Day 2, Saturday, 25 June 2011
Iron Horse Motorcycle Lodge to the Dragon to Iron Horse Motorcycle Lodge
Woke up at 7 to the sound of Harleys roaring and going through the rev cycle to prove one of their creeds of necessary noise. Oh well, more pleasant than the regular alarm sound. Wandered over to the other guys' camp-sites, cabin, and trailer to see if they were ready for breakfast. Most of the lodge's vistor's parked their shiny, fancy bikes under the awning in chance of rain during the night.
Wes's KLR, David's SV, Marvin's V-star, David's
Slowly, they got ready and we began talking about plans for the day. Apparently, Marvin and David
weren't joining in the curvy pleasure ride routed by Wes, but would be going fishing. Oh well, before breakfast, Marvin gave Wes some last-minute input on his route.
After breakfast, Wes, David and I headed out around 9. Due to my inexperience with curves and elevation changes, I warned them of my pokiness, and told them that they could feel free to leave me behind, but to please wait at intersections that we would turn at. This is the Toxaway Dam. I apparently missed the waterfall right near the shot.
We were supposed to supposed to stop somewhere for lunch at a pre-determined spot, but we bypassed it. Stopped alongside the road to decide to circle back or continue on. None of us were particularly hungry, so onward ho! I noticed a new rider that had joined us along the route at some point.
He stuck around for another 40 miles until our next spot to try for lunch, a gas station that had a connected “deli.” We went inside, saw the prices started around $9 for a sub. I'm not usually a cheap-skate when it comes to food, but I'm not going to pay $9 for a gas station sandwich, so said we should go a bit further. Decided to take this pic as our first “group ride” shot.
Sadly, when Wes started his bike, Jimminy decided it was time to go his separate way. Sigh. We stumbled upon a terrific little barbecue joint just on the other side of Toxaway, and managed to beat the rush of 20 Harleys that showed up when we sat down. Not sure if it was directly next, but this next series of pictures if from Fontana Dam.
David ran into another rider that somehow started asking him about another guy's bike and his opinion of hard bags. Anyway, David picked up a drink and snack and I pulled out a Powerade I'd brought along and took a short break. We then headed off in the general direction of US-129. 45 minutes after leaving the Dam, I saw it again from another angle.
Our little crew then descended upon the Dragon. The obligatory opening shot:
I was able to pace Wes most of the way up and only had to pull over for two crazy-fast sport-bikers. I knew the KillBoy crowd would be there, so I kept an eye out for them. On the first curve I approached with them, there was a guy on a super-moto just finishing a wheelie I guessed, as he was wobbling on my side of the rode and only going 5 or so mph. Glad I had no shots taken of me that first time. The next time, I panicked for some reason when I saw the cameras pointed at me, and scrubbed any decent speed I had. Oh well, made up for it on the third corner and did a great line. I later learned none of those shots were being used and they were focusing on riders from the other direction. D'oh! At the top of the Dragon, we saw what little view was there and took another group ride shot. The guy on the far right in this photo was bragging to everyone how he was the second fastest through the Dragon that day (no idea how that would be measured). He decided to jump in on the shot and Wes obliged.
David being awesome!
Wes's clean lines
And here I am, dragging behind and showing I suck at curves, haha. At least I admit my faults.
I almost majorly wiped out making two mistakes in a row going back on the Dragon. There are two very tight banked switchbacks in quick succession. Trying to think “through the curve,” I almost short-cut the end of the first into the beginning of the second, which had a pretty steep drop down a 30' embankment, but was able to save it. When “saving it” though, I got on the rear brake a little hard and it locked up momentarily. After these two acts of stupidity, I took it very easy completing the route.
Sadly, those are the last of my photos from the group trip. After finishing with the Dragon, it was around 4:45. David gave us two options at this point, one being to head back to town and grab a few supplies before going back to the lodge or riding for another few hours on another loop. After 200 miles of mountain riding that day, I was ready to hit the town and meet up with the other guys for dinner, so we headed back into Robbinsville(? Don't remember if this was the town, but it is one nearby) and went to Ingles for a few minor things. I forgot a pillow on the trip, so I ran up to Family Dollar and bought a turtle Pillow Pet (pretty neat looking guy, but don't have any mug-shots) that I named Tavi who was my loyal friend for the rest of my journey.
After gassing up, we met up with Marvin and David
for dinner at Lynn's Diner in Robbinsville. It wasn't anything special, but there was a hostess/cashier that caught my eye.* She had a gorgeous face, perfect smile and was tall and slender. That's not usually my type as
I like my women like I like my chicken
With a little bit of fat on the ends
Not too much and not too little
Just enough to make me grin
When I see a little woman walkin' down the street
She ain't my type, I need a little more meat
She's skinny, and not my cup of tea.
Thank you Rodney Carrington for putting it so perfectly. Anyway, throughout the night, she passed by our table every few minutes, and would usually glance my way, occasionally with a sexy, coy smile. As we all were taking our turns paying for dinner, Wes and I discussed a possible plan of attack, but he didn't want to make a move. I brought cash along to speed up the process (of paying for dinner, not making a move, gutter-brain). She ended up giving me the wrong change at first and forgot a $5. I jokingly told her, “If you're already planning to take my money, I'm going to expect a little more than a smile, hehe,” purely jokingly of course (unless … but I digress). She laughed and apologized. The last few guys took their turns paying and we all re-grouped outside.
We discussed the plans for the evening. Since it was Saturday night and we would all be diverging in the morning, I wanted to head back to the lodge and plan where I was going and how I would get there. Wes wanted to grab a case of beer but wanted assurance he wouldn't be the only one partaking. Being raised with manners, I did not want to offend him, of course, so I told him I would definitely go along in his quest and may have one or thirteen. During our little discussion, the hostess had hurriedly gotten off of work and was in a bit of a rush to get outside, but once outside, was just playing with her phone 10' from Wes, David, and I. Hmm. Being a local, and more likely to know the closest place from the center of this dry little county to acquire the necessary goods, I brought her in on the conversation and asked if she knew a close place to get our hands on the beverages.
She responded in turn with, “Well, how many of you are planning on drinking?” I said, “I think it's just my man Wes here and I.” She throws back, “I'm actually heading out to hang out with a few of my girlfriends at one of their houses. We'll probably be drinking a little if you two want to come along.” Well then, wink wink, nudge nudge, say no more, say no more. I was game. Wes then breaks out of his little shell, “Actually, we've got to get up early and since we're on our bikes, probably shouldn't be riding after drinking.” I was HATING Wes at this point. I could not believe this sheer and utter violation of Man Code: never leave a man behind. I tried to change his mind with the basic shoulder shove and saying, “Come on man, live a little,” but he stuck to his guns. I thought for a second, and remembered I was in back-woods North Carolina/Tennessee, didn't know the area or the girl, would be traveling at night, and, at best, there would be alcohol involved. With the number of bad circumstances that were possible from here-on-out without my wingman, I sadly had to decline the invitation and then asked for any recommendation on retail beer purchasing.
She sighed and looked a tad disappointed, but gave us directions to a gas station 15 miles away. We headed that way, but got there after close. Marvin and David had decided to tag along with us for the night run and Marvin suggested a campsite near Iron Horse that he frequented that had a “Just chip in for your part” policy on fridge contents, so Wes and I obliged and followed him to Mo's, a much more laid-back and chill atmosphere than Iron Horse. Also, a bit more of the rough-and-tumble crowd than what he had been seeing. He introduced us to the lady of the house, who forced each of us to try a pickled pepper. Wes wimped out with a green one, and I went for the super-spicey red, which burned for a minute or two and reminded me again how much I hate pickled goods. She threw a beer to each of us. Wes and I played a game that I know as bocce out back. He had another name for it, but I don't recall. After, I chipped a buck in the donation jar, and we headed back to the lodge for the night. I was dismayed and a tad lonely climbing into bed that night. Oh well.
*Wes would probably tell a slightly different version of this story if asked, but this is my ride report and my memories. So there.