Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Riding Again After the Snow, but There Was a Suprise Waiting

We had some snow in these parts, and that kept us all in for a while.  We here in the south basically hibernate when it is snowy or icy, but the temperatures have risen enough that the nasty frozen stuff on the roads around home has disappeared.

I check tire pressure, and the oil and coolant levels as I always do before a ride, and adjust the mirrors that had gotten bumped while the bike was in the garage patiently waiting to go out into the world again.

The temperature outside is in the mid-40s -- truly balmy by recent standards -- but I bundle up with fleece underwear under my leather suit, balaclava and neck warmer for my noggin, heated grips on high, and my Hippo Hands securely affixed to the handlebars so my pinkies won't freeze.

I get the feel of the bars again after a mile or two.  It is surprising how a few weeks of not riding erodes your skills.  Not a lot, but enough to notice in the first few miles.  I would hate to live where I couldn't go out on the bike for several months in winter.

I ride through Pickens, SC and on to US-178, along a stretch that has some nice sweepers to the north until you reach SC-11.  I take it easy, because there might still be sand or salt on the road.  Fortunately, I don't see any to speak of.  I could have gone faster, but how would I know it was clear before I went there?   Maybe I should just turn around and make a couple more passes.

I decide against it, as I want to see some other places I have not recently been due to the weather.

I notice little patches of white in a few places as I near SC-11.  Snow.  Not much, but it has stuck around here in the slightly higher elevations. 

I turn right onto SC-11, the Cherokee Foothills Scenic Highway.  Very soon, I see a surprise.  There is lots of snow along the road.  It is still five or six inches deep in places, but there is none on the road itself.  Wow!  That ice and snow started almost a week ago, and it has hung around. 

Soon, I turn onto Back Park Road in Table Rock State Park...

 ...and find lots of snow still on the road, too.  See for yourself. 

Table Rock visible above road

And there are lots of broken and fallen trees.  The ice that came before the snow caused this. 

I pass the barn with the old truck in it, visible from nearby SC-11. 

The red barn, center right, viewed from SC-11. 
January 6, 2015
The truck in the barn.
April 11, 2009
After I leave Back Park Road, I venture up into the park a bit further.  The road has a few tight twists and turns, but today, there is a huge amount of sand on the road, put there by the park maintenance people to keep people from sliding off it. 

I don't try to find out how much traction there is on the sand. 

The lodge is picturesque in almost any weather. 

The overlook gives an enlarged view. 

Pretty sky today, wouldn't you say? 

I meander around the area for a while, enjoying the skies, then head south toward home on SC-8 and SC-135.  These roads are not very curvy, but they provide a quick way home. 

Just 88 miles today, but it was good to get out once again, charge the batteries (the bike's and mine), enjoy the scenery, and feel the wind pressing against me. 

Maps to orient you:

■   US-178 from Pickens to SC-11
View interactive map.
■   Back Park Road
View interactive map.
■    Table Rock State Park east entrance road.
View interactive map.


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