As seems to have been the case nearly every weekend lately, the Saturday after Christmas was a wash out. We have had record levels of rain this year in North Georgia, and darn it, it’s getting old! Our feet are webbed, our surroundings are saturated, and we want some SUN! OK, we do have the gear to deal with the rain, but we are TIRED of using it!
It’s Sunday morning. We get to sleep in. The house is quiet, and though we love it when family visits, it is nice to be back to just the two of us. And then, lo; what is that bright, shiny light coming in the bedroom window??? Could it be…the SUN? Yes, yes, I believe it IS the sun!
We scarf down some coffee and cereal, gear up, and out we go. The temp is cool, but did I mention that it’s SUNNY? And we have heated jacket liners and gloves, just in case they are needed. The bikes start up with a nice BMW growl. We map out a route, including as many curvy elements as we can muster, and a water-side destination for lunch. But no, it’s not about the destination or the lunch. It’s about the ride.
The temperature is in the 40s, so the heated gear is a nice touch. Why be cold if you don’t have to? We tour through our quaint little historic town on the way north. Dahlonega is beautiful any time of year, but it is magical during the Christmas season. That, however, is a topic for another day. The reason we live here is truly the splendor of the North Georgia Mountains, and the instant access we have to some of the best riding in the country. And you have to come try it before you can disagree with that assessment!
We head toward Helen, a faux-Alpine town famous for its Oktoberfest and a summer favorite of many Atlanta day-trippers. On the outskirts of Helen, we instead head up highway 17/75, also known as the Unicoi Turnpike, toward Hiawassee. This road starts out with a lovely meander along the Chattahoochee River, and becomes technical as you go over the mountain and pass the forest service road to the tiny trickle that is the headwaters of the mighty river which flows all the way to the Gulf. Sweeping through some curves, and scraping pegs through the hairpins, we revel in the gorgeous day and lack of traffic. As a matter of fact, we haven’t seen a single motorcycle, and only a few cars. The road is still wet in places, and I experience a pucker moment when my rear Heidenau slips a few inches on a downhill left turn. All’s well that ends well, right?
A few turns down the north side and we are back in the sun, the clouds having remained at the mountain top. We spot the cheeriest road side display we have seen in years…
Still smiling in our helmets, we make our way to Hiawassee and The Blue Otter, and enjoy a great lunch overlooking Lake Chatuge. We marvel over how lucky we are to experience the beauty of the day, and the joy we get from riding such technical roads, with so little traffic.
It has clouded over by the time we leave the restaurant. No matter…more great roads await. We start home via the Trackrock scenic area, and then work our way back down over Blood Mountain. It is pure riding joy to smoothly corner left, right, and left again down 129, almost to Vogel State Park, before having to slow for a crawling cage. Within the hour, we are home.
Another fabulous day on the bikes is in the books…Ah, the joys of winter riding!