Wednesday, January 18, 2017

25° then 75° in the Same Week -- So Ride When You Can!

The weather this winter in South Carolina has been fickle.  We had snow and below freezing temperatures, then, by the end of the same week, we had mid-70s temperatures and sunny skies.

A man doesn't know how to dress for the weather these days! 

The cold and snow certainly did cut into our riding time, but I guess I should be glad that for most of the winter here it is possible to ride, with the right gear.

Here are some pictures taken in our yard on an obviously non-riding day:

My wife's little garden pond.

I stayed in the house most of the time when the snow was around, since most South Carolina drivers have no earthly idea how to drive in it, and they don't have much snow removal equipment because we don't get snow very often.  They do scatter some sand and road salt around, though, to their credit.  The only bad part of that is that the sand stays on the roads for weeks afterwards creating quite a hazard for two wheels. 

Once the snow melted, the weather got summer-like, so I had to go out and make sure I ran the bike enough to charge up the battery.

Naturally that meant go for a ride.  Of maybe 70 miles or so, at least.  That should do it, wouldn't you say?  Don't want to kill that expensive battery, now do we. 

I start out from home and go northward on SC-135.  This is a easy road with only a few curves.  The riding is easy, and I make good time.  There isn't much sand on the road, so that is good.

I reach SC-8 near the thriving crossroads called Pumpkintown.  Just before I reach there (at point B on the map below), I can see Table Rock to my left in the distance.  It stands in stark contrast to the tree-lined hills that surround it.

Just look at the blue sky.  It almost looks like a painting.  In a way, it is -- God's painting, though. 

I continue on until I reach SC-11 (at point C on the map), the Cherokee Foothills National Scenic Byway.  This is a nearly straight road that runs along the southern side of the Blue Ridge Escarpment about 18 miles from Easley, SC where I live.  Lots of cruisers use this road, and the sporty bike riders use it to get to the many twisty roads to the north.

Here is a view taken from SC-11 of Table Rock: 

And a closer look from the road that runs thorough Table Rock State Park (at points D, E and F on the map): 

I go a bit further south on SC-11 to US-178 and stop at the Holly Springs Country Store (at point G on the map) to stretch and see of there are any other bikers there.  As I am surveying the parking lot, I spot a fellow I know, Tommy.  He is a few years younger than I am and rides a sport-touring bike.  Today, though he is in his cage and stopped to chew the fat with the locals on the porch at the store.

When I am through chatting with Tommy, I head back toward Easley on US-178.  They have recently patched this stretch of road, and they made it worse than it was as far as lumps and bumps.  They also created some edge traps where they replaced only part of a lane width.

That's our federal government at work.  In all fairness, they are not done yet, so I will reserve final judgment until then.  (...but I am not holding my breath.) 

Anyway, I reach the town of Pickens and head toward home on SC-8.  The DMV is along here (at point H on the map) and they have a motorcycle certification test layout in the back part of their parking lot.  I stop for a few minutes and practice my low speed maneuvers and lane changes.  I find that if I don't do this periodically, I get rusty and less sure of myself on the road when I have to use one of these techniques.

Here is an aerial view of the DMV.  See the test layout at the bottom, center of the photograph:

Here is a collage at the DMV of some GoPro screen grabs:

Makes you a little dizzy, doesn't it?

After that, I went home.  I only had time for this short jaunt of 69 miles, but it was a great day to be out on the bike. ...and the battery is now fully charged, I might say. 

Here is the map of the trip, less some of the meandering I did in between points:  

Click for larger interactive map.

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