May 12, 2018
Miles Covered: 102
Destination: Dawsonville, Burnt Mountain, Talking Rock and Ballground, GA
Weather Outlook: Clear blue skies, low 80s. Perfect riding weather
I now ride, when its all street/road, riding, with a Riding Group informally called Gears and Beers. A bunch of great guys of varying motorcycle riding experience and skills. An eclectic mix of personalities and motorcycles. Which, without doubt, makes the group and riding with the chaps fun and interesting. That all the members are located in the same general area, the planning is a little easier with no one having to ride to long to the Muster point(s) to start the ride.
All chatter and planning happens via a Whatsapp Messenger group. Initially the group started with four or five members. Over the last month, it gradually grew to 16. Each new member connected and pulled into the group through another member. However, as yet, a Group ride with all the members hasn’t happened. It is difficult lining up all the Life ducks in a row to make such a ride happen. This is understandable. We hope to have a full house ride this summer some time.
The week leading to Saturday May 12 saw a flurry of activity on Whatsapp. The weather on Saturday was perfect and it appeared that quite a few of the riders were keen to go out riding around the North Georgia mountains. The idea was to ride, have lunch, and ride back. After the usual back and forths on time, location, routes, we decided on the route and the final member count was 12 riding out.
The Riders: Rajib, Christian, Mahesh, Ashok, Avi, Magesh, Ramesh, Tanvir, Jony, Raj, Phani and myself.
The Route we decided upon was Alpharetta > Dawsonville > Burnt Mountain > Talking Rock > Ballground > Alpharetta. A nice loop of around 100 miles, of good roads, gentle twisties, elevations, gradients and great views as we rode through the foothills of the North Georgia and Appalachian Mountains.
The meeting points were set at two separate spots. QuikTrip on Exit 10 – SR400 and BP on Exit 13 – SR400. Phani decided to head back from here since he had to get home to supervise a crew doing some repairs and reno to his home. At KSU (Kick Stands Up) time, we were down to 9 riders. Raj and Avi decided to join us later directly at the lunch stop at Dawsonville Tavern. A regular and favorite spot of the original group riders. I somehow was volunteered to lead the group. This does come with some responsibility and the need to be more aware of the surroundings and its possible impact on the group. Learning about the differences in riding skills and comfort levels was a learning curve for me, since this was the first time I rode with this group. All in all, I believe, the group did well. Each riding within their limits and not pressured in any way. The whole idea is to make the ride fun and comfortable enough for the less skilled or experienced riders to enjoy the ride and if inclined, able to learn by pushing the limits just that little bit. Always in control. Always with other riders within eyesight distance.
It was slow going along Hwy 9 to Dawsonville since there was a long Funeral Procession in front of us. It was good to see all the road traffic show respect by being patient and the traffic coming from the opposite side coming to a stop until all the cars in the procession had passed. We humans are capable of being human! Heartening, indeed.
Once the Funeral Procession turned off, we were back to some ‘wind in your hair’ riding. With the the group spread out due to the varying comfort levels of the riders. We were in no rush. The riders each rode their own ride and we finally reached the tavern right on schedule. We settled down and made better acquaintance of each other. The most popular question turned out to be ‘what made you buy this bike?’ Answers generally fell into comfort level and the type of riding intended. While the mingling was going on, we heard from Raj ‘I’m at the Tavern, in the collections Car park’. I was a tad bemused about this message on Whatsapp. I step outside to see what Raj was referring to by ‘Collections Car Park’. No such thing outside. Mahesh called him and the puzzle unraveled. Raj misunderstood the ‘Tavern’ as being another Tavern at Exit 13 (where we started from) and ended up there. And thus this ride was christened ‘The Tavern Ride’! At the same time, Avi messaged that he was running a bit late and expected to reach the Tavern by the time we were ready to leave for Burnt Mountain. But SR400 threw a big wrench in that plan. Construction work delays caused him to reach after we left the Tavern and he ended up having lunch and heading back. Meanwhile Raj also tried to rush to the Tavern, but SR400 traffic forced change of plan and he headed back home.
Magesh and Christian broke from the group here and headed back due to prior commitments. Bringing the group down to seven.
Next stop was a short ride from Dawsonville to Burnt Mountain Lookout. A gradual climb along gentle twisties and sweeping curves. We made good time. A breather as we took in the view. Here Ashok and Mahesh decided to break and head back. Ashok had to get back home at a certain time and Mahesh opted to give him company on the way back. This brought the rider count down to 5. It was like Noah’s Ark in reverse. We were losing them two by two!
Five of us; Rajib, Ranvir, Ramesh, Jony and I headed out to Talking Rock – a small historical train stop village. A good photo op spot with an old engine and caboose parked up there.
Follow this link to read my previous post on Talking Rock: GTGA / Talking Rock
I have often stopped at this spot and know it quite well and thought the group would enjoy this little town of 4/5 homes along a now unused railway track. We took some pictures and videos and headed to our next stop, Ballground. Recent claim to fame being the filming of a Tom Cruise movie – American Made.
A little longer of a ride heading to Ballground via Jasper. We planned to stop for breather and a coffee at Jill’s Bakery. Once we reached there, turned out that they served some good ice cream. Coffee was scrubbed and ice cream ordered. Another nice little session of chit chat. And just in time too. As we grabbed a table and settled down, a Ball team turned up and the little bakery was packed to rafters. (I exaggerate!) But it was crowded. We finished up and suited up for the home stretch to the end meeting point – Cutters – where Avi and Phani would rejoin us.
Around halfway on the way back, because of a convenient route back to their respective homes, Tanvir and Ramesh hooked off and headed home. Leaving us three – Rajib, Jony and I – to continue onto Cutters.
Just as we reached Cutters, Avi turned up and as we settled down in the oh so comfy chairs, Phani turned up. After making acquaintance with Avi we then enjoyed recounting and looking back at the ride. Laughing and appreciating the moments that made this a good ride.
Thank you all for making it a great day out. Time to start the flurry on the Whatsapp group and plan the next one!
A compilation of the pictures and videos: