GA- TN-VA-NC dirt and twisties - Solo

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by Mikenbern, Jul 8, 2019.

  1. Mikenbern

    Mikenbern Adventurer

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    This will be my first attempt at a ride report on this Forum. Based the the guidelines I am posting it in the epic rides section since I will be riding for more than 7 days(eight) .

    [​IMG]
    I will be on my BMW 2016 R1200 GSA starting from a friends house in Toccoa Georgia I will cover parts of 4 states and include a nice mix of dirt, gravel and twisties. My plan is other than the first 2 nights to be in a different location
    [​IMG]Untitled by mikenbern, on Flickr

    [​IMG]
    Notable portions will be as follows:

    In the dirt/gravel:
    • The Chattahoochee National Forest (2 days)
    • Tellico Plains Gravel
    • The first 2 sections of MABDR
    On the road:
    • Cherohala Skyway
    • The Rattler
    • The Back of the Dragon
    In preparation for this trip I have installed Michelin Anakee Wilds and a new skid plate from Black Dog Cycle works. I also attended the BMW 2 day off road skills class in April of this year.

    The off road skIlls class
    I grew up riding dirt bikes in the 70's ranging from a Hodaka Super Rat to a Montesa 250 King Scorpion then went to all road riding until I got the GSA in 2017. I also do a fair amount of mountain biking however none of these prepared me well for the mass of the GSA off road. I could do fine of the gravel roads but when I hit sand I looked more like a turtle because I ended up on my back or side frequently.
    I decided to to attend the BMW school in Greer SC the first week of April this year (2019). It was not inexpensive but boy oh boy was it worth it. Like most that attend there I was told multiple times: EYES UP ---EYES UP ---EYES UP!!!! Over the course of the 2 days of riding -- we went over and between multiple rail road ties, mud, sand , gravel, water, and over mounds of all sizes and through single track of tight ( for a GS) trees. We did balancing drills, emergency stop drills, sand drag races, and had a ton of fun. On the last day I was following one of the instructors Mike and he went over a table top jump and was airborne --- I followed suite (not quite as high) but definitely nicely off the ground with both wheels.
    I learned alot.... nothing I had not done on the Montesa years ago but certainly lots of stuff I had never dreamed of doing on a beast like the GSA.

    Once I got home I have continued to ride off road in gravel , dirt and yes even sand often in the Ocala National Forest. I have been down (usually deep sand ) a few times and have figured out how to right the bike easily.
    [​IMG]Untitled by mikenbern, on Flickr
    I have encountered Bears, Deer, raccoons, sand hill cranes, eagles and turtles on my adventures. I have fallen in love with riding off the pavement.

    The Anakee Wilds:
    [​IMG]Untitled by mikenbern, on Flickr
    I had TKC 70's which were fine on the road and not bad on gravel but not very good in mud or sand. I did some research, asked a few inmates here, and decided I would try the Wilds. My impression over all is I like them. The of course are NOISY but with good ear plugs I barely notice that. They do very well on the street; shortly after I got them I went on a semi-spirited 300 mile day ride here in FL and really liked how they handled through all 11 turns. (we have the reverse of Tail of the Dragon here-- 11 turns in 318 miles)

    The Black Dog Skid Plate- Since I am off road a good bit I wanted a little more beef in the skid plate so went with the Black Dog version for the GSA - fairly simple install ( a wee bit tight at times) but very nice look and fit .

    I will hit the road on next Monday ( July 15th ) and post daily as I ride and have internet or cell coverage. Hope you enjoy following along and feel free to offer advice or ask questions.

    Mike
    #1
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  2. BlackDogCycleWorks

    BlackDogCycleWorks Long timer Super Supporter

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    #2
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  3. bobw

    bobw Harden the phuck up

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    :lurk
    #3
  4. Mikenbern

    Mikenbern Adventurer

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    Making progress and getting excited. [​IMG]Loading up by mikenbern, on Flickr

    The bike is in the trailer and the gear is staged meaning the tank bag and panniers are inventoried and organized all that is left is the packing of clothes into my Wolfman dry bag.
    [​IMG]Loading up by mikenbern, on Flickr

    [​IMG]Loading up by mikenbern, on Flickr
    Then early Monday morning about 3:30 or so I will drive the truck and trailer north out of Ocala up into Georgia to the north Georgia town of Toccoa arriving late morning. I have a good friend who has about 10 acres with a place to park my rig while I am enjoying the mountains.
    #4
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  5. Mikenbern

    Mikenbern Adventurer

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    DAY ONE:
    Today started early as in leave Ocala at 3:20 am driving North on I-75 thru Georgia with a quick stop for coffee and chicken biscuit at Chik Fil A in Cordele. Then pressing forward to the Macon Bypass with a stop for fuel before hopping back on I-75 --- to 675 to go around the south side of Atlanta and up to Toccoa, Georgia. Once at my good friend Bob's (we rode across the USA on bicycles in 2007) I unloaded the GSA from the trailer and got dressed in my riding gear.
    [​IMG]Day one Chattahoochee forest by mikenbern, on Flickr

    I was then off to near the bottom of Blood Mtn to the Air Bnb Cabin I had reserved for the next two days. It is a nice 2 room cabin about 4 miles off of 129 tucked back in the woods. Joyce is a great host as the cabin was in perfect shape. I dropped my Wolfman drybag and headed out to ride.

    [​IMG]Day one Chattahoochee forest by mikenbern, on Flickr

    I headed for the twisty paved climb on 129 over Blood Mountain; I never tire of this climb as it twists and turns often 2 lanes wide so overtaking vehicles is easy and safe. Once over the top I descended down to the turn off for Helton Creek Falls. This road turns to gravel quickly and leads you to a parking area where you can take (as I did) a short walk to the falls - pretty and worth it.[​IMG]Day one Chattahoochee forest by mikenbern, on Flickr

    [​IMG]Day one Chattahoochee forest by mikenbern, on Flickr

    Once back to the bike you can continue out this road and you will hit two stream crossings in short order. They are 20+ yards across and the depth varies by the recent rainfall. Today they were just over a foot deep and a fairly predictable bottom. This road will ultimately dump you out on the Richard Russell Scenic Highway (348). I followed it back to 180 and then left up 129 to the store where at the end of the parking lot you get on a nice little paved road which turns to dirt and climbs kind of steeply at times to near the top of Wolfpen Gap on 180.

    I went up 180 till I hit Cooper Creek recreation area when I dove back on to an extended stretch of double track and gravel roads coming out ultimately down on Highway 60.

    Turning west I went to the left hand turn with the National Fish Hatchery sign-- a nice 4+ mile stretch of gravel that takes you back to the Hatchery. Keep in mind they close at 3:00 .......not 3:10 when I go there and they were padlocking the fish viewing area. Oh well nice gravel in and out.

    I then made my way down to Cleveland GA for dinner where I went to Cacun Cantina for some excellent Mexican food with very good service as well - a nice way to end the riding day.

    Stats: 467 miles in the truck and 138 miles on the GSA with a good bit of it in the dirt/ gravel

    One last pic of what is called a Georgia Warhorse ( big flippin Grasshopper)
    [​IMG]Day one Chattahoochee forest by mikenbern, on Flickr
    #5
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  6. bobframe

    bobframe Been here awhile

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    Mike, A good start to your Southern App Adventure. Your truck and trailer are safe here...I think. But hey, that’s why we have insurance. Cya soon, Bob.
    #6
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  7. Mikenbern

    Mikenbern Adventurer

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    DAY 2 Lots of dirt. Today I did most of my ride old school; meaning I followed a roll chart. There is a dual sport ride in this area called the Hooch and I had the roll chart loaded and rode day 2 which was over 100 miles of gravel and dirt.
    [​IMG]Day 2 North Georgia dirt by mikenbern, on Flickr

    There were some pretty views along the way of old building and some vistas as I got to the start of the dirt section. I paused for a pic at Woody Gap a small overlook that is part of the 6 Gap Century bicycle ride done here every fall .
    [​IMG]Day 2 North Georgia dirt by mikenbern, on Flickr

    [​IMG]Day 2 North Georgia dirt by mikenbern, on Flickr

    Most of the ride today was in the Blue Ridge wildlife management area. The surfaces ranged from silky smooth to rutted and muddy. I am happy to report that the GSA and its Anakee Wild tires took everything in stride without a wimper. I rode some things today that I would not (with my skill set) have attempted prior to taking the 2 day off road course offered by BMW in Greer, SC.

    [​IMG]Day 2 North Georgia dirt by mikenbern, on Flickr

    [​IMG]Day 2 North Georgia dirt by mikenbern, on Flickr

    I did have to partake in a rescue today but thankfully it was not me or some other Motorcycle rider it was a box turtle in the middle of the trail. I moved him to the side in the direction he was heading before I interrupted him
    [​IMG]Day 2 North Georgia dirt by mikenbern, on Flickr

    All told it was a beautiful day in the mountains to ride and especially off road.
    [​IMG]Day 2 North Georgia dirt by mikenbern, on Flickr

    Total miles today: 158
    #7
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  8. bobframe

    bobframe Been here awhile

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    Love the barn shot...looks familiar. Where was it?
    #8
  9. Mikenbern

    Mikenbern Adventurer

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    On 19 about a mile from 129
    #9
  10. Mikenbern

    Mikenbern Adventurer

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    Day 3 I had an excellent ride from Dahlonega to Tellico Plains TN this morning. First up 129 over Blood Mtn I don’t care how many times I ride this road I always enjoy it. Great uphill twisties with passing lanes to allow getting by traffic safely . On the downhill side past Vogel State Park and turn left onto 180 which goes up and over Wolfpen gap with lots and lots of twisty curves.

    [​IMG]Day 3 Tellico by mikenbern, on Flickr

    [​IMG]Day 3 Tellico by mikenbern, on Flickr
    Once I hit Highway 60 in Suches a Georgia I turn right and follow it all the way to Morgantown Georgia a delightfully curvy road with the pretty scenery along way
    [​IMG]Day 3 Tellico by mikenbern, on Flickr

    Passing through Blue Ridge Georgia I made my way through Ducktown up Highway 68 in Tellico . It was too early to check in at the lodge Tellico where I’m staying so I went by the farmhouse bed-and-breakfast to visit three other folks from this ADV forum; they are riding the TAT Transamerica trail they are waylaid in Tellico due to one of the bikes needing some repairs
    [​IMG]Day3. Tellico by mikenbern, on Flickr
    [​IMG]Day3. Tellico by mikenbern, on Flickr

    When I left there it started to sprinkle and then rain I’ve donned my rain suit and the deluge came. I had a decision to make go someplace and wait it out or ride my dirt row that I had planned to ride I chose the latter .
    [​IMG]Day 3 Tellico by mikenbern, on Flickr
    Surprisingly is the rain transition from heavy to moderate to light to stopping the GSA handled the dirt roads and wet surfaces without a hitch.

    Turned out to be an awesome day despite the weather interruption having the time of my life. I will try to upload pictures at some point the Internet at this hotel is sketchy at best and no cell service

    Total mileage for today 103 on the road 58 in the dirt
    #10
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  11. Joeboblglt

    Joeboblglt Adventurer

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    Thanks for taking this RR on! Following! Not too far from you and ridden many of your routes. Run into any issues, give me a shout.
    #11
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  12. bobframe

    bobframe Been here awhile

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    That's where I thought it was. Been past this many times. Thanks.
    #12
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  13. Mikenbern

    Mikenbern Adventurer

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    Day 4 Mostly pavement as I covered 243 miles from Tellico Plains to Burnsville, NC. An excellent day of riding.

    I have heard it said if you are going to travel solo you had better get along well with yourself. That became more real when I discovered that in the rain yesterday that my Sena S-10 comm system that mounts to my helmet got fried by the rains. I say that to say this no more music in the helmet hence more time to reflect and think.

    I started the day with the Cherohala Skyway - It seems like each time I ride it that is a different experience. Today the first half was all in the clouds and the second half was very pretty.
    [​IMG]Day 4 Burnsville NC by mikenbern, on Flickr

    [​IMG]Day 4 Burnsville NC by mikenbern, on Flickr

    [​IMG]Day 4 Burnsville NC by mikenbern, on Flickr

    So up into the clouds I rode at a pace that would make the LEO's happy. I was of course an adventure trying to see and keep moisture from fogging things. I have ridden it enough to have a very good feel for where I was and after the halfway point it started to break up and with that the fun factor was pegged.

    [​IMG]Day 4 Burnsville NC by mikenbern, on Flickr

    [​IMG]Day 4 Burnsville NC by mikenbern, on Flickr

    [​IMG]Day 4 Burnsville NC by mikenbern, on Flickr

    Once down towards Robbinsville I called an audible and headed the long way around to route 28 via Deals Gap and the Hellbender. There was no traffic and Deals Gap parking lot was deserted. I for the first time pulled up by the sign for a picture, keep inmind I have been thru here more times than I can coiunt over the years so to have it be the fist time to ride up on the platform by the sign was kind of funny (to me). I did not bother riding the Tail of the Dragon as I have done it a bunch of times and tomorrow the Back of the Dragon (Marion to Tazwell ) is on tap. That is 32 miles long, very twisty and not near as congested normally.

    [​IMG]Day 4 Burnsville NC by mikenbern, on Flickr




    [​IMG]Day 4 Burnsville NC by mikenbern, on Flickr

    fFrom 28 till I got to I-26 it was all back roads, barns and streams which i really enjoy. Of course there was a few congested areas like Maggie Valley to deal with along the way. I did Route 209 from Waynesville NC to Hot Springs. This is called the RATTLER. I think it is 292 turns in 24 miles it is a fun bunch of twisties with a few straight aways thrown in .

    [​IMG]Day 4 Burnsville NC by mikenbern, on Flickr

    [​IMG]Day 3 Tellico by mikenbern, on Flickr

    Once I got to I-26 I went under it on 197 thru Bernardsville it turns to gravel after 10 miles going up to 4200' elevation as a contour road~~ easy but fun
    [​IMG]Day 4 Burnsville NC by mikenbern, on Flickr

    [​IMG]Day 4 Burnsville NC by mikenbern, on Flickr

    Tonight I will enjoy dinner with some good friends who live in Wolf Laurel which is nearby.
    #13
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  14. bobframe

    bobframe Been here awhile

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    Sorry to hear about the death of your Sena. It will be missed. Might be able to make you a great deal on a slightly used one....
    #14
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  15. xrttman

    xrttman xrttman Super Supporter

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    I think you meant "HOT SPRINGS" but Warm Springs is pretty close......only a few degrees off!:-)
    #15
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  16. Mikenbern

    Mikenbern Adventurer

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    You are correct - Hot Springs
    #16
  17. Mikenbern

    Mikenbern Adventurer

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    Day 5 Marion VA
    I left Burnsville this morning and headed up and over Roan mountain. I’ve gone over this mountain many times on the motorcycle always enjoyed the twist interns as you climb up and over the top was as usual windy cloudy and very pretty . The elevation at the top is just over 5000 feet.

    [​IMG]Day 5 Marion VA by mikenbern, on Flickr

    From there I went through Elizabeth town and up through Shady Valley it was at this point where I came upon two Harley riders waiting in a construction zone. I followed them for the next 6 miles the guy pictured below in the red shirt cross the centerline at least 18 times if he survives the day I’d Be surprised. It was scary to see someone so inept on a bike I backed way off knowing that we would intersect highway 421 and I could stop and get a drink at the store
    [​IMG]Day 5 Marion VA by mikenbern, on Flickr

    From there I made my way into Damascus for my long-awaited start of the MABDR (Mid Atlantic Backcountry Discovery Ride) . It was cool to be on the trail that I have read so many journals about taking my requisite picture by the little waterfall and also at the cut out where the train went through the rocks .

    [​IMG]Day 5 Marion VA by mikenbern, on Flickr

    [​IMG]Day 5 Marion VA by mikenbern, on Flickr

    [​IMG]Day 5 Marion VA by mikenbern, on Flickr



    Once I got to Marion Virginia I had lunch and since this is where I was staying it was only 1 o’clock I had laid out an optional 88 mile route which would lead me back to the hotel . This route took me open over the back of the dragon to Taswell Virginia where I turned right and went down to a place called Burkes Garden in very scenic real piece of land plopped in the middle of the mountains. It has nice curves on the way up and into the cove. I continued out the back of Burkes Gardens and and 10 mile stretch of nice gravel road which were up and over the mountains Ultimately making my way back to my hotel in Marion

    [​IMG]Day 5 Marion VA by mikenbern, on Flickr

    [​IMG]Day 5 Marion VA by mikenbern, on Flickr

    Be sure to click on the panoramic shot above -- its a good one

    [​IMG]Day 5 Marion VA by mikenbern, on Flickr

    [​IMG]Day 5 Marion VA by mikenbern, on Flickr
    We’re all riding through Burkes gardens are in into a traffic jam
    #17
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  18. xrttman

    xrttman xrttman Super Supporter

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    Hey Mike, you're doing my old GSA proud; using it as it should be. Nice photos of a very beautiful area. I'll look forward to seeing more of the MABDR.
    #18
  19. Mikenbern

    Mikenbern Adventurer

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    KC .... is that you ??? If so .. I am loving it and riding a lot in the dirt... check out those Anakee Wilds-- I love em
    #19
  20. bobframe

    bobframe Been here awhile

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    Mike, Another excellent report. Great pics and an interesting variety to your routes. Truck and trailer still here. Cya Monday.
    #20