Friday, May 20, 2005

Storming Mount Blood

At the Georgia border I pulled off 129 for a little pit stop. The planned route called for 129 all the way to Gainesville... and the little burg of Blairsville that I found myself in looked like a good spot to stretch my legs. I pulled into the little gas station... Picture perfect for the New South. Plenty of modern pumps... but there were still 4 rockin' chairs in the front of the store, and 2 were occupied.

I dismounted... said my howdies to the locals and answered the now standard questions about the bike. Like I said... Rock Star.

I picked up my provisions and meandered up to the counter... after I paid the lady, then I decided to play dumb and ask directions to Gainseville. I do this sometimes... just because I prefer to take the roads the locals take. They live here. They know the good routes. She confirmed what I already knew...

"Just follow 129 south all the way... Take ya straight to Gainesville... over Mount Blood."


Now... that got my attention.

"Mount Blood?"

"Yup... bout an hour south of here. The Mountain takes a couple every year."

I played dumb one more time..

"Couple what?"


Ok then. 4 folks have died on the Dragon already... and now apparently I've got another killer before me. What a ride.

Armed with this new info I decided to give the King a good once over. I checked and double checked the tire pressure. Tipped my hat to a couple 10 year olds who were starin'... and mounted up.

North Georgia was beautiful... Green... Rugged... Just like east Tennessee. I was fallin' in love to the music of of 16 valves per cylinder. I danced through the mountains without a care. The road was excellent... the scenery was spectacular... and God was smiling.

Not long after a quick jaunt through a little town square I found King's nose pointing a little higher... We had found the mountain. The first hint of something out of the ordinary went flying by in the other direction... a 10-speed bicycle... had to be doing 80mph... hrmm...

The two-lane widened to 3... two-lanes up... one down... and now came the switchbacks. Not tightly like the Dragon... We're not talkin' prom queen tight here... no... these were more like that dirty little girl down the street... Not the prettiest thing in town... but you know the type... Built for Speed... and Eager to Please.

Where the Dragon requires you to brake down to 15 mph... these were wider... with more room for error... more forgiving... more.... more fun? No... not more fun... but... more something... Maybe its more relaxed? You can enjoy it a little more because you're not on the thin edge of the knife the whole time... or maybe its just in my head.

Through S after S... switchback after switchback... I suddenly find myself being tailgated.... by a minivan. Are you kidding me? How was this possible? Was this idiot just dying to die?

I was riding in the far right lane... and I was flyin'... but this cat was on me like stink. It just made no sense... I let up.. and let the moron go by. Didn't take long to see what the deal was. The idiot was straightening out every turn... using everybit of both uphill lanes... and more often than not drifting over into the on-coming lane. Moron. No wonder the mountain takes a couple every year.

Even with his idiocy and my bike loaded down I could've dusted that fool... but why? These are roads. It's not a track. I didn't come here to roll down a hill or splatter my guts all over a tree.

Of course.. as expected.. for all his bravado blasting up the hill... he lost his nerve coming down. The "suspension" on the minivan was swaying all over and after saving itself once, when I was certain it was about to flip... the moron finally got the message and backed way down... but after that I decided that the risk of riding around behind the idiot was worse that the brief burst it would take to ditch him...

So... I'll take option two please...

He was no longer straightening out the turns... so in the next S I made the move. Lean hard left entering the turn... let the King drift out as I drop the hammer. King stands himself up just in time for me to lean into the right turn exiting the S and leave the minivan to steadily shrink in the mirror.

I found myself wishing I had a passenger... then wishing I didn't have all this luggage... then wishing I had more time... I found myself wishing I could just stay at this mountain.. just ride it over and over again... Ah but it wasn't to be... Gainesville was up ahead... and with it Interstate 985.. then 85... then on to Swanee and Darlin' Joy's townhouse... my wife... my boys... mmm.. and bourbon... yes...


Speakin' of Bourbon...

What day is it?

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