Author Topic: Expensive t-shirts, Google maps, curvy women, gravel dragons  (Read 3894 times)

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September 28, 2005, 09:38:23 PM on

Offline GatorTiger (OP)

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It was time again for the annual Dragon RAT Raid at the Tapoco Lodge. 2005 is the year... Last years event was something like this:



- leave later than planned from Gainesville, FL

- get to the lodge @ 10pm

- check in with the event staff

- eat dinner

- watch where hurricane Jeane was on the weather map

- call my wife to say that I arrived safely (big mistake!)

- hear a whimpering voice on the phone: ÏJeanne is heading towards Gainesville! I want you to come home right away!Ó

- have a beer

- talk to some fellow Triumph riders also watching the news

- go to sleep (for one night)

- pay for TWO nights

- ride south towards Jeanne (everybody we talked to on the way declared us crazy going TOWARDS the hurricane on motorcycles!)



My buddy and also-Tiger-rider Keith were in the same boat (pardon the pun these days) except for the first 2 points in the list above, since he arrived earlier that day.



After all I got to keep the t-shirt!!! It is THE most expensive on in my closet I swear! And it's not even designer-ware...



So what to do to avoid getting another expensive t-shirt again this year? Change jobs, buy a new house near Atlanta, uproot the whole kid'n'kabudle and move the 18,000 lbs of household... And while you're renovating the new house be sure to keep THAT weekend open for the trip!



Despite several things trying to assassinate my trip I was able to stand my ground and go. Since I moved closer to the event I could take my time that day going there. New to the area I wanted to explore it some. And what better tool to plan such a trip than Google maps! Entering my route in sections, and zooming in and out while taking screen shots I could see the route, switch to see the terrain, simultaneously playing with Google Earth to study the topographic properties I could have me a running map of where I wanted to go and how to get there! Not bad!! With all the printouts packed I took side roads to my first en-route-destination: Gainesville! The Georgia kind this time...



Taking all roads of the side kind through Winder (fortunately there were no Winders of that kind there) I got into Gainesville. For some reason I must have hit the Hispanic section of town, because 99% of the signs were in Spanish and all. But what's that growling sound? Oh! Tummy! Time for lunch! So I tried that 'many cars = good food' advice and went for the restaurant with the most cars in front of it. That big golden 'M' does stand for 'Mexican', doesn't it? Why then didn't they have ANY? Only burgers and shit! I chewed it down and got on my bike again... On my way I came across streets ÏEE Butler PkwyÓ and ÏHawthorne RoadÓ and stuff like that. Having lived in Gainesville, FL, for many years this was very puzzling to me. Ok, these names only mean something to the 'locals'. But does anyone know why they pop up in both Gainesvilles?



A-a-nyhoo, Back to the trip...
Triumph Tiger - The ultimate riding machine! \";-)\"

Know this:  A clean Tiger is a dirty shame!!

September 28, 2005, 09:38:49 PMReply #1 on

Offline GatorTiger (OP)

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Next stop was 'world famous' Helen, Georgia. I wanted to see what all the fuzz was about and was greeted by this:







That should have given me a hint about what was coming! Especially parking my cat under this sign:







Could this finally be my oasis of sanity? My home away from home? Back in the saddle quickly! When I went around the next turn I saw a mini-golf course on the side of the road. All the accents were very typically German! Picture time! As with many scenic views the pictures don't do the real thing justice:











Good to see I finally found a source for my favorite brews close to my house:







Darn it! Time is flying by when you're having fun! I needed to get going if I wanted to be at the hotel before my buddy Keith got there (he was riding in from Gainesville, FL, and had a few more miles to cover...). I promised myself to persuade him to come with me to Helen on the way back so I could show him first hand what Germany looks like...
Triumph Tiger - The ultimate riding machine! \";-)\"

Know this:  A clean Tiger is a dirty shame!!

September 28, 2005, 09:39:07 PMReply #2 on

Offline GatorTiger (OP)

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The road out of Helen to the north (GA-75/17) towards Hiawassee and then later Hayesville is great! For a straight (and level) guy formally from Florida this was heaven already! Sorry, no pics! I wanted to inhale every curve and not take pics! The ride was more important!! But it only got better! Following US-64 west, then NC-141 north, and finally US-129 I ended up in Andrews, NC. Does anyone know if there are more cases of radiation poisoning in NC then GA? (Note to self: make doctors appointment to be checked) If I had had a radar detector it would have been empty after 30 minutes from all the detection beeping... I saw more Barney Fifes after entering NC then on the entire trip before that! Stick to the speed limit, guys! This is almost as bad as Waldo, FL!



My plan was to go from Andrews to Robbinsville via Tatham Road, AKA ÏTrail of TearsÓ. After relying on the Google maps I almost ended up in someones living room! So much for that! I finally found the trail, though... When I slammed around the curve I almost lost it: egg sized gravel on the asphalt made recovery a challenge. Then the whole road turned into rough washboardy gravel. I was by myself, no help picking up my beast should I lay it down, on a schedule, thirsty for a cold one... Hmmmm... I think I better take the long way round (that sounds like a good title for a trip report, but I like mine better...)



So I take US-129 further north to Robbinsville and was stopped immediately by a flagger. So I was sitting there, waiting for the follow-me car to let 10 cars through and then, with my t-shirt freshly charged with coolant under my jacket, it took us past the road surfacing crew. And off it went... Finally moving again I twisted all the way to Robbinsville and wanted to check in. It was just after 5 pm. And my name wasn't on the list! What the...? ÏYour name isn't on the printout!Ó the girl behind the counter confirmed. ÏPlease look in your computer!Ó I asked her. And sure enough: I was in there! I was relieved, she was puzzled...and asked her mom for help. ÏWhat's your last name?Ó mom asked. When I gave it to her she ripped a small envelope off the counter with my room key in it. ÏYou buddy is already here and got the room! And once someone checks in we take them off the printout.Ó



When I got to the room I I got the beer-fridge going: put the brewskies into the sink and covered them with ice. Quickly unload luggage, then back on the bike to the Tapoco lodge... US-129 is just sweet up there! Fresh blacktop, clean, no repair marks, no leaves: perfect! After 15 perfect miles of pure fun I got to the lodge and started to mingle:











A fine display of Brit-Metal:















Some time later we left again for Robbinsville to grab several brewskies and some z's...
Triumph Tiger - The ultimate riding machine! \";-)\"

Know this:  A clean Tiger is a dirty shame!!

September 28, 2005, 09:39:52 PMReply #3 on

Offline GatorTiger (OP)

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The next morning we went to the Lodge again for Matt Weinert's (Triumph's North American Coordinator) briefing. One of the many choices was a Tiger ride off the beaten path. Ron, owner of The Tail Of The Dragon website (http://www.tailofthedragon.com/index.html) led the whole thing. He led us via  a road he calls the ÏGravel DragonÓ up to Tellico Gap.



The whole things started easy on some S+L gravel roads:







That's Ron on the left:







Eric (checkered jacket) and his wife Lesley were even doing the whole thing 2-up:







The scenery along the Little Tennessee River is breathtaking:







After a long in dusty climb with quite a few switchbacks and washouts we got to the Tellico Gap and crossed the path of the Appalachian Trail:







I doesn't look as steep on the picture... Why is that always the case??







Ron was well prepared and handed out menus to the Burger Basket, a family owned local burger joint in Andrews, NC (highly recommended!!):







He called ahead and the food was waiting for us when we got there! And what awesome food it was!!! Yum!!!



The advrider salute doesn't come out so well as a dusty handprint:







After we ate we geared up again and headed for the Trail of Tears... Hey wait a sec! THAT Trail of Tears? Ron just grinned and said ÏYep!Ó Failing to adjust my suspension further we hit the VERY washboardy trail (Tatham Road) and Ron lead with higher speed than before. I got quite a shaking from all of that.



Yours truly, fully dusted:







When we took a pause at the gap







three riders with a 1150 GS (from Houston), a V-Strom, and a KTM 640 pulled up.



After a short descent we got back on pavement again. And what pavement it was! Anyone ridden Joyce Kilmer? The road through the J.K. Memorial Forest, of course... I LOVE curvy women! And this one was a particularly awesome kind! Best of all: empty! Not squids to be seen! The asphalt is a bit bumpy (no prob for the Tigers!), but probably too much for the crotch rockets. Highly recommended!!!!!



We later got to US-129 again and got back to the Lodge:







I kinda like that special powder coat look:







Fellow Tiger rider Tim pulled up. He had a new paint job on his cat dedicated to his dad, who used to be a hurricane hunter back in his time:







After some 120 miles through the forest it was time to relax and join the Triumph party (kilts were requested, but optional after all...):



Triumph Tiger - The ultimate riding machine! \";-)\"

Know this:  A clean Tiger is a dirty shame!!

September 28, 2005, 09:40:39 PMReply #4 on

Offline GatorTiger (OP)

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The next morning it was time for the trip home. I had Keith convinced to come to Helen with me and be impressed! Before we left I needed to get this shot of a well ridden bike next to a well polished one:







We took the Dragon north, then took TN-72 to Vorone, a bit of US-411 south, and then got on TN-360 south (what a road! ALMOST better than sex!). Joined US-68 to hop onto NC-348 (sex again!!) to GA-75/17 into Helen. That whole thing was about a 100 mile joint, with about 10 miles of straight roads! Guess the rest!!!!



When we got into Helen we saw a bunch of bikes parked in front of a restaurant. Of course we had to place our right smack in the middle:





We got many looks of the Ïdon't you get any dust on my chromeÓ kind of looks... We left the bikes for the chrome crowd to admire and went to suck in the real life:







Real men enjoying the German/Austrian/Swiss ambiance in an American setting:





Street musicians entertaining in front of the Hansel and Gretel store:





The king is everywhere:





The book Ludwig is holding is titled ÏCandymaking for DummiesÓ... Nuff said!

At least they know what team is higher up on the food chain:





Isn't it quaint?





American past time in German setting:





Food chain again (check out the restaurants):





After this we ate at Hans' Restaurant (how apropos!) and left for my house.



To summarize: If you think Helen think Epcot International Showcase times 1000!



If you want to ride the loop Helen-Robbinsville-Vonore-Helen as mentioned in various parts of the report take a whole day of twisties and fun! Highly recommended!



And now my work day is over... Time to leave the office...
Triumph Tiger - The ultimate riding machine! \";-)\"

Know this:  A clean Tiger is a dirty shame!!

September 29, 2005, 01:10:03 AMReply #5 on

Offline NortonCharlie

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Great ride report, I just wish I could see the pictures.  For some reason they are not showing up on my end.  I really wish I could have made it this year.  Last year just had time to say hello before you headed back into the hurricane.  Hopefully I'll see you in the spring in Arkansas.
01 Dew Green 955i Tiger

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September 29, 2005, 03:41:03 AMReply #6 on

Offline GatorTiger (OP)

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Quote from: "NortonCharlie"
Great ride report, I just wish I could see the pictures.  For some reason they are not showing up on my end.



I don't know what is wrong with smugmug, or maybe it's just me... But I thought I had allowed external link in my account. After your post I checked and the option was off... Strange... I reset it. Try a re-load...



Cheers,

HG
Triumph Tiger - The ultimate riding machine! \";-)\"

Know this:  A clean Tiger is a dirty shame!!

September 29, 2005, 04:03:17 AMReply #7 on

Offline wonko the sane

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They are great pics, just have to download them to the  desktop.
The world is a book, and those who don\'t travel, read only a page.

  St. Augustine

September 29, 2005, 10:26:44 AMReply #8 on

Offline GatorTiger (OP)

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Quote from: "wonko the sane"
They are great pics, just have to download them to the  desktop.



Thanks! Can you not see them in-line? I can, but that might be due to different reasons (being owner of the pics and all)... All the switches are set to show them in-line!



Cheers,

HG
Triumph Tiger - The ultimate riding machine! \";-)\"

Know this:  A clean Tiger is a dirty shame!!

September 29, 2005, 01:00:56 PMReply #9 on

Offline Mudhen

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Awesome report!  Thanks!



(I can see the pics now...couldn't before you made the change to your acct)
\'96 Steamer

October 01, 2005, 02:24:44 AMReply #10 on

Offline wonko the sane

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That's better!  Now I can read the captions with the photos.
The world is a book, and those who don\'t travel, read only a page.

  St. Augustine