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Old 04-15-2014, 04:39 PM   #1
maddiedog OP
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Me and Maddiedog Hit Deal's Gap

Me and Maddie have been busy lately helping my wife look after my newborn son. Noah's 3 months old now, and doing great, so we took a break from life for a day and went on a long ride up through the mountains.

We slept in, getting up around 11am, and leaving around 1pm.




We rode North, out of the suburbs of Atlanta, and hit the slab. The PCX, as usual, was more than up to the experience. With a speed limit of 70mph, I stuck to the right lane and slipstreamed slower cars when we could, cruising at around 60mph. We had no problem keeping up on flat ground, but hills were always a bit treacherous.




Maddie's trained to poke my glove when something is wrong. She started poking, and had been panting for awhile. I figured she was too hot. It's just getting to be spring here in Georgia, and the sun beat down heavy on us. Luckily, we were passing Lake Allatoona and Red Top Mountain. I pulled off for a quick stop.







Maddie took a dip in the lake, and got a drink while she swam around. I was less adventurous, and drank out of my waterbottle. I attempted conversation for a bit with a hispanic gentleman who was out fishing. He was very amused by Maddie, and kept saying "Perro moto!" My spanish was very poor, but he was polite and we talked some. He had 4 kids at home, and was fishing for dinner for them. Apparently the catfish in Allatoona are good eating.

I politely said goodbye, and hopped back on the bike. Me and the damp dog rode back onto the highway and blasted northwards for another 30 minutes or so. We left highway for smaller roads, leaving I-75 for highway 411. Highway 411 is what I consider the gateway to good riding around here. There's so many riding up in North Georgia off of 411 that I could spend weeks exploring.

We were presented with the below sign, a sure good omen. The Smokies are the mountains north of here, a nickname for the Appalachian Mountain range that runs up the East Coast of the USA.




We rode on the single lane country roads. Maddie likes to look at cows, sadly it's really hard to get a picture of them on the bike.






We passed Moto Mountain, and I had to pull over for a picture. Me and my best riding buddy used to take our KTMs out there before I sold mine. Babies make you reconsider risk, and with a newborn, I can't be hauling ass through the woods between trees anymore. I miss that KTM...

The backroads turned back into highway, as we hopped on 515.




Quickly tired again of the slab (I much prefer backroads, especially on something as small as the PCX), we pulled off at a "scenic overlook." It was way overgrown though, and there was really nothing to see there. A man there that was riding a Harley home from his Synagogue started talking to us about riding, and took a picture of the two of us.




We said our goodbyes, the usual "keep the rubber side down!" and got back on the road. The road led to some beautiful curves.




Blue Ridge Lake was beautiful, so we stopped at the dam, which was up a gravel road.






Maddie always poses well for the camera.




Maddie took another dip. I passed, my gear takes longer to dry than her fur. We got back on the road and a short while later were at the state line into North Carolina:




We got a text from Mel46 (member of HondaPCX.org), he was apparently out riding in Jasper. We had just missed him! Gah, oh well, we'll have to go riding this weekend then. :) I stopped to take a picture to text to him of us on our way up towards Deal's Gap, but for some reason my phone wouldn't send it. Here's the pic I took, it's a selfie:




We hauled ass Northwards, finally getting on US129. US129 becomes Deal's Gap, a very popular riding road around here. Its tagline is "318 curves, 11 miles" to attract all the motorcycle and sportscar enthusiasts to the area. 129 itself is very long though, and we had awhile to go before getting to the super-twisty parts.

We progressed quickly though, and knew we were getting close when we saw this sign:




Deal's gap is notorious for tractor trailers (or semis or whatever you prefer to call them) getting stuck. Seriously, read this page: http://tailofthedragon.com/dragon_trucks.html. It's a bit morbid, a bit ridiculous, and completely crazy.

Here's the specific sign on the North Carolina side warning that trucks are strictly forbidden from entry on these roads:




I could definitely see how tractor trailers could get lulled into a false sense of security though. The scenery was beautiful, and the road deceptively tame at first. We rode along a creek, and I had to stop to take a picture. Lots of kayakers come up here to enjoy the water, and I can see why. There was a small footbridge, so we went and investigated it.








The roads became twistier and more treacherous. It was getting good.




Then, we came upon the touristy area of Deal's Gap. There's a resort here with food, TAIL OF THE DRAGON (an alias for this section of Deal's Gap / US-129) swag, and other stuff.




It's always fun to poke around for a bit, but I wanted to ride through the Tail of the Dragon first.

Me and Maddie took to the curves, flying through at a good clip. I didn't push it, it's never good to test your limits with dog as your copilot.

Using the handlebar mount for my phone, I took a spectacularly crappy video of the ride from the handlebars. I promise for something more proper (like a gopro video) next ride. Sorry for the vibration noise at first, the phone was rattling in its mount.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KsMEOD0-fIc


The two photo guys there, Killboy and US129Photos both got pictures, go vote for us here as pic of the week, so I get a free poster: http://us129photos.com/ (voting only worked for me in IE, did not work in Firefox), and you can see pictures of us on both sites if you search for scooters from 04/14/2014 around 5:00pm. The one on us129photos is hilarious, she looks at the camera the whole time. I bought a pic from each -- here they are:

Killboy's pic was Maddie in serious mode!




And US129Photos' pic was Maddie smiling:




After riding the 11 miles through the Dragon and another 11 back to the start, we stopped at the resort area for a bit. Here's the "tree of shame," where people hang pieces of their wrecked bikes up for everyone to see.




And a pic of all the bikes there. It was getting later and colder, so most people had gone home. This whole lot is usually filled in the middle of the summer, but it's still early spring here.




We got back on the road, and went towards the second major riding road around here, the Cherohala Skyway. I like the Skyway better than the Dragon because it is less crowded, and way more beautiful. Some twisties near a dam on the way:




"Dad, think there are squirrels out there?"
"Lots of squirrels, Maddie. Maybe even some tennis balls too."




Finally we got to the road sign for the Skyway. It was getting dark, getting cold, and the roads were thinning out. All the better for adventure!




We started the long climb. In other ride reports, you've seen pictures of my PCX at sea level. Here, we're going to climb to over 5000 feet of altitude. I'm glad to have a bike this dependable -- specifically the fuel injection. I love not having to stop to rejet for altitude.

The bugs had come out in the evening, and the windshield started to get icky.




The Smokies are beautiful.




Close to 3000 feet:




Riding past 4000 feet:




We were well into the Skyway at this point. I love the serenity of the Skyway. It's vast, and makes you feel so small. The sweeping turns flow over the mountains, painting wide, smooth strokes that lead to many, many seconds of carving deep into their curves at speed. There's no other road like it that I know of.




We got to the top, roughly 5500 feet, and stopped for a minute. I hadn't passed a single vehicle over the last 20 miles, and felt completely at peace. There's something about high altitude and solitude that makes you feel rested, calm.




... But nothing can make calm better like roaring down miles and miles of mountain, bouncing 125ccs of fury off of the 67mph limiter. We blasted downhill, listening to the wind, and watching the sun set over the horizon. I thrashed my poor PCX, tossing it hard into corners, keeping the throttle pegged at full.




Near the bottom, I had to pull off at an overlook and get a picture of the PCX with the sun setting behind it. A perfect end to a perfect day.






The sun fell deep, and soon the full moon was lighting my path ahead.




Darkness fell, and with it the unknown, uncertainty. We slowed some, bearing the warnings of many, many other motorists who warned of deer. I had two close encounters with deer in the road, despite keeping the speed low. It's amazing more fatalities don't occur per year from deer getting hit.




It got cold, and Maddie poked me, saying something was wrong. I pulled over, and she snuggled against my leg. I knew she must finally be cold, and zipped her into my jacket.




The narrow country roads grew wider, and we hit highway again.




We rode highway the rest of the way home, finally rolling home just after midnight. We rode just over 400 miles.

Hope you enjoyed the ride!

(xposted from hondapcx.org)
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Old 04-15-2014, 05:15 PM   #2
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Enjoyed your RR. One of my favorite destinations.
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Old 04-15-2014, 05:21 PM   #3
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Thanks for sharing a truly wonderful tale.

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Old 04-15-2014, 05:24 PM   #4
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Go Maddie!

Loved it!
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Old 04-15-2014, 07:14 PM   #5
RandoCommando
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Great RR!
Maddie is awesome!
I need to figure out how to get one of my 3 dogs to learn to ride.
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Old 04-15-2014, 07:25 PM   #6
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Very cool, Maddie sure looks to be having fun.
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Old 04-16-2014, 04:28 AM   #7
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Completely LOVED the report!
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Old 04-16-2014, 04:37 AM   #8
psmcd
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Thumb nice ride

Maddie gets my vote
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Old 04-16-2014, 05:06 AM   #9
GB
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What a cute dog! It's a dog's life indeed Thanks for the smiles and the nice pics.
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Old 04-16-2014, 05:14 AM   #10
Kamchat
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Maddie is a 'wee trooper'.... awesome stuff, thanks for taking us along for the ride.
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Old 04-16-2014, 05:16 AM   #11
wipfel
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Good RR. Voted for you and Maddie.
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Old 04-16-2014, 05:45 AM   #12
TheAdmiral
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Excellent

Too Cute! If this was me (& doggie), it would be on my wall at home.

And US129Photos' pic was Maddie smiling:

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Old 04-16-2014, 06:40 AM   #13
ncbuckeye
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Great report and pictures! You and Maddie got my vote!
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Old 04-16-2014, 06:46 AM   #14
bobw
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Great ride and thanks for all the smiles!

Cheers
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Old 04-16-2014, 07:01 AM   #15
Blixa
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Great RR! If only I could get my dog on my bike... Yours looks like she thoroughly enjoyed the ride.
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