Vita Rara: A Life Uncommon

Part VI: Cherohala Skyway Part II

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August 22, 2003: Cherohala Skyway Part II

After running the Cherohala Skyway with the guys last Sunday I can't get the road out of my head. I have to ride it again, particularly I need to run in eastbound. We rode it westbound on Sunday. So, I really have to see if it is just as good in the opposite direction.

So, I head up GA-60/TN-68 to Talloca Plains, fuel up at the gas station at the end of the Skyway and proceed to rise into the clouds. There are some huge cumulus clouds hanging low and threatening rain, but surrounded by huge tracts of blue sky. This is special. As I crest the highest point on the pass this huge storm cloud is lifting off to the east. Its tendrils clinging to the mountains, not wanting to let go. The sun is shining its rays upon the mountain, as if saying, "this is my abode, begone," to the storm. The air is pregnant with life. You can feel it; touch it; drink it in. This is magical.

I really truly love this road. The first ride over it I saw a family of wild boar, mothers and piglets, the cycle of life. The second time it was as if God was putting on a performance. The elements making themselves known.

People in cars don't know what they are missing. Today my riding is my mantra, my seating position my asana. Today my riding is a celebration of creation.

After finishing the Skyway I head up to Deals Gap. Some of the others who were at T.W.O. were heading up there. All of them had arrived before me. Not a surprise as I was the last to leave.

Deals Gap is like a Mecca for riders. It draws them as the moth to the flame is drawn. Seeing as today was not my day for pranayama I forwent The Dragon. I sat at the gas station and watched the parade of riders come to challenge The Dragon.

I eventually headed back over the Cherohala and wound my way back to Suches via Blue Ridge, GA to get a bottle of wine. I've defaulted to having a little wine in the evenings. It transports well on the bike, and there are no explosions when you open it like with beer.

On arriving back at T.W.O. I find it alive with riders. The main room is bubbling with activity. Great smells waft on the air from the kitchen. It's time for dinner. If you get to T.W.O. and the kitchen is open for dinner partake. GT and Brit know how to take care of people. The food is excellent, some of the best I have had in the South.

Late in the evening Hamp and his son Tad appeared in the common room. It was immediately apparent they were regulars. I got to know Hamp and Tad over the weekend. Occasionally you meet special people, Hamp and Tad are special people.

It was really nice seeing the common room and the porch come alive with riders. All of us there to commune with each other and interact through the medium of the roads the state of GA had painted upon God's canvass.

August 23, 2003: Saturday at T.W.O.

When I checked in to T.W.O. on Tuesday I noticed a picture someone had taken of the parking lot entitled "T.W.O. On Any Weekend." There are bikes everywhere. The place is packed. I hadn't originally intended to stay in Suches through the weekend, but after seeing the picture I had to see what the place was like on the weekend.

Well, Saturday morning, like in the movie "A Field of Dreams" they came. All throughout the morning riders rode in, hooked up with others and headed out for a day of riding. The program is meet, eat breakfast, ride all day, eat dinner, swap lies on the porch over a drink, repeat. It's like a event all the time.

I myself head out alone. This trip is really about me and helmet time. Me, the bike, the elements and my thoughts. I'm off my ride today. Things aren't working.

I ended up in Morganton and stopped by the Masonic Lodge building. They had a sign outside advertising a fund raiser luncheon. So, I stopped in. I ended up meeting a brother from Ohio who had been to my home town the previous weekend to attend the installation of a friend of mine as Master of Appolo-King Solomon Lodge. Here I was sitting in a small country Lodge in northern GA meeting a brother from OH who had just been at the installation of a friend of mine in my home town the previous weekend. What a small world. Thin threads, we are all joined together by thin threads of incalculable strength one to another.

After sitting with the brothers in Morganton and relaxing for a while it was time to ride again. I did a nice loop south on GA-60 to US-19 north to US-76 west to GA-60 south again back to Suches. I was back on my ride. It was great. I didn't want my last day of riding in GA to be a bad one, and it wasn't.

Daytime on the weekend is impressive at T.W.O., but the evenings are even better. People gather in the main room for dinner, and socializing. The porch is alive with people mingling and talking. It's a magical environment.