Saturday's ride: Clockwise loop from TWoS to Hiawassee, Franklin, NC, Rivers End Restaurant at the Nanthala Gorge and back via Morganton, GA and GA Hwy 60 to Suches. From TWoS we went up Hwy 180 over Wolf Pen Gap, left at 129 and picked up 180 to Owl Creek rd, and then to GA Hwy 75N. We stopped for fuel in Hiawassee. From there it was up Bell Creek Rd (continuation of Ga hwy 75 that turns into NC hwy 175, turned east on US hwy 64 to Franklin. Hwy 64 winds through some beautiful mountain scenery up to Franklin, NC
As Mark mentioned, all went well until things turned sideways in Franklin, NC. I failed to check all riders made it through a traffic light in Franklin and a few of us took off on state hwy 28, which is a twisties delight. We turned off west on US 74 toward Nantahala Gorge and Rivers End Restaurant next to the Nantahala Outdoor Center. The appalachian Trail crosses here and it's a popular location for hikers, kayakers and tourists. We realized about half our group was not behind us. After a few nervous phone calls the 2nd group, who had been rambling in some of the back roads near Tellico rd, finally caught up to us. We had a nice lunch at Rivers End restaurant. The restaurant overlooks the Nantahala River that is highly popular with the kayaking community. My blunder seemed to be taken in stride by the group, but the ultimate responsibility of a ride leader is to make sure ALL riders remain together and safe. Important lesson for me to learn.
After lunch we meandered through the gorge and beside the river. My plan was to cut off hwy 74 at Marble, NC to Brasstown, NC then back to Morganton, GA. But, I stayed strait through the scenic valley beyond Andrews into Murphy. We picked up Hwy 60 to Mineral Bluff, GA and over to morganton. Hwy 60 back to Suches is another twistie heaven, one of my favorite roads. We made it back safely and prepared for our cookout by the stream at TWoS. Other than my screw up the ride was beautiful. The weather was perfect and the company was warm and jovial.
Sharing some notes for those who may be interested. GMA weekend proved to be an outstanding event. Weather was perfectly dry and warm and lots of club members participated in road and off-road rise. Here’re “my” rides:
Friday morning: Home to TWoS. Ga. 400 North to Cumming then on to a gas stop in Dahlonega following the route that Iain used for a club ride earlier this year. Joggled through back roads to the NW of Dahlonega finally passing the R Ranch and picking up Ga. 60 north to TWoS at the Stonepile roundabout. 86 miles with 1 hour 45 minutes ride time.
Friday afternoon: Clockwise loop from TWoS via R Ranch backroads, Big Creek and back to TWoS. Led six club members on a relaxed route. South from TWoS then west towards the R Ranch and continuing on some of the same backroads that I’d rode in the morning but in reverse. Managed not to miss the narrow downhill blind left off Camp Wahsega Road onto Milles Berry Road but then nearly missed the easy left turn off Miles Berry Road onto Hightower Church Road. Paused to stretch legs at Jay Bridge over the Etowah River. Then onto Ga. 52 to Big Creek Road, the latter one of my favorite roads in the area, pulled up as we joined Doublehead Gap Road for a leg stretch and to remind folks that we were next going to traverse a 2.6 mile length with a poor and narrow road surface. That behind us meant joining up with Ga. 60 and heading south to TWoS. Very familiar territory. Did come across some slower moving traffic on the ride. One car on Ga. 60 towards the end of the ride was particularly slow, and slow to make a courtesy pull-over as well. None of which could take away from the wonderful roads, glorious weather and great company. 90 miles with 2 hours 15 minutes ride time.
Saturday: Was part of the road ride led by Iain, so look for that ride report from him or others. For me it was 194 miles with 4 hours 45 minutes ride time, but there’s a story in there for others to tell.
Sunday: TWoS to Home. Nothing special, but again some of my favorite roads. South from TWoS via Ga. 60 and US 19 to head southeast on Damascus Church Road, Town Creek Road and a joggle on few others to pick up the start of Ga. 284 at Ga. 115 towards Gainesville putting in a little joggle around Clermont just because I could. Turned southeast off of Ga. 284 (Clarkes Bridge Road) onto Pine Valley Road towards the RaceTrac just before I 985 for a gas stop, then I 985 etc. home. 90 miles with 2 hours 5 minutes ride time.
Maps and GPX routes attached.