Atlanta Motorcycle Schools
|This was boring, I sarcastically thought to myself
as I was riding on I575 on the way to N GA for what I knew would
be a great weekend of riding. It was Friday evening and leaving
Atlanta with the normal Friday evening rush hour was
slow and boring, and not so safe. But the weekend promised to
be quite different, as it was organized by Atlanta Motorcycle
Schools and was scheduled to include not only lots of twisties
but more importantly (and I really looked forward to this part)
lots of off-road riding in TN, NC, and GA mountains, all following
|tracks of Pete Tamblyn. I
was particularly excited about the off-road portions as I had recently
taken the off-road rider class from
AMS, and while I have my INFO-MAP,
and had ventured off-road with a friend before, I was expecting quite
a different experience from this weekend. Now that its all but
a glorious memory, I can say with confidence that I got more riding
pleasure, got to see more vistas, and simply got more pleasure from
this one weekend than I had in the previous 6 months of riding
While it was probably the toughest road, the "Winding
Stairs" were very memorable. It was quite the unusual sight
to see the 6 of us snake up the steep mountain side where I could
see the wheels of a rider above my head, and just bellow me the
helmet of the rider behind me
I think the steps are appropriately
Our luck for weather was great, and while it was cold in the mornings,
we all wore appropriate warm layers or heated clothing, so nobody
complained (too much) about the cold.
We started the ride after a leisurely breakfast on Saturday morning,
and we proceeded to ride for no more than 10 miles on major roads,
and then started our meandering to Iron Horse Motorcycle resort
in Stecoah, TN. Had we taken the path as the crow flies
it would have only been a 50 mile trip, but thanks to all the roads
and paths Pete knew, the mileage was nearly tripled. On one particularly
wide and pact segment, I found myself in the middle of a falling
leaf stormwhere literally hundreds of yellow, orange, red
and brown leaves were in midair as I was riding through them. Im
glad it was only a short section as the view and feel of riding
through such a colorful and serene moment was intoxicating.
Most of our weekend's nearly 70 miles of off-road riding were expectedly
packed with the first hunters of the season, and we had passed quite
a few trucks and jeeps, and kept a sharp lookout for all oncoming
traffic. Thanks to good rider spacing and keeping with the practice
of staying on the correct side of the road, we had no close calls.
In addition, thanks to the rains earlier in the week, the dust was
down to a minimum, so while our motorcycles still needed a good
washing, we didn't fill our lungs with sand and dust.
We took a moment to refill our human gas tanks, with granola
bars and apples atop the "Cherohalla Skyway",
and for those of you that know about this road, I don't
need to tell you how great a ride it is, but I was surprised
to suddenly find myself in its middle, for we took the less-known
but equally awesome off-road paralleling ride. Those trails
are on the same mountains and until we came out of the trails,
we enjoyed near complete privacy and amazing views.
Our band of riders was mounted in pairs with two riders on Honda
Trans-Alps, two on Suzuki DR650's and two on BMWs F650's (me on
a GS Dakar and a standard GS). All our motorcycles worked flawlessly,
and proved their worth as versatile and reliable machines. At one
point we compared preparedness notes, and found that
we had coincidentally brought two or more of most emergency supplies,
including air pumps, replacement tubes, repair kits, tools, and
first aid kits, and I think we where all comforted that our small
six person group was properly prepared for most minor mechanical
issues. For me, knowing that I rode with other riders who plan and
think ahead gave me comfort that we're going to have a safe and
Pete had promised us a few dead-ends, and true to his word, we
did get to ride/explore a few new roads with him. One indeed turned
out to be a dead end, but as you know, riding the same road backwards,
is not the same road, so it was welcomed and truly adventuring off-the
beaten path only added to the ride.
Saturday night we stayed at the Iron
Horse Motorcycle Lodge in Stecoah, TN. We had opted for the
wood cabins (with showers, heaters, beds, and great pillows), but
for those who like to rough it a bit, Iron Horse also has a tenting
area. We dined at the resorts mess hall, and I had a wonderful
prime-rib steak, while others enjoyed a bite of salmon. The meal
really hit the spot after the long day of riding.
After the meal, we retired to the outside deck (where you could
see your breath) to could enjoy our conversation. We finished the
meal with ice cream and brownies, overlooking the creek and under
a star filled night. I'm always awed by the site of the stars as
seen from the blue-ridge mountains, where the air is clear and the
views are spectacular. Seeing the stars this way, perpetually reminds
me why our galaxy is called the milky way.
After a hot shower and a solid nights sleep, we met for breakfast,
bought souvenirs, and started our ride back to GA. Again, the shortest
GPS path's showed about 50 miles, and again Pete was able to stretch
this into another 100+ miles of roads and pathsincluding the
|One of our first dirt roads on
Sunday included a few miles on a wide and packed dirt roadabout
three or five feet above the water line of a river. This road
was simply a joy to ride and every curve provided an awesome
view. Later we had our only separation/split in the ride, as
the day was warming up I had stopped to remove some layers and
the other riders went ahead to a nearby snack stopping point.
Somehow I missed the immediate left turn (too obvious) and rode
for another 5 miles before realizing my error and returning
to the group at a secluded sports field with bathrooms and running
water. Our return to GA was as
eventful (without any incidents) as our departure along many miles
of curvy roads and frequently empty unpaved roads, and we finally
stopped in Hiawassee along GA 515/76 for our lunch/farewell meal.
The only thing I can think of that would have possibly made the
weekend better, would have been 1 or 2 more riders with the group
(but no more).
View all photos from this tour.
Tour write-up courtesy of Amir Gilboa!