The Georgia Mountain Rally
Hiawassee, Georgia
May 2nd - 4th, 1997


From: Pat Roddy

Around Thanksgiving, Ted Verrill and I started playing around with the idea of a 'stroll' down the Blue Ridge Parkway, ending up in Hiawassee, GA in time for the Georgia Mountain Rally.

For months now, our anticipation was growing. I must say a big thanks to Ted at this point for doing such a nice job with the website information concerning this rally.

It was Wednesday morning. I had been up to 1 AM, readying the LT for it's run. New synthetic fluids coursed in the engine, gearbox and final drive. Fresh gasoline had been added the evening before. The windshield had been cleaned along with the blue Iridium faceshield on my X-9 Shoei. I had procrastinated and had not washed my 'Stich (something I have only done x3 in 60K+ miles). I ride in the rain enough that it gets 'clean' often.

I hit the rack at 0200, and was awakened at 0600, ready to roll. By 0700, I was on the road, heading for Fancy Gap, VA and my rendezvous with Ted. Pat's excellent adventure was finally on!

In my excitement to get to VA, I opted for freeways. I know this is a sacrilege to many riders out there, but hey, I like freeways. I can do sustained high speeds and since I eschew radar detectors, my heightened senses at speed are like the 'zone of focus' I used for years working in surgery. I love the concentration. I love blowing by other vehicles that don't even know I was there and have no idea of what just went whizzing by them.

A road warrior, at speed. Just me and the road. The other vehicles are like moving pylons and it is my duty to put as many of them behind me, where they cannot harm nor hinder me. I do not wind my through them carelessly, but when they stay in the green stamp lane with no intention of moving to the slower, right lane, I do not hesitate to take them on the right. When conditions allow, I have been known to 'slide by' on the left side. That never fails to get them over to the lane they belong in, the scud lane. I wish the south would adopt laws that would stop the fast lane 'hoggers', but that will not happen in my lifetime. I only wish................

Scan front, left front, right front, center long range, left long range, right long range, left rearview mirror, right rearview mirror.  Repeat every 6-8 seconds.

I then hear it from my radio-the faint sounds of Tom Petty's "Runnin' Down a Dream". The LT knows what to do. As I complete my rear scan, she rolls on in 5th, not even hesitating until the speedo reads 130. The fresh cool Southern air, still carrying wisps of dogwood and honeysuckle scents from across the fields that surround the paved ribbons I fly along make my ride even sweeter.

I then spot a southbound sportbike, resplendent in neon colors that could not ever exist in nature. He flashes his brights repeatedly, and as the K11 motor spins down, I tap my rears to avoid nose-diving and I crest a very small hill and there he is, what 'El Sporto' was flashing about, a Georgia State Trooper, lurking in the median, heading southbound. I quickly glanced down and since I was on the south side of 90, I was able to breathe again. I nodded to the officer as I rolled by, and he either did not see me or did not care. My left mirror showed he was staying put.

In less than an hour, I am about to cross Lake Hartwell, a huge, beautiful lake on the GA/SC border. Knowing it is only a two lane bridge (no cops can park on it), I hit the ton into South Carolina. The conditions of the freeways here are where Georgia was 25 years ago. Get with it, SC! Spend some of that 'road-tax' money on the roads!

As I approached Greenville, where I-85 fans out into 3 or 4 lanes, I decided to stop by Touring Sport and drop in to see Frank S. (read Jim Roche's "Let's Lose the Airhead" post) and Fred. TS is a very nice dealership IMHO, and I stop by whenever I get near Greenville. Besides, it was where my GS resided until it latched onto me and wouldn't let me go.

After a nice stop at TS, I was northbound again. Soon, I crossed into North Carolina, where those of us who eschew the posted speed limits are routinely 'hung out to dry' for surpassing their speed limits. To hell with it, as I hit the ton again, the sign for King's Mountain whizzed by. Bite me, NC.

The scenery improved greatly in northern NC, and as I approached Virginia, it became downright gorgeous. I-77 is one of my favorite freeways. It is really pretty. I slowed down to below 70 so I could take short but frequent glances at the mountains surrounding me. The air was still refreshingly cool and visibility was absolutely unlimited. Summer's humidity is not even near, yielding long range views in every direction.

Just minutes later, I reached Fancy Gap, VA, my destination. My rendezvous with Ted.

I found the motel, then a cool six pack, and as I watched the high cirrus clouds jet across the azure blue skies from my front porch chair, the increasing breezes would carry an occasional scent of a hard ridden K-bike my way. A scent that to many would go unsavored, but to me, it signaled a fine riding day.

The Blue Ridge Parkway was only 200 yards away from where I sat, and I awaited the sounds of downshifting motorcycles with great anticipation.

I was in Fancy Gap only a couple of hours, shaking off the road, when I heard the unmistakable sound of a large K bike and a ZX-9 pull past my window. Ted and Gary Harris were here!

While eating at the restaurant next to the motel an hour later, Chris Wentzel pulled in, then 15 minutes Larry Fears came rolling in. Now we were 4. (Actually 5-a young rider on an R11RS joined them somewhere on the BRP).

Gary had noticed after parking his Ninja that it was spewing anti-freeze, but after pulling off a fairing panel the source was not immediately found. The level of coolant was OK, so he buttoned the ZX-9 back up. Larry started in with his J-bashing, and Gary took it all in stride.

Thursday morning. I looked out the window. The BRP was gone. The little lake outside the window was gone. Everything more than 30 feet away was gone.

We were enveloped in a cloud, fog to you non-pilots. Although we were only 10 rooms away from the managers' office, it and it's flagpole were swathed in it. Gone.

Oh How Foggy It Was!

Fog has a way of deadening sounds. We could hear vehicles turning off and onto the BRP, but we could never see them, nor identify them by their sound.

We patiently waited for nearly 2.5 hours. The cafe next door served a mean breakfast. No one wanted to be on a motorcycle, on the Blue Ridge Parkway, in zero vis. Uh uh. No way.

At 0930, it lifted. Hell, it disappeared as fast as it had arrived. The BRP was beckoning.

Ted's K, Larry's new K1100 LT, my LT, Chris' K75 and Gary's Ninja fired up. We were ready.

Chris and I had already fueled up, but the other's hadn't, so we decided to roll on and stop at the first overlook.

I tried to set a slow pace, near the speed limit, but the K would have none of that. Curve after curve beckoned, countersteering and peg-weighting every corner, every curve.

Rounding a tight right hander, something flashed across the road. Deer! A buck. I grabbed all the brakes I could, sensing others. A split second later, another darted right in front of me. I continued on the ABS assisted brakes until I was stopped.

Two more deer peered out of the underbrush, but turned tail and disappeared. Chris and I rolled on, and just as my heart rate was beginning to return to normal, a wild turkey flew directly in front of me. Another second faster, and Thanksgiving may have taken on a new meaning.

A few miles down the road, we pulled into an overlook. Chris and I took in the clean air, and admired a farm across the road. Two story wood sided house, freshly painted. Probably about 50 acres were in view. Several fences cris-crossed the property, but no livestock was in evidence. These people had a beautiful view of the Virginia countryside and I doubt that they appreciated it like we did that morning.

The others caught up quickly, and down the Parkway we rolled. I led for awhile, then signaled for Ted and Gary to pass and take the lead.

Chris Wentzel, Pat Roddy, Larry Fears, Gary Harris
& Ted Verrill show off their addiction to
National Passport Stamp Collecting!

After a stop for a Passport stamp (they didn't have a stamp!), we resumed our ride down the BRP. I was third, and the K suddenly surged ahead, putting Ted and Gary behind me. Hah! I passed them both! That will be something to remember ;-)

As we reached Blowing Rock, it was decided to grab lunch. It was here that Larry had decided to drop off the Parkway and pick his way down a succession of two and four laners, heading towards Hiawassee. He had his reason for doing this, and I felt that maybe having a Wingman on his journey wouldn't be too bad of an idea. I volunteered to join him. Two LTs, vintage 93, both Silk blue, were to be running together.

We split from the others, and had a 'spirited' ride towards Asheville, NC. We then picked up Hwy 23, a great 4 laner, then down 441 to Clayton. There, we picked up Hwy 76, with Hiawassee only 32 miles away. The 'homing' instincts were getting stronger, and Larry and I rolled on. In my rear view mirrors, I spotted an Airhead tagging along behind Larry. Not until we reached the campground did I recognize Roger Traversa's R100 GS.

We were 'home'. A few tents were here and there, and only one was in the lower 40, soon to be the Tent City of the IBMWR. The banner was already hung, brought in earlier in the day by Greg Pink. It was festooned with pins, and would soon be sporting it's second Georgia Rally pin.

It was time to relax, time to take in the beautiful sights of the North GA mountains that almost completely surround the campground, it was time to set up, it was time to eat.

Chris Wentzel FINALLY Wins
Long-Distance Solo Rider!

The Georgia Rally was beginning a night early, as Larry and I eagerly awaited the arrival of our BRP companions.

It was going to be one helluva weekend.

One that I will always remember.

pr

From: Tom Bowman

It's between 10 p.m. and 3 a.m. on Friday night at Bald Mountain campground, and the Flintstones are bowling upstairs. There's a flash like major artillery every few seconds, that leaves spots shimmering behind even closed eyelids, then a crash and a long, rolling rumble like a three-foot diameter granite bowling ball careening down a polished maple lane, then what sounds like ten enormous, tree-sized pins being toppled over as the crashing echoes down the valley and off the sodden tents and dripping motorcycles. Not even ear plugs help. Oh, I *hate* thunderstorms when I'm camping.....

Friday was spectacular, and my short ride up from the northside of Atlanta was as good as usual. Bright sunlight and warm tempertures held the prospect of a repeat of last year's most excellent Georgia Mountain Rally at Hiawassee, another gathering of Presidents and friends (plus some small number of Idiots, Dickheads, Texans-In-Exile, and BOOF's), and a great party atmosphere puntuated by miles and miles of "sidewall time" at Deal's Gap, Cherohala Skyway, Blue Ridge Parkway, and the well-kept 'secret' Georgia roads. Everybody had one eye on the weather, though, as a major front was forming like an arrow pointed at north Georgia. We all hoped above hope that the bad stuff would forge north instead of east, and we'd be spared.

Friday evening the IBMWR camping area looked like a small city, with The Banner looming like a monolith, strung between two mighty pine trees, calling to the arrivees. Some had come early, and had been out all day scuffing-in tires and scraping pegs, preparing bragging rights for the evening's Barley Therapy sessions around the campfires. I made my way up via a couple of my favorite roads, and by chance ran into Ian Scmeisser at TWO (Two Wheels Only campground), and we ran Wolf Pen Gap road to a place where we dove off onto some Forest Service roads that we'd be running on Saturday in the GS ride, just to check on the condition, since there'd been quite a bit of rain over the last few days. They were fine, nothing to worry about, and we made our way on up to the camp around four p.m.

The Good Doctor T-Mia, Paul Taylor,
Elsie Smith and Alden Hingle yuk it up
outside the door prize Auction

Being the skeptic that I am, I always check a potential campsite for drainage as I set up my tent, 'just in case': it would turn out that I'd be damned glad I did that night. Over ninety Presidents were planning to come, and there were faces new to me everywhere: Alden Hingle, Chris Kleponis, Mike Caicedo, and many more, plus the 'Usual Suspects'. Larry Fears with his blue LT was 'getting gas' from the Virginia contingent who were claiming that Pat Roddy's blue LT was handsomer than Larry's (same color); Mike Cornett's and Chuck DeSantis' red LT's side-by-side drew no such banter. Gary Harris from NYC was there on his new K1100RS, Marrakesh Red, no less, and he was offering a bottle of chain lube to any taker who would have it, a leftover token of his recently-traded ZX-9 Kwacker. Seems he hit Blue Moon at the right moment (was there a Blue Moon this week?), and on Thursday became the new owner of another Iron Butt K-missile. When's the fuel cell gonna be mounted, Gary? In my mind, I christened the bike "ObersturmBAHNradfuhrer". Several F650 owners seemed interested in the chain lube, but weren't too sure what one *does* with it. Dr. Curve showed up on an Airhead, his second year at the rally, but the K-1 is long gone. Presumably, he bent plenty of corners over the weekend, and had a good time.

As the sun went down, the wind came up, and around 9:00, it began to sprinkle. That soon became a steady rain, then a torrent, on the way to becoming a violent thunderstorm. Enough about that: suffice it to say that in the morning, when I popped out of the tent, the first thing I saw was Richard Bernecker looking forlorn and tired. "Hey, man, can you help me move my tent?" he asked in a low voice, and I looked and *holy cow*, he was camped in the middle of Lake Bernecker. Luckily, the lake was draining about two feet to the south of my tent, so I was pretty okay. We moved him about six feet to high ground as waves lapped right where his sleeping bag had been all night. Sheesh.

Others will describe the road tours; I was geared for the GS ride which Ian and I had been working on since January, and my main worry was for the lives of any fools.....er, I mean *participants* who would dare to ride with us. If you look in the dictionary under "slick", you'll find a picture of Georgia clay, and I had visions of men with long ropes trying to winch some hapless soul's near-600 pound R1100GS out of a gully. To our surprise, fourteen showed up prepared to do battle with the elements, and off we went into the murk. The first section was slippery and there was fog and mist on top of the mountain as we slithered and slid up Nell Knob and down Chinquapin Ridge along the edge of Tray Mountain Wilderness. At one point, a torrent of water was roaring down a twenty-foot cascade under a green canopy of brush, disappearing down the mountainside. Several sighs of relief were heard when we turned north on Georgia 75 north of Helen, and began to bend corners to our next off-pavement section. Across Ga. 180, we made 70-mph sweepers past Brasstown Bald, our campground just on the other side. When we crossed the rustic bridge at Sosebee Cove and the pavement stopped, one could hear the sharp intake of breath from the newer GS'ers. The area looks remarkably like some scenes from the movie "Deliverance", and you could almost hear the banjoes twanging.

The Forest Service either hates erosion, or else somebody with a gravel company has got the biggest pork-barrel contract in the world going, because nearly every square yard of every mile of forest road up there is covered in gravel ranging from marble-sized to baseball-size. One sets a course by kinda leaning over until it starts to drift, then steering with the throttle until she's pointed between the ditches again, then stabbing the rear brake to bring the rear end around to start the next turn. After a while, you give up any notion of precise control and just 'go with the flow'. The bumpiness smoothes out nicely above forty. Our novices were starting to get the hang of it by the time we got to Duncan Ridge Road, but as we were maybe a hour behind schedule, we opted to go straight to our lunch stop and forego The Ridge.

RC Cola and Moon Pies at the BP station/grocery/hardware store/chain saw shop/garage at Suches, GA: unforgettable! After a delicious repast of microwave beef stew washed down with soda, and a dessert of Grandma's Peanut Butter Old-Fashioned Cookies (James Beard would be spinning in his grave, if he weren't still alive), off we set again. By this time the sky was clearing nicely, and we would finish in bright sun. Down through Gooch Gap and across Hogback Mountain we flew, gravel flying, until we crossed the Appalachian Trail at Hightower Gap. The U.S.Army trains Rangers at a camp deep in the mountains just south of our trail; one never knows just *who* one might see out near dusk. After a dash past Frying Pan Gap and Deerlick (Yuck! Who would want to lick a deer??), we crossed the top of Rand Knob on a carpet of green, leaves blown off the trees by the storm the night before. At one place, we had to detour to avoid a tree fallen across the road, but all made it to the stop at the bottom of the mountain. The dash north to Ga. 60, and the section down 60 to Suches put smiles on all the faces, as 60 is smooth, banked sweepers ranging from 30 to 80 miles per hour all the way, as you climb and fall through picturesque valleys and gaps overhung by dense forests. We did Wolf Pen Gap Road (Ga.'s equivalent to Deal's Gap) again in the opposite direction, and sprinted to camp in time for supper. Back at camp, I began to notice GS'es without mud on them, which looks unnatural now......

Steaks on the grill, refreshments in hand, the sun went down on a day that got progressively better. Temperatures dropped, and the campfires and down sleeping bags felt good as the stars came out and the band reprised everything from Lynyrd Skynyrd to Molly Hatchet to Lightnin' Hopkins (just kidding; no Lightnin' Hopkins) well into the night.

Cosmo and I tripped back down the mountain Sunday morning with mostly no traffic out. The curves seemed deeper and more challenging even than they had the day before. The nip in the air sharpened everything, and the bright sun warmed me when I passed out from under the cover of the trees. I wish all the rallies could be as good. And I hope I never again have to listen to the Flintstones bowling upstairs all night.

Tom Bowman

From: Corky Reed

Just rolled into Reed's Landing from Ga. Mtn. Rally!!!1

IF YOU CAN'T RUN WITH THE BIG DOGS---YOU BEST STAY ON THE PORCH!!!
Anon

Well, this ole coon dog watched that front come thru Texas, La. and other points north. Joan, I'm not going!! When that Mutha hits the mtns. of N.Ga.. it's going to be bad!!!

IBMWR Presidents Pose Infront of
Larry Fears' New K1100LT

THEN: The big dogs hit the scene. Thursday night Bernecker, Tom Keen and Walker Powell show up and we had the usual dinner fare for the Landing: freshly caught Gulf shrimp, Broccoli cole slaw all washed down with La Corona. They slept on The Good Ship Inerarity. luckily it was calm. Joe Senner and his SO showed up the next morning. She loves our house and got excited about Hansel and Gretal, a pair of porpoises that live in our creek.

HAVE YOU EVER TRIED TO KEEP AN OLD COON DOG ON THE PORCH WHEN THE BIG DOGS ARE RUNNING???

Joan, I believe I will go after all!!Maybe the front will blow over!!!.

Yeh!!!

Well whatever, those big dogs are not going to fart around with an old dog pulling a trailer, so as soon as we hit the slab they split. [For those who take this stuff too seriously, I would have too, so there!!!!]

Nevertheless, when I hit the campground I was bushed,[man, I gotta get in more saddle time :-[[]. Gee I needed some refreshment bad!!! Translated Vodka and Grapefruit juice. They have a name for this drink, but I can never remember it. As a result of my thirst, when Bernecker and I and sombody else [I don't remember who it was--Pat Roddy, maybe?? was setting up my camping trailer I made a major error. I overlooked the fact that the whole end of the sleeping quarters [which is screened for ventilation]was left open :-[[[

I was over partying with the Beeline Beemers when it hit!!! The wind blew, the sh&t flew and then the rains came. And it rained and rained and hell, it's not going to quit tonite, so we all began to snuk off to our sleeping quarters. When I crawled into my normally cozy little camping trailer, my error of earlier became apparent. Have you ever seen what rain does to a down sleeping bag? Needless to say, it was not a happy camping night. It was one of those nights when it finally becomes daylight outside.

I manage to get some clothes on and on going outside I noticed that two bikes had fallen over in the night. Yup, one was my little R100R, no harm done {it's an Air Head, ya know].

In my own case I had a decision to make, and I think decisions should be made in the clear [brainwise] early in the morn rather than late at night. There was no way of attempting to sleep in the camper!!! So, I packed up and went into town--no vacancies:-[[[ Aw hell, I'll just blow this one and wander on down the road, ending up at home before dark.

Moral of the story:
When an old coon dog tries to run with the big dogs---the first time the coon bites back, the old dog sticks his tail between his legs and heads back to the porch.

Y'all hang in there,

Corky

From: Dave Roof

Just got back from Georgia, and what a rally it was. All the elements were there: Air in the blowing wind, Fire under the sizzling steaks and streaking across the sky all night, and Water in GENEROUS amounts mixed with the Earth to make great mud, all leavened by great people to make a great time.

About the great Friday flood, it demonstrated that no amount of rain can dampen a good spirit. I also demonstrated that two allen wrenches, a pen and a screwdriver make great tent pegs in a pinch. The value of great people was also shown: thanks to Andrew for coming through with the extra sleeping bag when I forgot mine (has it REALLY been that long since rally season?).

Larry, Bill, Don, Reid & Cye at the Awards Ceremony

Thanks also to Brian Curry for dubbing me an honorary Idiot (I think it should be thanks, maybe it should be a punch in the mouth?), Terry for keeping me honest about my wardrobe, Walker Powell for being the wizard of the K75 on the Checota (sp?) Skyline drive, thanks to North Carolina for that same road, NO THANKS to North Carolina for asinine speed limits and enforcement policies on that same road, big thanks to all the Georgia people who worked hard to put on a good rally.

The Columbia crew had a good ride home, led by yours truly with only a few wrong turns. I didn't really think Warwoman Road and the Blue Ridge Parkway were on the way from Hiawasee to Columbia, but we took the rally's theme to heart: Take the Long Way Home!!

Festina lente. Augustus

Dave Roof

From: Gary Harris

I'm back <whine> on line at a <whine> new address: gharris.ny@siny.com. If <whine> anyone sent personal <whine> to me at the old <whine> address (garyjh@berstein.com), I didn't get it. So <whine> re-send it to <whine> the new address.

The GMR was <whine> BIG fun!! Thanx to Ted Verrill <whine> for the Skyline/Blue Ridge ride. It was <whine> definately a <whine> memorable experience! I just wish I had more time to <whine> more of the local roads down there.

BIG thanx to <whine> Pat Roddy!! Another <whine> great job!! And thanks <whine> for your assistance <whine> with my personal acquisition. I still owe <whine> you one!!

BTW - Does anyone <whine> know where I can <whine> get an Ohlins shock for the lowest price?

Gary - NYC

(I should have known about the K1100RS when I got my pictures back from the NorEast President's Brunch...Ed.)

From: Jim Shaw

Got home the night before last from the best rally of the year, Georgia Mountain. I may write a trip report, but in the meantime, I'd like to show my appreciation to Linda and Pat Roddy. Of all the people in the Georgia club, only a few seem to work at the rally, and these two absolutely gave their "all" that we might enjoy their hospitality.

Pat and Linda are my idea of the stuff of which a wildly successful rally is made. Every time I looked around, Pat and Linda were working behind the scenes (never in the spotlight) to make sure the ambitious rally plan worked.

Carol Keuch, Larry Fears, Roger Traversa, Jeff Dunkle &
Ted Verrill at the top of the Cherohala Skyway

It was the best rally, in the best place, with the best people, best riding, and best scenery. Without the wisdom and hard work of the Roddy's, it would not be the best organized and executed rally of the year. The winner of my "Chief Chopper" awards for well directed hard work are Linda and Pat Roddy.

Thank you Linda. Thank you Pat. I had a great time, and I owe most of it to you.

Jim Shaw
Hinckley, Ohio USA

From: Robert W. Munday

Fellow Presidents,

It was good to see all of you at last weekend's Georgia Mountain Rally. As this was my first rally, I tried to take it easy and not overdo it... just rode, camped and visited. I kept a copy of the official Presidential list and was thrilled that I got to meet most of the Presidents on the list. I would name you all here, but you know who you are and you know if I missed greeting you. Special thanks go to Forest John and his sister Marsha for their generous hospitality, large canopy and roaring campfire. Brian "300,000 Miles And Counting" Curry, who also brought Vegemite (and did any of you remember bread and butter this time?), honored me with Village Idiot status, for who else would bring Vegemite to a rally but a VI? I rode up Friday with Corky Reed, but rode home alone... hey Corky, wait for me next time! Saw Roger Wiles as he passed through. Lunched with Bill Tayloe, Brian Curry and some of the BMWBMW gang in Helen. Met Carol Keuch, Tara Ribas (and Mom and Dad) and Terry-Miami. I also got to see most of that slate of rowdy troublemakers I voted for in the BMWMOA elections... good luck, folks. BMWBMW was also well represented (Larry, my check is "in the mail"), as were our Georgia hosts (Pat, where do I send the check?). As an added bonus, I now know the story behind Dali Meeow and the purr-fection of the upside-down napping position, along with the story of the two impromptu attendees from Ohio at this past Bike Week in Daytona. We should all be so lucky. And then again, maybe not. Ted, next year I plan to go on your Blue Ridge Parkway and Deal's gap ride... just let me know when the ride starts... I'll do my best to keep up with you, though not at those hyper-legal speeds (a man's gotta know his limitations).

I'd like to extend an invitation to all of you to attend the Alabama BMW Owners' Rocket City Rally, May 22-25 in Huntsville, Alabama. This is the rally with the continuous coffee/tea/lemonade/popcorn/smoked chicken feast from noon Friday to Noon Sunday. And I'll bring a fresh jar of Vegemite for the curious. There's riding to be done, too, and a BMW F650 Funduro to give away to some lucky ticket holder Saturday night. Please let me know if you are attending so that I can maintain a Presidential list... e-mail me at RWMunday@aol.com if I don't send you a confirmation note from RWMunday@CompuServe.com as this IBMWR list fills my rather meager 100 note capacity on Compuserve quite often.

Again, thanks all, and let's do it again next year!

Robert

From: Jim "Dr. Curve" Roche

Dear Net Mates,

Even though I have been riding and building BMWs for a long time now, I never had bonded with the rally and get together scene, remaining a loner and renegade type as the years flowed softly by.

Last year was a first for me as I went to the GA Mountain Rally for one day. Rode the whole time with many different bikes and ended up on one especially strong run with four other guys who I had never met but who all were experienced riders, fast, and on well prepared machines. What a time we had and I vowed at once to return this year no matter what.

I had done some thinking about the conditions however, mostly concerning the type of bike that would actually be best for those serious roads that extend in every direction from the Bald Mountain camp site.

The K1 proved to be more than enough for most situation last year and I was able to push it through drunk snake roads and more open sweepers with a fair amount of ease, but in my heart I knew that in the really hard stuff, like those roads in and out of Suches, some other type of BMW might have been more suitable.

As the rally date neared for this year I started to prepare a bike just for the event. I wanted it to look absolutely stock and indeed to be as near stock as possible, as long as it would get the job done.

The old bikes were not all bad. If they were perfect in adjustment with proper tires, brakes, front end and the like, they could do the job even in the mountains. The new bikes are so improved that even if they are out a little with not so fresh tires or brakes they still perform way past what the old ones would in similar conditions. Knowing all this after having had all types, new and old, over the years, I decided once again to prepare a stock airhead for the task and challenge of the North Georgia roads. But what airhead? Some would have you believe that all are the same. Forget it. Some of the older ones have engines that in basic stock form have the torque and HP needed to pull hard in the tight stuff while being able to go straight up the grade in third if need be.

Last year as the ride with DC Mike, Gary Harris, Mike Cornett, and Jim Bassette proceeded I had noticed that in the real tights DC had the edge even though he was on a less powerful bike that the rest of us. I also found that as it got intense, even though I work out on a regular basis, I started to tire and the K1 became a hand full -- a sure way to get in trouble if you press too long. His lighter K75S seemed at ease and I had to use brute power and "lay it low" experience to stay with him on the big K1.

With all this in mind I started to get a bike ready. As predicted by my friends I picked a wire wheeled 77R100S as the bike to start with. Why, you ask? Nimble, light weight, torque, and enough HP that if tuned and set up the right way can still get around better than any airhead they ever built. Nay sayers I'm sure, but just try and outrun one someday on your 81R100RS for instance -- he'll be gone and you'll be alone, as we you'st to say.

Even in the 77 R100S group there was one that is quite rare and it was called the R100S "Special" and came from the factory with 3.09 gearing and in mines case, a 336 cam. These were some of the first sub 13 second quarter mile bikes that BMW ever produced.

Thats where I started. I found one of these units with 56000 miles on it and simply took the bike completely apart and put it back together right, replacing and modifying where needed. New wheel bearings, new swing arm bearings, new steering head bearings, new rocker needles and shafts, new clutch assembly, new fork tubes, new slider insides, new tires, new electrics, and much more. I was determined to have a real sleeper that looked used and ragged but which actually would FFR. (flat fuckin run)

I went a little further because of the extreme curveyness of those roads especially in and out of Suches. I installed a fresh factory close ratio transmission so that I would have the right gear for the right RPM no matter what the situation called for. I also installed a set of Charles Axtell patterned 6 degree tapered megaphones which I knew would add 7 more HP and increase torque throughout as well.

I did much more to the bike tuning wise but basically ended up with a bikethat weighted just over 450 dry, had about 82 HP at the crank and 65 or so at the rear wheel. I tested and shook down the bike over a few weeks time  for final adjustments. It looked like a worn out dog of a bike but I putdecals over the cafe faring cracks to cover them up for that extra bonus "dogged look" and now I was ready.

The ride to the rally was great and I shook the bike down even more coming in from Clarksville on 197. Later that Friday afternoon I went out again,avoiding other bikes, to check it over one last time. From the camp site out to 76 then right on 75 and down to a right on to 180 and then on till a left on 348 (or some number like that) up and over Hog Pen Gap, down the other side to some little town, and then back the way I had come. The bike was ready. I had hard pull when need be and was geared perfect for these roads. I was geared for 117 mph at 7200 RPMs and it would get there instantly. Roll on in any gear was tractor like, with a flat torque, and the CR transmission offered me a gear for every curve, be it up or down, right or left. I was ready.

The storm hit hard that night taking the joy out for a while but this hardy group made the best of it. Camps were dampened but spirits were not and so as if collective Karma had prevailed, the skies cleared and the roads were ready for serious use by 12:30 the next Saturday mid day.

I had been in the Motel, gotten some sleep, had a buffet breakfast, met with the guys and had started to look around for some ride mates. Nothing caught my eye as many were recovering from the storm or were just not ready to go, or were planning to go ride the more famous roads like deals gap or the new "road to nowhere" parkway. I decided to just go out and see what was out there. I would kind of just ride slow on the little road to the camp from Ga.76 and look for the intense types. I grabbed on to the back of several groups only to find out that they were not the ones as we got into some of the corners and brake lights looked like neon signs down on the redneck Riviera near PC, FL. I would head back then, looking for what I could feel was there.

As I rounded a snake near the campground road I was met by two blurs that looked like they were drawn on the road and only about fifteen feet apart. I could not see the bikes much except to note they were oilheads, but could see clearly the eyes of the lead rider. They were cold steel transparent ice blue "gunfighter like" with no expression whatsoever. The eyes of the second rider were black dots of intensity focused on the road as if to burn a hole in it. They did not notice me at all as I was purely inconsequential to their purpose. Two bike followed them, another oilhead with a very small passenger and a K1100RS with a solo pilot.

I turned around at once. That was the group I had been looking for if those first two bikes were the indicators I thought they were. Off we go. They have turned on 75 south and it takes me about a mile to catch up to the last bike which is the oilhead running two up. They are moving and don't hesitate to pass cars, bikes or whatever when its safe. I fall in and watch them, seeing at once that the two lead bikes are not regular oilheads. Both have special exhaust, the lead one has red valve covers, and a weird looking fender. Sure enough they turn right on 180 and the pace begins to pick up. The front two never vary at all staying exactly three bike lengths apart and slowly begin to slip off. I sense the two up bike is being made slightly nervous by having someone behind them so at first safe chance I pass them and run up to the K11. He's going pretty good but in the tights has to slow and the two blurs up ahead seem to just be at perfect ease with it all and pulling away. I drop into third out of a sweeper and simply out pull the K11 to get pass him as he must have been in a higher gear than I.

The lead oilhead bike and his, stuck like glue, mate are only going fast in the curves and not trying to speed in the short straights. They would run up to only 90 or so in the short chops but then when they did get in the twistys they just stayed there at speed. I knew that this was a serious pair and we settled in to a nice run leaving the others far behind. On these roads you must stay close because if other bikes ever get a car between you and they then it can quickly be over and "slip away" becomes the name of the game. After a while they are very much aware of my being there and in my own ego filled mind I wonder how they feel about a airhead stranger being in their mist. On and on till a store suddenly appears whereas they pull off to the gas pump, start to fill up, and don't even notice me as I have pulled over about 20 feet away and do not dismount. The other bikes come up, they all talk, and we all look each other over. I should have gone over but did not, nor did they. The two lead oilheads were very nice. Both riders were on clean, beautifully prepared, 94 RS oilheads with D&D ceramic coated pipes, Carbon fiber front fenders, K&N filters, updated shocks, trick tires, SBS pads and the rest. I saw again the intensity in their eyes and manner, and begin to think that I had bitten off more than I could chew if, and when, they ever decided to let it out.

We take off again with me last but sensing what is coming I don't wait and power around the two other bikes at the first opportunity so as to lock step in again with the two blur bullets up front.

This is when the ride really started. They are no longer playing around and begin to take off on roads that surely they must know because the leader has no fear at all and eludes absolute confidence as does his mate. The roads are banked with all corners being blind, sharp, and often covered with pine straw and some rocks from the big blow the night before....... I am now having to use every trick I know to get a airhead around these horseshoes as the pace picks up and I try to keep close and in their view. These guys were good and I soon begin to wonder who they "really are" and just how deep into this was I really willing to go.

By now I am putting the 77 to the test. The only way to get around these type of corners fast on a old airhead is to be on the gas in the corner. You must use the jack up effect of the swing arm to gain enough cornering clearance to get around the curve and the only way to do that is to gas your way through. Proper frame tuning is a must as the G's build and I became very thankful for the long prep I had done. The deep knee bends were paying off as well because on a BMW twin you must put all you weight on the inside peg to get the lowest center of gravity while giving it the gas. If you ignore either of these two techniques -- down and off you go. Trailing brake to keep the suspension loaded and having the perfect gear and torque for every situation became my ace and I just hung in there no matter what they did. Often we would catch other bikes or cars and "steel eyes" would not even hesitate, passing at once when safely possible no matter where we were on the road or least of all what the yellow lines said.

He and his mate were perfect in this situation and I begin to believe that they knew I was having a ride of my life as I stayed within 50 feet of them no matter what the road did. When the intensity levels get that high your senses start to change. I could smell dogwood that I could not see, my eyes seem to be totally focused on the road for every grain of sand, stray rock, of patch of straw. Even through my "Hearos" ear plugs and above my open megaphones I could hear song birds in some of the deep switch backs. I begin to feel that these two guys were more that regular and surely must have had experiences that equaled of surpassed mine. Who were those guys?

By this time I was hoping for a slow camper in front of us, a roadblock, or a tempting BBQ place to slow us down or stop us -- no such luck and just about that time I saw the sign that said "Suches" 16 miles. Oh God, this is where they leave my ass I thought as we entered into very very tight stuff in and around that area. The 35 miles or so we did in that area were awesome and I was so glad that I still inflate my tires with Nitrogen because every lean now was putting a head to the pavement no matter what I did and tires got hot and glue like even in the 50 degree weather. They begin to let it out even more and at one point in the blind switch backs put a full 200 feet on me as I struggled to stay in touch and wished I had attached the self-designed small "parasail shoulder kit" to my jacket while I was still back in Tallahassee. I just knew that I was going to need it at any moment.

Just as quickly as it had started it was over. I was showing 145 miles since the 180 cutoff. The ride ended as we T-ed into a main road at some small town and we all parked to wait for the other two bikes that must have known of the preplanned route. In 15 minutes or so the one oilhead with the passenger would arrive sure enough but we never saw their friend on the K again.

As we parked I pulled off my Bell M3 and just blurted out "You guys are really fuckin good drivers, who are you?"

At that point things started to make some sense. "Steel eyes" the "Ace Leader", introduced himself as Frank Shockley and I knew at once what was going on. His friend and best riding buddy (it turns out) introduced himself as Joe Pomeroy. I recognized Franks name because after all he placed third in the pro-twins points chase at the end of the 91 racing season and had driven thousands of miles on race tracks all around the county. Joe had also raced pro motocross for four years and both were still active in vintage road racing. Frank is the General Manager of TOURING SPORT in Greenville, SC. and Joe is the Logistics Manager for the ALFMEIER CORPORATION also in Greenville and who build and design special fuel injection and management systems for serious German cars. How lucky these two companies are to have some true racing enthusiast working for them at the level where that kind of input really counts.

As we talked I noticed that I was showing lots of relief and was pure giggly with recounting the ride and all the excitement it had given us while both Frank and Joe seemed still a bit tense. Finally Joe said, "What did you say your name was?" "Jim Roche" I replied, -- his face suddenly beamed and he blurted "You're Dr. Curve! and Frank now smiling broadly looked down at the rear of my bike and groaned "Oh God, you're even only running stock shocks!"

We talked some more, got up with the other bike, all went and ate, and then separated to go home. I realized now that the whole time I was playing "Keep The Oilheads In Sight" they were playing "Lose The Airhead" and that together we three had made each others weekend.

Just another index of the enjoyment found by many at this just past, most excellent, Georgia Mountain Rally.

Thanks to all and please ask me back.

Best,

Jim(Dr.Curve)Roche

Bob Ryan, Steve Huber, Ted Verrill & Dave Meyer relax at the top of the Cherohala Skyway


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