a collection of motorcycle and rider highlights including some memorable road adventures
Image credit: Indian Motorcycle
feathers to the wind
feeling my spirit ascend
past our clouds beyond our star
bound by earth but only so far
leans and greens
riding with angels
metal and man
spirits as one
feathers to the sun
Born to Ride
I very much enjoy the sense of spiritual freedom that I get from the highway wind and the reassuring feel of a solid two wheel machine supporting me. Riding alone with my thoughts tends to smooth out the rough edges life can throw at you. It’s medicine that I highly recommend!
I’m also riding with friends from Indian Motorcycle Riders Group (IMRG) Chapter 1964 out of Indian Motorcycle Marietta Georgia and having a great time! Riding with a group is much more fun than I initially thought it would be! Riding with a group that shares the same safety goal and love for motorcycling is a rewarding and a pleasurable experience. This I also highly recommend!
Yona sitting at Two Wheels of Suches sporting her new quick release trunk
This 2019 Indian Chieftain Classic is my retirement present to myself for all my years of working for a living. My dad rode an Indian before I was born so I expect he would have been proud of this black and cream beauty as my selection. Her color scheme reminds me of a police motorcycle so I named her "Bear" in honor of our public protectors. Her nickname is "Yona" the Cherokee Indian word for bear. This model has three selectable ride modes (touring, standard and sport). It almost feels like I'm switching between cams! The stereo sound system is techy awesome too. I was skeptical about having stereo on a motorcycle but it actually works quite well. I love the modern performance engineering combined with the beautiful Indian Motorcycle legacy tailoring. I especially like how her saddlebags and front fairing design was inspired by the 1940-50s era streamlined locomotive art deco styling. (My grandfather was a railroad engineer until he retired in the mid 1960's.) Yona is a made in the USA Thunder Black and Ivory Cream 111 cubic inch fuel injected Thunder Stroke V-Twin from Polaris. It’s a rider that completes this beautiful art and engineering work. There's not a much better feeling than cutting through the highway wind with the sense of spiritual freedom that this awesome machine brings. She's a dream... comfortable, powerful and pretty! Long may I be riding and smiling!
Taking a break at Talking Rock... Yona and I are headed to the Georgia Dragon AKA Suches Loop... not in a hurry and taking a long route to get there!
Pareidolia - In my right mirror I can see my guardian angel’s eyes! I am sure they are telling me to not make their job any more difficult than is necessary! You see, I had given them a run for their money in my youthful past.
Murder Mountain Run & The Diamondback
September 20-22, 2019 - Jerry, Jim and I headed up the Blue Ridge Parkway to Little Switzerland for a weekend of great motorcycle weather in the Appalachian mountains. Friday we had a fun uneventful ride up and ended the day with a relaxing evening at the Switzerland Inn. I was disappointed that the "Ed the Bear" sign was missing but at least Ed the metal bear was still there! (There's a photo of Ed the Bear and me with the missing sign below in the earlier Little Switzerland NC excursion notes... I asked around but no one knew what happened to the sign... maybe they removed it because it prompts photos of Ed the Bear's behind... I don't know about you but if I'm in the woods... that's the end of a bear I'd rather see!)
Saturday morning after a good breakfast we rode out on to a local route called the Murder Mountain Run. It’s 114 miles of North Carolina and Tennessee mountain roads. It started out great... twisting through the beautiful highland forests on a perfect riding day. At Roan we stopped for lunch but we decided later that next time we would ride twenty minutes further east to Banner Elk for more food choices. After leaving Roan we headed south on 143 toward Roan Mountain State Park. Unfortunately my GPS wanted to take a shortcut and steered us around the park. Next time I'm adding a stop at the park to the GPS route plan so we don't wind up in that wacky shortcut. Dang shortcut got us lost! We eventually meandered our way back to the Inn for a great dinner and some good old biker buddy talk!
Sunday morning we capped off our weekend adventure by heading out on to the Diamondback... a popular 38 mile route with 12 miles of 190 steep climbing curves. The ride takes just a little over an hour and starts and ends at the Switzerland Inn where we were staying. After Diamondback we headed home via the BRP but detoured down 215 toward Rosman to refuel. 215 turned out to be good riding fun with lots of mountain forest lined twisties! We wound up going through the nice towns of Cashiers and Highlands on the way back. I can't wait to do the whole trip again with the route tweaks that we learned!
Photo credit: Jerry Woods - Left to right, Jim (Gadget), me (Ed) how do you like my antlers? and Jerry (Jammin) BTW - We're taking donations so Jammin can buy some new pants :)
Photo credit: Jerry Woods - Jammin Jerry on the move!
Photo credit: Jerry Woods - I'm writing myself a ticket for having too much fun!
August 7, 2019 - Jim Looft and I rode from Robbinsville, NC back home via the Skyway. What a beautiful motorcycle friendly road. Parts of it reminded me of the BRP.
Video clip from the Skyway taken 7 August 2019 by a novice GoPro operator (me)
Unfortunately we didn't spot any bears on this ride but we did get to meet some at the Cherohala Skyway Visitor Center. We watched a video about the conservation efforts surrounding our wild bear population. It was very interesting. The most poignant point regarding the bears is that we should NOT feed them... no legs no arms... not even a crumb. This is usually a death sentence for the bear as they will quickly learn a too dangerous for humans habit and likely wind up having to be euthanized.
Photo credit: Jim Looft - This is a picture of me and my new buddy Fred. I asked Fred where he got the cool vest but he wouldn't tell me. Maybe I don't want to know!
August 6, 2019 - Jim Looft and I rode up to Robbinsville, NC spending the night at River's Edge Treehouse Resort and rode the Dragon. It was a blast! Such a beautiful road. I had to pay close attention to the 11 miles of 318 curves keeping an eye out for wacky doodles but only encountered one crotchety rocket that went zooming past me as I stayed on the right side to leave him room. The Dragon was great fun! I hope to ride it again soon!
129Slayer.com image capture from the Dragon... Yona and me leaning and greening.
KillBoy.com image capture from the Dragon... that's Jim and me rounding one of the 318 curves.
Video clip from the Tail of the Dragon taken 6 August 2019 by a novice GoPro operator (me)
Photo credit: Jim Looft - This metal sculpture at the south entrance to the Dragon is just plain awesome!
Jim, Indian Chief Classic and Dragon - You might recognize that beautiful bike... it used to be mine until Jim customized it... Cool flag! Classic leather! Stage 2 horsepower!
Little Switzerland, NC
June 26-28, 2019 - If you’ve ever ridden the Blue Ridge Parkway you won’t be surprised to hear that I had an awesome experience. If heaven has roads for touring oriented motorcycle riders I expect they are very similar to the BRP. It’s so easy to ride and beautiful to look at... it’s also very much a stress reducer... it feels like it was designed for motorcycling. I am now spoiled and hope to eventually ride the entire parkway. It stretches in sweeping curves from the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, North Carolina to Shenandoah National Park, Virginia.
Jim Holt and Jim Looft and our Indians - Blue Ridge Parkway
Y’all know I like bears right? I was fortunate to see four bears while riding in the Georgia mountains over the course of my first year back on a motorcycle after a 30 year hiatus. That was incredible. Well I’m seven months into my second year back and finally spotted a momma bear and her cub in North Carolina as I rounded a curve along the BRP about a half hour from the Switzerland Inn on the way back home Friday morning. The momma was standing on the edge of the parkway in my lane looking at me and then toward the short bank leading into the woods then back at me. That clued me in to look up the bank where I spotted the cub. I gave them a wide berth pulling my clutch in to quiet my Thunderstroke. No reason to stress a momma bear anymore than necessary. I almost stopped to take a picture but my survival instincts kicked in and rescued me from myself. I had visions of a protective mother defending her cub from an overzealous inexperienced bear admirer. I very much enjoyed the close up encounter but wished I had a video camera mounted on Yona. Maybe next time I will!
Topping things off the Switzerland Inn has a resident bear statue named “Ed”!!! That in addition to BRP and the live bear sightings almost sent me into the fringe of over excited human behaviorial tangents. How many bears do you think have my namesake? I’m betting one. Below is a shot of Ed the metal Bear and Ed the mesmerized human.
Photo credit: Jim Looft
Wednesday and Thursday May 15-16, 2019 - Postcard Ride - This was more fun than you could shake a stick at! Five of us Atlanta Highway IMRG members rode up to the Blue Ridge Parkway and enjoyed the great amenities at Pisgah Inn!
Photo credit: Jim Holt - Richland Balsam Overlook and Indians right to left belonging to Jim, Jerry Woods, myself, Brad Mitchell, and Jim Looft
And talk about views! I had as much fun off the bike as on thanks to the great group of riders I was with! A diverse bunch that all shared the goal of a good time and a safe ride. If you ever get the chance... you should ride the Blue Ridge Parkway. Every inch we experienced was a postcard!
I can't remember which overlook this is where I took this shot... but it lives up to the "Blue Ridge" name!
Ball Ground, GA - Burger Bus
Saturday February 2, 2019 - Fun group chowing down some great burgers after a fun ride in the mountains! No bear sightings this trip though but the weather might have woke them up!
Photo credit: Kat Walders Anderson’s cell camera and our waitress. Brad Mitchell, Jerry Woods, Greg Payne, Leon Alexander, Jay Anderson, Jim Holt, Kat Anderson, Me, and Jim Looft
Buck Jones Christmas Ride
Sunday November 18, 2018 – Some of us rode with the annual Christmas season Buck Jones Memorial Toy Run collecting toys for kids. That was a fun and rewarding experience. I had never ridden with so many bikes before... estimates were 150 to 200 riders, several with passengers. We had a well-coordinated law enforcement escort from Cumming Fairgrounds to Lumpkin County High School in Dahlonega with a stop in between at Dawsonville City Hall. It was an awesome ride! Good food, good cause and good fun!
Photo credit: Forsyth County News
Saturday November 17, 2018 – IMRG Atlanta Highway Chapter, "Suches It Is” Ride - There were eight bikes and one passenger. We rode to Cleveland via GA-400 and GA-115 for a quick break at the Chic-Fil-A then headed up Helen Hwy toward Richard B. Russell Scenic Hwy on to GA-180 (part of the "Georgia Dragon") and Two Wheels Restaurant in Suches, GA for a fun lunch. It was a little sparse of animal spottings on this trip but on my previous trip to Richard B. Russell, I crossed paths with a momma bear and her cub... I rounded a curve just as momma was hurriedly crossing the road with her cub trailing behind her. They didn't see me so I shifted to the opposite lane and pulled in my clutch to quiet my thundering Indian which put me farthest from where they were going. Coasting, I was able to witness the cub stop at the road edge and with nose up, sniff the air and look side to side until he caught sight of me as I came up behind him and the little guy took off towards momma... I love the mountains!
An “Old” Flame
November 2017 until October 2018 – This was my 2017 Indian Chief Classic... she got me back in the saddle after a 30 year motorcycle hiatus! This baby got me singing again! But I only sang while cruising down the highway... so as not to annoy folks too much!
September 30, 2018 – Fall is a great time to ride a motorcycle, especially in the mountains on the curvy roads amidst the “getting sleepy” forests and busy critters. You just have to watch out for the critters and be ready to brake at all times. I get lots of enjoyable moments on my Indian and today was no exception. For the first time in my life, I witnessed a red tailed hawk attack almost head on from very nearly the victims vantage point. The hawk was targeting something at the roadside with his eyes focused and talons about to be extended. The hawk’s attack and my approach put my head (helmet) nearly in his direct flight path such that I got close to a view of what his prey would see if his prey were to see him coming. It was so cool! (Cool for me that is, not the hawk)… I knew there were no vehicles behind me so I quickly braked and the hawk veered off so it was just an awesome view for me and an unfortunate distraction for the hawk. I was sorry I interrupted his potential meal. I know how I feel about food so I expect the hawk would kind of like to have had some as well. This time of year you have to be especially aware of critters while riding and driving. I see more flattened critter bodies on the road this time of year than any other. So we should all ride and drive with a sharper awareness of the busy animals since they don’t have a built-in natural awareness of mankind’s creations. Deer for example, will run right into your bike or automobile path as if blind. But always use good judgment when it comes to critter encounters on the road. Many years ago, I think it was 1967, I had a friend die in an automobile crash dodging a critter on the highway. I still wish he had made a different decision. While as many know, I am not very good about keeping in touch, it doesn’t mean I don’t keep friends close in my thoughts. Ride safe, drive safe and enjoy the great fall weather!
Leaping Bear Encounter
July 4, 2018 - It all happened so fast!... As I rounded a GA 136 curve near Burnt Mountain, there was an SUV coming from the other direction and a bear running across the road just in front of the SUV into my lane. Fortunately my approach was from far enough away that I had plenty of time to react. (Keep in mind that when riding a motorcycle, you have to concentrate more on the road and what's in front of you than details about the scenery... oh you do get views of the beautiful animals and greenery all right... but riding focus is primarily on the road)... I expect the SUV startled the bear and I'm pretty sure my thundering Indian approach was worrisome also such that the bear was running at a pretty hefty clip and jumped the guardrail onto a steep bank. He cleared the guardrail easily but I worried about him jumping what appeared to be so blindly onto what appeared to be such a steep bank. But since I know nothing about bear CPR and the possibility that he may have made that jump before (maybe he knew what he was doing)... I decided not to stop... Besides, I've heard that bears eat people.
Riding with Angels
I ride the speed limit on the two lane highways and back roads. On the multiple lane highways I ride with the traffic flow. On the two lanes and back roads, when I know someone behind me wants to go faster than the speed limit I slow down to let them pass when it’s safe to do so. That reduces stress for me and them. Many times I’ll catch up with them at a traffic light… which I call the “equalizer”. If we were on a race course I’d likely never see them again once they’d passed me. As for me, I don’t belong on a race course… especially since I managed to get “old” (I put “old” in quotes because it’s so relative). I consider me “old” in experience but was once a wild fresh child... like when I bought my first motorcycle… It’s a miracle I didn’t die. I was 17 and it was a six year old 1962 Triumph Thunderbird 650 that I bought from a Hispanic gentleman. I was attracted to the high rise handlebar he had installed and intrigued by what promised to be roaring great fun! Well the first thing I did was ride to Interstate 75 and open it up… I mean full throttle… to see how fast it would go!... Well, when the speedometer approached 100 (it registered 0-120) it had begun to bounce so wildly that I couldn’t really say how fast I was traveling. There was so much vibration it was impossible to tell but I suspect I was doing at least 90… then the cool high rise handlebar (they call them ape hangars) spun in its two mounting brackets lurching me backward! A little scary… so I slowed down below the speed limit and gently pushed the handlebar back to an upright position. My first thought was… what if it had broken free at 90 mph? I figure angels were riding with me… Jesus’s helpers! The angels saw me and said, “That boy needs help… lots of help!”. People die on motorcycles… mostly because of riding too fast for conditions. I think that incident was meant to be a lesson for me… It did make a strong impression but the lesson wasn’t over yet. With the handlebar back in position I rode precariously the rest of the way home. I made it to my driveway and as I leaned into the driveway the left side of the handlebar broke at the mounting bracket. Fortunately, I was able to control my stop. Turns out the handlebar was a bicycle handlebar which has a smaller diameter than the actual motorcycle handlebar and had been rigged to fit in the Triumph brackets with shims (strips of thin metal to take up the slack). I presume that the handlebar had rotated many times and discovered that the homemade metal shims had sharp edges and were, over time, cutting into the handlebar weakening the area where the bracket clamped the shim finally breaking in my driveway. The fact that I've made it to be this old credits my ability to learn from my generous God given lessons!
Please always use proper riding gear and only properly engineered accessories for your ride. And above all, please ride safe and that goes for all you cage dwellers as well… please drive safe!
Photos of some of my friend's bikes...
Photo credit: Jerry Woods - Jim (Gadget) Looft's decked out 2017 Chief - What a gorgeous motorcycle!
Photo credit: Jerry Woods - "Dragon", Jammin Jerry's beautiful 2017 Chieftain Elite!
Photo credit: Jerry Woods - "Yona", 2019 Chieftain Classic, my very own wind machine!
February 18, 2020 - Yona in her cave tucked in out of the rain.