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Old 07-26-2011, 02:35 PM   #1
Liberia OP
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Mountain Riding - A Visit with Aunt Cleo - TN-NC-GA

My brother, Fred, called and said it was time to visit Aunt Cleo. So a bike trip is scheduled for July 28-30.

Fred lives in Suwannee, FL, I live in Fosterville, TN and Aunt Cleo is currently in an assisted living facility in Canton, GA. But never ones to do anything the easy way, both of us will end up making a substantially longer ride than is acutally required.

Since this trip doesn't actually start for a couple of more days, I thought I would put up a little of the trip planning stuff including the anticipated routes and maps. I think you'll enjoy the trip as it will be twisty backroads and mountains to the greatest extent possible. I'll also keep track of the cost of the trip, miles per gallon and stuff like that just because it's interesting to me.

My brother and I did something similar back in April of this year just after the terrible tornados hit a large portion of Alabama and parts of Georgia (see the trip link in my signature). This trip will be a completely different route. It will also be on a completely different bike for me. The previous trip was on a KLR 650 that was fully outfitted for travel with Happy Trails panniers, crash bars, etc. This one will be on a 2008 Harley Fat Bob that I picked up a couple of months ago and it has absolutely no bags of any kind and really no where to put any luggage. So that's a problem I have to solve in the next day or two. My brother will be on a Harley Road King so he'll have plenty of storage and comfort.

One thing you should know about me, I have no prejudices against any kind of bikes except those that will not start. In my signature below you will find the aforementioned ride on a KLR. You'll also find a ride that my wife and I made from Boston to home on a different, fully outfitted KLR 650. I have had V-Stroms, XT350's, XT225's, TW200's, a Ural Troyka, various Harley's, a BMW 650CS, Aprilias, a Yamaha R1, some motorcross bikes, a trials bike and some others that I've forgotten about (my son and I do a little buying and selling). I have enjoyed riding each of them (except the crotch rockets which seem to spend most of their time trying to kill you). So I hope you will not hold the Harley against me. I know this is Adventure Rider but it's the only forum that I follow. I just enjoy riding and sharing those rides with others.

By the way, my brother will ride from Florida to Loudon, TN where he'll visit with an older lady that is a member of his church. She lives with her daughter now in Tennessee. He'll drive the short distance back to Sweetwater where I'll meet him and we'll start our ride together.

Here's a picture of the 2008 Fat Bob that I will be taking on this trip.
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Liberia screwed with this post 08-06-2011 at 04:45 AM
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Old 07-26-2011, 02:54 PM   #2
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The route

So here's the route that I will take. (I'll put one with Terrain showing as well.)



Segment A-B is from Murfreesboro, TN (where I work) to Sweetwater, TN where I'll meet up with my brother and we'll spend the night. I plan to get away around 3-4pm which should give me plenty of time to make the 3+ hour trip in daylight. The earlier I get away the more time I will have to stop for pictures.

I've made the first portion of this trip many times by car and motorcycle. It takes you to Fall Creek Falls State Park. If you haven't been there it is well worth the trip. You can camp, rent a cabin or stay in their hotel. There's a restaurant in the park and plenty to do for a few days. You can also base out of there and visit a very wide range of other areas. This time I'll ride right by the entrance without stopping as I head for Dayton, TN (infamous for the Scope's Monkey Trial) and a quick jog up and over to Sweetwater from there.

Some of the towns I’ll pass through in this segment are (population in parenthesis):
Murfreesboro, TN (108,755) – Woodbury, TN (2,607) – McMinnville, TN (13,605) – Spencer, TN (1,693) – Pikeville, TN (1,861) – Dayton, TN (6,921) – Decatur, TN (1,505) – Sweetwater, TN (6,654)

There should be a good bit of curves and elevation changes. There are some nice twisties in the Spencer, TN area and the map looks like there are some more over near Dayton.

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Old 07-27-2011, 08:02 AM   #3
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Weather Predictions

I looked at the predicted weather along the entire route for Thursday, Friday and Saturday. Basically it's HOT with typical isolated and scattered thunderstorm warnings that you get in the south in the summer.



Thursday afternoon-evening shouldn't have any rain at all. So the trip from Murfreesboro, TN to Sweetwater, TN across the mountains should be a nice one. The temps will be high but they tend to peak around 3pm each day so it will drop a little the further I go. It's also usually cooler in the hills and mountains than in the flatter areas. (I know to you guys out west these lumps of rock we have here don't qualify as real mountains. But we get pretty excited around here with a couple of thousand feet change in elevation. I come from Florida originally and so even a few hundred feet can cause a smile.)

Friday will see us go from Sweetwater, TN to Canton, GA by a circuitous route which will take us east and keep us in the more mountainous areas. The weather for the entire route on Friday is for 30% chance of isolated thunderstorms. That's pretty common for the South this time of year and any storms are more likely to pop up in the afternoon rather than in the morning. So I'm still not worried...much. I don't think I'm going to take any rain gear since I don't have much luggage carrying capacity. I did mount a small, round bag called a Rally Pack to the handlebars this morning. I was able to get a pair of jeans, 2 shirts, underwear, socks and toiletries in it. I want to carry my laptop so that I can update the report at night but might just use my brother's if he brings it.

Saturday has a 40% chance of scattered thunderstorms for the entire route from Dallas, GA to my home in Fosterville, TN (15 miles south of Murfreesboro). I hope to make it home by noon or so which will likely keep me out of any storms. Plus I will be leaving my brother early Saturday morning as he heads south for Florida and I go north for Tennessee. Fred is a rain magnet and has spent more time riding in the rain than any other person I know. So it's good that we're parting company as the rain chance increases. Hopefully it will follow him home and leave me alone.

Less than 2 days until I leave. I'll do my best to take a lot of pictures and get them posted each night.
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Old 07-28-2011, 07:06 AM   #4
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Sounds like a good ride, great roads
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Old 07-28-2011, 05:06 PM   #5
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Thursday - Murfreesboro, TN to Sweetwater, TN

Thursday, July 28, 2011
Murfreesboro, TN – Sweetwater, TN
3 hours 16 minutes, 138 miles




I left work Thursday afternoon for a ride as close to due east as is possible in the hills of Tennessee. Sweetwater is actually just a little south of Murfreesboro in longitude but quite a little ways in lattitude. Thought I would get away at 4pm but managed to leave about 1:30. I’ll meet up with my brother, Fred, at the Days Inn – Sweetwater where we’ll spend the night. He’s already ridden quite a little ways as he left at 3:30am this morning (my time) from Suwannee, FL. He rode to Loudon, TN to visit a member of his church who is living there now with her daughter. He called a little while ago and told me that he was eating supper with his friends and would be on to the hotel in about an hour.


Here's the terrain view of today's ride:



I'll put pictures and comments from the ride itself immediately following this post. But it was a hot ride through some beautiful and fun terrain. The majority of the ride was on TN 30. You get quite a bit of elevation changes, sweepers and tight curves.


Costs for the day:
Days Inn – Sweetwater = $62.63
Fuel = $12.32
Food = $20.88
Other = $ 5.11 (Camera holder and map case)


Miles = 138
Fuel used = 3.24 gallons
MPG = 42.6
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Liberia screwed with this post 07-29-2011 at 02:58 AM
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Old 07-28-2011, 06:26 PM   #6
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Murfreesboro, TN

Murfreesboro, TN is the county seat of Rutherford County and is home to Middle Tennessee State University which is the largest undergraduate university in the state of Tennessee. (Yes it’s bigger than UT! Except for the graduate students.) I love living in the Murfreesboro area. It has almost everything that I could need which means that, even though it’s only 32 miles away, I seldom have to go to Nashville. I’ve lived in Rutherford County for 25 years (4 of which were as a student at MTSU). Until that time I lived in the Orlando, Florida area. I tell people that after 21 years I have yet to wake up and think “boy I wish I lived in Florida again.” Middle Tennessee is a great place with friendly people.

Chuck Clark, owner of Clark Iron & Metal, lets me use a couple of offices on the top floor of his building. So that's where I left from today about 1:30pm.


My son and I bought this 2008 Fat Bob a few months back to resale. It's not really a touring bike and this one has almost nowhere to put any luggage. So I got the small, top case from some Rally Pack luggage that we have and attached it to the handlebars letting it rest on the headlights.


Although the roads are really pretty straight forward for this trip, I made myself a map case from a Wal-Mart school notebook pencil pack by zip tying it to the Rally Pack and sticking the bottom down with some electrical tape. My redneck roots are showing.


And the required shot of the gas station. Filled the tank so I could see what type of mileage it would get.


Now on to Woodbury
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Old 07-28-2011, 06:43 PM   #7
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Woodbury, TN

Woodbury, TN is the county seat of Cannon County. The community was named for Gen. Levi Woodbury, secretary of the navy under Andrew Jackson. Woodbury is a very rural community and leans pretty heavily to the redneck persuasion. I like it because it’s just a small, backwoods community that’s pretty unassuming and not trying to be something that it’s not. A friend of mine who worked for the Rutherford County Sheriff’s office and then ATF used to say that when someone was killed in Woodbury the first question asked was, “Well, did he need killing.” My kind of place.

The ride from Murfreesboro to Woodbury is nice but nothing challenging. It a 4 lane highway named for the politician who used our tax money to build it. I think it should have been named for some poor guy that was scraping by to pay his taxes instead of the guy spending them.

On the way into Woodbury I stopped at the Cannon County Arts Center for a quick photo. They have an excellent playhouse and both stage quality products themselves and bring in high quality entertainment from around the country. Both my daughters spent several years during their school days working in plays and other productions here. They both then graduated from excellent colleges in the performing arts arena. I stopped to take a photo and couldn't pass up the snowman on the back deck, expecially given that it was nearly 100 degrees.


I know that it adds risk when you take pictures while moving on a motorcycle. But it can be done fairly safely. In order to improve the safety I made myself a camera holder from one of those extendable key chains at Wal-Mart. I clip it to collar of my jacket and have the camera's wrist strap attached to the key ring part. It holds my camera about mid chest level and I can reach down and grab it, extend it, take a picture and then release it without a lot of trouble. So far it's working great. For $4 it was well worth it.


I didn't make it far before stopping for lunch. A steak fajita taco salad with chips and salsa. Not too bad but I seem to remember the food being better in days gone by. The ownership changed. Maybe they were just having a bad day. Oh well.


What really makes the small Tennessee towns to me are the town squares with the courthouse in the middle. Woodbury has a nice square and a beautiful courthouse.


On to McMinnville.
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Old 07-28-2011, 07:03 PM   #8
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McMinnville, TN

McMinnville, TN is located in Warren County. It calls itself the "Nursery Capital of the World" and it’s surrounded with large, outdoor nurseries that grow mainly trees and shrubs. So you might call it the “outdoor nursery capital of the world.” Interestingly enough, I used to live in Apopka, Florida which was called the “Indoor Foliage Capital of the World.” Maybe I’m just drawn to trees and flowers. A friend of mine works as an electrician for the Bridgestone Tire Plant in McMinnville so he makes this drive every working day of his life. It’s a big enough town to have most of what you need as far as stores and things go. Nashville isn’t that far away if you need a bigger city.

When you leave Woodbury for McMinnville you're still on Hwy 70S so it's a nice road and nothing too exciting. The scenery along the way is good but not spectacular. But I can remember when we first moved to Middle Tennessee from Florida we would ride along in awe of all the hills and greenness. I guess I'm like everyone else, you soon grow complacent about the stuff around you.

I'm a private pilot and love airports. I don't fly much anymore as the cost is getting pretty high. I used to have a Mooney M20E single engine, 4 seater that I used a lot for business flying and some for personal. I still miss the flying but motorcycles are just as fun and cost a whole lot less.


When I turned into the Warren County Airport on the outskirts of McMinnville, I found a really nice Fatboy. A Fatboy was the first Harley I ever owned and I still miss it. But a Fat Bob is at least half way there.


As mentioned, the road to McMinnville isn't terribly exciting and exiting it is about the same. Things will change when we get to TN30 however.


Here's a field of soybeans. I like the orderliness of the parallel rows and the greenness of the plants. By the way, soy products are not really good for you. If you look at the back of this farm you'll see some nursery stock being grown.


I worked in hay as a kid but we didn't have the nice round bales that you pick up with a tractor. We had the smaller, retangular bales that you had to pick up at least 4 times before they finally made it to the cows mouth. It is hard to beat the beauty of a hayfield however (if you're not the one working in it).


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Old 07-28-2011, 07:21 PM   #9
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Spencer, TN

Spencer, TN is in Van Buren county. It’s about 50 miles north of Chattanooga and 80 miles southeast of Nashville. Almost everyone here commutes to work somewhere else. Taking the route that I chose, it’s a pretty but quite curvy road. It gives the appearance of being perched on the side of a mountain. I also think it would be tricky getting around during winter snow and ice. Fortunately we don’t get too much of that in Tennessee. I don’t know if they spend a lot of time patrolling or if it’s because there’s only 1 main road in Spencer but I always see police cars when I come through here.

Once you leave McMinnville you soon come to TN30E which takes you through the small town of Spencer, TN. It's primary claim to fame is the nearby Fall Creek Falls State Park. You really need to go there. They have a "Heritage Days" celebration in the fall which is fantastic as they do a lot of the old crafts and daily tasks from the 1800's.

This is one of several sharp switch backs along TN30 into Spencer. A lot of them are marked 15mph and I do try to take it easy. One thing to note, if you get behind someone going really slow you are likely to be stuck there for quite some time.


Spencer also has a nice courthouse but doesn't really have a square to compete with most Tennessee towns. I think it's a pretty nice place but I've never spent any time here.


When I pulled over to take a picture of the courthouse I stopped right by this shrub. So I took a picture of it.


And then I looked across the street and saw this 4WD Mercedes. I would say "only in Tennessee" but that's not true. I see stuff like this all over the U.S. as I travel around. I think it's the challenge.


A cute poster advertising the coming county fair was also in a window just beside the flowering shrub.


With all the leaves on the trees it's hard to see down into the valleys. They can be quite deep and beautiful. This may give you just a small idea of what it's like.


I think this is probably owned by the same guy who owns the 4WD Mercedes.


Now to Pikeville.
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Old 07-28-2011, 07:29 PM   #10
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Pikeville, TN

Pikeville, TN is in the northern half of the Sequatchie Valley, a deep fertile valley that is basically a large rupture in the Cumberland Plateau. The Sequatchie River runs through the east part of Pikeville.

The road from Spencer to Pikeville is nice but a good bit milder as you go along. Still a very good ride and I enjoyed it.

There are some nice sweepers to enjoy as you head into Pikeville. It's your basic Tennessee town perhaps a little more isolated than normal but not much.


As mentioned, the roads become a little less challenging but there's still lots of pretty scenery to take in as you motor along.


There is a nice valley view as you move along. I think this is looking back on Pikeville but I could be wrong. Sometimes I lose track of where a particular picture was taken.


Okay, Monkey Trial city coming up.
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Old 07-28-2011, 07:43 PM   #11
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Dayton, TN

Dayton, TN is in Rhea County just off of I-75 between Knoxville and Chattanooga. Each May it hosts a large Strawberry Festival. Of course it’s known primarily as the home of the Scope’s Monkey Trial.
In 1925 the famous Scopes Trial was held in Dayton and, for a period of time, filled the town with hucksters of every description and journalists from around the world. The trial participants included William Jennings Bryan in the role of prosecutor and Clarence Darrow as John T. Scopes' defense counsel. Although this trial is often represented as being pivotal in the movement to allow evolution to be taught in US schools, it actually marked the beginning of a major decline in the teaching of evolution which didn't start to recover until the early 1960's. Likewise, the Butler Act, which Scopes was supposed to have violated -- though it was never invoked again -- remained on the statute books until 1967, when it was repealed by the Tennessee legislature.

The community was originally settled around 1820 as Smith's Crossroads and was renamed Dayton in 1877.

I was starting to get a little backache. I'm not really set up for forward controls as my torso is quite a bit longer than my arms and legs. I'm 6'2" tall but I wear an 32" inseam pants. Plus I was wearing a backpack with my computer and other stuff in it. So I decided to stop for a few minutes at a little park that I passed.


The lake was pretty but I couldn't tell how large it was. On the other side of the park there were a number of small houseboats in a marina. So there must have been more to the lake than I could see.


I had forgotten that Bryan College was in Dayton. One of my daughters spent part of a summer there when she was in high school. We also have friends who graduated from there many years ago.


Decatur is next.
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Old 07-28-2011, 07:52 PM   #12
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Decatur, TN

I don't really have too much to say about Decatur. A lot of these towns I don't actually go through the town part, just a highway that skirts along the side.

The road to Decatur was okay but there was a lot of traffic starting in Dayton. It was about quitting time for most folks so that likely had a lot to do with it. I hadn't hit any significant traffic up to that point.


You really begin to question whether there's anything exciting to see along this part of the route and then you come to the Tennessee River. I think the Tennessee is one of the prettest rivers in the Southeastern United States.


I couldn't resist this shot. I'm part of a group that does some mission work in Liberia, West Africa. They had a long civil war that destroyed most of their country's infrastructure. Shadrach, one of my Liberian friends, is always saying, "we need some yellow machines here."


This is part of the town that I rode through. As mentioned above, I know there are nicer parts of the town but my route takes me through some of the less inviting sections.


Sweetwater here I come.
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Old 07-28-2011, 08:06 PM   #13
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Sweetwater, TN

Sweetwater is where Fred and I will spend the night. I got a reasonable rate at the Day's Inn along I-75 and it was convenient for him to meet me there.

The road from Decatur to Sweetwater is pretty much just a road. Highways 58 & 68 are pretty boring at this point but it 68 will get much better tomorrow as we continue east and then south.


It was still pretty hot and there were a lot of cows cooling off in the pond at the rear of this field. That's also a way they have of combating flies.


I finally made it to Sweetwater and checked in at the Days Inn. Turns out there are 5 other bikes there besides mine. All are Harleys. A couple of Road Kings, a Heritage, an Ultra Classic and a Road Glide. I really like the way the Road Glides look and I owned a 2000 Road Glide for a while but my Alaska brother bought it from me. We never could get the wind buffet problem solved however. I went by the Harley shop the other day to pick up a part and they had a Road Glide Screaming Eagle for sale. $37k plus. I said, "No thanks."

My brother called while I was fueling (42.6 mpg I think) and said he was eating with his friends and would be along in about an hour. So I ran down to a nearby BBQ place which was pretty good. It was called Bradley's Pit BBQ and Grill. Food was good and the price wasn't bad. I would eat there again. Sorry, I left my camera in the room charging so no food shot.

Finally my brother makes it in, takes a shower and we prepare for bed. Tomorrow will be a busy day but we promise each other that we will stop often. We're both getting too old to push it harder than we have to. Plus he's ridden at least 10 hours today compared to my 3.5.
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Old 07-29-2011, 03:14 AM   #14
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Friday, Sweetwater, TN to Canton, GA (the long way)

Friday, July 29, 2011
Sweetwater, TN – Friendship, NC – Turners Corner, GA – Canton, GA (visit Aunt Cleo)
3 hours 43 minutes, 161 miles

Canton, GA – Dallas, GA (stop for the night)
57 minutes, 37 miles



I'm not sure how I got the map broken up into 3 segments for today but I did. So we're going from B to C to D to E




Some of the towns I’ll pass through on today’s segment are:
Madisonville, TN(4,697) – Tellico Plains, TN (964) – Friendship, NC (?) – Blairsville, GA (715) – Turners Corner, GA (?) - Dahlonega, GA (5,117) – Coal Mountain, GA (?) – Macedonia, GA (?) – Canton, GA (5,896) – Dallas, GA (10,861)

As the terrain pictures show, we should have a fun day of riding.





I will add pictures of the actual ride tonight.
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Old 07-29-2011, 05:24 AM   #15
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Great report, I have ridden that route many times, looking forward to your trip through the mountains.


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