How many times have you heard that old phrase, "Different Strokes for Different Folks?"
For me at least, it's one of those things that I can think "okay, yeah sure" but not really grasp it. It's not until you can set your opinions and agendas down for a bit and back away, that you can truly see the gem of truth in this old cliche.
The plan was simple: 3 friends, great roads, KSL, and maybe some good food if we were lucky.
Last year's KSL was a blast. Relaxed and laidback, but rainy and cold. The weather looked a little more promising this year, but as always in the Smokies, you've got to roll with what you're given.
The group included myself, on the VFR, my friend (and co-worker) on his Ninja 300, and my cousin on his Magna 750. We set out at about 2:00 PM Friday afternoon, Since we didn't have a ton of lolly-gagging time, we slabbed it up on I26 and I40. It was a pretty uneventful ride, thankfully, since it was my friend's first time interstate traveling. He has been riding for about 3 months, so we were a bit nervous for him. We took plenty of breaks, because my cousin's back was acting up and the seat on the Ninjette was not exactly suited for 300 mile slab stretches. Before we left, I swapped my stock seat for the replacement stock seat I bought as a spare to send to Seth Laam. It ended up being much more comfortable, keeping me from squirming for at least 200 miles.
Fuel and hydration break
We rolled into KSL shortly after 8. After catching up a bit with some familiar faces and some new ones, we hit the bunkhouse for some R&R so when the twisties called the next morning, we could answer.
It was good to see Dubb, Jspringator, Robbie, Mo and Bobby again. Glad to get the chance to meet Z1BEBE and slmjim on their beautiful blue and red Nighthawks, Mike, and Ninjarocket. Hope to see you all at KSL again next year!
Morning rose, and we wanted to hit the Dragon before it got swamped, so we headed out at about 8:00 AM. 28 was fantastic as always.
Fun was had by all:
This ain't your uncle's cruiser...
Gotta work on the body positioning, but he did great for his first time in the real stuff.
I had a bit of fun too...
After a light breakfast at the Dragon Lodge, we hit US 129 South towards the Cherohala. Fun roads as always, the Cherohala was wonderful!
They agreed with me, the Cherohala beats the Dragon hands down for enjoyment.
Rolling into Tellico Plains, our tanks half full and our stomachs straight empty. I did what I like to do when I fuel up, ask a local for eating advice. This particular Tacoma pilot pointed us in the direction of the Tellicafe.
This is my Telliburger. Very good, but the sweet potato fries blew me away! Normally I like variety, but we all ordered the same thing this time. No regrets. None.
Wanting to try something different, keeping in mind a forecast of storms at 4PM, we headed south out of Tellico Plains on 68 till just above Turtletown, where we caught TN 123 / NC 294. On an interesting note, we rode within about ten miles of where I purchased my VFR back in December. 294 could have been a fun road. Could have been, I say because we were stuck behind a Sam's Club semi truck the entire length. I would have loved to dip into GA and ride 28 up back to KSL, but the plans were to ride 28 home, and the cousin's back problems were flaring up again. We ended up riding US74 up to Topton, NC, then US 129 back to KSL.
After a nap, (man, sometimes I feel older than these 24 years) we awoke to the smell of Bobby doing up some ribs. After shooting the bull with the group, the day of fun was over.
Sunday morning began with a coldish rain. Not a problem for two of us, but my cousin has no rain gear and wears a half shell helmet with no front fender on his bike. After bidding farewell to Mo, Bobby, and those remaining at KSL, we turned left onto 28 and rode off into the rain. We finally outran the rain about 50 miles out. We stopped for breakfast at good ol Huddle House where the unhealthy little guy on my shoulder ordered chicken and waffles.
We elected not to take 28 the whole way home because of the radar, instead slabbing it home. It was a great trip, a safe trip, a short trip. The new guy had a ton of fun, was open to advice, and rode within his means. Regrets? I wish I could have ridden with Dubb, Springator, and NR. I wish we could have ridden 28 home, but really, safety took priority, and the road's not going anywhere.
Back to where I started: different strokes. I found myself thinking about this a lot this past weekend. When we parked at the Tail of the Dragon Lodge and walked up to Killboy's shop, we came back to find ourselves parked in by the largest group of Honda Elements ever seen outside of a Honda shipping yard in 2006. I caught myself wondering why anyone would join a Honda Element club, and even then, why they would meet at the Dragon of all places? Then it hit me, the Dragon is for enthusiasts, not just for VFR riders, not just for Harleys, not just for all the GT-Rs running around on Z week, but for enthusiasts of any sort. We all take different approaches, but we all strive for similar things. We share a passion: the road, friends, food, and the pursuit of happiness, however we accomplish that. Embrace this thought and it makes a world of a difference how you view others on the road. It might even make riding down a twisty road following a dishwasher (sorry, Honda Element) at 5 under the speed limit a little more tolerable.
Ride on friends!