Sunday, September 2, 2012

Dahlonega, Georgia

I was looking forward to seeing Rider's Hill the Moto Guzzi and Aprilia dealership said to be the largest of it's kind in the US, a country not noted for it's appreciation of Moto Guzzis.

Coming from South Florida where motorcycles are toys, overpowered racers for juvenile delinquents or chubby old cruisers for chubby old cruisers it was slightly startling to see a shop like this, a massive investment in a way of life on the fringes of everyone else's hobby.

Of course there was a price to pay for all the fun of riding The Dragon all day and swooping up and down and over Highway 129...I arrived after closing time! They aren't Triumph dealers so I wasn't there for help or anything. Just curiosity.

Six pm had come and gone but there was still activity in this enthusiast's oasis. A man I later discovered is called Steve armed with the reputation of being one of the top Moto Guzzi mechanics in the country was taking a customers ride for a...ride.

The customer was buried in a book outside the mechanic's shop. We talked but we never shared our names. He lives in Knoxsville Tennessee, three and a half (lovely!) hours away and he owns the black Griso in question and also a LeMans, oh lucky man. He made an appointment for a tune up, left home with a room reserved in then local Motel 8 and was waiting for his bike to be finished.

"You live in Key West?" it was too hard to explain where Ramrod Key is. "I've never met anyone who actually lived there. I know lots of people who vacation there." He looked at me as though a traveling zoo had dropped a truly weird specimen on his doorstep. "What do you do?" Mostly spend a lot of time riding the freeway back and forth seeking interesting roads, I wanted to say as the 20 hour ride home was at the forefront of my mind at that moment.

Steve came back and I stepped away, as I heard him ask the owner "...does it always do that?" I love Moto Guzzis but they aren't rock solid reliable like my indefatigable Triumph. I saddled up and rode away in an effort to keep my dream intact of one day owning a V-twin Italian Stallion.

Dahlonega was unknown to me until I was told they had this huge Moto Guzzi and Aprilia dealership. I found out they rent bikes and the cost of the daily or weekly rental can be deducted from the price of a purchase...the customer above spent the day riding an automatic Aprilia Mana 850 while he waited for his service to be completed. What an interesting place. I shall return.

But not for the little college town, pronounced: Dal-ON-egg-ah which has a pretty downtown square devoted to the genteel pursuit of middle class pleasure, within the bounds of polite society.

Luckily I needed no Himalayan Salt Crystals because the shop like most everything else on the square was closed. But there again I have no clue what they might be for if anything.

The sun was setting on a deserted ville so I clumped around sweaty and disheveled in my heavy motorcycle boots and snapped a few pictures.

They found gold in these here hills in 1828 and built the square and courthouse for Lumpkin County in 1836. Civilization had arrived in the wilderness north of Atlanta. Nowadays this little town is voted a great place to retire. Ho hum.

Students attend North Georgia College and State University and apparently old folks like it here because the living is cheap, Atlanta's an hour away and lots of senior-like activities are catered to here.

There are times and places when the chaos and lack of vision in Key West come as a relief. I got that feeling in Appalachicola and here too. These small towns lack the drawing power of Key West and as much as the empty bottles, vomit and running street fights on a Saturday night irritate me the sight of a moribund town can be a healthy reminder that you need some kind of a schtick to have prospects for your economy.

I have no doubt when school opens the town will ring to the happy sounds of well behaved students and their wealthy parents. If you suddenly feel the urge to buy a sexually explicit t-shirt or women's underwear with instructions printed on them this is not going to be the shopping district that will meet your needs.

On the other hand Key West does not boast any coffee shop anywhere with a classic Lambretta parked in the window.

Nice town. Time to go home and trip over a few drag queens and legless tourists, in Key West to drink themselves insensible to get away from the boredom back home. And to buy one of those t-shirts that read "I'm not a gynecologist but I can take a look." On the whole it's always good to be home.

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