Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Suzuki TU250X Does it Again

The weather in central Florida has been wetter than usual lately.  We are known as the sun shine state and the sun does shine nearly every day, but summer is also the wet season.  For the past six weeks we have had rain in the form of afternoon thunderstorms nearly every day.

The storms are grand affairs with huge rain drops that can come down at a rate of 2 inches an hour.  To keep our minds off the heavy rain, the storms also produce some of the most intense lightning anywhere on Earth.  We have the nick name of the lightning capitol of the world.

After a busy weekend with no bike riding, I had been feeling pretty antsy to get a ride in.  There was plenty of moisture in the air this morning, but my plan was to ride to work before the rains came and, depending on lightning severity, ride home through the afternoon monsoon or wait until things died down in the evening to make a run for home.

The ride in was so nice.  I left home a bit early and had very little traffic.  The clouds had that beautiful pink and gold hue that we get when the moisture is high and the dawn is young.  Last nights' dew still smelled nice and fresh on the air as I slipped down the road.

Once at work, I stuffed my helmet and jacket into my office and nipped out to greet customers and fellow employees as they arrived for the day.  (some would view this as dodging work, but I like to think of it as relationship building)  I should have had a camera.  The TU250 attracted attention all day long, there would be individuals and little groups of 2 or 3 around it off and on throughout the day.  A couple of my coworkers stopped by to see how old it was and to learn if I had rebuilt an older bike.

It hadn't rained by 1 PM so I slid out to grab a sandwich.  As I walked to the bike I was chatting with a customer that I thought was also heading out to lunch.  Turned out he had seen the helmet in my hand and just wanted to take a look at what he thought was a restored Triumph.  Now, I don't think the TU  looks much like a Triumph, (maybe a 250 Ducati Mach I) but I was flattered that he thought it was a beautifully restored vintage bike.

After returning from lunch I was hanging around the break room, building relationships again, when 2 of our long term customers sought me out to ask if the bike was an old BSA.  They were plenty surprised to learn it is a modern Suzuki.  Later it the day I saw them out in the parking lot giving it a good looking over.

Around 3 PM the monsoons hit and dumped a good amount of rain on us but not too much lightning.   By 5 the sun was back out.  Whahoo!  As I worked my way out to the parking lot, I was joined by another that had thought the bike was an older restored bike, but the rumor had made it to him that it was in fact a newish Suzuki.  Still, he joined me for the walk out to look it over and listen to it run.

I have to say that this bike draws a lot of attention where ever it goes.  I am flattered that so many people think it is a vintage bike that I have rebuilt, but in truth, it is a thoroughly modern bike and I am very happy that it is.  The TU250X manages to retain some of the beauty and simplicity of the vintage bikes many of us enjoy, yet it is a completely modern machine with an oil filter, fuel injection, disc brake etc.

The ride home was super.  My route neatly split between two big areas of thunderstorms.  Great towering giants to the east and the west.  I had the nice benefit of enjoying the smell of the rain and riding in the cool outflow air of the storms.

So the TU250 did it again! It gave me a great ride both to and from work and helped build relationships with customers and coworkers.  If only it would have done a little more of the work I needed to accomplish in my office...

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Little Switzerland, N.C.

We had a chance to get away over the long 4th of July weekend so decided to head for the hills of North Carolina.  Because time was limited we decided to trailer the bikes up rather than ride them.  This would have been my first experience at trailering bike, as I prefer to ride them to the destination.  This of course makes getting to the destination part of the fun rather than something to "get through".  Our plan was to rent an open U-Haul.

We had every thing packed and ready except for loading the bikes.  We'd been watching the weather and in the last few minutes before departure decided to leave our bikes at home.  It was a choice that hurt, but was the best.  I don't think we'd have taken them from the trailer.  It not only rained but rained extremely hard the entire time we were there.  They had flash flooding all through the area and the visibility in the mountains was often less than 100 yards.

Even without the bikes we had a great time and still plan to get back up to the mountains later this summer.  Because we had packed for riding bikes we had plenty of rain gear with us and thought maybe we could rent a couple bikes if the weather gave us a break.  We had made contact with Action Cycle Sports in Boone, NC.  Turned out the weather did not give us a break, but we'd still recommend the good folks at Action if you need to rent while staying in the area.  They had a number of bike choices and we had planned to ride a BMW 650GS and a Suzuki V-Strom 650, two bikes with great reputations. 

We spend our nights at the Big Lynn Lodge in Little Switzerland, NC.  The lodge is located on NC 226A, a well known bike and sports car road that is known as the Diamondback.  Lots of twisties and steep grades, similar to the Tail of the Dragon in Tennessee, but without all the traffic.  The view from the Big Lynn was spectacular during those short glimpses we had during breaks in the clouds.  Our room was a cabin that was clean as a whistle and finished in knotty pine.

View from our porch at the Big Lynn Lodge

Breakfast and dinner were included in the price of the room and they have space to park bikes and welcome bikers.  There were a couple other places to stay in the area, but no gas at the top of the mountain, so you don't plan to gas up when you get to Little Switzerland.

One really nice part of being in the mountains when there is so much rain is the waterfalls run full.

The rivers and waterfalls ran full
We spent a good part of our time hiking and taking pictures between rain showers.  The Blue Ridge and the nearby areas are some of the most relaxing back roads to explore and there are so many trails to hike that you could spend a lifelime and not walk them all.

A creek along a foot path

Foot path to a rushing stream

Above is one of the many footpaths we walked.  Because there had been good rain, most foot paths led to streams and waterfalls that might not exist during drier days.  I have to say we were fortunate to be here during this period of heavy rainfall.

The view from the roads is beautiful, this is biker country

During times of good visibility the views were spectacular.  We noticed that we could be in heavy rain and fog that reduced visibility to a few yards, then round a bend that put us on the other side of the ridge and into clear weather for a few minutes.  These little gifts really added to an already fantastic trip.

Sunshine! What a surprise to round a bend to see this.
We have been on the Blue Ridge many times and it is always beautiful and it changes so much with the season and the weather that we are compelled to return time and time again.