Frank Cheek Memorial, Ride, Pics, and Stories
Frank Cheek was the founder of the Two Wheels Only Motorcycle Resort in Suches, Ga. It was, as far as I know, the first of it's kind in the world. During the eighties and nineties when Frank ran the place, he became known by thousands of motorcyclists who came there from all over the world. On September 30th, 2009, Frank passed away.
I was lucky enough to be able to attend a memorial held for Frank on Sunday, October 18th at High Valley Airport in Suches. I decided to post a ride report, some pics, some stories of Frank, and encourage those who knew Frank to add their stories and pics.
It was with mixed feelings that I prepared to go to the Memorial Service early on Sunday morning. On one hand, I was sad to have lost a good friend who had a great impact on my life over the last 19 years. On the other hand I was looking forward to seeing many old friends who would likely be there. I was also looking forward to going to Suches, it has been one of my favorite places since I first went there and met Frank 19 years ago. Here's a pic of frank and my wife back in 1991.
It was a chilly morning with ice on the windshield of my truck. My wife was also coming so we decided to drive up and put a bike in the back of the truck so we could go for a short ride after the service. i decided to take my old 97 S-10 because it had been sitting in the driveway for about 2 months while my son, who normally drives it, was off at Georgia Tech. I also decided to take my 93 DR250 because I hadn't ridden it much lately.
We left at about 8, plenty of time to make it to Suches in time for the service. A little over half way there, while on GA400, the truck died. What bad timing! I figured I was going to miss the service. There was no way I was going to ask my wife to get on the back of a 250, on the highway, in this cold weather. I didn't have to. She said "Lets just leave the truck, unload the bike and go." So thats what we did. 20 miles of GA400 and 20 miles in the mountains, two up on a DR250. We made it just as the service was starting. Here is our trusty old bike, which got us there.
We arrived just as the service started. It was standing room only; inside and outside.
People who attended included members of Frank's family, friends from the local community, friends from the aviation community, and friends from the motorcycling community. It was an excellent service but I was outside so I didn't get the full impact. I took the opportunity to take some pics.
After the service, lunch was served. They had one of Frank's favorites; chicken wings, and many home made side dishes and desserts which people had brought. Sorry, I didn't get any pics of the food but I assure you it was very good. After that it was time for some Frank stories. They passed around the mike and let everyone tell their Frank stories. I wish I had a tape recorder because there were some great stories. The best I could do was a couple of pics.
Next on the agenda; a motorcycle ride around one of Frank's favorite rides, the 36 mile "Cooler Run." And Frank was going along. One of the bikes was carrying Frank's ashes. Here's some pics as the bikes are getting ready to go.
And the ride departs.
There was even a Smart Car going along.
I didn't go along because of the time and the fact we had to do something about my broken down truck as well as find a way to get Debbi home. Two up for over 100 miles on the 250 wasn't going to work. Luckily we found a fellow motorcyclist who was going our way and had driven up. Thanks Marilyn!
I headed back down to take care of the truck. I stopped to get a couple of pics of the area I had come to love and where I had so many fond memories of good times with Frank.
Overlook off of 60 south of Suches.
I will add some more pics and some of my favorite Frank stories later. Until then, my prayers go out to Frank's family. To Frank, a retired Navy Commander I say "Fair winds and following seas." I will miss you.
This plays on my emotions.
I wonder if he looks down to earth with, smile to himself and feel satisfaction with what he had accomplished in his lifetime.
How met Frank
In late 1989, after living in "motorcycle heaven" for over 3 years, the Navy moved me and my wife from San Diego to Florida. Can you say "depression". After ten months in Pensacola, I took a trip up to the Smokies. One of my goals was to find this Two Wheels Only place I had heard about. I found it. I also found roads and riding that compared to SoCal. I also met Frank while staying at TWO. The next year I rode up to TWO from Pensacola 7 times. Six times on my EX500 and once on my Venture with my wife. During those trips I got to know Frank and his lovely wife Jeannie. My first stay at TWO, I was a customer. It wasn't long before they made me feel more like a family member than a customer.
I asked Frank how he decided to start TWO. He had been turned away from a campground because he was on a motorcycle. He not only got mad, he did something. He started a place which only allowed motorcyclists. Here's me back in 1991 next to a sign at TWO which explains the policy.
In 1991, Kawasaki decided to hold one of their "Good Times" Rallys at TWO. Frank was the proud owner of a Kawasaki Voyager "Super Sport". No, Kawasaki didn't design it as a super sport, but Frank rode it that way. Avon came out with a touring tire to compete with the Dunlop 491. They sold it with a 20,000 mile pro-rated warranty. Frank would wear out a set every 5,000 miles and then get them replaced for 25percent of the cost. Here's TWO during the rally.
The estimated crowd of 6,000 was to large for the main lodge and campground, so the rally, which included demo rides, was held at the airport, which Frank also owned. i got to ride a new ZX-11.
Thanks for sharing the memorial event, R.I.P Frank.
Thanks for sharing the pics; I've only been going to Suches for 10 years now but the place holds some of the best memories of my life. There are lots of motorcycle-oriented campgrounds today, but Frank did it first, and best IMO. I remember a few years ago at the airport--Frank was looking in wonderment at my buddy's supermoto bike, I thought he was admiring it until he looked at me, pointed at the street tires, and said with disgust, "Why the hell would anybody want to do that?":lol3
That was Frank--he never held back.
I regret not taking more pics of Frank when I had the chance. Too late now. I have no pics to go with my next story, but it's one of my favorites. Sometime in the mid 90s, I showed up at TWO on one of my trips and found Frank wearing a cast on his foot, crutches, and a sling on his arm. He told me he had hit a dog and went down for the first time on the street in 50 years of riding. Others who were there filled me in on "the rest of the story". Frank and some friends had gotten together to ride to Blairsville (about 20-30 miles away) and get something to eat, then go for a ride. On the way there, a dog ran in front of Frank, he hit it with his Suzuki VX800, and went down. His friends pulled the bike off of him. The bike was OK and Frank insisted he was too' So they went to a restaurant in Blairsville and ate.
Afterwards Frank told everyone he was going to skip the ride and go home. They offered to accompany him home but he insisted he was fine and they should go enjoy the ride. Frank rode home, when he got there he beeped his horn to signal Jeannie to open the garage door for him. She was surprised at this because she had just had knee surgery the day before and was on crutches. When she saw Frank, she knew something was wrong with him and said she was going to take hime to the hospital. He said he didn't need to go to the hospital. Frank was tough, but not tough enough to disobey Jeannie, so they went to the hospital. At the hospital they found: Several broken ribs, a punctured and collapsed lung, a broken ankle, and (I think) a dislocated shoulder.
Frank was ONE TOUGH DUDE!!!
he had a couple of small dogs that would ride in the goldwings saddlebags with the tops removed. think one of the dogs was called "zukii", short for suzuki.
back in the '80s, the sports that came up from the flat lands would pay Frank to follow them on their "interceptors" or like . . . and video them running Hwy 180.
best joke of the night would be the viewing of the dueling videos with the sports arguing for supremacy . . . until one of the regulars would point out that they were being filmed by a old retired guy riding a goldwing that was tailgating them. :lol3
Because I had to take care of my broken down truck, I missed the last part of the memorial. The plan was to take Frank's ashes up in a plane and scatter them over the mountains he loved. I assume that is what happened. Although most of us knew Frank as a motorcyclist and owner of TWO, his first love was flying. He learned to fly Stearmans in the Navy. He told me he lied about his age in the attempt to get in and see action in WWII. He missed it but did get to fly the F4U Corsair fighter as well as many other planes. He eventually finished his career as a reservist in the Navy as well as having a career flying for Eastern Airlines. He liked flying so much he had his own airport. Officially named High Valley Airport, he often referred to it as Suches International Airport. He used to offer plane rides for as little as $8 and gave people a great view of the area from above. If you think HWY 129 going up Blood Mountain is twisty when you ride it, you should see it from above.
High Valley Airport doubled as a campground and was part of TWO. Many motorcycle events were held there including the Kawasaki Good Times Rally mentioned earlier, some Chattahoochee Dual Sport Rides, and many others.
One day, while at TWO, I was looking at some of the interesting stuff all over the walls, I asked a long time TWO regular about a T shirt on the wall. This is the story he told me. I can't verify its accuracy but it sure sounds like Frank.
Someone had trailered his bike to TWO with his car and rented one of the upstairs rooms in the lodge. The next day he went off for a ride, and left his car parked in front of the split rail fence right in front of the lodge. This was designated MOTORCYCLE PARKING ONLY. I took a pic (sorry no car) showing the fence and sign.
When Frank saw the car there, he was furious. The owner of the car was out riding all day, giving Frank plenty of time to work up his anger. When the man finally returned, Frank was waiting for him and let him have it. Finally he said:
"YOU HAVE FAILED AS A CUSTOMER!!! GET OUT!!!" And Frank did make him get out.
The first time I heard of Frank was from a friend who described him as "an old guy who loved to embarass sport bike riders on his Gold Wing". Here's Frank and his wing in 1985. (photo by Mark Hudson)
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