We woke up in a cloud that had settled over Suches. I've experienced this in Suches before and known it was nothing to fear. But after a night of wind and rain of a magnitude that it was hard to tell the difference inside the cabin I didn't have high hopes. There was no real reluctance in the group as we all have wet weather gear and I'd already adjusted our route to avoid water crossings due to the heavy recent rainfall. We finished cleaning up the cabin from the party the night before, tried as best we could to help Dan get packed up, and through on the layers of gear.
We were on the bikes by 9am and all things considered it was a happy miracle.
We picked our way over Wolfpen Gap which is a road we've all ridden literally hundreds of times but even still I pushed the front a couple times as the wet twisties with a fully loaded bike through my bearings off. By the time we reached Hwy 129 (like 10 miles as the crow flies) the rain stopped, the fog lifted, and I could see patches of blue in the cloudy skies. We stopped for fuel and pulled off all that rain gear we just put on. We wouldn't need the rain gear for the rest of the day despite how bad the skies looked and that was pretty amazing.
The recent rain had flooded parts of Asheville, NC which is a pretty good benchmark for that entire region. I've never seen Hiawasee Lake that high which might actually be welcome considering how down it's been in recent years. But sure enough we came up against an impassable creek within a mile of getting to the offroad section of our ride. That ruined the out-and-back to Buzzards Roost which I'd kind of hyped so I hoped the visit to Max Patch would make up for it.
We all started the GPS routes and they work! This was a huge relief for me as last year they didn't. I couldn't stop grinning for hours. Enjoying the scenery, concentrating on riding at times, and enjoy vacation time is so much easier when you don't have to concentrate on navigating. The way I set up the routes we're just turning when the GPS tells us to. There are quirks still but I think we're figuring those out.
All that said, my route somehow bypassed Max Patch so I'm 0-for-2 on my local attractions. The only upside is that traffic in the vacinity was way more active that I enjoy and I'm sure Max Patch was the reason. We exited the dirt onto some great twisty roads that were dry except for some random spots. I don't know how much of our trip will be in the dirt because I can't distinguish surface types on the mapping software. But if it were all paved twisties like this I won't complain a bit! As an added bonus every waterway is flowing white water which constantly amazes me.
The rest of the day was mostly paved and we took some liberties to cut off a pig trail tour of mobile homes that we somehow ended up on. We ended up rolling into Bristol, Va at a very reasonable time, met up with Justin Mills (who will be joining us for the rest of the trip), and had a big dinner. We started the day with Dan's homemade smoothies and sustained ourselves on snacks and Kate's cookies (which are awesome!) so we could make time. Even a marginal Outback experience was greeted with joy.
All things considered this has been a fantastic day. The weather cooperated, the GPS routes are woking, and there haven't been any surprises with our bikes or gear. Tomorrow we're going to push a long day and make it to my Uncle's cabin in Gettysburg, Pa.