Thursday, June 29, 2017

Dragon Slayed

The DR650 finally got to slay the dragon at Tail of the Dragon in North Carolina and Tennessee.

Junior was in front of me on his Yamaha TW200.

After the Tail of the Dragon, we spent about 10 hours riding the forest roads along the north side of the Cherohalla Skyway. Stay tuned for full report with photos.

Of course, before all that we had to get our stickers at the Gap.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

2017 Hooch

The 2017 Hooch Recreational Dual Sport Rally is in the books. Three days of outstanding dual sport riding, after getting in early for a great 90 mile warm up!

See my Facility Rating of Two Wheels of Suches.

Overall, we encountered dirt roads such as in the next photo, very rough, rutted (washed) dirt roads, thick gravel covered roads and red clay that was very slippery, especially when it was wet. There were only a couple very simple water crossings on Sunday, although I caught a couple riders making it hard (see photos later in this post). The Saturday route included about 4-5 miles of the Wisenhunt recreational OHV area. That was single track and as you'd expect that was quite gnarly back in there. I got terribly lost taking a bad turn after my ride group totally abandoned me. Another guy did the same thing and we ultimately worked our way out. On sunday there was a hairy-scary jeep trail that had many steep inclines/declines and wicked water rutting...adventure bikes were asked to bypass. It wasn't as bad as the OHV single track but I wouldn't have wanted to do it on my 600 pound Super10. There are a lot of ways to go down, even for experienced riders. Assume you're going to fall and then think about your ability to get the bike back up in unlevel, rutty, soft situations.

My friend Howard Alexander from Lauderdale...left...who I met on the rally circuit a year ago. He just told me he was 69 years old. I need to be riding these rallies in 11 years (and beyond) too.

Torch, far right on the WR, lost it on gravel about 5 miles into the Saturday ride and ended up getting an ambulance ride to the Gainsville, Georgia hospital with six broken ribs, busted up shoulder and a bruised lung. As of this writing, he's still there.

Didn't see it happen, don't know exactly what happened. These things can be dangerous...they need 100% of your concentration! There were other broken bone level injuries on this rally...a total of three got ambulance rides to a hospital.

Lunch Saturday. On Sunday we were back at TWS for lunch before heading back out for the rest of the day.

I blew out my right AlpineStar Scout at Devils Creek back in March and then the left side here at the Hooch! I was carrying my shit-kicker wellingtons so those carried me through. Otherwise, I'da been riding with my sneekers.

I fixed the right with JBWeld, worked good so I'll use that on the left side.

Next two photos...

Okay, sitting there at second Sunday river crossing. A CRF230 seeming to be making a pass attempt on a BMW G450X right in the river bounces off the left side of the beemer and down the creek bed. Turns out dad was on the BMW and his young daughter was on the Honda. I'm sure they had some discussions later in the day.

More crossings...

This photo does not do justice to how steep that embankment is (like 110 feet) and how precariously hanging the jeep is. We couldn't see what was holding it up.

It was a great event. Hosted by Gartra, Georgia Recreational Trail Riders Association.

Two-Wheels of Suches (Facility Rating)

Overall Rally Facility Rating: B

I'm just back for the two day Hooch Rally (short for Chattahoochee National Forest) up in the North Georgia Mountains. It was a two day weekend rally on June 10 and 11, but I rolled in a day early on June 8 and got a great 90 mile warm up in with some good guys on Friday. I checked out on Monday, June 12.

The Hooch was based at the Two Wheels of Suches Campground and Lodge in Suches, Georgia ("TWS"). TWS offers primitive camping, connected camping, cabins and a few lodge rooms. See the linked website for more details and a map.

I had my toy hauler set up for primitive camping at $15/day.

While I called well in advance, they advised that I would not need to make reservations unless I was staying in a supported camp site, cabin or lodge.

The overall facility is quite large, but unorganized particularly for those who have never been there before (and this includes having the campsite map in hand). When I arrived Thursday, late afternoon, the lodge was closed and there was no one to give me any guidance on where to park and set up. There were two entrances...wasn't sure which one to use and some of the camping areas were only accessible by foot or motorcycle. I parked in the trailer parking area which really wasn't where I would have liked to be...but it worked okay.

The campgrounds have a quite time of 10 PM. The area roads did not contribute enough noise to wake me in the middle of the night. The hooligan level for this rally was pretty low.

One of the most important amenities that I consider at rally facilities is the bathroom and shower. I like to take a hot shower every day and I do not like to either walk a long way or stand in line to use a bathroom. A short wait for shower use is reasonable considering that the whole rally group is rolling in off the trails at about the same time.

TWS had an outstanding shower and bathroom facility. Very clean. There were also two bathrooms at the lodge so bathroom facilities were reasonably spread out. Half a dozen shower stalls and each shower was private. That was nice!

Another important amenity is access to food...seriously. TWS has a restaurant, but it's neither open all the time nor does it offer a complete menu. The restaurant was not open the Thursday night that I arrived or my last night Sunday night. It was open for breakfast, including on Monday morning. It provided the Saturday night group dinner (spaghetti) but nothing else.

Rallies do not generally offer every meal to the participants. No problem...go someplace else. Well, easier said than done in the North Georgia mountains. If you need to go find food, get ready to drive a long way. There is just nothing in the mountains unless you like gas station pizza and microwave things that they try and pass off as burgers.

I'll be better prepared next time I go back to TWS, I'll be taking a cooler of stuff to supplant the rally meal schedule. Suches does have ice and firewood!

Overall, TWS is probably the best place I've ever stayed during a rally. It was the first time I got to use my toy hauler as a camper and that really worked out great. I gave the facility an overall ranking of B. TWS bathhouse facilities are positively off the chart! The lodge is large and extremely comfortable. My only frustrations were being hungry and not have a place to get (decent) food...yes, I did eat one of those pizzas from that joint across the road on Thursday night...and I would have liked to set up some place better than the trailer parking area and enjoy such a beautiful landscape.

Suzuki DR650

Why do you own a DR650?

Here's my answer broken down by area:

Size: In my old age I've become uninterested in the smaller dual sports. I've also become uninterested in the larger adventure class bikes. Been there as to both...done that as to both. I also currently have a KLR650...the DR650 is a step down in size and weight. It's a nice fit for me.

Price: I didn't want to spend a fortune on something I planned to beat the snot out of. When buying a dually in Florida, you're gonna need different tires, of course. Naturally, you're going to need some accessories. I didn't want to buy a bike that needs too much stuff. Currently running D606 tires. I purchased a tail rack and a bash plate. My son gave me a fat bar pipe...didn't really need it, but it is a nice bend on the DR.

Rallies: If you're a fast gravel/dirt/mud/sand rider and you like the rally circuit, you want a bike that is fast enough not to let you fall behind on the pavement between trails. All those inexperienced riders on their big-ass adventure-class bikes in your rally group will be moving up to the front of the group on the pavement between trails and then you're stuck behind these slow pokes when you get to the forest road.