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.:ddog 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 :dg 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. :eek1 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.