Glad Georgia was on my mind

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North Georgia Mountains

 ” Georgia, Georgia….. The whole day through…. Just an old sweet song keeps Georgia on my mind. I say, Georgia, Georgia……. A song of you…. comes as sweet and clear as moonlight through the pines………..

-Ray Charles

 I love Georgia. It first started back in my bicycle racing days in the previous century, our team doing an annual timed double century (200 miles) event from Tallahassee, FL to Albany, GA and back during azaela blooming season.  Today, I’m still two wheeling it around Georgia, but this time with a motor in the frame. I have toured all over the state with the big Honda, from beautiful Jekyll Island as a checkpoint during Ed’s Last Resort 10 hour rally, to an  obscure airport in southwest Georgia where Charles Lindbergh took his first flight in an airplane, and nearby to President Jimmy Carter’s hometown. Ruth and I ride to Alpharetta, just north of Atlanta, each June, to participate in the Ride for Kids charity event for the Pediatric Brain Tumor Foundation. Speaking of Atlanta, we get our moto fix each winter at the International Motorcycle Show in downtown. No, we don’t ride. We take the car to do battle with Atlanta traffic.

But nothing in Georgia compares with the North Georgia Mountains, and this is where we go to recharge and ride the best motorcycling roads in the state. I haven’t been moto camping since Memorial Day three weeks ago (poor me), so when I heard Ray Charles crooning “I Got Georgia on My Mind”, I knew that’s where I had to go. This is also a recon mission, to investigate the re-opening of a favorite moto campground. Two Wheels Only, in Suches, GA, closed in 2010, to be re-opened last year with a new owner and complete renovation. Perfect. Weather looked good, gear packed and the beaST at the ready. Nine AM departure time was set. Georgia was definitely on my mind…………..

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After about four hours on the road, it was time for sustenance! With a 7.5 gal fuel tank, the  beaST is good for 300 miles before needing to feed. Not so this organic, high performance machine! Food, now! The planned stop is in Dahlonega, GA, at Riders Hill, a great motorcycle all in one destination: food, service, new bike and apparel showroom. This place is the bomb! It is also the biggest dealer in the southeast for my favorite Italian motorcycle marque, Moto Guzzi. The cafe serves up pretty clean food for very reasonable prices.

Good food, cheap.

Good food, cheap.

Situated right at the doorstep of Georgia Hwy 60, it is the perfect place to rest up, fuel up, and get ready to tackle the first of six mountain passes; The Wolf of Wolfpen Gap. Check it out:

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Italian motorbikes hold a special place in my heart. I like Ducati’s, but Moto Guzzi’s, ahhhh……….. I am a Guzzisti at heart. So when I saw this line of Guzzi’s in the showroom, well, my tongue is still sore from dragging on the floor.

A whole row of Moto Guzzi bikes

A whole row of Moto Guzi bikes

I fell in love with the Moto Guzzi V7 Stone from it’s inception. Here is the basic, modern iteration of this classic, sexy, Italian motorcycle.

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Other Guzzi photos from the showroom floor:

Click on image for large view, caption and scroll

Belly full and my inner Guzzisti satisfied, it was now time to “run the gap”: Wolfpen Gap. GA Hwy 60 twists and turns as it climbs up through Wolfpen Gap on its way to the small, and I mean small, hamlet of Suches, my destination for the evening. Only fifteen miles away, but fun twisty, curvy, tarmac until you reach the top. Wolfpen Gap supposedly got it’s name from the many wolves that roamed the area over a century ago.

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The ride up is fantastic. Near the top I have to slow down as I come to the trailhead for the Appalachian Trail. Yes, the AT passes right by Suches through Wolfpen Gap. The parking area is always crowded, so one must be diligent at this point, watching for cars pulling out and hikers crossing the road.

Coming down the other side, I cruise into Suches and my camping destination: Two Wheels of Suches, or TwoS:

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The old Two Wheels Only was a favorite campground of ours when twisting through the mountains of North Georgia. It had a swimming pool (now gone), was heavily wooded (now less so), with beautiful wildflower gardens (no more). I didn’t know what to expect, so I tried to keep an open mind to the change. One thing that immediately got my attention was the extended, paved drive in the entranceway, thankfully. Entering down a slight incline onto gravel is now made much easier by the extended pavement.

Parking in the parking area, I dismounted, stripped off my riding gear, and walked around the grounds, camera in hand. I was pleasantly surprised. The new owner did a really good job with the grounds. He had even purchased some surrounding property to expand the campground, plus add cabins and a new bath house:

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The change to the buildings was just as impressive. New paint, new cabins, and a sorely needed new bath house was built. The interior is beautiful, warm and comfortable. Large sofa, fireplace, and big screen TV to watch moto videos or Moto GP racing. Breakfast and lunch is served all weekend, with dinner on Friday nights only, for now. The porch chairs can be used stationary or as rockers. Impressive.

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After checking in and setting up camp, I was looking to take a short, but curvaceous ride before dinner. But, not long after zipping up the rain fly on my tent, the rumble of thunder started, temps dropped, and the wind kicked up. Yes, a typical late afternoon southern summer storm was blowing in. I walked over to the porch to wait for it to blow over, and started up a chat with a fellow Honda man from Biloxi, Mississippi. Since Roo and I will be traveling through his home state come October, I grilled him with questions about traveling there. He gave me lots of great tips and places to visit, including looking him up if we come through Biloxi. That’s just how motorcyclists are!

After about 45 minutes, the storm blew by, doing nothing more than spitting and making lots of noise. So, I geared up for a short ( 35 miles), but exhilerating ride before dinner. Mr. Mississippi man got on his big Gold Wing and was headed for Chatanooga, TN tonight. I got on the beaST and headed for the curviest road in Georgia; Hwy 180, Wolfpen Gap Road.

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The two curviest roads in Georgia!

My route includes Hwy’s 180, 129, 19 and 60. There’s not any twistier sheets of tarmac in Georgia. Wolfpen Gap Road is very technical, with 10 MPH speed limits on some curves, Hwy 129 is a twisty, two lane secondary highway that descends down Blood Mountain. What a blast passing cars in the curves at speed as you lean way over and giving them a wave! Hwy 19 is the only road where you can sit up and catch your breath as you pass through beautiful countryside, then once again up Hwy 60 through Wolfpen Gap twisting and leaning back to Suches. Low on mileage, high on FUN FACTOR!

Back in camp, I bed the beaST down for the night, shower, and cook my supper over the camp stove. Open a bottle of Little Roo Chardonnay (no kidding-it’s Australian), and head to the porch where I strike up a conversation with fellow moto heads from Boston, no less!

Up early on Sunday to a beautiful morning. Got everything packed up and loaded on the ST, ate breakfast, and after a last cup of coffee and chat with other motorcyclists, I pulled out of TwoS to begin a wonderful 4.5 hour ride home.

I was very pleased with the transformation of this favorite campground. It had an air of familiarity (camping there for 10 years), but also a great sense of newness. I like it! Glad it’s back up and running.

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2 thoughts on “Glad Georgia was on my mind

  1. Great report and it was awesome running into you on the way over. We stopped at Two Wheels and had lunch tree, was pretty good and then on the way back to Greenville we stopped at Riders Hill for Ice Cream. Glad to see you had a great time. – Duke

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