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Old 06-25-2010, 04:35 PM   #31
One Less Harley OP
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My 420 miles to Greer SC, was uneventful. It was nice to get to the Smokies at a higher elevation (up to 4,400 Ft) as it got cooler. Good thing as traffic was SLOW, not jamb packed but heavier than I expected, on Little River road and 441.







Little River Road




Chimneys

Once I got out of the Smokey Mt's and to lower elevation the heat picked up and luckily (shortlived feeling) the the rain started, less than an hour of rain. I delayed putting rain gear on until I got cold. The sun came out as I got closer to Greer, just enough to dry me out.


Friday- FLARIDER and I got up a little before our agreed time and had a leisurely continental breakfast, before heading down the road to BMW.

There were 11 people signed up for the class, with one cancellation. After signing what I believe was a release form....never read the thing, the students went into the class room where we were all introduced to the instructors. Followed by our (the students) introductions to everyone.

We had a quick familiarization w/ the bikes and most importantly 3 techniques on how to pick up a 500 lbs machine, not that bad so I quickly learned.



Then it was off to the course, for warm up drills while ridding, riding standing, rt or left leg waving in the air, one leg on the saddle, and ridding side saddle. I found out quickly that I was better ridding on one side vs the other.

We did this for a while then practiced low speed turning, all while standing out course, no there was hardly any sitting on the bikes. All the drills were done on the pegs.

Also practiced was camel backs, ruts, washboards focusing on body position and clutch, brake/ throttle action. I found the throttle very sensitive compared to the G/S, (actually everything was more sensitive to inputs than on the G/S!!!) Using the clutch as was way to bleed off power the throttle was extremely important, but became more difficult as my fingers weakened.

Temps were in the mid 90's, so if you weren't sweating then something must be wrong with you. The morning was hot but not unbearable as a couple of water breaks in the shade we taken. After lunch it was noticeably hotter, at about 2:00-2:30 a few more bikes were being dropped, probably heat related.

It was fun to notice improvement in technique as my speeds and tightness in low speed turns unproved.

Tomorrow promises to be more difficult but hopefully cooler!!


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Old 06-25-2010, 06:50 PM   #32
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Quote:
Originally Posted by One Less Harley
...Using the clutch as was way to bleed off power the throttle was extremely important, but became more difficult as my fingers weakened.
Not having ever ridden one I take it the G/S lacks a low gear suitable for plonking along at a walking pace?

Someone older and a lot wiser once told my dad that a good trail bike ought to have a low enough first gear to allow you to walk along next to it while it idled without losing your breath. Unfortunately finding a bike like this nowadays is virtually impossible (save for some kid's bikes and of course trials bikes).

How does the G/S clutch hold up to slipping it like this?

Everything I've ever read about this school sounds great and I'd like to do it. It's now on my bucket list. Thank you for reviewing it.
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Old 06-25-2010, 07:08 PM   #33
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Oh, I didn't mean the G/S clutch action, I've been ridding the R1200GS, not my G/S.
BTW- your not going to be walking along side the R12 at idle w/ the clutch completely out. Pulling on the clutch helps finesse the acceleration. When coming off idle the R12 wants to take off faster than the G/S. In the drills the clutch is used to bleed off speed easier/smoother than chopping the throttle. Well at least for me, maybe my technique isn't that smooth.
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Old 06-29-2010, 07:41 PM   #34
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Saturday the temps were supposed to be cooler....NOT, 94 degrees, and some much appreciated clouds although briefly.

Bill said wasted no time getting us into the thick of things, we were taken to another part of the course and did warm ups which consisted of ridding on the pegs (off course) and doing circles while lifting alternate legs, and ridding side saddle. Then tight figure eights while on the pegs, the crossings tended to jamb the bikes up while waiting for a gap to go though.

Next practice was ridding on the pegs and locking up the rear brake, felling the rear lock up and slide was quite fun. I wouldn't have never tried this out before, but after seeing the demonstration and knowing what to expect my fears were put aside. Getting the bike up to speed while on the pegs and locking the rear brake was quite fun. The rear would slide from left to right some, the bars would twitch and the bike would come to a complete stop. Just make sure to look ahead and not down at the front end. We practiced this for a while, then it was off to the next part....GRAVEL, not my favorite.

The gravel was large and not the small stuff, really loose gravel. After the demo, it was time for some more ...fun. First fairly quick and straight, which wasn't that bad, as the bike road on top of the gravel. Then for a slower pace this was more difficult as the front moved around quite a bit. Manageable but difficult for me. Next part was to veer to the right.....well I promptly went down and a dramatic tumble, you know the type where you run for about 10 feet then tumble to the ground. Well I earned my first bite (one of two) form the bike, as either the cylinder got my shin or the bar. It didn't bruise right away, but left a knot. Not that bad though. I tried turning in gravel 3 or 4 times, each result was the same, crash and burn. I kept using the bars to turn and not weighting the pegs.

Next was ridding in sand....now I liked this as the bike had enough power to ease the throttle up and ride on top. I could close the throttle and feel it sink down and get loose, but lightly give it more and the bike would rise back on top become easier to ride. It was a lot of work though, but fun.

Emergency stops on a hillside were next, Bill demonstrated this on a VERY steep hillside, which I did not like the looks of at all. He showed us how to stop on the hillside by stomping the rear brake and killing the bike. The bike would then slide back just a little then stop. Buy releasing the clutch very slowly he backed the bike back down the hill.

Luckily we practiced on a smaller hill as I'm not sure I would have tried it where he did.

Somewhere in all of this four of us were following Matt around though some ruts when I lost traction and had another get off, kind of tweaked my ankle a bit but I soon forgot about it. But did notice on Sunday morning a little swelling and bruising.




Bruise on right shin is from losing it in gravel, the one on the foot is loosing it in the rut.
(Boots worn BTW- Areo stitch combat touring boots)





Left leg has a couple of small bruises but I don't know when I earned them.

Before finishing up on Saturday Matt took three of us out to play around on the course, camel backs, ruts, up some steep climbs, this was quite fun to mix it all up.



I was impressed w/ the instructors as they seemed to enjoy it as much as the students. The class provides a good foundation for dualsport ridding on a 500 lbs GS. I never felt that the R1200 was to large to handle and the power was plenty a very good machine. Taking the course will give you the courage and skills to get the GS to roads it deserves to be on.
I know I will need to practice more to sharpen up and become quicker and better in technique, but I now have a good base to start with.

Sorry for lack of pictures during the class, I didn't have much time for photos. Some of the other students took more pictures and I hope they will post hear.






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Old 06-29-2010, 08:07 PM   #35
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Thanks for the write-up, Richard. I hated the ruts, did you get to play in the water?
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Old 06-29-2010, 08:22 PM   #36
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Eyes up heard that quite a bit, yeah it helps a lot. No water sports, the road course looked inviting w/ the sprinklers going on all day.

I had some problems finding gravel to ride on in the Smokies (GA has better off road stuff). The way things worked out I ended up heading to 129 to pick up Parson's Branch road, but dumb ass me didn't realize it was South bound traffic only. The fully loaded G/S did the Dragon quite well...I remembered the curves being tighter. I was doing pretty well on the G/S, really felt I was stretching my eyes ahead.
After realizing I couldn't ride Parson's Branch I headed East to Bryson then to 421 up to Clingman's Dome.

More picts and report tomorrow.
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Old 06-30-2010, 05:38 AM   #37
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Good write up dude!!! Was nice to meet you. Yes I thought you were beign a bit picky on the position of the fuel valves, but hey, when you look at the rest of the bike you can see your attention to detail. You have done a great job with the bike. Looks and runs great, and the subtle things like the muffler guard and brackets for the side cans are awesome, things you don't think about as having to had to hand make to fit the gear and riders!!

I saw your 'off' on your first turn in the gravel!! It was an impressive run out of control!!! Wish I would have had my camera ready to go!! Only real thing I ended up with was a bit of bruising on my left calf. Got it from hitting either the side stand or center stand when wallking the bike backwards off the hill stop. Little soreness in the right shoulder from coming off on the gravel decent that was back at the dirt lot.

I had a great ride on Sunday!! I highly recommend to you and anyone else that hasn't run it, to take SR 28 from Walhalla or Seneca like I did. The route is as advertised, tons of twistys every bit as challenging as the Dragon, less traffick and its over 100 miles long. Dont' forget to stop for pics at Bridal Veil Falls and Dry Falls. Dry Falls ain't so dry and Bridal Veil is cool because you can actually ride under the falls for a photo op!!
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Old 06-30-2010, 03:21 PM   #38
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Great Meeting You Guys at the Course

Good write up. Enjoyed riding with you guys at the course. Learned a ton. Body is slowly starting to feel normal again. Was a pleasure. Take care.
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Old 06-30-2010, 06:24 PM   #39
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Nice different group of people which made things interesting and of course fun.


Saturday 6/26/2010

Well back to the ride report- At about 5:00 after packing up and getting close to leaving the wind started to pick up then the bottom dropped out of it. It started to rain, not just a little rain but lots. No I don't mind ridding in the rain or wind, but not both. So I waited along with a couple of others. I'm not sure how long it took to die down (30 minutes?) but eventually I left.

My plan was to make it to Ceasar's State Park NC, but when finally getting there it was too late to get a camp site. So the search began.....for a camp site. The 1st one they wanted $25 to stay. I said "that's too much," and promptly left. I just can't spend that much for tent space and trying to find a spot off the road wasn't working out. Then at a trail head two mountain bikers suggested Cascade Lake and Recreation Area which was just about 10 miles away, but down a gravel road........No problem that's what I'm here for. The road was twisty but not to difficult even in the dark. It was about 9-9:30 by now.





When I got to the campground all but two primitive spots were left, whew, of course one group of campers had 3-4 young i.e. loud kids. They finally got quiet at about 10:30.

Sunday morning arrived and I left at a leisurely 9 am. Slowly made my way to US129 to pick up Parson's Branch Road a gravel road, now some people familiar with the area and more map smart than I might realize what was I am about to find out.

I stop at the Dragon restaurant or what ever it is actually called and asked the guy behind the counter about parson's Branch Road. Well that's when I find out I'm an F'n idiot for not looking at the map closer as it's only open to SOUTH BOUND traffic. Well shit. So now what to do? I decide to head East. I make it to Fontana Dam and start looking for a place to pitch my tent, off the side of the road is looking good, it's only about 6PM. I wanted to stop early and take in the scenery.

While heading South on 28 I spotted a spot off the main road just North of Almond NC. I went down the gravel slope and stopped next to a pile of drywall. Well this looked acceptable. The road continued further, so i walked to the end of the road just to make sure that it ended. Well this was looking pretty good. Then I heard a clap of thunder and got paranoid about potential rain (well it never did) and decided to move on. Main reason was the steep muddy hills next to the road. I was worried about a washout. Maybe I was being to cautious.
So back onto 28 for less than 3 miles to Turkey Creek Campground. hardly any people were there and the price was right......$12.00 for a spot with hot showers, wifi, and if I needed washer and dryer. This was a very nice campground. The large bath house, 3 4x5 fully tiled showers, and three sinks with places to put your stuff and not on the floor.



Turkey Creek Campground
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Old 07-03-2010, 03:01 PM   #40
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Sunday 6/27/2010

I broke camp at about 8:30, picked up 28 E to 74E to Bryson for a quick stop at McDonalds for a breakfast burrito. I'm not much for breakfast. I did take the time to get about 5 cups of ice for the camel back, yeah I like cold water!!! Stomach and camelback full it was back to 74E to 19N to Cherokee. An interesting little tourist trap with some charm to the architecture. The was a nice shallow creek where children were splashing around, could help but smile as they were having so much fun.

At Cherokee I picked up 441N into Smokey Mnt Natl Park, keeping an eye or two for some favorable road for the G/S, but all I found was this......



So far blocked gravel roads are all I found, really irritating after finding out yesterdays screw up w/ Parson's Branch only going South.

Heading North on 441 before getting to Clingman's dome, I stopped at a trail head and spotted a '73 toaster tank under a camo tarp, walked around and then a gentleman asked me if the G/S was mine, "yeah," it was his BMW and he had been camping/hiking for about a week, just left the bike there. I thought that was cool. He bought the bike new, it had about 60,000 miles on it. A young bike!!!! We talked bike for a bit, till it started to rain, welp time to go.

Next stop Clingman's Dome, which is on the North Carolina/ Tennessee boarder, 6,800 feet. It's at the Northern end off the park, but off 441 just a bit. There were road construction crews doing improvements. The parking area was very nice with very scenic overlooks.





I stuck around for a while taking the the views, and then one of those RARE moments happened while walking down from the over look. I saw someone who looked extremely familiar, I'm sure I had a blank look on my face, but I couldn't believe who I was seeing, but my sister in law and nephews.......I had no idea they were going to be in the area as they are from Port Ritchey Florida!!! So not to be anti-social (which I am) we walked up to the Dome, twice for me, needed the exercise.



I visited for a while, bummed a Mountain Dew and then headed to Galtinburg to get some fuel. Stopped at the 1st station, can you believe these SOB's were charging $3.00/gal!!!! I got screwed for 3 gallons and headed back to 421 to make for Cades Cove.

There is only one way into Cade's Cove and three ways to leave, Cade's Cove Rd (in and out), Old Cade's Cove (North Bound to Townsend) and Parson's Branch Rd (South bound to US 129).
There was no point taking Paron's Branch as I'd have to go way out of the way to get to Tenn. Old Cade's Cove Rd up to Townsend was best.

One note according to the GPS there is Cooper's Rd, but it is a hiking trail not for motorcycles. I had hoped to take this road until seeing it, probably good for a mountain bike.

OlD Cade's Cover Road is 12 miles of decent gravel nice and twisty with good elevation changes. A rider w/ better skills than I would have a blast on it, no oncoming traffic to worry about, until getting to the paved section.

From Townsend to Maryville was uneventful and from there it was I40W to Lebanon TN. The only interesting part was when the storm blew through. I waas traveling at 75mph, leaning forward and low into the handlebars, FYI the G/S is an unfaired motorcycle, so 75mph is all I want. I dropped to 60-65 when the wind started gusting, and saw rain in the distance, needless to say cover was sought to put on rain gear. I made cover just in time. Now what to do, keep on the interstate in heavy rains???? or take the longer secondary roads home. I waited 20 minutes or so to let the rain rinse the slick layer of muck off the roads, this was all it took as the rain slowed down enough not to bother me.

I was treated to a beautiful sunset after the rain, it was still overcast, and the sun was illuminating the clouds in orange, red and pinkish tints. Hard to believe that conditions can change so quicky, from being so concerned and dreading the terrible weather, to ridding in such beautiful conditions.I Had to pull over to snap a few quick shots.



20-30 miles East of Lebanon.

Home was only about an hour from hear via 231 and I65N to Bowling Green, KY. The old G/S never missed a beat for the 1,100 miles, except when she started missing in Greer SC Thursday night.........had to put the bike on reserve!!!!!!





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Old 07-03-2010, 07:59 PM   #41
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BTW- for the 1,100 miles 1/4 quart of oil was used, at 75 mph 38mpg was achieved. It likes 60-65 better, should return 44mpg.

Most common question when stopped, "How much gas does that hold??"
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