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Thread: Bikes, Billfolds, Brotherhood

  1. #1

    Bikes, Billfolds, Brotherhood

    <If you're not a member of UJMforum, you'll likely not recognize any names.>

    “A dark and stormy night.”

    Perhaps one of the most clichéd opening lines in all of English literature, this phrase still manages to evoke a sense of foreboding. Ready to leave the house, a quick look at the radar could well have replaced the storm cover with this iconic text, despite the time of day. There was more was more red and yellow swirling around on the map than a Ronald McDonald convention on a Tilt-a-Whirl.

    Rain is a fascinating thing. It draws us together. Evens the playing field, if you will. Whether you had a seven figure salary last year or you're walking homeward, freshly fired from K-Mart, rain sends us all ducking for cover. Umbrellas come out, rain coats go on, and we push to remain in our preferred dry state.

    Riding in the rain differs greatly from putting on miles in bluebird weather. Even if you're prepared with your rain suit, helmet, waterproof gloves, and full kit, it's the one time that the general public looks on motorcyclists with an almost universal pity. It's not uncommon to hear, “Oh, I bet he wished he'd stayed home today.” “Somebody didn't check the forecast.” “Poor guy” and the occasional “Idiot.”

    They don't know what they're missing. Riding in a downpour can take every ounce of concentration a rider has, the rain gear is better suited as a rolling sauna, the journey taxing and yet, somehow, cleansing. It clears your mind, leaves you sharp. Life isn't just about the perfect days. Sometimes a day of unfavorable weather can be a game changer.

    Leaving in the rain isn't always a bad thing. For example, the weather can only get better. Whenever you stop, a rain suit always brings out the budding comedian in everyone. People who never would have approached you before now come up with a wry grin, remarking about it being wet out there, admonishing you to stay dry, and generally stand in awe of your strength and fortitude. Okay, maybe I made the last bit up.

    Man, I'm several paragraphs in and I've barely made it out of the driveway. The first day's goal was to make it to Lake Hartwell where I would be joining a group of friends for a short camping trip. I rode in the rain most of the way, but as I got within 10 miles of the campground, the showers stopped and were evicted by the sun, making some pretty cool low hanging mist.

    Breaking in the new tent.

    Thankfully undeterred by the forecast, everyone showed up, and the rain that was predicted vanished for the rest of the day and all of the next. Thursday morning, I set out, again in the rain, for Kickstand Lodge and KSL 7.

    Hwy 28 didn't disappoint, as usual. Coming into Highlands, it was pretty foggy and amazingly beautiful. Stopping to fill up in Franklin, I hit my first snag of the trip. Hopping off the bike, I grabbed my wallet. Then I grabbed it again. Strange, it felt thinner than usual and didn't want to come out of my pocket. Oh wait. It was gone. I searched high and low, no wallet.

    I backtracked to Highlands, where I had stopped to check my phone. No dice, although I did give the guy in the nearby furrier shop a puzzled look when his door chimes rang and he looked up to see an ATGATT male rider. In a fur shop.
    He hadn't seen my wallet, but he chuckled as he said I was probably the first rider to ever walk through his doors, even though I wasn't in search of fine furs. With no wallet, I even had to turn down his blowout sale on cashmere scarves.

    I even headed back to Bridal Veil Falls. No such luck. Gone were all my cards, driver's license and over $300 cash.

    Heading back into Franklin, I met up with drdubb, marriedman, and jspringator. Dubb graciously loaned me some money so that I could salvage my weekend. Thanks again, man. There's still good out there.

    We rode back to the Kickstand Lodge just in time to head out for supper at the nearby Stecoah Diner, where RobbieAG and the NC700X guys joined us. Quite a crowd.

    Kind of envious of those frunks.

    Back at KSL, HPPants had returned. It was great to meet him and hear a little about his trip. “When we ride, we ride.” Never forget that bit. That campfire heard some tales that night.

    It's crazy how with bikes, people that have never met before can really come together and act like old friends, swapping tales, lies and laughs. Sure, there's common ground, but what other groups can get relate like this? Is it with understanding the elation, the ride, the inherent risk? The respect for the road? Perhaps pilots are the same way, but I can tell you, this was no Prius Owner's Club.

    The next morning, I wasn't feeling so well, so I didn't get set out on the road until about 10:30AM. I had a hankering for sweet potato fries, so I headed over the Dragon down 360 to Tellico Plains.

    Once in Tellico Plains, the siren song of the Tellicafe became too much to resist. Sweet potato fries lie ahead.

    Gut stuffed, I headed up the Cherohala, deciding last minute to swing over and check out Bald River Falls.

    I climbed partway up the falls, and read a book for a while, drank some Gatorade and took a nap. It was delightful.

    As I reposed there, contemplating life, I took notice of this rock halfway down the falls. It was taking the brunt of a lot of water flow, yet somehow, there was plant life growing on it. Incredible. We can make the most out of it sometimes with a little determination.

    Moonshine runs.

    On the road out, this tree caught my eye.

    That tree has faced some serious stuff, but has adapted and is thriving. Amazing.

    I'm no geologist, but I find rock sheets fascinating.

    Once further up the Cherohala, the rain dumped and the temps plummeted as fast as the visibility. At one point, I'd guess visibility was down to about 50 feet. It wasn't much fun, but it still beat sitting at the DMV or paying taxes. See? Silver lining.

    Back at KSL, a warm supper awaited and another day was completed.

    Saturday, I rode out with marriedman on his gorgeous VFR1200. It looked pretty clean. I wondered how long that would last, and that was a legitimate question as it turned out.

    We sort of mirrored my ride from the day before, 28 to 129, 360 to Tellico Plains. Unlike the day before, the sun was out and 360 was straight glorious, offering its beauty visually and olfactorily, while the V4 engines beating along provided the auditory icing on the cake. MM and I have a pretty similar riding style and speed which makes for a much more enjoyable ride.

    Once in Tellico Plains, the Tellicafe was once again the provider of lunch.

    This day, I had the chicken tortilla salad. Excellent, but you know, I had to have my sweet potato fries. These things come dusted with crack.

    Bald River Falls was next.

    As Paul and I were getting off our bikes, in rolled a group of BMWs and a lone Honda. Off hopped the riders to circle and admire MM's VFR1200. It turns out the riders were all friends and were from Cuba, but were now living in Miami. I think we must have talked bikes 20 minutes, they offered us some snacks, and wanted to take a picture with us. Some of the friendliest riders I've ever met.

    I've got a lot of hobbies. None of their associated communities come close to the brotherhood that riders share. That two wheeled bond, respect, and eagerness for life. I caught myself wondering, why is that?

    I believe it's partly that riding isn't a highly competitive pastime. Sure, racing is. Building show bikes, etc. Understand I'm talking about riders that ride for the sake of riding and not “image riders” who only care about looking cool or Suzuki riders. Okay, I'm just picking at Suzuki riders now, but really, get out and ride and you will find nothing but advice, encouragement, instruction and compliments from other riders. Do we have brand loyalty sometimes, maybe even look down on some bikes? Yes, but it's all in good fun. We all want other riders to improve, to enjoy themselves and become friends.

    It's a great thing we have on these two wheels.

    Looking at the map, we had two choices. Continue past Bald River Falls over into NC and with unknown roads or backtrack and ride the Cherohala or something to the south. We chose to push on into NC.

    The road was great, meandering along a river, decent pavement, great views, no traffic.

    There was even a photogenic wooden bridge near the TN/NC border.

    Another mile or two in and after a set of narrow switchbacks, the pavement ended abruptly and turned to gravel. We stopped and had to make a decision. Backtrack quite a few miles or press on. Not exactly on nimble dual sport rigs, but on 500+ lb fully faired sport tourers on street tires, we naturally made the sane choice and charged ahead onto the gravel and mud. It was incredible. We climbed pretty high. The road was about single lane wide and twisty.

    The mountainside fell away beside us as we scaled past the trees. At one point we came to an opening with a simply magnificent view, but the ground was much too soft to risk getting off for a picture.

    The first obstacle that we decided to stop and check ahead. I waded through and determined it was safe so through we went like Ewan and Charley. (sort of)

    We made it back to pavement in Murphy, NC having scaled all of Davis Creek Rd / River Rd with sport tourers without the first drop.

    “She's so filthy!”

    Slinging the rocks out of our PR4s, we headed back to KSL just in time for some tomato pie and a group picture.

    It was a great crowd and I look forward to seeing many return next year.

    A crowd of diverse people from different backgrounds, all together having a great time trying to keep 500 lbs of metal and gasoline balanced while flinging around corners. Now that's a recipe for success.

    Remember, a brotherhood only works as well as you put effort into it. Stop and help someone in need, shoot the bull with a gas station cashier, get out and do you.

    Till next time,


  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2012
    Paris, TN.

    Re: Bikes, Billfolds, Brotherhood

    Did you find your wallet?

  3. #3
    scguy's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2015

    Re: Bikes, Billfolds, Brotherhood

    Nope, never did. Someone else did, however. I got an envelope in the mail with just my license in it. No cash, cards, wallet, anything. Not how I hoped it would turn out.

  4. #4
    Site Supporter mailman01's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2012
    Leitchfield, Kentucky

    Re: Bikes, Billfolds, Brotherhood

    Sorry about your wallet...but great write up...

  5. #5
    Friend of Bill W. LarryinSeattle's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2011
    Seattle - Now in Yuma, AZ

    Re: Bikes, Billfolds, Brotherhood

    Thanks for the ride report with pictures.

    I need a hamburger.

    2002 Goldwing 1800 ABS
    06 Silverwing 600cc Maxi scooter

  6. #6
    moodygne's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2009
    Port Charlotte Florida/Bentleyville, Pa

    Re: Bikes, Billfolds, Brotherhood

    Just got back from Tellico Planes. I went to tellicalfe for the green tomato soup, I could not get enough. I stayed at Hunt's motorcycle resort. The group I was with was motorcampers. Great time riding charohola and other scenic roads around there.

    Darkside # 751
    May God keep us all safe, and full of love.
    2016 Road Glide, and 2014 piggy back cargo trailer

  7. #7
    #%@*, it's raining again! Ironheadziggy76's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Belton, Kentucky

    Re: Bikes, Billfolds, Brotherhood

    Great trip report, except for your wallet. I don't know what is going on at Tellicafe, I think their green tomato with ham soup must have heroin in it. No matter what I had there I had to have some of that soup to go with it! Can't wait to try the fries.

    2005 Suzuki DL650 V-Strom, 2002 Harley Road King Classic, 1976 Harley Sportster

  8. #8
    mlh's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2009
    Waxahachie Texas

    Re: Bikes, Billfolds, Brotherhood

    Great report and pics

  9. #9
    kayakinbiker's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2008
    Windsor, Ontario,Canada

    Re: Bikes, Billfolds, Brotherhood

    Great report and the pics helped me feel like i was there!

  10. #10
    1986 Concours/1999 KLR650 mcrider1959's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2006
    Mt.Vernon, Il.

    Re: Bikes, Billfolds, Brotherhood

    Nice ride report and photos, scguy!!

    I truly enjoyed your wordsmithery. I find myself not as gifted in the task of writing.

    Sorry to hear that you only got the return of the drivers license but, I guess somethin' is better than nothin'!

    The last time I was at Bald River Falls I had wondered what the River Road was like on past the falls towards the town of Murphy. I was not intrepid enough to find out on my own. The wondering is over, now I know.


    1986 Concours/1999 KLR650/2006 KLX250S

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