Rolled out of the sack at 8am, donned my UnderArmour, tshirt, jeans, fleece, chaps, jacket, fullface helmet, winter weight gloves and rolled out the Road King. The weather station said 32F and the wind was blowing but the sky was clear and the sun was shining. This is as good as it is gonna get for a while, so its time to put it in the wind, side stand up and turn onto GA 369.
369 is a pleasant two lane highway cutting across what used to be rural North Georgia before the urban sprawl brought the flood of big builders and subdivisions galore. Now it is a mixture of subdivisions, dilapidated chicken houses, an occasional cow pasture, and a good many PVC farms.
What is a PVC farm? When a developer begins a new subdivision, they perform a good deal of grading, creating streets, curbing, installing storm and household sewers, and putting in underground water lines. Before a single house begins construction, there is hundreds of green PVC pipes sticking up out of the ground about 3-4 feet high. The moniker "PVC farm" denotes this stage of development.
When the housing boom came crashing to an end two years ago, there were numerous subdivisions across Georgia SR 369 in this stage of development. They have been sitting in this state ever since.
I soon come upon a grey haired gentleman driving a 90's model Crown Vic behind a semi hauling feed. The older gentleman seems vexed by the slow moving semi. 369 is again, two-lane and there is not much opportunity for passing in these situations. Several times the older fella pops out across the center line to see if it is safe to pass and swerves back into his lane to avoid oncoming traffic. I put a few more car lengths between him and myself in case he has a head-on collision with this maneuver. He then drops the right side wheels off on the shoulder a couple of time sending a hail of small gravel showering behind him. I continue to give him lots of room to avoid being peppered with the debris.
Finally, we all turn onto GA SR 20. 20 is also two lane but on a few prime occasions, the Georgia Tech graduates working for the state Department of Transportation was gracious enough to install a few passing lanes. I have travelled this route enough to know where they are and can anticipate them. When we reach the first one, I move into the left lane expecting the Crown Vic to whip around the semi,. but the Crown Vic stays glued one car length off the back bumper of the grain trailer. I take the shot and quickly dispense of both the semi and the Crown Vic. As I pull back into the right lane, I check my mirrors and the Crown Vic still has not initiated a pass. As the passing lane runs out, I check one more time. Apparently, the older gentleman has gotten comfortable riding on the rear bumper of the semi trailer. Why was he working so hard to pass him when there was not a passing lane? *shrug*
Suddenly a gold minivan comes charging up the left lane as it is running out and stops accelerating as he is about up to my rear wheel. I look over twice and finally decide its my job to keep him from running into me when the lane ends. I roll into the throttle and put three or four car lengths between us. When I check the mirrors a quarter mile or so and the gold van is now 20-30 car lengths behind me. Weird! I continue to check on him in my mirrors. A couple of miles later, he turns into McDonalds. Maybe he was rushing for an Egg McMuffin?
A few miles later, I observe a truck sitting at a stop sign on the right side of the highway. As I approach, I continue to watch his front tire. I am thinking that he has been sitting there for quite a while, and he is gonna get itchy to pull out just about the time I meet him. Just as I was thinking, about two car lengths from reaching the intersection, he pulls out in front of me. I grab a significant amount of front brake, drop a few gears and successfully avoid a collision. As I begin to regain a bit of speed, the driver of the truck throws up his hand inside the truck and gives me a friendly wave as if to say "Thanks for not hitting the side of my truck with your motorcycle." I wonder what he would have said or done if I had not been expecting it and if we had collided.
(photo courtesy: greensboro.injuryboard.com)
SR 20 is an enjoyable motorcycle ride, as it heads West towards Canton there is a lot less urban sprawl and more acres of pine trees, rolling hills, and a few water crossings, and winding turns that are easy to maneuver. One has to stay alert because it is also prime deer crossing country.
(photo courtesy: postpessimist.blogspot.com)
Outside Cartersville, I pickup SR 41 and then SR 411 and head towards Rome. Yes, Rome was not built in a day. 411 is a four-lane state highway with a grass median divider. The country side is more rural with occasional used pickup and used Jeep dealers, older one story hotels, an occasional group of utility sheds for sale, and gas stations that seem to be from pages of yesteryear.
(photo courtesy: littleballparks.com)
My route into Rome takes me past the Rome Braves' baseball stadium and then Berry College which seems quaint enough. Not too often one sees a college sitting right next to a pasture with cows grazing.
(photo courtesy: city-data.com)
The purpose of my ride was to meet a few friends for a meeting at the Landmark Restaurant in Rome, GA. And, it was a pleasant find. A sparkling clean restaurant that reminds you of a diner from years gone by complete with a large glass case packed with pecan pies, cheesecakes, and lots of other scrumptious desserts. I had pancakes and eggs with copious amounts of coffee and was very pleased with the experience.
After tall tales and the general enjoyment of commiserating with friends, it was time to head home. The return trip was about 14 degrees warmer and reminded me why I enjoy riding motorcycles. I am thankful for sunny days even in the middle of winter.