Ride report time folks. Friday evening I gathered up some camping gear, loaded up the SV, and headed for the mountains of North Georgia. My departure from Ft. Benning, GA was delayed several hours because I was not particularly motivated, and I needed to wire up a flip switch to kick my radiator fan on (the fan switch died on the SV.) Once I was all packed up and ready to go, I still needed to stop and get ice, water, a small cooler, and some cooking gear suitable for camping. Per my initial schedule I should have been north of Atlanta by the time I left the Ft. Benning/Columbus area.
The directions I was going to follow from Mapquest kindly routed me directly through heavily traffic laden suburbs of Atlanta – and then smack dab through the middle of town. This added at least two hours to my trip, and I was still in Atlanta when the sun went down. I ended up taking the first route I could find to I-85N and super slabbing it to I-985 to Gainsville, GA where I caught GA-60 to Two Wheels Only. Of course the only way I had to know where I could catch GA-60 was my GPS, an old dusty Garmin etrex Legend.
Lesson learned: Ride highways through rural areas, hop back on the freeway and take advantage of the HOV lane in urban hell.
It was nearly 2300hrs by the time I finally rolled past TWO. Yes, that’s right, I blew right by it, and promptly dropped the SV in a sandy pit across the street. Having fully loaded saddle bags and frame sliders combined with the location of the drop to result in only one smashed left front turn signal. I’ll take that as a sign that
$DEITY wants me to get flush mount LED signals. Anyway, some folks that were staying at TWO walked across the street and helped me get the SV upright again, and guided me into the camp area.
Setting up camp became a race against Mother Nature and her desire to soak every non-covered object she could find. Initially it appeared as though I was victorious, having my tent fully erected and all of my gear inside prior to the downpour. Roughly an hour later Mother Nature had the last laugh. $26 tents from Target are not the most waterproof of tents on the face of the earth. While things clearly could have been worse, I was not a happy camper, nor was I in the mood to camp for another night. My mind was made up at that point, I’d be leaving in the morning.
My typical camping habits came through again, and despite looking at my watch at 0200hrs wondering “Will it ever stop raining”, I was awake at first light – four hours later. Cold, sore, damp, and hungry. I should back up for a moment and note that given the size of my luggage, and my motorcycle – I had no pad of any kind, nor did I bring any kind of sleeping bag. No, this infantryman had his trusty poncho liner, and a balled up rain/cold-weather jacket. I actually ended up putting my riding boots back on in the middle of the night because they’re leather and gore-tex lined, at the very least I wanted dry feet.
For breakfast I broke out my Coleman propane burner and cooked up a pot of beef flavored Ramen noodles. When the noodles were finished, I set them off to the side and cooked up some venison sausage from my brother’s kill this past season. I ended up sharing the sausage with other riders at TWO as I had more than I could eat myself, and no good way to get it back to Ft. Benning with me. No sense letting it go to waste.
After breakfast I broke camp, and loaded the SV back up. As the roads were still quite damp I debated riding Wolf Pen Gap Rd. (GA-180), but I decided to ride sane and go for it. Most of the ride was in 3rd gear, with plenty of it in tight turns I felt the need to be in 2nd gear for. There is no run off, and there are few guard rails. Slide off the road, and tumble down the side of a small mountain. Thanks but no thanks, I’ll enjoy the scenery and keep the rubber side down. There was a lot of gravel in the road, and a few fallen branches to keep things interesting so even on dry pavement I’m not entirely certain I’d have ridden any faster. The road was fun though, but I can certainly see how the squidly would not fare well on such a road.
One jaunt down GA-180 and back was the end of my first TWO experience, I met plenty of nice folks, to include a guy with the same name as my Dad, and the same bike – who hapens to be from Columbus, GA. Despite the bad weather, and bad ride up I had a good time. I stopped on GA-60 headed back towards Dahlonega to try taking photos of moving subjects, and managed to get one good shot of a VFR going by. There were a lot of bicyclists on the road so traffic was moving fairly slowly, but the ride back down GA-60 was quite fun as well.
Returning to Ft. Benning I ended up taking GA-60 to US-19, and riding US-19 into Atlanta where I hopped on I-285 to bypass Atlanta and hit I-85. I forgot of course that in the 3 years I’ve been stationed at Benning I-85 @ I-285 is always under construction. I contemplated lane splitting, or riding down the shoulder, but I didn’t feel like facing the potential reaction of crazy Georgia drivers. I ended up taking US-27 ALT South into Warm Springs, GA and riding GA-190 over Pine Mountain again on my way back to Ft. Benning/Columbus. After riding GA-180 (Wolf Pen Gap Rd), Pine Mountain seems a whole lot less twisty.
All in all I had a good trip, and of course a few pics are below, the rest are in a Flickr set here.