Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Deals Gap Weekend

For the third year in a row, the Ninja 250 Riders Club held a spring meet at Deals Gap the weekend of April 25-27, 2008, using the Treetops as our clubhouse for the weekend. This year we had 14 stay at the house, plus two more who stayed at a hotel in Robbinsville. Riders from all over attended, with representatives from Ohio, New York, New Jersey, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Oklahoma, Texas, and California.

On my ride up there on Friday I stopped at one of my favorite places, Caesar's Head on US276, just south of the SC-NC border.

We drifted in at various times throughout Friday afternoon and evening. Chuck and Brian made a grocery run in Chuck's car to get all our supplies for the weekend, and that evening Marylin cooked us up a fine batch of spaghetti and garlic bread.

Saturday morning we headed into Robbinsville for breakfast at Lynn's Place. Turns out they're not open for breakfast, but enough employees were there getting ready for the lunch crowd that they opened early to accommodate us; many thanks to them for this. From there we headed up 129 to the Crossroads of Time, where we milled around checking out bikes, the store, and the tree of shame, and, of course, we took the obligatory photo in front of the sign.

After a pass through the Dragon we stopped at the overlook for a bit. Law enforcement has been making a presence this year in an attempt to cut down on the folks out there riding just too damned hard for public roads, and I say that's a good thing. They weren't being overly zealous with the ticket-writing, citing only the folks who really deserved it.Alan from New Jersey and me.
killboy is a photographer who photographs riders out on the Tail, and here are the shots he got of me that day:

From there we continued down 129, 441, and 68 to Tellico Plains; shortly after getting on 165, right before the Cherohala begins, we detoured to visit Bald River Falls.

After a great journey across the Cherohala, we arrived back at the Treetops to the wonderful smell of burgers and hot dogs that Chuck, Marylin, and Bob had been working on while we were out playing. We enjoyed a great evening of food, beverage, camaraderie, and taking turns in the hot tub out on the deck.

Group shot of everyone in attendance for the weekend: Michael (OK), Bob (OH), Laura (CA), Adam (NY), John (NC), John (TX), Emily (MD, Laura's daughter), Brian (OH), John and Linda (OH, Adam's parents), Marylin and Chuck (VA), Sarah (TX), Daryl (OH); kneeling: Alan (NJ) and Payne (SC).

Everyone reluctantly headed homeward on Sunday morning; this photo pretty much sums up all our rides home that day.

I wore my rain suit over my riding suit and my waterproof gloves. The first couple of hours for me was steady, but only light to medium, rain. Around Asheville I had a few miles of no rain, and I thought I was in the clear, but I quickly learned otherwise as I neared the SC border, where the floodgates opened. Pretty much the rest of the way home varied between heavy and very heavy downpour, with gusty winds. Twice the rain got so heavy, I was traveling about 30mph due to hardly any visibility; the wind was gusting extremely hard; and lightning started flashing in the vicinity. Both times I sought a bit of respite under a gas station awning until things calmed down a bit.

Even with all that, I stayed 100% dry except for my hands; my gloves gave up the ghost about 3 hours into the ride. The rain suit did its job, my riding boots (Oxtar Matrix) did their job, and my trusty Action Packer (poor man's luggage) kept my goods 100% dry.

It was a rough ride home, for sure, but it was still a great ride. Any day I can ride is a good day.

The weekend as a whole was very good. Great roads, great camaraderie, great food! The Treetops really offers a peaceful and secluded environment that is a great escape from the daily grind. Saw several old friends again and made several new ones. Couldn't have asked for more! Well, maybe it could have lasted a little longer. :-)


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