September 27, 2015
Start Odo: 4896
End Odo: 5091
Miles Covered: 195
Destination: Blue Ridge, GA via SR60 and SR136
Weather Outlook: High: 74°F, 23°C | Low: 62°F, 17°C | Cloudy and Overcast
Rides – Riders:
- BMW R1200GSA – Ashok
- Harley Davidson 1200 Sportster – Rajesh
- Harley Davidson Road King – Mahesh
- Triumph Thunderbird – Phan
- Yamaha FJR1300AE – Rakesh
This particular ride was with a group I had not ridden with before. Somehow, for some reason or another, I always had schedule conflicts whenever their ride was planned. Over the previous week, a flurry of email back and forth ensued, urging riders to make a ride happen. On a previous occasion I had suggested a route going up SR60 to Suches, down to Morgantown and into Blue Ridge. Then return via Talking Rock off the SR5/515 and head to Dawsonville on SR136. SR60 and SR136 being the ‘relaxing’ mountain roads – sweeping turns, some twisties and long straights. This route appealed to the group and it was set. Just waiting on Riders to commit.
The number finally settled down to five riders. Me and four from the group. Out of the four I had ridden with one of the riders. We met at a convenient Starbucks location. Since the group had picked out the route I had suggested, I was honored with leading the ride. While talking with the riders I had not met before I was told that this was Rajesh’s first long ride after buying his bike. The original route had us going along internal SR roads up to Dahlonega and hooking up with SR60 up to Suches, GA. I thought it might be a better option to head out onto the 400N to Dahlonega and join up with the 60 off 400. This would give Rajesh some confidence riding at ‘cruise’ speed and in a pack. As it happens, on an overcast Saturday morning, we finally set out from Starbucks at around 9:45am. Route entered into my TomTom Rider GPS. Sena 20s powered on and set to FM. ‘Let’s Ride‘
This was my first time leading a group. This was a bit of learning curve for me too. There’s a lot more to look out for when riding in group, especially as a Lead. We managed fine, I believe. Riders maintained their staggered positions and distance between bikes.
About 20miles out Phan decided to drop off and head back home. He wasn’t comfortable with his Thunderbird’s tires – which were close to bald . It being an overcast day with some chances of rain this was a good decision. Better safe than sorry. Rajesh took this stop as an opportunity to fuel up.
We then headed up 400N, left onto SR60 which wound through Dahlonega, skirting past Lake Zwerner and starting the climb up to Suches. The usual Biker ‘coffee and kick the tires’ stops Riders Hill and Two Wheels of Suches along with way showed more than decent activity of bikers around. The ride up had to be a little cautious since a Bicycle racing event was under way. As we made our way up, the bicyclists were zooming down. Quite easy for either traffic to stray across the double yellows and create a bit of a kerfuffle! We also tried to maintain a steady but decent enough pace as we handled the turns, the straight inclines, allowing Rajesh to find his comfort zone under these conditions. He did quite well for a first timer and the most important part was that he was enjoying the ride and having fun.
Regular riders of SR60 will know of this little layby near a rockface. Popularly known as the ‘Graffiti Wall’ or Pruit Creek Wall. It is a nice spot to stop. Catch a few breaths, take some photos, talk about the ride up so far. We did just that and then headed out aiming for Blue Ridge, GA as our next stop. The lunch stop.
From Suches to Morgantown and Blue Ridge, the cloud cover broke and we had some nice warm sunshine and dry roads. This was my first time riding this particular stretch. This will definitely be featured in future rides. The GPS took us out to SR5/515 and then left into Blue Ridge. On hindsight, I think it might have been better to hook off the SR60 to Old US 76 leading in to Blue Ridge. #NoteToSelf.
We reached Blue Ridge, GA around 12:15pm ready to get some lunch. We rode through the Main St in Blue Ridge a couple of times, trying to look for convenient street side parking. This would allow us to park up like the milder (softer?) versions of Sons of Anarchy! That was not to be. Alas. Cue sounds of smashed dreams The street parking was packed. After a few rings around Main St., we decided to park in the Free Parking Lot along the Railway track across Mountain St, just by the Railway Crossing. Headed straight to the ‘highlight’ restaurant in Blue Ridge. Harvest on Main. Fortunately, the restaurant had a few tables open and we didn’t have a wait. Harvest On Main did not fail to please, as always.
All noshed up and ready to ride, we left Blue Ridge around 1:45pm. Back onto SR 5/515 heading south for about 20 miles to Antioch Church Road to head to the small town of Talking Rock to get onto SR 136 heading back to Dawsonville for our return to Alpharetta area. I had been to Talking Rock as part of the GTGA ride and thought it would be a good place to stop for a photo shoot and then head up 136 to Burnt Mountain Overlook. A good leisurely ride up to the Overlook where we stopped to catch the view, take some pictures and admire some bikes that were already stopped there. The best looking ones were Yamahas! A couple of V-Max (Star Motorcycles is Yamaha!) bikes were striking. About a 15min stop and we were back on the road. I wanted to get back home by 4pm as did Rajesh due to prior commitment. We dropped into Dawsonville, where Ashok fuelled up his R1200 and Rajesh, his 1200 sportster – just to be safe. No on really was inclined to push a heavy dead-weight should it run out of gas!
From Dawsonville, the original plan was to head to Hwy 9 and split at SR141. But then I picked up the SR53 and aimed for 400S (near the Outlet Mall). We rode together up to SR141 where Mahesh and Rajesh split. I would jump off the 400S at Exit 12 with Ashok heading to Exit 10. Till Exit 12, Ashok and I opened up the throttles and enjoyed ourselves. Cautious of the Blue Lights all the time, of course! This is where the FJR comes into it’s comfort zone and elements. It just wants to go. And it did!
A nice little RTE kind of ride. Hope to get a few more rides in before the weather starts shutting the riding down.
Till the next ride; Rubber side down and Ride Safe!