Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Deals Gap Ninja 250 Meet

This past weekend I attended the Ninja 250 Riders Club meet at Deals Gap. For the second year in a row we stayed at The Treetops in Robbinsville, NC; for a large group, this is really the way to go; it worked out to $25 per person per night. It's a fully-stocked house with nine beds, but we managed to squeeze in 17 folks with some sleeping on sofas and in sleeping bags.

On my way Friday I made a slight detour to visit the Poinsett Bridge north of Greenville, SC; it was designed by Robert Mills, who designed several buildings in Columbia as well as the Washington Monument, and it was built in 1820. It's in remarkable condition for being nearly 200 years old!

There were ten of us at the house for Friday night. We cooked up a batch of spaghetti and had a good evening kicking tires and telling stories. Saturday morning we departed on a group ride devised and led by Daryl. We headed west across the Cherohala Skyway, stopping just east of Tellico Plains to visit Bald River Falls.

We stopped in Tellico Plains for breakfast at the Town Square Cafe. We'd just ordered drinks when Duke, Tom, and Alan showed up; they'd ridden in from Nashville. They stayed with us for breakfast and then continued on their own ride for the day. After a hearty breakfast we headed north on 360 (a great road) and 411, then east on 72 to 129, which leads to Deals Gap. After a short stop at the overlook, we proceed to tackle the Dragon. There were a lot of folks in the area (there was also a Triumph meet and a Hayabusa meet going on), but fortunately the Dragon didn't have too much traffic on it as we passed through. We noted with humor that several of us on our 250s got held up by 1300cc Hayabusas. A good rider on a Ninja 250 can whoop big bikes in the twisties. There's a fellow that photographs riders on the Dragon; Here's a photo he shot of me.

We stopped at the store at the east end of the Dragon and checked out all the various bikes; there were a ton of them, and certainly a few unique ones. You never know what you'll see there; that's a really fun part of visiting Deals Gap.

A neat tile mosaic on the floor of the store:

We then rode Highway 28 (another great road!) east to Franklin, then SR1310 (Wayah Road - a stellar road, and we rode it pretty hard) back to 19/74, where we picked up 129 again to head back to Robbinsville. We covered a little over 200 miles and made it back around 6:30. 6 of the 10 original riders had ducked out early and took shortcuts back to Robbinsville, and they had proceeded to get the grill going, so by the time the four of us who'd had fun burning down Wayah Road returned, the food was ready to go! We enjoyed grilled hamburgers and hot dogs and some excellent sides. Seven other riders had shown up at the house as well, so we were up to 17. We spent the evening visiting and enjoying the hot tub. Most folks in attendance I already knew, but there were a few new faces, so it was fun making new friends.

Sunday morning most folks departed throughout the morning, leaving Duke, Tom, Andrew, and myself. I whipped us up some bacon, egg, and cheese breakfast sandwiches, and we then suited up and made another journey across the Cherohala; it was an absolutely gorgeous, clear day, perfect for riding the Cherohala; the views were staggering. We stopped at Huckleberry Knob and hiked to the top. We spent an hour or so up there enjoying the beautiful day and beautiful scenery. We continued into Tellico Plains, where we visited the Town Square Cafe again for lunch.

We enjoyed yet another journey across the Cherohala back to the house, and Andrew packed up and headed home. And then there were three. After a bit of relaxing around the house we headed out to explore the Santeetlah dam and lake that Duke had found in the area; there was an access road leading to the base of the dam, but it was blocked by a gate, but there was just enough room to ride our bikes around it, so we went down for a quick peek.

Thanks to Tom's GPS, he found an access road leading to the upper end of the dam, which offered an excellent view of the lake.

We then continued into Robbinsville and had dinner at Brushy Mountain Smokehouse and Creamery. Duke and I enjoyed some very tasty fried catfish. Two thumbs up! The seasoning was just right, the crust was crispy, the fish was moist. Yum! Tom had a great-looking plate of barbecue. We visited with some folks from NH who had come down for the Hayabusa meet. We had originally planned on going to Sweetwater Barbecue, but according to them, it's good that we chose Brushy Mountain instead; they said Sweetwater was absolutely no good. Keep that in mind for the next trip. One of their Busas had a wicked paintjob.

We headed home Monday morning around 7:30. About an hour east of Robbinsville I began feeling a bit of movement that I first attributed to wind, but it continued to get worse; I pulled over, and sure enough, I had a flat rear tire. I found the puncture, but no object, so it had either worked itself free or had never stuck in the first place. I pulled out my plug kit and air compressor and was back on the road in about 15 minutes. It held fine and didn't leak any. I made it home around lunchtime, taking the fast way (129, 74 to Waynesville, then I-40 to I-26.)

Great trip! I can't wait until we do another one next spring. All the photos I took can be found here.


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