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Old 09-06-2010, 09:34 AM   #1
Rainmaster OP
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A trip up the Cherohala Skyway, TN.

Since moving to NE Georgia last year my wife and I have been planning a trip to the Cherohala Skyway in TN-165 and NC-143. and to the Tail of the Dragon in N.C. and with the holiday w-end weather looking to be very nice we were excited with the upcoming trip. First problem sneaked up on us last week when the wife started to sneeze and cough. Oh, oh.... Flu season already? Now here we are with our one "free" long w-end home from work and my ridding buddy unable to join me. The decision was made that I would have to "solo" it.

Saturday morning came up as a bright cool day and I got ready for the ride. Full ATGATT of course.


I looked at Google maps and charted a route that should take me to Tellico Plains TN where I was going to visit MiniMike at his Tellico Motorcycle Outfitters Store for some gear and continue up the Cherohala on my way to Robbinsville NC and the "Dragon" and then back to Hiawasse Ga. via Murphy and Hayesville NC on my way back home near Helen, Ga. 250 miles total according to Google maps and I intended to do it all on one tank or less on my KLR.

Of course I have to show the pic of the "Bike at the gas station"


There are many ways to make it to NC from my neck of the woods but one of the best is the Richard B Russell Scenic Highway- Ga 348. You can see for miles from the top near the AT (Appalachian Trail) crossing.


Making good time I was at the NC-GA State line before I realized it. Had to make a u-turn to make sure I got the pic.


Same thing with the TN-NC border, it just came up and I almost missed it. Who knew a KLR was such a "fast" bike?


More of the TN Highway....


The ride up 68 to Tellico Plains is a very nice one with plenty of switchbacks and scenery. Too bad it was spoiled by having to ride it behind a train of cars slowed down by a Flat-bed truck towing a large SUV that could barely made it up the grades and that the driver would not pause to let others by for what felt like 15 miles of double yellow lines. I was sixth in line and I was not going to be the one that gets a ticket and spoil my ride.

Eventually I made it to Tellico and to fellow ADV inmate MiniMike's store and got me some badly needed gloves and a pair of Olympia textile pants for my wife to complete her ATGATT outfit. I had lunch at Mrs. MiniMike's cafe across the street and after exchanging stories (one fellow rider was going back to Virginia on very sore broken ribs after a wipe out the day before Ouch! ) with a bunch of other riders, up I went to the Cherohala.

Posing in front of the store.


I had heard about what a beautiful and spectacular ride the Skyway was. I know that I am some 10,000 feet lower elevation than the folks out west but having spent the last 20 years living in Flatistan (AKA Florida) I enjoy these vistas more and more. But I will let the pics speak for themselves.

Overlook at 3,000 feet elevation facing south.


Close up: Me and my "Mule"


Next one up a bit higher up the mountains.


At each stop I met fellow riders and we all exchanged stories (more lies and exaggerations) and ride & route suggestions. At one of the stops I was taking some pics when I realized that a bike I had passed on the way up was approaching. The guy walked up to me and in a very serious tone started giving me grief about me passing him and so on. In one of the comments he says "specially since I have never been passed by a KLR before". Turned out he used to own a KLR and now owns a 900 Kawi Vulcan and was just giving me a hard time since he had sold his KLR and he missed his "old" bike. John turned out to be alright and we ended up meeting up in the overlooks several more times on the ride.

More vistas...







Eventually made it to the intersection of the "Dragon" but today was not to be the day to "slay" him. Knowing it had taken me a lot longer than planned to make it here and that the wife was back home sick, I decided not to push my luck and started on my way back home.


On my way back I stopped for a quick pic of Lake Chatuge in Hiawassee, Ga. That area is very pretty. Note to self: come back here and bring the kayacks!


After Lake Chatuge it was an easy ride to the Highest Point in Ga. the Brasstown Bald at 4,784 feet elevation


Now we are getting to my neck of the woods, Helen, Georgia. Helen is a quaint little place that was "transformed" in the early 70's to look like an European "Alpine Village" and you could say that they pulled it off. There are plenty of nice restaurants and live music plays in the town plaza regularly and there's tubing down the river. But their claim to fame is that they host the longest "Octoberfest" in the world and it is a great place with good hotels and mountain cabins and camping from where to start or base a lot of your motorcycle adventures in the Ga. mountains.

Bikes were everywhere in Helen.


It's " really busy" on holiday weekends.


People love to "tube the Hooch" or Chattahoochee River


Here is a pic I took last winter of the Helen Downtown. If you squint your eyes a bit you will swear that you are in Bavaria.


And last but not least. When was the last time you saw one of these?

A fully functional pay phone....


At the end of the ride I realized that I only live 1:45 away from the Tail of the Dragon and having missed it today is something that will get fixed pretty soon.

I made it back on less than a tankful (238.4 miles on 4.27 gallons for a 55.83 average miles per gallon (bike has 16T front countersprocket). Came to understand that mountain miles are much slower than Florida flat miles (my average speed was 43.4 MPH accounting for all the stops). 70% of the ride was on mountain roads at less than 50 MPH's, 20% at speeds less than 65 MPH's and the rest at or near 70 MPH's. It was a very good day's ride with temperatures from a low of 58 to a high of 78 my gear (Firstgear overpants and Fieldsheer Adventure Jacket w/o liners) did pretty well. This was also the first ride for my Gaerne Balance oiled boots and they are super comfortable. A bit pricey (I own a KLR after all, so I am "frugal") but nice boots. when I made it home and my wife tried on her new gear, she was not sure about the fit. Guess we will have to take another trip to Tellico to fix that.
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Rainmaster screwed with this post 09-09-2010 at 04:26 PM
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Old 09-06-2010, 11:44 AM   #2
Liberia
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Sounds like a great ride

Good, concise ride report. I live in Middle Tennessee and have been thinking about making it over to try out the Dragon. Funny but you are much closer than I am.

I'm sorry your wife was unable to make it. My wife and I rode a KLR 650 from Boston back to Murfreesboro about a month or so ago. We did all of Sklyline Drive and all of the Blue Ridge Parkway through Boone, NC. The KLR is a great bike but the stock seat is not that great for 2 up, long distance riding. Your mileage was a little better than what we experienced for our 1,500 mile trip. We averaged 54+ mpg. If you do much riding above 65 you'll find that your mileage drops (and you may also find that you burn some oil).

Thanks again for the report. Reminds me that I want to do the Dragon.
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Old 09-06-2010, 11:44 AM   #3
GB
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Surely you can show us a few more pics from your ride.. Cherohala is super scenic.. throw us another bone
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Old 09-06-2010, 12:00 PM   #4
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You didn't miss much by not riding the Dragon this weekend. My daughter and I rode it yesterday. I was an annoying pirate parade. Try to go up during the week or on a abnormally warm late fall day - when the crowds are not there.
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Old 09-06-2010, 12:05 PM   #5
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Great report. There are also lots of graded gravel roads & forest service roads in that area that you could take advantage of on that KLR. Low fender looks really cool too.
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Old 09-06-2010, 02:59 PM   #6
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Should KLRs be that clean and nice looking? I thought they came beat up right from the factory.
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Old 09-06-2010, 03:12 PM   #7
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Hey compadre! Great report! Sorry I could not ride with you! Hope I can ship my bike soon this fall! Sorry to hear that Lourdes had to stay home!! The bike looks awesome. I'll email some videos I took yesterday with the GoPro.
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Old 09-06-2010, 03:16 PM   #8
locorider
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A couple of years ago we hit some dirt around the UNICOI, but it was on lighter bikes. Rainmaster has done some on the KLR, but we are trying to keep our bikes in good shape for some long distance riding!!!!

Quote:
Originally Posted by wildcat
Great report. There are also lots of graded gravel roads & forest service roads in that area that you could take advantage of on that KLR. Low fender looks really cool too.
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Old 09-06-2010, 04:33 PM   #9
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Cherohala ride

Liberia,

Thanks for the comments, the wife unable to make the ride was a bit of a letdown. She has been riding on her own for some time now and she was looking forward to this ride. As far as the seat goes my Corbin Dual Platform turned out to be plenty comfortable and helps me with reaching the ground as my inseam is only 28 inches. Not that it has ever stopped me from riding insanely tall bikes. Just ask Locorider!

Gadget Boy,
I should have taken more pics but I have a few more that I will add to the report tomorrow.

Guitarhack,
Thanks for the tip on when to ride the Dragon. The fact that it looked so busy came into play when I decided to head on home.

Wildcat,
The low fender came from a 1989 Honda TransAlp. It mounts to the fork brace and it took minimal mods to make it work. It is a lot better at highway speeds and crosswinds than the original one.

Craftycoder,
The pics are low resolution or show the bike's best angle. Up close it still really is a KLR. The wife calls it "the ugliest bike on earth". I love her! The bike that is....LOL

Locorider,

C'mon I need a wingman. Ship that shiny, heavily modded TransAlp overhere soon. I promise I will only use it on Sundays and won't abuse it,............ much!
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Old 09-06-2010, 04:54 PM   #10
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Great report! I was down there this weekend myself and did the Cherahola twice and the dragon three times. I got there on Thursday late and came through the Dragon about 6PM and it was great. Saturday around 11AM it was a pirate parade as another poster said. On the Cherahola I was behind four slow Harleys and I kept thinking that somewhere there was a ship missing it's crew. I was giggling to myself in my helmet.

John

PS Mike's wife owns the ice cream shop across the street and is a sweetheart. Good ice cream!
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Old 09-06-2010, 06:08 PM   #11
locorider
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This is what I was doing yesterday... sorry for hijacking your report...
From here...


to Cerro Maravilla...



to here in the middle of nowhere...



Thats it, I'm off to do my own report...
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Old 09-06-2010, 06:49 PM   #12
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[quote=locorider]This is what I was doing yesterday... sorry for hijacking your report...

to Cerro Maravilla...



So that is what you carry in the panniers. A spare Vespa! That is a great idea.......
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Old 09-06-2010, 07:00 PM   #13
locorider
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I really got scared seeing them riding at 65-70 mph on the highway!!!!
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Old 09-07-2010, 06:04 PM   #14
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Pics added and story expanded

Gadget Boy

I added some pics and narrative to the original report. Next time I need to stop and smell the flowers and take more pics!
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Old 09-08-2010, 07:53 PM   #15
BaldEagle
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Hey

Rainmaster.....I'm the guy with the cracked ribs you saw at Mike's and the cafe' on Sat. I actually rode my Goldwing home Sun. and Mon. to MD not VA, towing my DR-Z400S behind it on a trailer. Got home safe, but sore and spent yesterday and today visiting the doc and talking to insurance co. I had two get-offs on Friday and ended up with a helicopter ride to the UT Memorial Hospital Trauma Center in Knoxville....added a little excitement to my day. I was in Tellico picking up my bike from the tow company and getting my boots & gloves from EMS (the only things that didn't get cut to shreds in the ambu.) Pic of my rig attached from my NM & CO trip last month.
Brian
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