We all made a last minute decision a week ago to start from TN, since we all were within driving distance from Tellico Plains, most of the TAT from Cape Hatteras to Asheville is pavement and we’ve ridden just about every track from Asheville to Tellico Plains. So the plan was to meet up at Wayne’s awesome campgrounds, Cherohala Mountain Trail campground on Friday and head out Saturday morning. There was a group doing an “off road riding“ class on Saturday, so we got the pleasure of meeting some awesome people both taking the class and teaching it. We “crashed” their party and ended up hanging with them until midnight!
Saturday morning came too early and packing one more time to make sure I had everything took some time (sorry Rod), but we got out on the trail and suddenly, everything was right with the world. The bikes seemed to all be working great and we were making pretty good time through the woods, creeks and back roads. We quickly got into GA and zig zigged back and forth from TN to GA most of the day. The dust was BAD then, got WORSE as the day went on. We took turns following but it really didn’t matter, it was thick! Some of the pretty rocky tracks got pretty interesting, causing a couple near miss get offs (yes Corey, we saw you!). Then about 1:00pm, I noticed a severe head shake with my bike, but not in the steering. The rally fairing/head stock was starting to shake pretty violently. When I stopped to check, thinking a bolt had worked lose or the clamp around the neck was lose, I found the bracket had BROKEN! The vibration caused the metal to fatigue to the point of total failure. So now what?? Day 1 and my fairing holding my lights, GPS, USB plugs, etc…is about to fall off! So we pop of the the Cherokee National Forest and headed for the closest town, Cleveland TN to look for a welder. After stopping 3 to 4 times about town, no one seemed to be open and those who were, no MIG welder.
Finally, Rod spotted a rundown looking shop that seemed to be open. We double back and pull through the high wire security gate. I roll up to the garage door and a 110lb german shepherd came bounding towards me at a full run, teeth bared looking like Cujo. Luckly, he hit the end of his chain right before hitting me and ripping my throat out!
So we got inside without being eaten and met the owner, Tim, who wasn’t too excited about about doing my repair. After talks of money, he decided to help out. And man did he HELP! This guy laid a sweet, tight bead of weld on the break like a pro, THEN we added some more braces, to completely stiffen the unit and hopefully keep it from breaking again on this trip. We paid him happily and thanked him for the help, jumped on the bikes and headed for the local KOA! That’s right, treating ourselves to swimming pool and showers on Day 1. It was SOOO frickin hot and humid, I think I lost 10 lbs just in sweat!
So Day one in the books. Major breakdown overcome and still did 200 miles… not a bad first day!