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298 miles on a DR400s? What butt? PIC HEAVY

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Yesterday the weather was fantastic so Nitrospazz and I put down 11.5-12.5 miles in the kayaks along the river off of 129 (Deal's Gap). Great day, worked out the arms, had a blast, watched the Buggattis and Ferrari zip by. No sweat. (see Killboy.com for the Bugs)

Today the weather was even better. What did I do? 298 miles (should have gone around the block to make it an even 300) on the DRZ400s on virtually every kind of terrain in the area. Short run on the interstate to get to the highway to get to the back roads to get to things that might even sorta count as a road... Trails? Check. Things that were trails 20 years ago? Check. Tree hopping? Check. Clearing out sixty-two point five zillion spider webs? Check, complete with lightly glistening jacket.

Toward the end of the adventure I came back up by way of Deal's Gap and stopped for a break at the overlook (butt on a DRZ seat for 250+ miles sort of demanded it). Trip was up there on his sweet GS so we chatted for a bit as the sun sank behind the mountains.

I followed him out toward home with his nice bright GS leading the way..and drawing every stupid bug in the planet into his wake! The upside, natures pest control was in full swing. You guessed it, bats. Lots of bats. Everywhere there were bats. We watched them at the overlook and then along the lake. I saw one large juicy bug in my headlight just as the bat snatched it from in front of my face. The seocnd bat, however, got a nice thump off of my shoulder. I hope the little guy is okay. Not two minutes later I had a possum (?) become a speed bump right in front of the Harley place on the lake. It must have seen the prices of gas and put itself to sleep???

I will get into the pics in a few minutes. Trying to see if there is something soft enough to sit down on! :thumbsup:

Here we go:

Started off early and figured I'd be out for about 100-120 miles or so. The weather was fantastic to say the least! Today's ride would have a few purposes; delete whatever remained of the old knobbies, relax and enjoy a solo run with no solid destination or time frame, and to see if there were a few good camp sites and kayak put-in's. I think I accomplished all the above. :confused:

Grabbed the back pack, some trail mix and gatorade and fired up the trusty DR. Hopped south on the interstate to 129 and started meandering some back roads down to Vonore where I topped off with gas.

From Vonore I turned onto 360 and started exploring, literally, everything on the left side. If it had a road, I took it. A trail that didn't look like private property it was fair game. Found a few bleah spots, a few interesting ones, but nothing to come back to yet.

After a few false-leads I ended up on several roads that paralleled the lake. One of the sections had a nice little knoll so it was my first photo stop. (I learned an easier way to mount/access the camera later).


It was clear with a few random clouds and a feint breeze that kept the bugs down and it may be the ridiculous price of gas but there were hardly any boats out yesterday.


The steed of choice, '07 Suzuki DR-400s. A perfect bike to hit virtually ever kind of terrain, road, trail, etc.


Farther up the road it branched off with a parking area for a nature hike so I took a short walk. The scenery was great, the bugs a bit more active, and the cat tails growing by the thousands! I can only imagine that at night the sound of the frogs would be bordering on deafening.


Back out onto another kind of road, looks like someone used a bit of tar and pressed gravel. Anyone got a WRC car? :worthy: Rabbits were hopping back and forth pretty regularly between the woods and water.


Hung a left to explore what looked to be a peninsula on the GPS and was rewarded with another largish swamp area. The trail kept going and so did I. A few grassy trails and then it looked like someone tried to drive this area when it was wet.


Not a problem with it dry though a pair of snakes went from the field toward the bushes as I was putting the camera away. They actually went right under the bike. Not sure what they were, but likely just black snakes. I'd see a few more before the day was done.


And that grassy trail actually T'd off, so it was time to explore the other side. I'd sit around and talk turkey with the toms that were hanging out there, but that would be a bit too punny. (yes, pair of big turkeys were munching things alongside the grasses).


The trail, albeit short, had a good rhythm to it, enough so that I whipped around a downhill left blinded by a fallen tree and then "BRAKES!" Looks like a recent victim of the tornadoes. Individually the trees would have been easy (single, then an easily taken pair). They just fell in such a way to make it awkward. I figured I'd walk the trail a bit and see if it was worth it but it dead-ended about 100 yards farther up. I'd save the energy for more interesting things.


Looks like a recent victim of the tornadoes. Individually the trees would have been easy (single, then an easily taken pair). They just fell in such a way to make it awkward. I figured I'd walk the trail a bit and see if it was worth it but it dead-ended about 100 yards farther up. I'd save the energy for more interesting things.


And a brief cameo while walking back to the bike. There had been two butterflies on the edge of the helmet visor right up until I got the camera out. Go figure?


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That's also when I figured out a better way to use a carabiner and the case and mount the camera where I could get to it easily so more pictures from more area's. I mentioned that it was a large open area of sort of swampy stuff? I got some fun shots on the way back out.


With fresher knobbies I'd have been comfortable at around 80 or so on this stretch. :thumbsup:


Interesting little metering station with a very loose rail walk. Loose enough and flimsy enough to play trampoline on. :confused:


Yes, if I was a bug, I could live here...


Did I mention that I was going to be on a lot of diverse terrain today?


I don't think trying to ride straight across the background would be a good idea if you ever wanted to see the bike again...


And more terrain to play on! For those who are often taking hwy 360 toward Tellico Plains, going straight has its' rewards, too. Alas, if you aren't interested in running some heavy dirt roads and gravel, stick to the bridge and pavement.


A couple miles up on the left there was a drop off to a powerline trail and I figured I'd explore it. I was met with a very primitive camp site, a pair of otters, a snake, and a few interesting spider webs.


The water here is crystal clear. Just below the top of the picture you'll see a line in the water, that was the snake swimming across to the other bank. I'm not sure what it nailed on the other side, but I think it was a mouse. Snake 1: Fuzzy Thing: 0.


There was a short/thin trail along the waters edge that I walked before riding (a few close encounters with erosion taught me to check first) Short, but fun.


Have you ever wondered where Tennessee got it's name?


Back out on the roads leading toward the dam I did have to stop and get this shot for NitroSpazz. We were here the day before via kayaks and put in here for a short break. This is where we were heading back from when the Bugatti's went cruising by with the luscious sounding Ferrari 458 Italia.


Back toward the boat ramp you can see the piers of an old railroad bridge (pretty sure it was RR). This is the one you see as you are heading south along 129 once you come out onto the lake. Arms were a little sore after paddling roughly 11.5-12.5 miles yesterday, but holding up just fine. Today? Don't ask...


There is a small stream tunnel under the road next to that boat ramp we explored yesterday. I nicknamed it The Bat Cave and we were interested in seeing where it went, yet the other side was blocked up. Turned out we'd not have gotten far anyhow. This was a trail that ran parallel to it. I stopped here to get an idea of how deep the muck was (front knobbies virtually gone, center of the rear WAS gone, mucky stuff not to friendly right now). I'm rather glad I DID stop there. Four huge spiderwebs strung out across the trail, each with it's octo-legger hanging out in the middle. I figured I'd leave them along and turn around. I thought they came out in the other pics, but nope, just dots... I'm not to thrilled with this camera.


Back down the road to another trail set. You can camp here pretty comfortably, but farther up the trail someone used it as a dump with about 10 full garbage bags and a zillion and half flies. Maybe two zillion?



The kayak/canoe portage as seen from across the river


Normally this trail runs straight out to the field in front of the dam. There is a sharp right, and a hard left around two old fallen trees and... BRAKES!


This looks to be fresh from the tornado that came up the valley last week. It's hard to see it because of the branches but the trunk is probably about 4' around or so.

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Instead, I turned around and followed what was supposed to be a trail.


Yes, at some point it had been marked as a trail...


Past this it got so overgrown that it was trying to take the mirrors off. A few more critters scampered about to see what I was doing back there, and I did manage to befriend a rather large inch worm that meandered across my goggles.


Ahaha! Success!



I just like this shot for some reason.


The portage area from next to the dam.



Wasn't I just down there?



All the years I have been here, I never noticed this house before. It's at the very top of the hill across from the dam and overlooks the entire river/valley. Sweeeet! Best of all? It looked like it was unscathed by the storms!


Break time? Yep!



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A little farther up become the Alcoa camping area's. They are free and on the water, but again, good luck getting to them first. Looks like easy access for RV's and a few were taking advantage of it. The boat ramps were blocked with signs about the wires in the water but we expected that.


A trailhead/road off on the other side caught my interest. It was a sandy washout going up that was fun with a few places to skip back and forth across the creek. Then the creek itself was being fed from this cascading waterfall. Alas, I never could get a good shot of it from where I was.


From here I decided to make up some time. I had originally planned to just do this section and turn around (120ish miles) but nope, not happening with the weather that nice! I continued on up the road and found the first sections of storm damage in a few knocked down trees. The roads themselves were cleared and nothing was photo-worthy. I picked up the pace on the mix of gravel, tarmac, and tarred gravel roads having a bit too much fun with the bald rear tire sliding around on exits.

Eventually I ended up coming to a T that lead me toward Tellico Plains and the more fun way to get there was, of course, dirt. Alongside the road was this nice weyr and it seemed an excellent place for a snack.



Good munchies for this kind of day. :confused:


The bags under the eyes? Egads... I need more sleep!


As I sat by the side of the creek watching the various fish and lizards it was wonderful how crystal clear and SMOOTH the water was. Reflection shots that were near perfect mirrors were easy! A single leaf fell upstream and I could watch the ripples all the way down the creek.


This is the area the otters were playing in but none of the shots came out. :thumbsup:


The rocks here must have played with Legos when they were young. They were set down on matching serrated surfaces like gear teeth.


Back up and over the mountains then a fast descent along some winding roads. Came around a corner and the colors just caught me.


...as did the level field full of yellow flowers amid the sides of the valley. (again, not thrilled with this camera, it doesn't show much detail)


Anyone need a fixer-upper?


I grabbed gas at the Exxon in Tellico Plains then meandered over toward MiniMikes but didn't see anyone. (Sunday afternoon, Mothers Day, didn't expect to). Tellico Beach Cafe was thriving.


Ahhh. Lunch... about 70% bacon! The candy of the meat world. Nom nom! :worthy:


By the time I left there must have been 20 people in the water. Time started to catch up to me and I didn't want to be out on the forest roads solo after dark (tires not the greatest when bald) so I took River Road out and then the shortcut back up to the Cherohala Skyway. Stopped to grab a shot and to clean my goggles (an anthropologists dream) before heading on.


Got Bugz?


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One of my favorite area's to explore!


Hmm.. There's a road beneath the bridge?


Hmm.. There's a road above the bridge?


This sign should read "Dualsport Heaven"


It was a bit heavy in thick gravel at the top, but it was edged gravel so no trouble. I think they do this every year after winter to help prevent erosion and give some traction. Below is one of the sections that went back to 2-track and was a fast section to play on with good visibility.


One of many waterfalls alongside a bridge crossing.




Ahhh.. The road beckons anew!


Part of my mission, if you recall, was scouting for camp sites. I love this one though it's easier on bikes than cars.


Fern Gully finds a DR?


Slyder and MattJones would have a blast on the mountain bikes in this area. Lots of things to climb, jump, and negotiate, lot of trails to explore, etc. :thumbsup:


Think this might be great for background noise as you slip into a good nights sleep?



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From there I explored a little more though the sun was already fading in the valley. Hang a left toward Joyce Kilmer and right back onto the WRC road from hell where another unique experience occurred: Open Face helmets occasionally channel bugs (generally gnats) straight into your nose with the after affect of coughing them up and spitting them out. This time it was a new one on me. A full sized yellow jacket. At least my sinuses are clear! (I do NOT recommend it... Yuck)

So, my favorite all time campsite is J2 in the JK forest! Yahoo, this feels like coming home! I'm going to check the water levels and see ... what ...shape ...it's.... in....


The J2 is no longer on the post.... and...


They have dozed it up into a wall... :thumbsup: Erosion was starting to really get it and after the huge storms and probably a few downed trees I'm not surprised. There were signs of more than one oil pan being shattered and as they were in streams heading right into the water the closure of this road isn't surprising at all. At least it should still be accessible by water.


From there it was a few bits of exploring around by the dam and heading out onto 129 for a dash back up to Overlook. There were maybe 3 people at a room at the store, and i passed 2 bikes around the state line. That was it until I got to the overlook and ran into Trip.

There was hardly any wind at all, just that generated by the vortex off of the dam.


The rest of the water was like glass



Sunset was great!


As mentioned, I followed Trip out and we ran past Battle Cattle not having a clue about the situation. We had seen hunters at the overlook with the arial looking for their dogs and just talked to a guy who was potentially a bit freakish. There were a few people farther up fishing from the banks and the camper (freaky guy) had set up in the parking area by the lake. Josh, I'm really sorry I didn't stop to check if things were okay.

Alas, I also managed in the time from Tabcat to the Harley Davidson store to get broadsided by a bat, dodge a few squirrels, and then turned a possum into a speed bump.

Add 78 miles to this (forgot and reset it on the first fuel stop) and you'll have the days take. The one on the right counts down where I set it for a given distance to act as a guesstimate fuel gauge.


Out on the road by 9am, home by a bit after 10. Fantastic weather, 298 miles covered, every kind of surface to ride on (many not pictured) and one very sore rump in need of a new seat for the bike.

Someone asked me why I sold the V-strom instead of the DR... This kind of answers that question.

So, when do you want to go? :confused:

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Thanks for the ride report. Nothing like a good ride.:thumbsup:

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Nice report. Nice country. Near 300 miles on that bike would have made my roids explode. What's that seat cushion you have there?

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It's a Stearns ATV Seat Cushion or $18 at Walmart. Look for a rolled up black piece that looks like a camping mat. It clips on easily and adjusts very simply underneath then just trim the excess. It made the difference between 100 miles being death and 300miles being death which, for $18, kicks butt! (or is that saves butt?)

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Very nice pics! Looks like an absolute blast! As much as I would love to live on the Left coast, it's awfully hard to argue with the beauty of the Blue Ridge.

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Nice pics. You are a brave guy to take on that much riding on a DR-Z in one day.

As the owner of two DrZs, and someone who knows the factory seat limitations well, I couldn't help but wonder about that seat pad, too. I have the Suzuki Gel Seat on the 2008 S and it is harder than the original factory seat. Have a gel pad I use on the road bike, but it really wouldn't cover the DR-Z seat as well. I may just have to try one of those Wal Mart specials.

Whose tail light and rear T/S setup are you using? Is it visible in traffic? I don't spend a lot of time on pavement, but when I do, I want to be seen.

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I tried the gel seat when I got my 2nd DR (first got stolen, couldn't help but get another one!). At 6'2, the gel seat lowered it and I found myself constantly sliding up to the boys anytime I hit the brakes. The nice thing about the seat pad is that you stay in place!

As for the rear, the brake light is the Edge set-up and it's fine in the day and better at night. It's simple, lasts, and has handled the variety of terrain. The turn signals are cheapies from Cycle Gear that I intend to replace. When I first did the Edge I didn't realize I could use the stock turn signals.

I have been skimming the seat options and frankly the Corbin is a rip for what you are paying vs. the comfort (if I wanted to sit on a brick, I'd buy a brick). There is the new ES one with the foam and cover that looks good, yet even if I went that route I'd probably keep the Wallly World one on top. It really does make a huge difference!

There are a few links on here to the Edge tail light and I'd do that one again in a heartbeat. Easy to do, much cleaner design, and has yet to let me down even in deep mud, water, muck, etc.

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