Saturday, December 31, 2011

Sweepers Galore

Sweepers are today's topic.  No, not this kind of sweeper:

This kind:
(I'll tell you where this sweeper is later.)
In particular, this is an account of a day of riding an abundance of sweeping curved roads not too far from home.

About two weeks ago, on December 17, the weather was beautiful for a near-winter day in the upstate of South Carolina.  It was about 43 degrees in the early morning, and rose to around 68 in the mid afternoon.

Almost balmy, I'd say! 

I couldn't waste this opportunity to get out on the bike, since I hadn't been for a couple of weeks: Working man, here, you know.  I selected a place that had just appeared on the ADVRider Upstate South Carolina tag game forum thread, near the Georgia state line, at the southern trailhead for the twenty-five mile long Chattooga River Trail.

Another rider had grabbed that tag the day before, but I had not recently ridden over that way, so I went there just for the fun of it.

I started out from home on SC-93, then took the four-lane US-123 all the way to Westminster, SC.  The latter is a mostly featureless road, good for getting somewhere else.  I then branched off to the northwest on US-76.

Part way along 76 is where the sweepers begin.  There are quite a few, nicely spaced, here. The pavement is also very good on this road, and the traffic is not usually heavy. 

I am confused, however, by the curve advisory signs.  Many of them advise 25 miles an hour.  After a few of these taken at 40, I begin to make that my advisory speed instead.  Some of you probably could take them at much higher speed, but I am not very familiar with the road, and don't want a surprise.  There are also a couple of places marked with a reverse turn sign like this.
That implies two tight turns in a row...but there is nary a tight reverse turn to be found.  Odd.  This could make people disregard the advisory signs all together! 

I enjoy the ride with the easy turns all the way to the border with Georgia.  There, on the right side, is the parking area for the trailhead, my destination where the tag was.  There, also, is a place to put in to the Chattooga River for paddlers.

It happens that there is a group of four who are getting ready to go onto the river when I arrive.  They say that they are going to put in above Bull Sluice, and paddle the four miles or so to Lake Tugaloo, referred to as Section IV.  I naively ask if this is rough water.  One guy looks me in the eye, pausing as he is filling in the boater registration form (which is what they use to determine how many didn't come back alive), and flatly states that there are more deaths in this section of the river than anywhere else.


A few minutes later, I strike up a conversation with another one of the group who had put in at the beach near the US-76 bridge instead of further upstream above Bull Sluice.  Seeing my biker suit, he tells me that he used to ride a motorcycle, but these days he only does things that are safe -- like kayaking in class IV rapids.

Oh, again.  Am I missing something here? 

This is a picture of the prudent one, playing in the light rapids, waiting for the others in his group to come down the river from Bull Sluice.
I watch for a few minutes, but when they don't arrive, I head back up to the parking lot.  The climb is steep and I am laboring to get there.

I don my helmet and gloves again, then turn back in the direction I came.  I go to Academy Road and turn left.  Historic Long Creek Academy is a little way down this road.  This was a Christian school established in 1914 under the Beaverdam Baptist Association and the Home Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention.  It was one of six "mountain mission schools" in the South including four others in South Carolina.  The Academy once owned fifty-five acres.  The stately Sullivan Building (pictured below) was completed in 1917. 

The Academy closed in 1956, and the buildings are now considered historic sites and currently house the Chattooga Ridge Adventure Center, a whitewater rafting company. 

I wind my way back to route 67, then take Chattooga Ridge Road toward the northeast.  This road, too, has some nice sweepers, and is in good condition.  I turn onto Verner Mill Road to cut off a corner and get to the intersection of SC-28 and SC-107.

Well, here.  It is easier to show you the map of my entire ride:

View Larger Map

To orient you, we are at the intersection south of Pushpin "D."  There, I turn north on 107.  More sweepers and few tighter bends here.

I think this is getting to be a trend. 

On the right, Oconee State Park provides a place to rest for a few minutes, and is a great place to go for picnics, hiking, swimming, fishing, cabins, and camping. 

I turn north again on 107.  This road is a rather steady uphill with more nice turns.  (This is a trend.)  Uphill turns are easier for most motorcycle riders than downhill turns, and I am enjoying this smooth road, too. 

I pass Cheohee Road, also known as Winding Stair Road, a twisty gravel road I took a few weeks ago, then reach the Wigington Byway cut through.  There, I turn right.  I have written before about this very short road with a nice surprise part way along it. 

Today, as the surprise comes into view, my breath is taken away by the vista of Lake Jocassee in the distance. The light is particularly good today, but my photographs don't do it justice by any means.  I walk up the road a bit to get as close to the point of my first glimpse of the lake today as possible. 

A little closer:

Closer still:

After a stop at this fine overlook, I continue on to SC-130 and head a little ways north to Whitewater Falls.  I just stop here to rest a little, then head back south on 130.  This road has some very long sweepers, and the surface is mostly very good.  A bit of extra caution is required at the intersection of Wigington Byway and at one other intersection, also on a curve, further south, since there is not much sight distance at either one. 

By the way, as long as we're talking about sweepers, SC-107 continues north to Cashiers North Carolina and beyond with varying degrees of turns, as does SC-130, which turns into NC-281. 

Alas, when I reach SC-11, I must travel on this almost-straight road for about fifteen miles, to the Holly Springs Country Store at US-178.  There, I get a chance to make a few more turns before reaching home.  I turn in a generally southerly direction on 178, and run the sixteen miles or so back to Easley.   The section between the Holly Springs Store and Pickens South Carolina being the best.

(Remember that the section of 178 north of the store is very much twistier, and much loved by bikers here and abouts.  I don't go that way today because there may be wet leaves and sand in the shadows, and I don't have any more time to be away.) 

I have gone about 156 miles today on a range of roads from straight to mostly sweeping curves, with a few tighter places thrown in.

This would be a good route for the winter to keep away from the more difficult tight twisties. 

Try it some time. 


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I ride the same areas.I live in northern Spartanburg county.Hope to see on the road this spring.