“Two Wheels Only,” the North Georgia motorcycle resort, that has been a great motorcycle destination for almost 30 years, is officially CLOSED. For those of you who have never had the pleasure of visiting T.W.O., it was a motorcycle only resort and campground in the North Georgia Mountains, 16 miles north of Dahlonega. The resort sat at the top of the mountains in the little unincorporated hamlet of Suches on State Route 60 near its intersection with State Route 180 (Wolf Pen Gap Road). Both of these are formidable mountain passes offering excellent curves, vistas, good pavement and exciting elevation changes. The Appalachian Trail crosses the road 2 miles south of the resort on S.R. 60, and Helen, the famous little alpine village, was a nice, leisurely 36 mile ride through the mountains eastward.
I believe I may have been there hundreds of times. In my mind it was always the ‘destination’ once I left the house on a ride. I may have not ever actually gone there on a particular day, but it was the kind of place that forged itself into my riding plans as the ‘turnaround’ point. So many times, I’ve buzzed north out of Milton and snaked my way past horse farms and hay fields heading to the blue hue of mountains an hour or so north. I’d ride through Dawsonville one way or another, past Big Canoe and into Dahlonega for the final push to the mountains. I would see bikes heading in the same direction that I would ultimately recognize once at T.W.O., their kickstands down, cooling in the shade of the resort’s many old growth trees. The gravel entryway was an ominous segway for the unwary. I must have dusted off a dozen embarrassed travelers, who climbed the mountain unscathed, but misjudged the gravel entryway to the resort. There’s nothing worse than seeing a fellow rider crest the hill, decelerate, brake, lean left and WIPE OUT, spilling wife and pride onto the gravel below.
We would park in front of the old lodge, like horses at the trough in an old western town. Sometimes, there would be hundreds of people milling about sharing stories, directions, mechanical advice and potato chips. The main house was a mishmash of old farmhouse, woodshed and bed and breakfast. Motorcycle memorabilia lined the walls and covered the ceiling too. There was a billiard table, an honor system coffee machine, and reasonably clean bathrooms. You could stay in a room right upstairs for a modest fee, or rent a campsite, if the spirit were willing. I recall on a particular trip where me and some blokes camped behind the resort next to a babbling stream that meandered through the property. A curious bear came calling, most likely lured by the smell of our uneaten hamburgers. Someone startled the poor thing and in its haste to retreat, it fell into the stream 4 feet down a steep bank, making such a ruckus, that we were all awakened by the commotion. Good times…
In all the years I travelled there, I must say that the mix of sport riders, adventure riders, cruiser riders and vintage riders was about proportionate to what you would see anywhere else. The resort did not seem to advertise anywhere and did not cater to any brand. The mystique was spread from mouth to ear and so on. It was a BYOB joint and served bar style food, breakfast and lunch only. I’ve enjoyed many a fine cigar under the wrap around porch in one of those creaky Brumby style rockers. There were also many splintery old picnic tables stashed about the place, usually full of folks congregating. The place was like a Disney resort for bikers. It provided entertainment in the form of leather clad folks from all over and from all walks of life. These people were great entertainment. They came and T.W.O. provided the venue to stop, rest, talk and listen. There, I met countless new faces and heard countless new and exciting motorcycle tales. Whether they were true or not, I did not care.
Most people I’ve met were from within a few hours of the place, although I did meet two guys from Germany who had heard about the place and worked it into a southeastern vacation. I even met a group from Japan who was staying at the resort and using it as a base to jaunt across the mountains on their rented bikes. Not a word of English from one of them, but a great lunch was had, maps unfolded and folded again. Even a few T shirts were swapped. Backs were slapped, and the great multicultural divide narrowed over a sweet tea, all in the name of motorcycling. I’ve been stuck there in driving rain, watching the weather report on the flat screen over the fireplace, a welcome shelter till the clouds past and a wet but happy ride home. Like a safe harbor in a storm, T.W.O. was a place I always thought would be there for me.
So it was with an eerie sense of sorrow, that I walked the grounds this past weekend in my black boots, kicking stones on the gravel paths winding around the resort, peering at the tired old buildings and grounds. It was late in the day and I hadn’t left my house till after 3:00 p.m., but was determined to visit the place on her last official day open. Oddly, not a soul was around. A couple of SV 1000’s were pulling off just as I chugged in on a 1952 Panhead, somehow an apropos choice for the ride that day. I parked the old bike in front of the creaky steps of the resort, the scene etched in my memory, a sad testament to an era now ending . I spent a lonely hour reminiscing the place, before pushing the old Panhead to the edge of the roadway, pitching south and downhill towards town. I pushed off in my saddle, engine silent, as I coasted down the mountain on the Panhead, all the way back to Dahlonega. The bike made a surprising amount of noise for the engine not running. She clanked and whined all the way as I applied mechanical brakes in turns and listened to bearings rotate and chain lash spin, the bike perhaps upset by the end of an era.
My mood lightened when I stopped at “Rider’s Hill,” the relatively new destination in Dahlonega with good food, brand new Brumby rockers and a fresh coat of pavement leading into the place. T.W.O., gone in body, not in spirit.
Well, signing off for now. Remember, ride strong, ride safe, and in the end, make sure you ride home.