Tom Suddard
Tom Suddard GRM+ Memberand Publisher
4/30/24 2:46 p.m.

I figured this past weekend's adventure deserved a small thread, so here it is! I rode much of the Eastern Alabama Adventure Loop with a group of friends.

Details on the route: https://sites.google.com/view/vman1313/theeeal

Details on my bike: https://grassrootsmotorsports.com/forum/motorcycles-and-bicycles/bigger-budget-adventure-bike-2008-bmw-r1200gsa-build-thread/261627/page1/

Before getting to the gravel, though, it was time for the first leg of my trip: 700 miles in a day from Daytona Beach, Florida to Florence, Alabama. I rode up to visit a friend for his birthday, so I packed my side cases, strapped a present on top, and hit the road.

Here's my phone's view from the mount:

And here's our friend Wayne's new shop in Enterprise, Alabama, where I stopped for lunch:

This is about 600 miles into the day:

And that was right before the headlight burnt out, so I stopped taking photos and focused on getting to Florence before sunset. Fortunately, I made it just in time. I added 700 miles to the bike in about 12 hours, which is sort of the reason I bought this thing: The goal is to be comfortable on long trips AND be able to go offroad. And since I wasn't even sore after this day, I'm calling "Comfortable" achieved.

Tom Suddard
Tom Suddard GRM+ Memberand Publisher
4/30/24 2:51 p.m.

The next day, my friend had to work so I stopped by the local parts store to grab a headlight bulb, resisted buying Hoonigan-branded air fresheners (barely), washed the bike, had some lunch, and checked out the Florence Indian Mound and Museum. 

https://www.visitflorenceal.com/directory/florence-indian-mound-and-museum/

 

Then, I stumbled across an apparently famous studio: Muscle Shoals Sound Studios. 

I'm not that into music, but I took the tour and learned some stuff anyway--super cool place, and apparently all sorts of famous artists recorded here. 

Tom Suddard
Tom Suddard GRM+ Memberand Publisher
4/30/24 2:53 p.m.

That night, we went to the Rattlesnake Saloon for dinner. I'd comment on the food, but look at the place: It doesn't matter what the food tastes like, because it's in a freakin' cave!

https://www.rattlesnakesaloon.net/s

 

Tom Suddard
Tom Suddard GRM+ Memberand Publisher
4/30/24 2:58 p.m.

The next day, I hit the road for Birmingham to start the "Adventure" portion of this ride. There, I met up with the rest of the crew: Johnny, Austin and John, all fellow racers who'd caught the adventure motorcycling bug. We grabbed some supplies, then hit the road for the trail.

Johnny's Harley almost immediately broke, leading to this rennaissance painting of a photograph:

But fortunately he was able to reattach the handlebars, and we cruised along gravel roads to our first campsite. In a break from tradition, we paid for camping. This site cost $3/night. That's only 75 cents a person, so it's barely even paying if you think about it. 

The next day, we found a fire tower that was open to the public, but too scary for most of us to climb more than a few feet--the missing/broken steps were just too terrifying to climb in motorcycle boots. Instead, we sent John up, who made it halfway before realizing he'd forgotten his phone on the bike. At that point, we decided to take the hint and leave before we died. 

Tom Suddard
Tom Suddard GRM+ Memberand Publisher
4/30/24 3:04 p.m.

Artful shot from Austin of all our bikes parked in front of breakfast:

Then, we stumbled across a Harley dealership and decided to indulge Johnny (the Harley guy)'s need to give them more of his money. It felt extremely weird showing up with safety gear on:

So, of course, we told the nice salespeople that we were interested customers and asked for demo rides. And they said yes! I'll admit, I've never ridden a Harley, so this was a new experience.

I was assigned this bike by my friends:

And here's a photo I took so I'd be able to remember what I rode:

 

We set off for what was, honestly, a pretty darn cool guided test ride--maybe 20 minutes of winding country roads, twisty sections, a one-lane bridge, and even a sprint to triple-digit speeds (I assume, as I hung back doing the speed limit)angel

Then we got back and the salespeople asked me what I thought. I think I said something like: "I love the dealership experience, as trying to buy a Honda just means people are mean to you, but I just wish Harley sold Hondas."

Tom Suddard
Tom Suddard GRM+ Memberand Publisher
4/30/24 3:08 p.m.

Finishing goofing around at the Harley dealership, we returned to the trail. And, honestly, I barely took any photos: We were just cruising along gravel roads, enjoying the scenery, and trying to keep up with Austin. He rides his R1250GSA like a two-stroke dirtbike.

Lunch stop in the literal middle of nowhere:

Tom Suddard
Tom Suddard GRM+ Memberand Publisher
4/30/24 3:16 p.m.

Then, it was time to buy dinner (and charcoal) and head for camp.

We decided that the $3 campsite had been so luxurious, we'd repeat that model for the second night. 

We stayed at a very nice Corps of Engineers campground on West Point Lake, called Holiday Campground. At $24/night the price stung, but look at how fancy this site is!

Here's our view of the lake once the sun set:

John, the dirt bike guy, decided to take shelter under the BMWs:

Then, it was time to go home. We rode to a local Waffle House, said our goodbyes, then hit the interstate for home. We'd only finished about half or 2/3 of the loop, starting in Talladega National Forest and making our way to Roanoke, AL, but we all have jobs/lives and needed to hit the road. 

So, how was the Eastern Alabama Adventure Loop? While it was awesome to explore a part of the country I'd always been curious about, honestly there's a reason so many people ride in North Georgia/North Carolina/etc. We all agreed that it had been a fun trip, but next time we're headed further north. The views are more interesting, the roads are more challenging, and it seems like there are far fewer closed gates on the established routes. 

Sorry I don't have more photos to share, but hopefully this at least gives you a taste of the EAAL. And if you're on the fence about getting an adventure bike: DO IT! It's like backpacking except you can see 700 miles of stuff in one day. 

maschinenbau
maschinenbau GRM+ Memberand PowerDork
5/1/24 8:40 a.m.

That looks fun! Next time come up to N. Ga I'll show you some forest service roads.

Lof8 - Andy
Lof8 - Andy GRM+ Memberand UltraDork
5/1/24 9:04 a.m.

That's awesome!  Some friends and I are doing a portion of the Florida Adventure Trail in 4 wheeled vehicles this weekend.

Slippery
Slippery GRM+ Memberand PowerDork
5/1/24 9:46 a.m.

Great read!

Purple Frog
Purple Frog GRM+ Memberand Dork
5/1/24 10:02 a.m.

Enjoyed the writeup of the most mountainist part of AL.

  My memory of that part of AL is "Little Talladega" road course.  There was a major HD manufacturing plant nearby.   They employed teams of riders to ride bikes with data equipment on board something like 24 hours per day to log a lot of miles.  They had access to the gates of the track.  All through the night bikes would come and go, running a few laps on the track and then go back on the highway.  Made for interesting infield camping until you got used to it.

Its time you plan to do Telluride to Lake City in CO.  I have tie downs for 7 bikes in my trailer... maybe i should volunteer to haul the bikes out there, and you do a fly and drive.  surprise

Nicole Suddard
Nicole Suddard GRM+ Memberand Marketing Coordinator
5/1/24 10:08 a.m.
Tom Suddard said:

"Father, why do you abandon us?" -Eloise

Floating Doc (Forum Supporter)
Floating Doc (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand UltimaDork
5/1/24 10:18 a.m.
Nicole Suddard said:
Tom Suddard said:

"Father, why do you abandon us?" -Eloise

I had forgotten what a beauty she is. 

Nicole Suddard
Nicole Suddard GRM+ Memberand Marketing Coordinator
5/1/24 10:34 a.m.

In reply to Floating Doc (Forum Supporter) :

Yeah, that pretty face lets her get away with a lot of crimes.

Toyman!
Toyman! GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
5/1/24 11:34 a.m.

That looks like fun. I'm more of a 4 wheel guy but I was sorely tempted by a $4500 GS1100 the other day.

I've run the entire South Caroling Adventure Route. It's 1000 miles and a fun way to kill a week or so. It ranges from the coast up into the mountains. 

https://www.google.com/maps/d/u/0/viewer?mid=1QBnmLzyd_W1S6kpMMRhwGMlMfGk6HWc&ll=34.20559619541852%2C-80.86831212043762&z=8

My next run is going to be the Smokey Mountain 1000. It's all mountains so I'll probably do those late this summer or early fall. 

Ultimately, I'd love to do the TAT but that's going to have to wait for a few years. 

enginenerd
enginenerd HalfDork
5/1/24 11:55 a.m.

Looks like a fun trip and has put me in the mood to start planning another one myself. I'll soon be upgrading from my r1150gs to a 2012 r1200gs so I many have some questions for ya!

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