lens sometime.  :)

I moved the tag to the little parts dinosaur I had previously written about.

137 miles
Probably a whopping 12 miles of dirt roads  :)
One more tag under my belt
Seeing the world in a different light

Second:  August 8th.  We headed out for a day ride in the general direction of the GA Tag.  Given the wonderful weather, for here, we didn't expect to get it at all.  We just needed somewhere to head.  So the location was only about 20 miles from our house, mostly through urban area.  But we found some back roads to cut through the traffic.

The tag we hoped to get was at South River, in the news here lately.  Mind you, this river runs smack through downtown Atlanta.  Do you think it might not be wise to swim in it?  But people felt that since there was a naturally occurring sandbar here it would make a great swimmin' hole.  People only recently became upset once they realized it was full of dangerous bacteria and virus even though this river has been on the EPA's impaired water list since the early 90's.  People just can't seem to think for themselves anymore.

South River

 Finally!!  A picture of me on my bike!!

We headed down the road with the intention of taking the tag to an interesting archaeological feature that everyone always seems to know about, but has never been.  However, we started talking about the fact that we have been there probably 5 times in the last year.  If we were just going out for a lazy day ride, and didn't really have any hopes of winning the South River tag, why were we going someplace we have been so many times?  Just as we were discussing this we passed a sign for Gray, Ga. 

The wheels started spinning in my head quickly now.  No worries of overheating yet...  One of they guys on the tag boards lives in Gray.  And he is always posting how badly he wants to get one tag or another, but always seems to have an excuse when he doesn't.  Knowing he was a firefighter, my bright idea was to put the tag in front of his firehouse.  Not knowing which one he worked at made that plan a little difficult.  I was actually getting ready to start touring some in the area and see if I could find him.  Instead we rode around the little town looking for an obvious location.  And we found it.

Gray, GA.  Courthouse.
My clue?  "This tag is so hot it should be on fire and needs a fireman to put it out... "

I did give other clues for everyone else in the game... 

Right away people started commenting in.  I wasn't intending on making this difficult at all.  I wanted it to be recognized quickly.  The primary point for the tag games is just to get out and ride.  The secondary one is visiting new places.  So the intent isn't to make a tag difficult to find.  But I wanted this one to be downright easy.  And it was.  Comments of all varieties quickly rang in, but we all knew where it was and who it was intended for.  There was even discussion of moving the thing around the town to mess with him.  But no word from the fireman.  I was disappointed.

My evilness was vindicated in the morning light.  Mr. Oilburner arose early and started thumbing through his reading.  He noticed there had been a flurry of activity during the night.  I had one of the best laughs of a long time at what was written next...

I chuckled over this for days!!  I did ponder over the fact that it had taken him 5 minutes to realize the location.  He later admitted that this is across the street from the church he was married in. He had that tag posted with 40 minutes.  He isn't going to live it down that the tag was placed on his doorstep.  He was never going to live it down if someone snagged it in the morning if he waited.

It was a great day to be tagging.

201 miles
Relaxing roads and a new part of the state
Great weather, a little warm but Dairy Queen compensated nicely