Smokey Mountain 500 Solo

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Day Trippin'' started by HickOnACrick, Sep 6, 2019.

  1. HickOnACrick

    HickOnACrick Groovinator

    Joined:
    Dec 5, 2007
    Oddometer:
    2,867
    Location:
    captures.crunching.farewell
    Day 1

    Sultry, the start of the ride can only be described as sultry. A word to which I was first introduced in the movie “Throw Momma From A Train”. Oppressive heat and humidity, and this being the end of summer. September 2nd, and the southeast USA is sultry. Hurricane Dorian threatening, the weather apps predict slightly lower temperatures and sun, sun, sun for the areas I wish to ride. I am dubious as I pack the bike in the sultry, oppressive, humid and stifling heat of north Georgia. Sweating like a heroin addict whose last fix is only a faded memory, I mount the 500 at the crack of noon, and point the front tire to the Smokey Mountain 500.

    Within a few minutes, the air is flowing, and the heat dissipates, but only just. Slab some miles to Eton, GA; gas up on the way. Soon I am off the tarmac, and the familiar forest roads, usually a hard-packed washout, have shown their personality when subjected to weeks without constant rain.

    [​IMG]


    [​IMG]

    It is all golf-ball sized rocks and slippery slidery until I reach the mandatory view point of NW Georgia off road. Feeling a little gripped, I stop and chat a bit with a kindred rider, Justin, from my adopted hometown. This is his 3rd and last day of the SM500, I am on my first.

    [​IMG]


    [​IMG]

    I feel off. My lover and I are not connected. The love feels forced. She and I have bombed these roads before, but she is not responding to my subtle glances, my stolen kisses, my nibbles upon her ear. While chatting with Justin (not the aforementioned lover), I notice her chain looks tight, then I note my failure to properly tighten the rear axle bolt when adjusting her chain tension the night before. “Idiot,” I say to myself in my best Napoleon Dynamite. I amend my shortcomings, drop some PSIs from the front and rear tires, and give my apologies in chocolate and a soothing love chat. The stars of my lover and I are aligned. Our love blossoms again, then it’s straight Hoolaganism into Ellijay, where I eat a marginal lunch at a pretentious tavern.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Sultry. Again this word as I see my lover parked in an alley. The day is sultry, she is sultry. Back to the route, which is straight, mind-numbing slab for some miles. I run at the speed limit, allowing the Labor Day Parade of minivans to pass me on straights. I am not here for your suburban escape. I am only biding my time until the dirt begins again.

    Sweet bliss, some twisty tarmac, then Old Bucktown road.

    [​IMG]

    This is what makes my motor hum. Climbing to the summit, it’s all eyes in front, switchy, bony, poppy-wheelie to the summit. I stop for a moment to converse with a Wee-Strom and Yamaha 250.

    Then it’s back to ludicrous speeds. Soon after passing the Ranger Training Center I encounter the stereotypical Southerner in a blind corner. Fast-moving rusty pickup truck, woman at the wheel, shirtless man hanging out the passenger window with a can of beer in his hand. I shit you not, as they may say; shaking my head I am able to avoid the head on collision with extras from “In The Heat Of The Night”.

    [​IMG]

    After gassing up in Suches, and passing some pirate ships in the twisty-turnies, I peel off the route into Cooper Creek area and find a quiet, remote plot of trees to call home for the evening.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    I use the local fauna to hang my clothes and de-stink my boots.

    [​IMG]

    My stomach still full from the late lunch in Ellijay, I forego dinner, set camp sans rainfly! I have camped plenty in the Southeast over the years, and I believe this is the first time I felt confident about not putting up a rainfly. I drift off to sleep to the sounds of frustrated insects who lack the neural synapses to ascertain a way into my hammock.

    [​IMG]
    #1
  2. mcyeatman

    mcyeatman n00b

    Joined:
    Jul 5, 2019
    Oddometer:
    2
    Location:
    Kimberton, PA
    Great pics and thanks for the poetic post.
    #2
  3. Pablogordo

    Pablogordo Adventurer Supporter

    Joined:
    Oct 18, 2018
    Oddometer:
    16
    Location:
    nola
    good to see another hammock camper!
    #3
  4. liv2day

    liv2day Life is about how you handle Plan B Supporter

    Joined:
    Jan 19, 2016
    Oddometer:
    1,628
    Location:
    Sherwood, Oregon
    Nice @HickOnACrick! Great shots of the 500 in her element, though I can't imagine riding in full gear in that heat/humidity - you must go through a $hit ton of water to stay hydrated?

    Had a laugh about the dude leaning out the window with a beer, sheesh. Glad you avoided the collision - that type of scenario scares the crap out of me when I've upped the pace on decently graded roads.

    Looking forward to the next update, keep the knobby side down :thumb
    #4
  5. popscycle

    popscycle Fahren Away Super Supporter

    Joined:
    Apr 10, 2011
    Oddometer:
    7,854
    Location:
    Central MA
    Thanks for the pics and, especially, the stinky boot hack!
    #5
  6. HickOnACrick

    HickOnACrick Groovinator

    Joined:
    Dec 5, 2007
    Oddometer:
    2,867
    Location:
    captures.crunching.farewell
    Yes, I go through a lot of water. I probably drink close to a gallon per day, not counting what I use for cooking, coffee, and bathroom duties. I also take electrolyte capsules in the morning before I start riding to avoid cramping...does not always work...more on that later.
    #6
  7. HickOnACrick

    HickOnACrick Groovinator

    Joined:
    Dec 5, 2007
    Oddometer:
    2,867
    Location:
    captures.crunching.farewell
    HaHa. Yes, I also use pine boughs to freshen up my stinky riding jersey and riding shirt. When in the desert, I use sagebrush.
    #7
  8. HickOnACrick

    HickOnACrick Groovinator

    Joined:
    Dec 5, 2007
    Oddometer:
    2,867
    Location:
    captures.crunching.farewell
    Day 2

    Flies whose size belies intent, they bumble about in the morning light as I boil water for coffee. Shame at my behavior the night before, awoke in the middle of the night hungry and consumed an entire bag of gummy bears...the only thing more addictive being Sour Patch Kids. Fucking crack cocaine to me, those kids from the patch so sour, I eat you up with relish!!
    Breaking camp I wait for Sol, or the Greek Eos, to awaken. Finally the shards of not quite a particle, yet not quite a beam, pierce the forest canopy.

    [​IMG]


    The first few minutes of morning riding always baffles me. It takes a while to feel my swerve. The first few hundred yards of the ride are navigating down the single track from my campsite, back to a Jeep road, then to a forest road. Then there is early morning slab. Soon I am off the slab and onto Cooper Creek Road. Braaaaap!

    Duncan Ridge Road; I hath seen thee afore, and I loveth thee with immense profundity and glee. Your sustained ascents and descents, scooped turns interspersed with prodigious erosion berms, you are the love child of all my riding fantasies.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Back to tarmac. For a moment at least. But ne’er do fret mine DS demons, the ride be sublime. A long stretch of tar leaves me wanting, I take a side route on Forest Road 292. Methinks she’ll go all the way, but alas, she doth not.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    What motivates a man to dump their refuse upon God’s beauty? I have seen it everywhere I have traveled, from the Sahara to the Southwest. A rube is a rube, by any other name, they be rude.

    [​IMG]

    Back to the slab. Owl Creek Road. I see a spur on the GPS; will she go? I sweet-talk my lover into an alternative lifestyle of sorts. “C’mon baby, it will bring us closer,” I coax as we explore this side route.

    [​IMG]

    If thee follow, knoweth there be spiders! The route is not well traveled and there are countless silky, splatty, webs in the face from our arachnid brethren. Alas, this route doth not goeth either. My lover sayeth, “I told you so.” So we return to the established route, like a suburban couple returning to church after a Saturday night amongst inner-city heathens.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Slabbity dabbity for a while, but the tarmac’s chicanes exquisitely scooped. Oh bliss! My lover and I so in tune one needs to enter their birthdate to gain access. Dual sport porn awaits those who follow this route! Focused as I am on the next turn, and the utter lack of pirate ships, I have neither the time nor inclination for photography. But trust in me, thine reader, ‘twas chubby wubby until the next dirt.

    [​IMG]

    Charlie’s Creek Road. Quite simply, my mind had to shoot a load! Steps and drops, puddles and berms, climbs and drops, all before noon. At last, I am allowed to cool down, thus steam off, in the Tallulah River.

    [​IMG]

    My readers, I must confess, after the morning’s activities, my mind went numb. The dopamine receptors were saturated, the serotonin reuptakers had reuptaked their full, and the catecholamines had dropped off their keys at reception and collected their bill. I remember a Dollar Store where I resupplied baby wipes, water, jerkey and kids so sour, then a sooper-dooper fast dirt road to Pickens Nose. Rather than Pickens my Nosens, I ate a late brunch of tuna and crackers.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Afternoons are made for siestas, not Moto Logging. There be photos to prove I was there, but the waning neurotransmitters left me bereft of words. My lover and I disagreed, she said down when I said up. She eventually succumbed to my cooing authority but I was left with a bruised knee and ego.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Joyce Kilmer, whom I happened to learn of while listening to an audiobook on this ride, gave us a park. I partook of said park, resting my bones next to the sweet white noise of cascading water.
    #8
    staticPort likes this.
  9. HickOnACrick

    HickOnACrick Groovinator

    Joined:
    Dec 5, 2007
    Oddometer:
    2,867
    Location:
    captures.crunching.farewell
    Day 3

    Up before the sun, ‘tis habit. Make coffee and break camp under a headlamp, awaiting the morning light which arrives fashionably late in this canyon. Breakfast is jerky, nuts and sour patch kids. I also filter some water from the river...3 liters should get me through the day, right? Finally beams of sunlight touch the road and I lit to like a shaved lamb.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]


    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    I pass 3 DS bikes breaking camp, but don’t bother to stop as me and my lover are in a groove. I just ride, my bitches. Ride and ride, then ride some more. The morning is lots of dirt, not too much slabby-wab, and the dirt is miles and miles of 2nd gear switchbacks. As I pass from North Carolina to Tennessee, I the dirt roads are almost always off-camber, the results of a mistake will leave you meters below the roadway, possibly hanging from a tree.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Hunger and heat. As I reach Tellico Plains, the temperature rises exponentially. Grab gas and grub, but the heat has throttled my appetite. I eat half my lunch, then hit the slab. Soon after, on a stretch of highway, my ass gets sloppy. Fucking flat!! Flat aside a 4-laner! No shade in sight; why can't this sort of thing happen when I was aside a stream, in the shade?

    I sweat, cuss, and sweat some more aside the road. It’s easily in the mid 90s and my brothers, it be jungle hot. My wheel setup; its maiden voyage. I am trying out the Tubliss system, and the inner bladder is no longer holding air. During the repair, I see that the valve stem was ripped from the tube. I suspect the ungodly heat as a cause. Fortunately I have an extra high-pressure tube. Unfortunately, the repair takes about 2 hours and the remainder of my water as I try to remember the proper installation of said high-pressure tube. I need to lay the bike on its side as I can’t find anything to use as a center stand, wishing for an extra pair of hands. Finally, A goes to B, and B goeth to C; air pressure is up. I am soaked from head to toe in my own sweat, the humidity stifling nature's cooling process (evaporation); I don my gear and get back on the road.

    Now a rant...while I sweated bullets on the side of the road, no less than 15 Harleys (pirate ships) passed me by. No DS or Sport Bikers, just Harleys. Clearly, I was a biker in need of some assistance. I can forgive the cages who numbly go about their way, oblivious to anything outside their tinted windows and dual climate control. But “fellow” bikers?? This is the second time in my riding days I have had a yard sale at the side of a road, and been passed by innumerable pirate ships without a single one stopping to see if they can help. Yo tengo sus manos, solamente! What is it with the Harley culture? Are they just terrified of turning a wrench? Or do they see themselves superior? Does leather and chrome lift them to a level of stormtrooper? Everyone else is part of the diaspora of David? Do they fear we will expose their utter lack of moto knowledge? Once, in all my riding, have I been helped by a Harley, a young guy wearing sport-bike leathers, whom I needed to flag down. He was helpful, retrieving a liter of gas for me. However, I have never passed by a rider in need (even when within my cage). I have retrieved gas and trouble-shot electrics for Harley riders to get them on the road again, but the love is not reciprocated. So, I will take the high road. I will continue to stop for any biker in need. Yet, I will give the ADV salute to any pirate ship I pass...after choking on their fumes for miles watching them try and navigate anything other than a tavern parking lot.

    Rant off.

    Shit righted, back to the slab. Not feeling well, peel off into a convenience store for Gatorade and more water. Enveloped by air conditioning, filling my water and guzzling Gatorade, shaking and sweating copiously. The Indian proprietors eying me suspiciously...I don’t blame them, my riding gear makes me look a bit apocalyptic and my physical condition of sweats and shaking stinks of tweeker. Wanting to enjoy more fake arctic air, but I could tell they were only moments away from dialing 911.

    Back into the sultry heat. Within a mile (I hesitate to elaborate), vomiting inside my helmet, hands and calves cramping. Early stages of heat stroke. My options: keep up highway speeds, thus keeping me cooler, or pull over and spill my guts in the relentless, interminable, shadeless heat aside a 4-laner. Pulling my water tube out, I soak myself in cool water, wash the vomitus from my mouth, and keep riding. Consider a backtrack and stop at the Farmhouse Inn in Tellico Plains, but embarrassed to knock upon the door, stinking of sweat and vomitus, like a Euro-trash night clubber, having never met them afore.

    [​IMG]

    Climbing to higher elevations, I cool down. Stop long enough for water and another electrolyte capsule; keep motoring on. Approaching the Hiawassee River, muscle cramps subsiding. Consider laying nekked in the Hiawassee to cool down, knowing said Hiawassee be about ]--this--[ cold (cue snap-turtle club). Air cooler, breeze present, cramps dissipated, hunger a distant memory and water bladder full; motor on...

    [​IMG]

    Over the mountains and through the woods, interminable slippy-slidy off-camber, pebbly, switchbacks where death awaits a mistake. 'Tis not hyperbole. The section between the Hiawassee and the Ocoee, although easily navigable, has consequences if one ends up off the side.

    The Cherokee Wildlife Management Area a dearth of potential campsites. The throttle counterclockwise, knowing a developed campsite awaits aside the Ocoee river. Opt to skip dinner in Ducktown, the front tire West along the Ocoee. Thunder Rock Campground my destination for the night. Weird couples living out of minivans with Fourth-Of-July decorations, in spite of being September 4th. Maybe they just want to keep America great?

    However there be a hot shower and potable water. Dinner from a bag, rehydrate and re-salinate the blood, then off to sleep; the cicadas chorus like a guitar solo turned up to 11. The crickets relegated to background rhythm guitarists.

    [​IMG]
    #9
    BoilerRealm and staticPort like this.
  10. andy29847

    andy29847 Dirt Road Rider

    Joined:
    Dec 18, 2003
    Oddometer:
    2,939
    Location:
    South Carolina
    #10
    Madhouse likes this.
  11. HickOnACrick

    HickOnACrick Groovinator

    Joined:
    Dec 5, 2007
    Oddometer:
    2,867
    Location:
    captures.crunching.farewell
    #11
    andy29847 likes this.
  12. Madhouse

    Madhouse Semi-Goodlookin! Supporter

    Joined:
    Nov 9, 2004
    Oddometer:
    4,892
    Location:
    Cantonment, Florida
    #12
  13. HickOnACrick

    HickOnACrick Groovinator

    Joined:
    Dec 5, 2007
    Oddometer:
    2,867
    Location:
    captures.crunching.farewell
    Awake before sunrise; reminded why I avoid developed campgrounds. People and malodorous odors. Only one of a handful of campers in the campground, the night full of keep-America-great crowd arguing long past the sleepy time of this traveler. The morning breeze wafted off the river, cascading lightly across the outhouse...and into my camping space.

    Drink lukewarm coffee (had only enough gas for 3 days, not 4). Wrench on the bike. Chain ultra loose, a bit thirsty for the 50-weight; the Tubliss system exhibiting atrophy. Fucked and fuddle with air pump for about an hour, it's new to me, finally reaching appropriate 120/15 psi. Almost forget to tighten the rear axle nut...again. Handful of sweety salty gorp to start the day, wash down with campsite water so imbued with iron it could possible stand upright.

    Take the high road. In younger days, revving the engine outside late-nighters seemed vengefully appropriate. Now, older and achier, sneak out of camp soon after light.

    "Daddy, who was that masked man?"
    "Pro'lly a commie, son. Pro'lly a commie."

    [​IMG]

    Back on familiar roads. T'is my backyard, this scrap of Earth.

    [​IMG]

    Nada por nada. I saw not a bipedal soul. Scare up some turkey, then low-side a right-hander; cargo pocket ripped asunder, contents of my wallet a strewn in the dirt. Hmm, AMEX, VISA, Library card...time for a new wallet.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Aside an anemic waterfall, stop for more salty goopiness and water. The water very irony, not that kinda irony, the kind that builds the globin of heme. Donate some irony water to the anemic waterfall, then back to the road. Stop for a moment to document the exit where I entered.

    [​IMG]


    Soon, back to black; relentless slab, emanating the day's heat, the road like a furnace. Home by noon, amongst hundreds of missed emails, dozens of voicemails, lawn in need of mowing, and wife in need of attention.

    Longing to hang my hammock...sleep, ride, repeat.
    #13
    BoilerRealm and telejojo like this.