Saturday, September 9, 2017

Life on two wheels; rollercoaster edition

4 bikes in the garage can only mean 1 thing ...

Today was our first time on a group ride of more than 7 or 8 bikes.  We had a LONG ride planned from Gatlinburg, over almost to Asheville, then back.  We were invited on the ride by a facebook friend I hadn't actually MET yet.  She lives in NC, and when she found out her group was going to be close, she invited us!  The MIL and FIL tagged along as well; they decided to visit us this weekend here in the motherland :D

Ever been so layered up you feel like the Stay Puft Marshmallow man??

We rose at O'Dark 30 per usual and indulged in our riding breakfast fare at the Cracker Barrel.  Drove to the meeting spot in Walland and waited for all to arrive.  A mixture of bikes pulled in, including an Indian Springfield and my friend's white Scout twin :)  We spoke to each other and introduced ourselves officially, then it was time to hit Foothills to the Tail of the Dragon.  Um ... 3/4 of the group decided to leave out before the leader led them ... and they turned the wrong way!  Ooops.  Luckily, my friend had stayed w/ us; we waited a few minutes, and when it became apparent they weren't coming back, we went on (per the ride leader.  Apparently this is not uncommon, lol).

My awesome FIL. My steel horse obsession is all HIS fault!

Foothills was its usual beautiful road.  For some reason, I was getting pelted with pea gravel.  Very annoying!  I tried to stay offset from David, but I still felt the sting once in awhile. We turned down the road that has the gnarly hills (but not the SCARY road through the Top of the World neighborhood) so we could avoid the rest of the FH traffic.
10+ times down the Dragon safe and sound!

I tried to "warm up" in prep for the Dragon.  I just never know how it's going to feel.  I always do fine, but sometimes the curves just feel jerky or hard.  David actually cranked down on my clutch cable and tightened it up; my shifting now felt smoother, but my handle is tighter!  I also had to relearn my friction zone b/c it engages further out now.  I did well though, didn't stall her or anything :)  I shook my head, loosened up my shoulders, and opened and closed my hands a few times as we rolled our way down the mountain and to the start of the 319 curves in 11 miles.


We pulled off to check phones for signals/text msgs since there still was no sign of the other 8 or so bikes.  After a few minutes, we did a bit of a shoulder shrug and went on since everyone knew we'd be stopping at Deal's Gap.  David was behind my friend on her white Scout with me behind him on MY white Scout.  The ride down into NC was absolutely picture perfect.  It was one of the best Dragon traverses I've done; today made time 10 or 11 I've ridden it in the 4 months I've been riding motorcycles.  It could also be a case of practice makes perfect?  Lol, I don't know, but Khaleesi rolled through the curves and the dips on the perfectly banked and well paved road without a single hiccup or botched line.  I didn't touch either of the painted lines, and it seemed super quick that it was all of a sudden over :(

Girl Scout and Khaleesi

We were parked for about 3 or 4 minutes, and we saw the rest of the group motor down the hill and into the parking lot, yay!   After shopping at the Killboy store like normal, we hit Moonshiner 28 and took "the long way" to Robbinsville.  We were at the back of the pack since our little group was the new comers, so the ride was a bit slower than we were accustomed to.  It wasn't a bad ride by any means, just different.  The group had split off again; the front half going on with cars getting in between.  We found a gas station once we got to Robbinsville and figured out the restaurant to eat at.  It took a while for all of us to get our food, and by the time WE got ours, most everyone else was finished.  The ride leader decided to shorten the ride since their group had a LONG ride the day before; just to hit 129 from where we were and go back the way they came, up the Dragon.  We decided to veer off on our own; I LOVE the Cherohala, and wanted to ride it.

All of us female Dragon Slayers today!

We'd shed a few layers by the time we started up the 15 mph switchbacks.  As the road climbed in elevation, we began to get chilly!  Pulled off to add a layer back on, then we got in the rhythm.  I literally felt like I was on a rollercoaster!  Khaleesi felt smooth, rhythmic, and took every curve beautifully.  I was doing a great job turning my head and looking through my turns, and the bike was just following.  I'm also doing better with the whole pat my head/rub my stomach!  ie; downshifting and applying brakes without just holding in the clutch the whole time!  With David back in the lead, he rolled nice and hard coming out of the curves, and I stayed right there with him.  By the time the 20+ breathtaking miles were completed, we were back down into lower elevations and now warm again.  Re-lost our layers, then hit 411 back home.

The Cherohala Sky Coaster!

We had tentative plans to hit the Mystery Dinner ride for this month, but David was suffering from a sinus attack, and the wind was just killing us.  We decided to cash in our poker chips and call it a day.

Our entire crew at lunch time!  3 Indians, 3 Kawasakis, a Spyder, a Harley, 3 Hondas, and 2 Yamahas

GREAT ride with zero issues.  No awkward turns or curves or herky-jerky maneuvers.  In laws stayed up with us, and they had a great ride too.  Thankful a "virtual" friend reached out to become an "actual" friend.  I'll definitely call her next time we're up in her area!  Her bike, Girl Scout, treats her just as well as Khaleesi treats me :)  We love our Indians!

This baby can't WAIT to ride on his first ride!

Not sure what this week holds.  Hurricane Irma is bearing down on FL, GA, and even TN!  So most likely it will be a week of a Parked Motorcycle.  My prayers are with all my friends and family over the next few days!

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