Sunday, May 13, 2012

Rain, Rain, and More Rain - May 9th

All the way up to Tuesday afternoon, the weather forecast was calling for a beautiful Wednesday.  So I planned a simple 300 mile loop into the North Georgia mountains to hit a couple of locations for both the Tour of Honor and Grand Tour of Georgia. But not so.  Shortly before sending kiddo off to school, the rain starts.  I double check the weather forecast and they say that the system is moving to the south and east and areas north and west should be seeing clearing skies in late morning/early afternoon.  But not so.  I figure that I needed to hone my wet weather riding skills, so I decide to stick with the game plan and trust the weather people that my rain experience will be short-lived. 

As I leave Athens, there is a steady, but light, rain falling.  Enough to call for my rain jacket in addition to the waterproof riding jacket and pants. But as I travel up 441, I seem to be traveling into the center of the storm and the rain starts to pick up into what I would call a driving rain.  I feel pretty good still, so I continue moving north at about 35 mph with a group of cages watching for standing water or other water related concerns that I may be traveling into/through.  About 5 miles south of Commerce, a pick-up truck starts to pass the line of vehicles at about 60 mph, as the line crests a hill we see him hydroplane from the passing lane, across the grass median and opposing lanes of travel (thankfully no one was coming in the opposite direction) and smack into the embankment on the side of the roadway.  He doesn't seem to hit the embankment hard, but he will definitely need a tow truck to get the vehicle out. See going slow and steady has it's place.  I notice the driver of the vehicle in front of me is reaching for his phone.  I assume that he is calling for help, so I keep going without giving it a second thought.  The rest of the ride up to Tallulah Falls and the School is uneventful.  I ride on the campus of the school and is instantly amazed at the beauty of the small campus.  It must be a great place for learning. Even with the rain, I am only slightly behind my planned schedule, so I am thinking that maybe the worst is behind me.  Not so.

From Tallulah Falls, it is a short ride into Clayton and the TOH memorial site.  Finding it is simple and after a quick gas stop, I am on my way west along US 76 through the north Georgia Mountains.  Typically, this is a scenic route with a lot of slow drivers.  Not today.  The rain is keeping most people home it seems.  With little traffic on the road, I figure that I will make some good time.  Not so.  The rains pick up again and rainy, switch back mountain roads do not tend to allow for quick, safe travel.  So my schedule is going to be abandoned and I am going to try and enjoy the ride as much as possible.  The ride over to Blairsville is marked by how cold it becomes. The air temperature is reading the middle 50's, but with the wind and dampness, I feel my body heat being zapped from my body which makes me tired quickly.

Arriving in Blairsville, I easily find the park where the next art piece is located.  It is on the top of a hill from the parking lot, so I begin to hoof it up the hill through the freshly cut grass.  By the time I get to the sculpture, my boots are covered in grass clippings.  The picture takes more time and effort than I was thinking it would, in the steady drizzle, the camera was having a hard time focusing on both the passport book and the sculpture.  But after playing around with a few settings on the camera, I wind up with an acceptable photo and make my way back down the hill to my bike.

From Blairsville, I decide to head further west to get to explore some roads that I typically don't have a chance to ride.  They are interesting enough, but nothing that I would go out of my way for.  The rains continue so just outside of Woodstock, I decide to have lunch to warm up.  I wasn't planning on stopping for lunch today, but the rain and cool air have taken their toll and I decided that it would be best to have a break.  Besides, maybe the rain will be done by the time I finish. Not so.  Arriving into Roswell, I pass the infamous Castle House on Georgia 140 (more information here:  Although I only capture a glimpse.  It is a fun, unexpected find along a typical suburban Georgia highway.  Getting to the Faces of Memorial in Roswell is simple and once I get to the memorial, I am immediately taken back at the detail in the soldier's faces along the copper wall.  This is truly an amazing memorial.  Too bad it was having some work done, because I would have loved looking closer at the detail.

From Roswell, it is a cross suburban journey to Buford and the American Made statue.  Given the requirements of having your motorcycle in the picture, I had to take the picture further back that I would have liked since the statue had a lot of detail as well.  But I take the picture and move on.  Finally, the rain has stopped and now it is just a wet road ride home.  I stop in a the Kawasaki dealer in Hochston (since Top Gear in Athens closed after Christmas) to introduce myself and look around.  It is a nice shop.  Not too far from Athens and some of the mechanics came from Top Gear, so I feel good about the possibility of using them for my needs.

I get home about an hour later than I was planning, but I made it home safe and worked on my riding in the rain skills, so I feel that it was a worthwhile trip.  Plus I found out that my waterproof riding jacket, pants, and boots are pretty close to just that.  I am not really wet anywhere - slightly damp in a few places, but overall, I am pleased with the gear. 

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