Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Day 2. Thursday, June 4th

Looking at the radar last night it looked as though the rain would be rolling in sometime after lunch for sure. So we made plans to make a short loop in the morning, come back for lunch and see what the weather was doing. A few of the guys that showed up early, Todd, Brian and Mark were ok with this and joined us for our early morning departure.

We headed out going west on 143 (Skyway) taking it all the way down to Tellico Plains, TN. The morning fog hadn’t quite lifted yet when we rolled through so it got a bit difficult to see up around the peak. (5000 ft) We pulled off at the top overlook, I snapped a few pictures as everyone wandered around and talked. When we headed back down out of the clouds, the sun poked through for a bit before the impending rain clouds moved in. This was the first time I had been on the Skyway with out a passenger so the speed that I was able to carry through the corners was nice. Heading west bound there are no decreasing radius corners and everything is very open. This road allows a rider to build confidence in every corner and I was starting to get some miles in on the sides of the tires! The road was clear for the most part, turtles seemed to be the debris of choice though. As I found out later, it was mating season which would make since I suppose. In then end I believe we dodged 3 or 4 before we got to Tellico Plains.

40 miles later we had arrived in Tellico and we turned right, heading north on 360. We pulled in at a small gas station; I figured some of the guys would like to take a little stretch break. We chatted for a few minutes before heading on our way. On the map 360 looked like a nice twisty road, but in actuality it was a nice little farm road. There were a few nice corners but the scenery was the real highlight. I forget now how long this road was, but it didn’t take us too much time to get up on 441.

Now the plan was to take 441 up to 321 and bring the Foothills Parkway down to 129. I started rethinking this idea as we worked our way down 441, a four lane highway. Off in the distance I could see the clouds beginning to work their way in. I wasn’t a 100% on the amount of time it would take to do the FHP and since I had never rode with these guys before I wasn’t too sure about their feelings towards rain. I think it was something like 20 miles down 441 and we came up on the 129 intersection. There was a small service station there on the corner so I pulled in there. Josh, Jon and Mark topped off the tanks and we discussed the route situation. Brian was about fed up with the highway and the general consensus was to head back towards the house. Judging by the movement of the clouds, this was probably the best idea.

We dodged another turtle, this time he was on his back rolling around trying to get himself upright, poor fella. Eventually we got to the upper dam there at the lake on top of 129. Mark mentioned that he wanted pictures of the dams so we pulled off there for a few minutes and I snapped a few shots as well.

The traffic had started to pick up a bit since yesterday but it still appeared light compared to years past. A few people flashed their lights in warning as we headed south down 129. There at the gravel trap there were two THP sitting and watching the bikes go by. Josh had asked to get some pictures from the overlook at some point, so once we got there we pulled off again. Several bikes were gathered on both sides of the overlook, but there was still plenty of room to move around. We mounted up the cameras again, to take another stab at some video since Jon erased the ones from yesterday accidently.

We made a clean pass down only seeing two more officers sitting in the construction area; however we were warned about these two by a couple guys at the overlook. When we stopped at the store we ran into Anthony and some other guys from the meet. Mark and Todd headed back to the house from there while Brian stayed with us to complete the loop down 28 to 143. Oddly enough, when we were about to leave, the guy who warned us about the THP was carrying a welcoming slip (Ticket).

We continued down 28, literally, down with a 9% grade to Fontana Village. The road was nice and smooth and the turns were predictable. We all wished we were heading north at this point as the twisties are easier to carve when going up hill. A few turns shy of Fontana Village and we were hit with a down pour, the rain had caught us. I hurried up and pulled under the covering at the gas stop there on the corner of Fontana Village. We got off the bikes and talked with a couple guys on SV 650’s that had beaten us to the shelter.

The rain wasn’t letting up too quick so we went on inside the store and each got a couple hot dogs and a coke for lunch. We figured since we were hogging their pumps we should at least support them. We sat out the rain for about 20 minutes and the rain started to slowly let up. It wasn’t too much further to 143, so we suited back up and headed out.

On the way in we got behind a couple slower bikes and a local in a car who was tail gaiting the heck out of the bike in the rear. When she found a spot to pass there was a large Ford truck coming at her that was moving along pretty good. I laid back hoping this didn’t get ugly and watched as that lady squeezed her way in between that large truck and the lead bike.

A bit later the bikes motioned us on by and we eventually caught up to the crazy car, she was stuck behind a slower car this time. At this point we were in Robbinsville and apparently the local grocery store must have had a sale on milk or something. She passed the slower car on her way through the turning lane, only to get stuck with on coming traffic. I scooted over in my lane, got right up on the side of car and let 139 db of ear piercing goodness go. I like my air horn. There was no since her behavior, especially around bikes.

By time we got back to the house it was getting to be close to dinner time. I took an extra run down the Skyway escorting a Semi to Tellico. He really didn’t need it, but the driver asked for one when I started talking to him via the CB. I figured I owed The Bike God’s one after my little incident the week before.

Back to the house with my good deed done, Josh was washing his bike and the rest of the guys were playing pool and having a few cold ones. The rain came in late that evening and hung around till morning.

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