Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Winter View from the Wigington Byway

I went for a short ride last week.  Up towards Whitewater Falls again.

It seems that I go that way a lot lately.  Mostly because the road is in good condition, having been completely replaced, top to bottom, between North Little River Road and the North Carolina state line.  The road south of Little River Road is a good condition too.

The curves are all sweepers, and you can go pretty fast, though the speed limit is only 45 miles per hour.  Almost every bike I see when I go that way is pushing that limit, some by a considerable margin.

I will admit, it is easy to do. 

That road to the falls, South Carolina 130, is a good one for beginners just starting to ride in the curves, I think, and I have fairly recently ridden it with three other guys who were just learning how to ride.  You can read about those outings here: New Guys, and here: A Really New Guy.

In fact, it is one of the first roads outside our neighborhood that I took just five months after I started riding and having bought my Ninja 650R: First Trip to Whitewater Falls.  My discovery trip that day was exciting to me, having experienced my first destination ride.

When I go the same way, even now, I remember that newness and excitement of going there for the very first time.  

I wonder how many people feel that excitement and elation when they are in their cars.  I'll bet, quite a lot lower percentage than for those who get there on two wheels. 

Well, anyway, on to the latest ride.

I check out the tires and oil, and give the bike a general looking over.  Then I mount up and take off toward the north and west. 

Today, it is overcast, so the scenery was not very colorful, but the roads are clean, and the temperature is about 50 degrees F.  I am comfortable, wearing my winter gear.  There is not even the usual draft around my neck today.  Maybe I have learned how to seal up that wind tunnel. 


I first enjoy the curves of US-178 from Pickens, then less so the nearly straight SC-11 toward the west. 

The curves of the ten miles of route 130 between SC-11 and Whitewater Falls pass quickly.  I know that the falls parking lot is closed, however due to a wildfire here not long ago.  That fire was not connected to the Pinnacle Mountain fire I wrote about recently, but also occurred during the lengthy dry spell we had last summer.

I am a year-round rider, venturing out when temperatures are above freezing, but this winter has been a good one even for fair-weather riders.  There has been a lot less cold weather and only one snowstorm so far.  Some say we are in for more cold in a month or two, but I'll look forward to this mild weather with child-like eagerness. 

Instead of going to Whitewater Falls, I turn left a mile or so before that, onto the Wigington Byway.  Actually, this is part of what is known officially as the Oscar Wigington Memorial Scenic Byway.  It is only a little over two miles long, and connects SC-130 with SC-107.  There is no development along it whatsoever.

Bikers enjoy this short stretch because it has a few steeper hills and some tighter sweepers than 130.  A few go like crazy here assuming that the radar of those Highway Patrolmen doesn't reach here.

Whatever the case, I still take it easy. 

This road does have an overlook onto Lake Jocassee and the Bad Creek pumped storage lake.  This view isn't very pretty on some overcast days, but today, it has a striking beauty, I think.

Resting bike in front of pretty view
Click image for high-resolution version.
The almost monochromatic appearance off in the distance is quite beautiful, though the photographs don't do it real justice.

I think these unexpected vistas are part of the reason I enjoy riding.  I probably wouldn't come here as often in the car, because my car isn't much fun to drive on curvy roads.  But just getting there on the bike is fun, and can be exciting. 

And seeing sights like this is frosting on that cake.

I have been able to visit many different sights in the nine years or so I have ridden the motorcycle. You can read about many of them -- and laugh at some -- if you page back in this blog.

My two-wheeled steed of some 71 horsepower has, indeed, been an eye-opener for me to the beauty of the area near where I live, and I have met many different people along the way.  

What about you?  Is there a picturesque sight you have seen or an interesting character you have met during your two-wheeled travels? 

Friday, February 3, 2017

Clouds on a Brisk Winter Day

Yesterday, I went out for a few hours of riding.  We can usually ride all winter long here because of the moderate temperatures in South Carolina.

Although we certainly get cold weather, snow, and ice, it is usually gone in a few days, and the roads are once again calling to those who ride on two wheels.

The day's temperature started out in the mid-40s, so I bundled up, started the bike, turned on the grip heaters, and took off for parts unknown.  The weather was overcast when I first went out, so I didn't go anywhere that might otherwise offer a distant view, like the highest point in South Carolina, Sassafras Mountain, or Caesar's Head.

Instead, I just meandered around in the lowlands and headed for Poinsett Bridge.  That is an old stone bridge used by stagecoaches.  I have visited there many times, and it is a picturesque sight.

As I ventured along on my meandering route, I noticed that the clouds were not as gray, and that there were patches of blue scattered about.  Some of the blue was, in fact, brilliant blue.

And the clouds became a panorama of beauty that changed as time passed and as my direction turned.

I could hardly keep my eyes on the road, in fact, for all the sights to be seen in the sky.

See what you think.

Two crescents of blue

But still mostly gray

More blue

And still more

Look at the pattern of those clouds in the center

Looks like billows of cotton

Sand on the road ahead, left over from the recent snow

And another pattern comes into view

What a display!

Following a yellow Goldwing for a while

More variations

Little clumps of clouds

Table Rock beneath the clouds

The water tower in Easley, the town where I live

Low speed practice on an empty court

 I only rode about a hundred miles, but the sky was the best part of the ride today.  

God is certainly a great artist. 

Don't you agree?

More clouds: