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Cherahola and beyond.


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As David so eloquently wrote, we parted his home a little after 6am, slabbed it to Monteagle, on I-40, for some breakfast, then more slap to just beyond Chattanooga. Never got above 90 MPH. I'm thinkin' this is kinda boring for the ol' RT. Then we exit I-75 at Athens, travel Hwy 30 then head south on Hwy 39. Suddenly David disappears. He's up and gone! I think I catch a glimpse of him about three curves and maybe a hill or two in the distance. Chad is trying to catch David and I'm so in awe of watching these lovely RTs that I nearly forgot what I was doing. David definitely be one fast mofo!! (similar to fast mofo Tom Roe). 39 is a genuinely beautiful stretch of highway. It would be fun at or around the speed limit. Watching David and Chad, I missed the whole road but on David's suggestion, I revisited it. Hwy 39 T's into Hwy 68, at Tellico Plains and the Western end of the Cherahola.


After beverages at the local BP, we hit the Skyway. The weather was glorious! Lots of other bikes out but not so much as to have caused any sort of a crowd. David sets a nice pace, again followed by Chad, then myself. While a somewhat spirited ride and we have to pass a few cages, no parts dragging or anything like that. Gentle sweepers, unbelievable scenery and cooler air as we climb in elevation to just over 5,000 feet.


We went around one that kept on going round, tighter at the end and my fanny gets to twitching. What a turn! Right hander, uphill and around, right past a scenic lookout on the left, then around some more and the road starts to go downhill before this right ends and the road goes back to the left. Down it goes onto a bridge then back up to the right, still going uphill it slowly goes left, past another scenic lookout on the left, then right and sweeps back left and downhill. It was here I saw Chad coming out of the tightest part of this turn... no wait it tightens a little more on exit... I'm watching his rear tire move toward the white line on the outside of the road. Then over the line. I'm thinking, turn it tighter Chad. This seemed to take several seconds. His rear tire broke loose and then, the front. Lots of dirt in the air and as it looked like he was going back up on the road, the bike seemed to jump on its side taking Chad down with it then it flipped over horizontally onto its other side and right on top of Chad. Looks like they slid approximately 50 feet down the road that way.


What an awful thing to witness! My first thought was that David may not have seen this so I instantly thought to honk my horn to get his attention and know my left turn signal (the only thing my finger reached) wouldn't be sufficient. David was right on it though. He rushed back up the hill to leave his RT, with emergency flashers activated, to warn others of the danger ahead then back with his first aid kit.


I rushed to Chad but by the time I got there, he had hopped up already, adrenalin cursing through him. While he got loads of road rash and a really nasty gouge in the back of his knuckle (cartilage and bone I suspect, was that "stuff" we saw), his injuries were surprisingly minimal after all that had just transpired.


Since David wrote such an outstanding report covering Chad's accident, I'll not comment further on this except to mention a few things. First, if you are gonna have an emergency, David is a really good one to have there with you. He's a "take charge" kind of guy, his humor kept both Chad and myself in stitches (no pun intended). He's wise and thorough. Thank you David! You truly helped us all through a most unpleasant experience.


I'd like to commend the wrecker operator (part time) who is also one of the local sheriff's deputies. I also wish to speak highly of the North Carolina Highway Patrolman. These guys also had some really enjoyable senses of humor, were genuinely concerned and more helpful than anybody has the right to expect.


I must second David's opinion of the Joe Rocket gear. While the Phoenix pants' shredding to nothing wasn't a complete surprise (not much to them anyway) but the Ballistic Jacket is their top of the line. Turned out that this is just a one-ply garment. Their is some armor but once the coat shredded the armod piece nearly came out anyway. This was how Chad received his road rash on his shoulder. Tore right through there and in several other places. I think an item such as this should have held up much better. The gear definitely protected Chad. I personally think it would have protected him better had it been manufactured to higher standards using better quality materials. I too have a Phoenix (or actually mine's their Reactor). I've not worn mine yet and hope I can return it. I've lost all faith in it after Chad's mishap.


Lastly, I want to speak of Chad. What a guy! He went through a dreadful experience. He bore it up quite well. He sat still while Dr. David aided him firstly. He listened attentively as he and David chatted the sequence of events over, acknowledged and agreed with David. He kept his spirits high in spite of a near disastrous experience.


At David's suggestion, I headed toward home as I'd probably just interfere with getting Chad settled away in North Carolina. So I went back to the west and drove in a manner consistent with one who had just seen what I had... low and slow. I grabbed another Gatoraide at the same BP, then up 68 and left back on Hwy 39. I was right. David was right too. This road is magnificent at or near the speed limit. Gentle hills, lovely sweepers on this heavily shaded road. It was a very beatiful stretch of highway. I followed David's suggestion a bit further and went north by the Watts Bar nuclear power facility. What a monster! and right there on the Tennessee River too. Nice road. Lovely scenery. I'm feeling a bit better. Then I get on Hwy 68 North to 70 West. Then home.


While I rode, I had plenty ot time to revisit the accident and the day's ride, both before and after. I thought about "What type of riding do you like to do?". Well I think I covered most of it today. Following David and Chad down 39, I knew there was no way I was going to catch those two unless they slowed down a bit. So I didn't really try. I enjoyed the road and the backs ot their bikes whenever I was lucky enough to view then rounding that third curve beyond me. The RT is a magnificent beast while being driven with a fierce hand. I had to remind myself to watch the road and not them. The long sweeper mentioned (way) above had me uttering to myself "whoa shit" and more than once I suspect. All in all, we didn't push the bikes that hard, probably only a little bit as much as these boxers enjoy. I may have pushed my personal envelope a few times during the ride but remained somewhat, within my limitations. If they got ahead, I knew I'd eventually catch up and it looked like we had a pretty good ride going, each of us relatively comfortable, though probably way slow for FMD (Fast Mofo David)! It was a fairly spirited ride. It was as I love it. While I enjoy discovering and reevaluating my limitations, I don't necessarily wish to discover the limitations of the RT. It's better than I am. I don't want to outgrow it.


I enjoyed some more scenic travel on the way home when I turned off 70 West onto Hwy 58 East (North) and toured around Center Hill Lake then finally entering I-40 West I enjoyed some fairly high speed travel as I put it on about 90 mph (this is not an admission of guilt) and remained there until exiting near Nashville.


I had a very nice variety of roads and speeds this day. I had a day filled with beauty, near tragedy and comraderie. As a result, I had a day to seriously ponder many things.


David, you FastMofo you, thank you for setting up the Nashville ride day and I truly appreciate your helpful ways, your sincere suggestions and your "Dr. David at the ready" mode of operations.


Chad, heal fast and heal well friend. I enjoyed the day with you and admit that you scared the shit outta me! Thankfully you weren't hurt worse.


Let's do some (but not all) of this again some time.

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Glad you made it home, Mike. It was good to have you there, too. A pretty cool cucumber you were indeed! I just keep thinking about how bad it would have been if Chad had been critical. There's no way an ambulance would have gotten there fast enough.


Thanks for talking through your trip home. It was nice to relive parts of those roads. It was nice to get your perspective on the whole thing, too, since we didn't talk after we buttoned things up and I followed the wrecker while you retraced your steps.

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Just behind the BP is a small restraunt called the Telli-halla. Real good food at reasonable prices. It doesn't look like much from the outside, but it's real nice inside. Also you should ride 68 south next time your in the area. Most of the curves are not marked, but can be taken at the speed limit. If it says "slow", it's a pretty good idea. You can take it to the Okoee scenic drive which heads west toward Cleveland. Sorry to hear about the mishap. Hope Chad and his bike heal fast.

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Aw man...that just kills me. I wish I could have ridden home that way, on my RT, with the breeze blowing me. I've said it many times, but it's worth repeating. I was riding WAY over my head. There were some stretches of the road where David would round the corner and by the time I got to the corner, he was gone. Nowhere in sight. I'd pour on the power in the straights trying to gain ground where I could. I wasn't enjoying the ride, but trying to "win" something utterly stupid...pride.


Hindsight is 20/20 friends, and if I had it to do over, I'd have told David and Mike to meet me at Deal's Gap Motorcycle Resort and taken my time. I'd never been there before, and there were several overlooks I wanted to stop at to snap some shots and read the little signs they always seem to have there. I'm a sucker for those things as I love local history.


Sure, I like to go fast, but only in a straight line where I can see. 120mph on the slab...I'm comfortable. 60mph in a tight bend...well...evidently not.


Not one time on the entire ride did I get tired or saddle sore. The RT is just an awesome machine. Sometimes the RT seems like it's alive. After breakfast, she refused to start. I had no RID activity. I pulled the fuses and reinserted them, and the got the bike to start. An omen? Maybe. The bike has never done that before. She sure was running sweet that day. I'd just put synth in the trans and diff, and did 6000 mile service the week before. The bike was running better than ever. I can't tell you the feeling I got today when my RT was rolled off that trailer. I almost wish I hadn't lived (no really, but close). It was so sad I really had to hold back tears. I am still upset by it. I want so badly to ride again, but it took me 12 years after my last get off, and it may be that long again. I won't get back on a bike until I feel like I can handle it mentally. Meaning, mentally able to ride within my limits and not feeling like I have to prove anythign to anyone.


I'm still kicking myself for what I did. I had plenty of time to make that corner, and just didn't do it. Mike was right. It was seconds it took for me to drift wide. I even recall thinking to myself, "oh no, I'm going to run off the road...nope...I've got it...."<wiggle> <wiggle> <wiggle> <crash!>


What felt like maybe the time it takes to snap your fingers. I was standing up...surveying the damage in disbelief. Not anything I'd like to do again.

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