We could have spent a few more days at our idyllic forest campsite by the waterfall, and riding around the north Georgia mountains, but GP racing was calling louder.
I’m serious when I say the southern Appalachians have the best motorcycle riding anywhere. The roads leaving our campsite were fantastic, and stayed fantastic until we rode out of the mountains. GA 60, in particular, is motorcycling nirvana. The curves are endless, and the pavement north of Suches is great. It hard for me (and a lot of people, frankly) to articulate the joy and zen-like state of mind achieved when riding a curvy road on a motorcycle. The whole act requires such focus, from reading the curve, to choosing a breaking point, to that initial turn in, tipping the bike and leaning through the corner, and then the satisfying drive out. Over and over. In north GA, this happens at 25-50 mph, and just goes on and on and on.
Contrast this road to say, the Beartooth Pass, that crosses from Wyoming into Montana. That road is a hugely famous motorcycling road, and one we rode last year on our epic journey out west. The views are certainly amazing. The top of the pass at 11 or 12 thousand feet is breathtaking (heh, figuratively and literally, due the elevation…hoo boy….probably should edit that out…). But we honestly weren’t that impressed with it as a fun road to ride. Everything out west suffers from the same problem. Aside from the endless tar snakes, you need to ride 100 miles of straight boring roads to get to a section of curves. An then, its all high speed sweepers and a few tight hairpins (after a long straight). You’d have to be going pretty fast to get leaned over on the Beartooth Pass. In North GA, there are endless miles of tight curvy greatness to be had a 30-40 mph. For a sport rider, the roads are way more technical, and loads more fun (both Kevin and I are in agreement on this). I’ll pick GA 60 over any road we encountered out west last summer every time, including the (admittedly few) roads we were on in northern California.
A few shots when the road straightens out. There isn’t time for photos in the good stuff.
No road trip of ours is complete without a hydropower related roadside attraction. This time, the break from riding took place at Berry College in Rome, GA, to see one of the country’s largest waterwheels.
While the curvy roads in north GA were fun, they aren’t the fastest way to get somewhere, and after stopping short of our mileage goal yesterday, we had a small problem. We needed to make up at least some of the difference today, or the shortfalls would start staking up, making it much harder to make it to Austin on time. Plus, the weather forecast called for a pretty severe storm front to come though the next day, meaning we might face some delays. So, today, we had to push a bit. More than I wanted. At least we had nice weather, but this afternoon was more about endurance than enjoying the ride. At some point, the monster gets pretty uncomfortable. We take small breaks every 50 miles, which gives me a mental goal I can handle, since 50 miles isn’t that far. This is also where the mind games begin: “ok, 50 miles, and then I can have a break,” and then I play the game where I see how long I can go without looking at the odometer. This carried me all the way through Alabama, and we crossed into Mississippi riding directly into the setting sun. We’d set our goal for Tombigbee state park just south east of Tupelo. It was about 8 pm by the time we pulled off the short stretch of interstate to head to the park. All we’d eaten at this point were snacks, in our effort to make camp before sundown. Too late for that at this point. By now we were so hungry that freeze dried camp food wasn’t going to suffice, and we didn’t want to cook in the dark. So, as a reward to the push, we stopped at the only place for miles to get something substantial to eat.
Maybe its just that hunger is the best spice, but that roadside stand was serving up some delicious cookin’. There was an endless stream of (pretty overweight) locals getting take-out, so we figured they knew where the good food was (that might be a meaner thing to say than I intended). Sitting on that little deck eating my delicious cheese-steak sandwich after dark was somehow a really fitting end to the day. I should have been unhappy, but we were both having fun. (Not being hungry always helps quite a bit with having a positive attitude). Even setting up the tent in the dark was stress-free, and made more interesting by some friendly RVers who came by to chat and offer help (politely declined). Best of all (from my point of view anyway), was that this state park had newly remodeled bathrooms with free hot showers. I crashed out clean, happy, and with a full tummy, to a solid nights sleep under cool clear skies.
4/17/2013 – 443 miles. This was a really long day. I love the monster, but its really not suited to long miles.