Day 5 – October 22nd, 2018 – Cleveland, Tennessee to Byron, Georgia: ~300 miles
Did you miss Day 4? October 21st, 2018 – Memphis, Tennessee to Cleveland, Tennessee: ~420 miles.
My first few days on this trip were a little boring in the sense that I didn’t get to enjoy many stops, I just tried to cover as many miles as possible. My reasoning was that I had already spent plenty of time in the Southwest, but I hadn’t really explored the Southeast before, so I wanted to enjoy my precious little free time out east. That’s what allowed me to explore Rusty’s collection the day prior, and it’s what would allow me to meet up with a couple of readers today!
I left the southern border of Tennessee in the morning with the plan of meeting up with reader Neal Michal…and this is where I let him take over storytelling duties! (I’ve added some of my own thoughts in the captions)
Moe, Larry and Curly’s Most Excellent Adventure
Story by Neal Michal
I’ve been pestering Abhi to come ride with Ted and I in North Georgia. I met Ted after I read his bio as a guest writer on Bike-urious. The following year, Ted and I explored a forest service road, and I sent Abhi some pictures to entice him to visit. He said he was interested.
Much to my surprise, Abhi actually contacted me to set up a visit! He said he would be in Nashville in a couple days and his final destination was Florida. He asked if we could get together for a ride? “Hell Yes!” was my answer.
So we made plans to meet on a Monday morning in Blue Ridge, Georgia which is just south of Chattanooga. He would be riding the new Kawasaki H2 SX SE. From California. And then back. Such is the life of a motor-journalist.
Personal comment: my second bike was a baby blue 1972 H2 with chrome Denco’s. I was hooked. Three more H2’s and a lifetime of buying, restoring, riding, and selling bikes followed. I had read Lemmy’s review of the latest H2 SX SE version on RevZilla’s Common Tread. I wanted one. If I only knew someone who would be kind enough to let me sample one…
Back to the ride. I left the house early Monday. It was 50°F, which was perfect for my ‘Stitch. I was riding my trusty R1200RT, and the grip and seat heater were welcome benefits for the 75 min ride. In a tight left hand turn along GA52, I nearly got swiped by a double wide being towed without a lead vehicle. Oh my. I considered stopping to pull the seat cover out of my rear. No more need for the seat heater!
I rocked up to the local Waffle House. For you Yankees and other non-Southerners, ALL PROPER BIKE RIDES begin at WAFFLE HOUSE. It was a first time for Abhi…
After a quick and delicious breakfast we set out for our first destination – Two Wheels of Suches.
We rode Old 76 south along Flat Creek before taking GA 60 South to Two Wheels.
Two Wheels of Suches is a Motorcycle Resort. It is a popular place on weekends to meet, eat, and plan the next ride. It is at the intersection of GA60 and GA180. From there one has central access to the best roads in North Georgia. That includes hundreds of miles of forest service roads along the Appalachian Trail.
We stopped so I could show Abhi what they have available. We met a guy who was riding a good looking BMW K75 – one of Abhi’s first bikes. While we were talking, Ted called to say he was in route. You should know that Ted is a retired Delta pilot. He likes to sleep in. He made up for it big time in the afternoon.
We rode down GA60 to meet him at the “Stone Pile”. We stopped to talk. Ted was riding his Ducati Multistrada. Abhi then said the magic words, “Neal, do you want to ride the H2?” Ahem. “Yes” I responded in a low voice to not reveal my fluttering heart.
Now let me tell you about this leg of the journey. From the Stone Pile GA129 winds up to Blood Mountain on some of the best roads in the world. Think about God’s best uphill roller coaster designed for sport bikes in third gear. It is only 14 miles to the lodge, but it is a truly memorable ride. This is the Georgia version of the “Tail of the Dragon” but without the hassle of multiple cops hidden in multiple blind corners.
I was testing my new Arai XD-4 to get used to it before an upcoming trip to pre-run the Baja 1000. That was a poor choice because the beak made it nearly impossible look forward without craning my neck. The last thing I wanted to do was to run this brand-new bike off of the side of the mountain, so my ride was slower up the mountain than normal. The H2 has amazing torque. I rode most of it in 5th gear. No problem. Perfect response with no snatch or low throttling glitches. I’d like to ride it again with my normal street helmet a bit faster. For another day!
Leave a post below if you want me to test ride your H2, H2R or H2 SX SE…I’m also open to Super Dukes, Panigales and any MV’s if you prefer. I’ll be happy to assess accel/decel, high speed stability, traction control and tire wear. I promise to wear my Shoei RF-1200…
We stopped at the lodge on top of Blood Mountain for a look south. Unfortunately, we were two weeks before the glorious autumn colors. No worries, there were more roads to explore.
Back to my RT for the rest of the trip. We rode a couple miles down to Vogel State Park and then left on GA180 back towards Two Wheels. This section of GA180 is 12 miles of tight and technical, up and down, perfectly smooth asphalt. Every time I ride it, I think of how much fun the road crew had to build such an amazing road. They must have been bikers.
Needless to say, Ted and Abhi ran off and left me. I’ve been told there is a special place in Heaven for those who ride sweep. We stopped one more time at Two Wheels before a return trip on GA180. Left onto GA129 for a couple miles and another right on GA180.
We then turned right onto GA348 “Richard B Russell Scenic Highway”. This is another bucket list road with 14 miles of wide sweeping bends up to the Appalachian Trail followed by a long downhill section with tighter turns with several places to stop to take in the scenery. No time for that. We took a left on GA75A. Another two miles along a creek to Helen, GA.
Helen is styled as a Bavarian village with several pubs along the river. We stopped at a local watering hole for lunch. After we complimented each other’s lies about our many awesome bike adventures (real and imagined) we decided to head to Ted’s place north of Atlanta.
Did we take the short super slab? Nope. We backtracked our previous route to the Rock Pile. You can’t ride them just once. At the Rock Pile, Ted took over navigating with one of his favorite routes back home. I have ridden these roads dozens of times but can’t remember their names. So many roads; so little time.
Ted failed to alert his bride that we were in route. Nevertheless, Marina was an amazing host upon our arrival. Ted also has a bike problem as witnessed by his man cave, named the Ducati Lounge.
It was getting late and Abhi needed to roll. We rode out together before I split out to head home.
Keep the dirty side down!
Thanks to Neal and Ted for showing me a great time! This was my first time in northern Georgia on a motorcycle, and the quality of roads were a total shocker. Yamaha and Triumph are now based in the area, so I’m trying to find an excuse to go back…
I killed a few more miles on my way to Byron, Georgia to get set up for the next day, and fell asleep dreaming about Kawasaki’s River Mark.
The gas log continues…
1. Palm Springs, CA
2. Blythe, AZ
3. Tonopah, AZ
4. Tucson, AZ
5. Bowie, AZ
6. Las Cruces, NM
7. Van Horn, TX
8. Monahans, TX
9. Colorado City
10. Ranger, TX
11. Royce City, TX
12. Texarkana, TX
13. Little Rock, AR
14. Braden, TN
15. Centerville, TN
17. Cleveland, TN
18. Helen, GA
19. Forsyth, GA
On to Day 6!