Asheville Motorcycle Trip – Day 4

Monday, we left later than I expected, but it gave the fog time to clear off. Of course, leaving later means getting home later. And since we rode the Parkway most of the way back…well, I’m sure you can see where that’s going.

There were plenty of tunnels on the way home. Wikipedia says there are 26 tunnels on the Parkway and we hit most (if not all) of them on Monday. This one was cool because as soon as you got out you went into another. The triple tunnel that Wikipedia mentions isn’t as closely spaced as this one.

We pulled off the Parkway at Laurel Springs, NC for a rest stop and we saw this across the road. “Say what??”

I don’t remember where this was, but I thought this was cool too. I think the second hump went over a creek or something, but I forget exactly what it was.

The animals on the Parkway are crazy. Most animals around home will move if I crack my throttle. This deer (along with the other animals I saw) just kind of stood there and looked at me. Fortunately, we didn’t hit anything big enough to be painful.

The last leg of the trip was truly a grind. We had dinner in Bedford at 10:00 and we still had a couple of hours before we got home. Dinner was pretty good, but the decor was really amazing. It’s worth the trip down there just to see it once.

I didn’t get home until well after midnight and that was after a terrifying trip up 29. Just as we were coming into the curves in/near Nelson, it started misting. I was annoyed, but it wasn’t a big deal, so I slowed down and wiped at my helmet with my gloves and my jacket. Then, I saw headlights in my mirrors…a tractor trailer truck. He was going faster than I was, but I was close enough to Dad that he didn’t pull in front of me. He left some nice spray on my visor, but once he passed, I could see again. Then, the second or third truck that passed meandered past and then, he pulled into my lane. If I were a car, no big deal. Windshield wipers can take care of the water you can’t see through. Not so on a bike. I had zero visibility through my visor because of the mist he was throwing up as well as the stuff falling out of the sky. I must have been down to about 30 and I was still wondering if I was going to fall off the road. I would have been happy to stop at that point and take a break, but there was nowhere to pull off the road and regroup, so I kept going. I wiped futilely at my visor, hoping that it would become productive, but the truck finally moved on and the weather (and my visor) cleared. I finally made it home well after midnight. But I have to say, riding in the mist at night…don’t do it if you can help it.

I guess the point of telling that story is to beg you to leave space if you see a bike in the rain. It’s hard enough to see without the water from your tires on our visor too.

I suppose I should also stress that, in spite of the less fun things about the trip, I loved going and would do it again if I had the chance. It’s hard to explain what it was that made it fun. It was the wandering and riding and learning and generally having a good time with people who enjoy doing the same. We weren’t worried about time or rushing or schedules or going to certain places. We just did whatever seemed like the thing to do at the time. It was exhausting to be out that long on the bikes, but we did so many cool things….

Route and more pictures.


Asheville Motorcycle Trip – Day 3

Sunday, we thought about going back to the Dragon. As a matter of fact, we were headed that way. Saturday, we rode the Parkway to Cherokee, where we got off to get gas and then book it toward Asheville (it was still 10 by the time we got back to town…we ate dinner before we went back to the hotel). So, on Sunday, we took the Parkway down toward Cherokee to help fill in some of the missing parts of the Parkway.

We stopped at the highest point of the Parkway to take some pictures and with all the wandering and stuff that we did, we decided not to go back to the Dragon…we wanted to get back to the hotel at a more reasonable time.

Both Saturday and Sunday we drove through these. It’s tough to get your bearings when you go from bright sunlight to an enclosed space. You’d think your headlights would be really helpful, but I guess because your eyes are still adjusting, it feels like your lights aren’t even on. I think all of us were flicking our light switches a few times to make sure our lights were on. I know that for a while, I was wondering if there was something wrong with my headlights. The only things I could see were the reflectors on the sides and on the center line. I just had to hope there was nothing in the road that was going to dump me.

Then, as we were headed back, we ran into this. We’d been flirting with sprinkles all day and staying just ahead of a storm for a little while. But we stopped too long for one of our breaks and we chased down the mountain by this rainstorm. The people working at the gas station were nice enough to let all of the bikers who stopped block up their gas pumps to wait for the rain to pass. I think we all appreciated that.

Once the storm moved out, though, we had a fantastic sunset. We even managed to get back to the hotel by 9:45!

No map again. The rest of the pictures are here. Day 4.

Asheville Motorcycle Trip – Day 2

We did the Dragon on Saturday. The forecast for the rest of the weekend was a little less certain (as far as rain), so we thought we’d do it while the weather was nice…do what we could to not be one of the casualties.

We left the hotel a little later than we really wanted and drove into Asheville, for breakfast. We took part of Moonshiner 28 to get there (we weren’t on very long, but some of the parts we did were pretty awesome). It was about 4:45 by the time we got there and got out on the bikes to ride (they have a little touristy shop and we had to stop, of course).

The thing is, down there, riders are out to prove something. They don’t seem to like to acknowledge other riders; they don’t give other, slower riders space to do things at their own pace; they don’t respect the road markings when they say don’t pass. That honestly soured the experience a lot for me. It was like that anywhere near the Dragon – on 28, on the Dragon itself, and on the Parkway near the Dragon.

I saved the card I had that I knew worked in my camera for taking pictures on the Dragon. Since that was the draw for everyone in our party, I wanted to make sure I had a record of it. Dad and I talked it over and decided a video would be the best way to go. The problem is that it’s a 20 minute video and YouTube wants all kinds of information if I’m going to post it there. I’m trying to figure out another solution. In the meantime, you’ll have to just enjoy the other pictures from the day.

The stop at the top of the Dragon was crawling (racing?) with bikes. Sport bikes, touring bikes, cruisers. It was crazy. It kind of made me think of the time Mom took us to Sturgis, but fewer bikes at a time (and for all summer, rather than a week).

On the way back to the hotel, we took the Parkway. We found some really pretty places to stop, worried about running out of gas, and wondered why it always took so much longer than we planned to get places. But I had such a good time with all of the bumps (honestly,  I think they made it that much more fun).

I don’t remember the route we took, so no map today…sorry. Day 3.

Asheville Motorcycle Trip – Day 1

This past weekend, I took my first long motorcycle trip with Dad and one of his friends – we were meeting Dad’s friend’s friend (yes, it’s that convoluted) in Asheville, NC. That was to be our hub for the weekend. The biggest thing we had planned was to ride the Tail of the Dragon.

Dad and his friend met me in Charlottesville at 10:00 and we took off from there. Dad’s friend really wanted to ride the whole of the Blue Ridge Parkway, so we started at Afton. Not too far into the ride, we ran into road work. They’d stripped the road down the dirt so they could repave. I thought I had my camera running as we were going down the road, but it turns out the card I had in the camera doesn’t work with the camera I own. It took quite a while to get past that.

We rode down to Roanoke before we got off the Parkway to make some time on the interstate (the idea wasn’t to do the whole of the Parkway in one day). As it was, we didn’t get to the hotel until 10:30 or 11:00 pm.

Although we didn’t stay on the Parkway, there were plenty of nice views. Especially as we crossed the North Carolina line (apologies for all the bugs).

The route and more pictures. Also, day 2.