2012 Robbinsville, Cherokee, Gatlinburg and Eventually Nashville
September 16, 2012
Robbinsville to Helen, Blood Mountain, Suches
197 (or so) Miles
After the 200 mile ride on Saturday, Carrie was wiped out and needed a day to rest. Bill and I took the day and rode to Helen, Georgia and points surrounding.
Well, that was the plan.
My navigation ability got a big floppy "F" on this day and we probably spent an extra 30 or 40 minutes backtracking around trying to get TO Helen. In the end, the route you see above is the one we took, but it wasn't the one I had printed out in my nifty little tank bag.
Blood mountain is, as always, erection inspiring. You don't HAVE to be going fast to enjoy it, but a decent clip on this road is a mental and physical exercise. There are a few spots where going too fast will get you in serious trouble, especially when the elevation drops off in the middle of the turn and sends you flying face first into the side of a mountain or off a ledge.
To the best of my knowledge this was the first time I've ridden 348 into Helen. It was fantastic, just a terrific road. As we first turned in I saw a group of "tuner cars" taking off. I won't lie to you, my intention was to trail them, push them a little bit, and then slam them into cornering submission once I'd made the point that they were neither fast, nor furious.
I didn't get the chance.
I lit off and caught them but the pavement was wet and cold. Going up and down the mountain there were corners that were wet, some were dry, some were wet and dry. They didn't lose me, but I wasn't in the mood to risk it on my Supercorsas (medium hard, front and back). A light smattering of cold rain kept my rain jacket on, and I know if I'm a little cold and wet and stiff that my tires aren't any better.
They took off, I followed and then we all got jammed up by two Harleys who were going literally 32 in a 35 mph zone. If you are a motorcycle and you are holding up CAR traffic please, please just pull over. We are all screaming at you inside our helmets or cockpits.
When the Harleys pulled over I took a second and let the tuner cars take off, it gave me some space to catch them and it gave Bill and I chance to regroup. As I pursued I'd see the tail lights of the silver Acura in front of me, turning in to the next corner as I was coming out of the last one. They were, maybe, 15 seconds ahead of me and I was closing quickly. Still, the pavement hadn't dried out and I wasn't going to slide any more than I already was to catch them.
And then I caught them.
Just before I arrived the drive (who we'll now call "Kiddo") gassed it at the wrong time, understeered into the other lane then hit the embankment, at which point he flipped over and skidded down the road. They were crawling out of the car as I pulled up, him and his girlfriend. He had what looked like a broken finger with a decent tear in it, she was OK except she had a bruise on her collarbone that was already turning a nasty blue green. Given that it was literally less than 5 minutes from when she crawled out of the car to when the bruises stared showing I knew they'd be a LOT worse in the coming days. In the meantime, though, we did a quick check to see if she had a broken collarbone or dislocated shoulder and found that she was good enough to move around without fear of seriously hurting herself. I would expect they still went to the doctor to get everything checked out.
The guy's friends were long, LONG gone. In fact, they didn't return until literally the same time the police did - some 45 minutes later. Great group of guys - exactly the sort you DON'T want to ride with. The kid actually said "I didn't realize it was every man for himself out here." Well, surprise. Sorry.
Big picture he was fine. He did say that he JUST had bought this car - so I'm guessing he's about to learn a lesson regarding GAP insurance. Once I was sure he was fine I snapped this picture, we helped him get everything important or personal out of his car and waited for the police to arrive.
I talked him through things to say to the police as well as what NOT to say. The local sheriff showed up, I told him what I saw and when and he let us leave.
We rode into Helen, ate and walked around a bit - admired the burnt out building and then headed back out. While in Helen I was looking for a "5 Hour Energy Drink" and made the mistake of stopping in the local, hip, country store. Upon asking if they had the product I was told no, that I could find one at a "Convenience Store" (italics added to convey the tone of derision).
Ok, is there a convenience store around here?
"There are gas stations at the end of either side of town"
Thanks so much, super helpful.
We left the exceedingly touristy "Helen" along with the pedophile who was pretending to be an entertainer and headed south so we could loop back up to Suches. A word on the entertainer: If you see a man playing a ukelele with big bug eyed glasses, a white suit on and a top hat - would YOU sit your child on his lap? Sure, I guess, if you REALLY like giving little Jane or Johnny nightmares for the rest of their life . .
The roads to Suches were great, we stopped and got some food then took Wolf Pen Gap road home. It sucked. I mean, it SUUUUUUUUUUCKED. It was cold, and wet and slippery and had LOTS of hairpin turns. I slid most of the way up and skated most of the way down. I was NOT having much fun.