Rides is a compilation of road trips and experiences mostly in the southern Appalachian Mountains. It’s a fun webpage for anyone interested in motorcycle adventure.
Call of the Wind
I very much enjoy the sense of spiritual freedom that I get from the highway wind and the reassuring feel of a solid two wheel machine supporting me. It rejuvenates and lifts my youthful spirit. Riding alone with my thoughts tends to smooth out the rough edges life can throw at you. It’s medicine that I highly recommend!
Riding with a group can be fun especially with riders that share the same safety goal and love for motorcycling.
Call of the Wind
feathers to the wind
past the clouds beyond our star
bound by earth but only so far
leans and scenes
riding with angels
metal and man
spirits as one
feathers to the sun
July 12, 2022 – Currently there’s four of us. We met in an Indian Motorcycle Riders Group (IMRG). We were a mixed bag of folks as usually is with motorcycle riders gathered in a group.
Brad spearheaded forming the IMRG at Alpharetta Indian Motorcycle in 2017. He recruited the rest of us to fill in the officer positions which quickly turned into a great friendship.
Brad is a retired successful business man, a type A people mover. Strong and easy to follow. Brad commands respect without making any effort. He’s as funny as he is tall.
Jerry was the VP. He christened our small foursome the “Wild Hawgs”! I haven’t seen the Wild Hogs 2007 movie yet but I believe we’re a parody of a parody. Jerry is another type A successful, but currently semi retired, business man with a lot of responsibility and another great sense of humor.
Jim became the second VP when Brad started another new chapter at Marietta Indian. He was behind the camera in the above photo. Jim is also a type A very successful business man currently semi retired. Jim is a Marine. I say “is” because there are no ex-Marines. He’s the oldest of the group. You’d never know it and you’ve never met a nicer guy!
That leaves me. I’m semi retired too but I’m not a type A. Artists aren’t types. We’re gap fillers, fitting in wherever we happen to fit.
These guys are easy to get along with as long as you don’t cross them. I love and respect ‘em all!
We got acquainted doing a lot of day trip riding in North Georgia. The Hawgs are all skilled conversational craftsmen. Except for me, I’m more the quiet shy guy of the group. I do occasionally get a word in edgewise. But I mostly enjoy listening.
Far and away, the most fun as a group is spending two or three days exploring the Appalachian Mountains from a Blue Ridge Parkway comfortable base camp like we found at the Switzerland Inn in North Carolina. The Inn is very accommodating and there are some excellent routes branching off the BRP nearby.
The Blue Ridge Parkway is close to heaven for motorcycle riders. Miles of curvy roads and lots of beautiful postcard scenery. Just keep a keen eye out for bears!
Riding is an awesome spirit lifting experience. I think the “Wild Hawgs” would probably agree that it’s the best one ever for clearing “cobwebs”!
November 2017 until October 2018 – This was my 2017 Indian Chief Classic… she got me back in the saddle after a 30 year motorcycle hiatus! This baby got me reacquainted with two wheel fun and got me singing again! But I only sang while cruising down the highway… so as not to annoy folks too much!
July 4, 2018 – It all happened so fast!… As I rounded a GA 136 curve near Burnt Mountain, there was an SUV coming from the other direction and a bear running across the road just in front of the SUV into my lane.
Fortunately my approach was from far enough away that I had plenty of time to react. (Keep in mind that when riding a motorcycle, you have to concentrate more on the road and what’s in front of you than details about the scenery… oh you do get views of the beautiful animals and greenery all right… but riding focus is primarily on the road).
I expect the SUV startled the bear and I’m pretty sure my thundering Indian approach was worrisome too such that the bear was running at a pretty hefty clip and jumped the guardrail onto a steep bank. He cleared the guardrail easily but I worried about him jumping what appeared to be so blindly onto what appeared to be such a steep bank. But since I know nothing about bear CPR and the possibility that he may have made that jump before (maybe he knew what he was doing)… I decided not to stop… Besides, I’ve heard that bears eat people.
September 30, 2018 – Fall is a great time to ride a motorcycle, especially in the mountains on the curvy roads amidst the “getting sleepy” forests and busy critters. You just have to watch out for the critters and be ready to brake at all times.
I get lots of enjoyable moments on my Indian and today was no exception. For the first time in my life, I witnessed a red tailed hawk attack almost head on from very nearly the victims vantage point.
The hawk was targeting something at the roadside with his eyes focused and talons about to be extended. The hawk’s attack and my approach put my head (helmet) nearly in his direct flight path such that I got close to a view of what his prey would see if his prey were to see him coming. It was so cool! (Cool for me that is, not the hawk)… I knew there were no vehicles behind me so I quickly braked and the hawk veered off so it was just an awesome view for me and an unfortunate distraction for the hawk.
This time of year you have to be especially aware of critters while riding or driving. It seems that I see more flattened critter bodies on the road this time of year than any other. So we should all ride and drive with a sharper awareness of the busy animals. They don’t have a built-in natural awareness of mankind’s creations. Deer for example, will run right into your bike or automobile path as if blind.
But always use good judgment when it comes to critter encounters on the road. Many years ago, I think it was 1967, my good friend Walter Smith died dodging a critter in his beautiful red and white 1958 Ford. I still wish he had made a different decision. While as many know, I am not very good about keeping in touch, it doesn’t mean I don’t keep friends close in my thoughts.
Ride safe, drive safe and enjoy the great fall weather!
October 2018 – This is my 2019 Indian Chieftain Classic retirement present to myself for all my years of working for a living. My dad rode an Indian before I was born so I expect he would have been proud of this black and cream beauty as my selection. Her color scheme reminds me of a police motorcycle so I named her Yona, the Cherokee Indian word for Bear, in honor of our public protectors.
This wind machine has three selectable ride modes; touring, standard and sport. It almost feels like I’m switching between cams! The throttle is fly by wire so the selections are actually electronic switches. Each mode has a different throttle response for engine acceleration and deceleration. I ride in standard mode most of the time but it’s nice to have the sport option for the twisties and touring mode for wet road conditions.
The motorcycle is well balanced and vibration free. The stereo sound system is techy awesome too! I was skeptical about having stereo on a motorcycle but it really works quite well. There’s plenty of clear volume to overcome the wind and engine noise.
One minor issue, the classic sweeping front fender induces a slight wind noise when leaning into the curves. It’s very minor and an easy trade off for the classic Indian styling. Indian offers other models with open front fenders.
Personally, I love the beautiful Indian legacy tailoring combined with the modern performance engineering. I especially like how her saddlebags and front fairing design were inspired by the early 20th century Art Deco styling of the streamlined locomotives.
My grandfather was a railroad engineer until he retired in the mid 1960’s.
Taking a break at Talking Rock … Yona and I are on an excursion to the Georgia Dragon AKA Suches Loop… not in a hurry and taking a long way around route to get there! – Pareidolia – In my right mirror I can see my guardian angel’s eyes! I am sure they are telling me to not make their job any more difficult than is necessary! You see, I had given them a run for their money in my younger days.
A bit unconventional but I mounted my daughters’ Guardian Bells at the top of my highway bar under the upper frame. I know we’re supposed to only have one and it should be mounted lower close to the road so the evil spirits will dispatch sooner. My first Guardian Bell was from my good Marine friend “Hippie”. Unfortunately I mounted it underneath too far starboard and it was ground down by the pavement from leaning into those right hand curves… I don’t know what the penalty is for defacing a Guardian Bell on the pavement… maybe I don’t want to know!
February 2, 2019 – Ball Ground, GA – Fun group chowing down some great burgers after a fun ride in the mountains! No bear sightings this trip though but the weather might have woke them up!
May 15-16, 2019 – Postcard Ride – This was more fun than you could shake a stick at! Five of us Atlanta Highway IMRG members rode up to the Blue Ridge Parkway and enjoyed the great amenities at Pisgah Inn!
And talk about views! I had as much fun off the bike as on thanks to the great group of riders I was with! A diverse bunch that all shared the goal of a good time and a safe ride. If you ever get the chance… you should ride the Blue Ridge Parkway. Every inch we experienced was a postcard!
Little Switzerland, NC
June 26-28, 2019 – If you’ve ever ridden the Blue Ridge Parkway you won’t be surprised to hear that I had an awesome experience. If heaven has roads for touring oriented motorcycle riders I expect they are very similar to the BRP. It’s so easy to ride and beautiful to look at… it’s also very much a stress reducer… it feels like it was designed for motorcycling. I am now spoiled and hope to eventually ride the entire parkway. It stretches in sweeping curves from the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, North Carolina to Shenandoah National Park, Virginia.
Topping things off the Switzerland Inn has a resident bear statue named “Ed”!!! How many bears do you think have my namesake?
Y’all know I like bears right? I was fortunate to see four bears while riding in the Georgia mountains over the course of my first year back on a motorcycle after a 30 year hiatus. That was incredible. Well I was seven months into my second year back and finally spotted a momma bear and her cub in North Carolina. As I rounded a curve about a half hour from the Inn I came upon a momma standing on the edge of the parkway. She was standing in my lane looking at me and then toward the short bank leading into the woods then back at me. That clued me in to look up the bank where I spotted the cub. I gave them a wide berth pulling my clutch in to quiet my Thunderstroke. No reason to stress a momma bear anymore than necessary. I very much enjoyed the close up encounter but wished I had a video camera mounted on Yona. Maybe next time I will!
While there are literally hundreds of thousands of motorcycles similar to mine out there… I chose to see a caricature of Yona in the cloud, front fairing and all, with little trailing puffs of cartoon engine smoke! I love this pareidolia. God is always telling us He loves ussee 1 John 4:16
August 6, 2019 – Jim L. and I rode up to Robbinsville, NC spending the night at River’s Edge Treehouse Resort and rode The Dragon. It was a blast! Such a beautiful road. I had to pay close attention to the 11 miles of 318 curves keeping an eye out for wacky doodles. We only encountered one crotchety rocket that went zooming past us. I stayed on the right side to leave him room. The Dragon was great fun! I hope to ride it again soon!
August 7, 2019 – Jim and I rode from Robbinsville, NC back home via the Skyway. What a beautiful motorcycle friendly road. Parts of it reminded me of the BRP.
Unfortunately we didn’t spot any bears on this ride but we did get to meet some at the Cherohala Skyway Visitor Center. We watched a video about the conservation efforts surrounding our wild bear population. It was very interesting. The most poignant point regarding the bears is that we should NOT feed them… no legs no arms… not even a crumb. Feeding the bears is usually a death sentence for them because they will quickly learn a too dangerous for humans habit and likely wind up having to be euthanized.
This is a picture of me and my new buddy Fred. I asked Fred where he got the cool vest but he wouldn’t tell me. Maybe I don’t want to know!
Murder Mountain & Diamondback
September 20-22, 2019 – Jerry, Jim and I headed up the Blue Ridge Parkway to Little Switzerland for a weekend of great motorcycle weather in the Appalachian mountains. Friday we had a fun uneventful ride up and ended the day with a relaxing evening at the Switzerland Inn.
I was disappointed that the “Ed the Bear” sign was missing but at least Ed the metal bear was still there! I asked around but no one knew what happened to the sign… maybe they removed it because it prompted photos of Ed the Bear’s behind… I don’t know about you but if I’m walking in the woods… that’s the end of a bear I’d rather see!)
Saturday morning after a good breakfast we rode out on to a local route called the Murder Mountain Run. It’s 114 miles of North Carolina and Tennessee mountain roads. It started out twisting through the beautiful highland forests on a perfect riding day. At Roan we stopped for lunch then we headed south on 143 toward Roan Mountain State Park. Unfortunately my GPS wanted to take a shortcut and steered us around the park. Next time I’m adding a stop at the park to the GPS route plan so we don’t wind up in that wacky shortcut. Dang shortcut got us lost! We eventually meandered our way back to the Inn for a great dinner and some good old biker buddy talk!
Sunday morning we capped off our weekend adventure by heading out onto the Diamondback… a popular 38 mile route with 12 miles of 190 steep climbing curves. The ride takes just a little over an hour and starts and ends at the Switzerland Inn where we were staying. After Diamondback we headed home via the BRP but detoured down 215 toward Rosman to refuel. 215 turned out to be good riding fun with lots of mountain forest lined twisties! We wound up going through the nice towns of Cashiers and Highlands on the way back. I can’t wait to do the whole trip again!
Left to right, Jim (Gadget), Ed (Bear), that’s me (how do you like my antlers?) and Jerry (Jammin)
June 7, 2020 – Yona and I rode to one of my favorite stops at Talking Rock Town Park. The rocks were exceptionally gabby today and kept making cracks about being stoned. Of course, I had no idea what they were talking about and wasn’t going to let them chisel me into a debate. So I kept my distance. Once you start talking to rocks there’s no turning back.
Blue Ridge Parkway 2020
October 6-9, 2020 – Gadget and I rode a fantastic four day trip up and back starting the BRP near Dillsboro, NC spending the first and third nights at the beautiful Switzerland Inn and Chalet Restaurant in Little Switzerland, NC and riding the parkway north to Fancy Gap Virginia spending the second night at the friendly, gorgeous and very comfortable Volunteer Gap Inn and Cabins in Hillsville, VA. The parkway forest was beginning to color and the weather was perfect motorcycle conditions. What a blessed Fall adventure in the mountains!
Gadget out front and my intruding fingers adjusting the GoPro riding the beautiful Blue Ridge Parkway in Virginia. Every inch of the parkway I’ve seen has been beautiful. There are some semi-rough road surfaces here and there but all the scenery is incredible. If you’ve never ridden the BRP you are missing out! Pictures and videos don’t do the high spirited first hand experience justice.
Back the Blue Event 2020
October 17, 2020 – A whole bunch of us rode a successful We Back the Blue motorcycle ride with stops at Smyrna Police Department, Duluth Police Department, and Hall County Sheriff’s Office in Georgia, USA – In appreciation and support of all our Thin Blue Line friends everywhere! We were met with likewise appreciation!
Back to Diamondback
May 15, 2021 – Jim, Jerry, Brad and I rode up from our Northern area Georgia homes for some weekend motorcycling fun in the North Carolina mountains!
Saturday was an all day trip where we rode from Alpharetta to Sylva, NC where we picked up the Blue Ridge Parkway the rest of the way to Little Switzerland. We stayed at the Switzerland Inn where the people are friendly and the atmosphere is open and hospitable. We greatly enjoyed their delicious food and comfortable accommodations!
The Inn is a great location to base from for riding the Diamondbackand Murder Mountain Run gorgeous mountain road adventures. Sunday we combined both routes for a great day of mountains and motorcycles. Our Indians were very much up to the task giving us a Thunderstroking good time!
Fall Foliage Fun
October 31- November 2, 2021 – I rode solo up to the North Carolina mountains to celebrate my upcoming 70th birthday!
Sunday I took a shortcut to Sylva, NC where I picked up the Blue Ridge Parkway the rest of the way to Little Switzerland.
My comfort accommodations were at the Switzerland Inn where, as usual, the people were friendly and the atmosphere was open and hospitable. I definitely felt a sense of covid recovery in the air.
Monday’s leisurely riding weather was perfect and traffic was surprisingly light on the BRP for this time of year. Riding the parkway, as always, was fun but greatly enhanced by the beauty of the fall foliage. Especially on my wet trip home. Tuesday morning’s BRP wetness gave the canopy a beautiful soft matte finish. God likes to “show off”, and it’s always to His creations’ benefit.
The trip went by fast. While riding was the main focus, I did manage to take a few photos.
Riding with Angels
My first motorcycle experience was on Lloyd’s brand new 1967 red, white and blue Honda 350. I was sixteen… I hopped on, twisted the throttle and rode it straight across the Dairy Queen parking lot into the rear quarter panel of my black 1959 Ford Galaxy 500. It put a hefty dent in my Ford and took the “new” right off Lloyd’s shiny new Honda.
Born to be wild
Maybe I shouldn’t admit it but I was a wild and crazy lead footed kid… like when I bought my first motorcycle… It’s a miracle I didn’t die. I was seventeen and it was a six year old 1962 Triumph Thunderbird 650. I was attracted to the high rise handlebar and intrigued by what promised to be roaring great fun!
Well the first thing I did was ride to Interstate 75 and open it up… I mean full throttle… to see how fast it would go!… Well, when the 120 MPH speedometer approached 100 it had begun to bounce so wildly that I couldn’t really say how fast I was traveling. There was so much vibration it was impossible to tell but I suspect I was doing at least 90… then the cool high rise handlebar (they call them ape hangars) spun in its two mounting brackets lurching me backward! That was a little scary… so I slowed down below the speed limit and gently pushed the handlebar back to an upright position.
I figure angels were riding with me! People die on motorcycles… mostly because of riding too fast for conditions.
I think that incident was meant to teach me a lesson… It did make a strong impression but the lesson wasn’t quite over yet. With the handlebar back in position I rode cautiously the rest of the way home. I made it to my driveway and as I slowly leaned into the driveway the left side of the handlebar broke at the mounting bracket. Fortunately, I was able to control my stop with the right side handlebar.
Turns out the handlebar was a bicycle handlebar which is less beefy and has a smaller diameter than the actual motorcycle handlebar. The handlebars had been rigged to fit in the Triumph brackets with shims (strips of thin metal to take up the slack). I discovered that the homemade metal shims had sharp edges and rotating had been cutting into the handlebar weakening the area where the bracket clamped the shim finally breaking in my driveway.
see Psalms 91:14
Please always use proper riding gear and only properly engineered accessories for your motorcycle. And above all, please ride safe.
That goes for all you cage dwellers as well… please drive aware and drive safe!
Code of the road
If you’re not a motorcycle rider you may have wondered why riders signal when passing each other on the road. This is usually a downward or side extension of the left arm or nod of the head if the left hand is busy. It’s a friendly and respectful gesture symbolizing that all riders are brothers and sisters.
I believe the spoken message would be… Congratulations, I see you’re still alive too!
Ed Caldwell (Bear)
Casting Art to the Net