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Discussion Starter #1
I passed thru the Appalachians (the mountainous country stretching from northern Georgia to West Virginia) in 2015, and was strongly attracted to the beautiful scenery, deep history, friendly small towns, and numerous deserted winding roads. Since then, I have nurtured a desire to return to the area to explore the potential more fully.

For a west-coaster, there are serious impediments. It is about 4000 kms from Vancouver to the Great Smoky Mountains, the heart of the area. That’s several days of holiday time consumed each way with driving (or riding – perish the thought!), plus considerable expense for gas, lodging, food, and so on. But luckily, I was in conversation with Scott Murray about the trip, and he made contact with Motoshippers, whose business it is to transport motorcycles around the USA. Bottom line, we shipped our bikes from Blaine WA to Knoxville KY for a thousand bucks US each return, and flew out and back for roughly another $600. Presto, after an overnight flight via Chicago, we arrived fresh and energetic (well, actually, a bit travel-weary), to fresh bikes, with fresh roads awaiting – we were on holiday!

What follows are some highlights. I’ll post these day-by-day, over the upcoming several days. I’m sure Scott will ‘chime in’ too…
 

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Discussion Starter #2
Day 1: Saturday May 5

Day 1: Saturday May 5
240 kms 4 1/2 hrs
map: https://www.google.ca/maps/dir/Knoxville,+TN,+USA/35.5915396,-84.2337866/Tellico+Plains,+TN,+USA/Ducktown,+TN,+USA/Ellijay+Inn,+Ellijay,+GA,+USA/@35.351389,-84.4049381,9z/data=!4m62!4m61!1m30!1m1!1s0x885c162246ce42a9:0x7bea92dac4f534c5!2m2!1d-83.9207392!2d35.9606384!3m4!1m2!1d-83.9536121!2d35.8923821!3s0x885c22600011cb5f:0x911ab7dc2a35accc!3m4!1m2!1d-83.968827!2d35.7091511!3s0x885e9f04a463c385:0xf4dc1ea695eef1da!3m4!1m2!1d-83.9755986!2d35.5960368!3s0x885e982cb616be93:0x42a8e8091f110dc8!3m4!1m2!1d-84.0957603!2d35.5661697!3s0x885e9025bb838387:0xd90fde20b5252286!3m4!1m2!1d-84.1133595!2d35.5776025!3s0x885e8fe804c2925f:0x15d321c8e1cd469a!1m5!3m4!1m2!1d-84.1904734!2d35.5130248!3s0x885e89560234e7f5:0x93582b04523c92be!1m5!1m1!1s0x885ef5cef1140925:0x3ce678d9c35d5f62!2m2!1d-84.294087!2d35.362855!1m10!1m1!1s0x885fac574eb1e8af:0x8f22f0dbdc27df07!2m2!1d-84.3827012!2d35.0359126!3m4!1m2!1d-84.3171293!2d34.9442722!3s0x885fa8fc1dd7fe4d:0x254a5f81798a6efc!1m5!1m1!1s0x885f96f0abf6ff85:0xfacff7b32ae7bf22!2m2!1d-84.4839406!2d34.6941027!3e0

We arrived in Knoxville about 11am, and it took about 3 hours to get to the bikes (deposited at MHC Kenworth, thru a friend), to get the luggage sorted, and to get ready to roll. Rather than stay in Knoxville, we found it more attractive to make our way a few hours south, especially as our first ‘destination’ was a visit to the Barber Motorsports Museum just outside Birmingham Alabama. And rather than simply riding the interstate, we did what we came to do – ride the secondary routes.

A few miles south of Maryville the road leaves the flatlands and ascends gently into wooded hills. Soon the obscure twists of Happy Valley Road are providing great entertainment. A relatively civilized section leads out to Vonore, then TN 360 (the Unicoi Turnpike) wanders south past farms and reservoirs, with luxury weekend retreats intermixed with road-side trailer homes. TN 68 continues much the same rural wandering, thru Turtletown and Ducktown to the old mining town of Copperhill, right on the TN/GA boundary.

IMG_1082 (2) by Don Serl, on Flickr

An officer of the law tracked our progress for quite a few miles south on GA 60 before turning to more likely prospects, then US 76 took us to our lodging for the night, the Ellijay Inn in Ellijay GA (approx $80 – basic but clean and comfortable). The skies opened about 10 minutes after our arrival, so rather than exploring the adjacent downtown, we popped across the road to Lucy’s Fried Chicken for a perfectly acceptable meal before bedding down for a long, deep sleep – we were still tired from the overnight flight.

20180505_192356 (1) by Don Serl, on Flickr
 

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Discussion Starter #3 (Edited)
Day 2: Sunday May 6

Day 2: Sunday May 6
Ellijay GA to Leeds/Birmingham AL
335 kms 4 hrs

map: https://www.google.ca/maps/dir/34.6938917,-84.4834825/Chatsworth,+GA,+USA/Americas+Best+Value+Inn+-+Leeds/Birmingham,+Higrove+Parkway,+Leeds,+AL,+USA/@34.1636732,-86.1283602,9z/data=!3m1!4b1!4m31!4m30!1m5!3m4!1m2!1d-84.5596622!2d34.7558137!3s0x885fbe31ebf0740f:0xdf5954a7960c56d1!1m15!1m1!1s0x885fc2b67e45d215:0x35ee68224f3d8bc3!2m2!1d-84.7699385!2d34.7659145!3m4!1m2!1d-85.1670121!2d34.249274!3s0x888aa4c707b94f71:0x4e8a0b34299477dc!3m4!1m2!1d-85.622008!2d34.200467!3s0x888a6261714c0085:0x63eec20f9df1c33a!1m5!1m1!1s0x888912cc1d2dcc61:0x2c96e495e6e7ce18!2m2!1d-86.5853266!2d33.5420586!3e0!4e1


It’s only about 25 miles from Ellijay to Chatsworth via GA 52, but this is a superb little chunk of road, climbing over a broad mountain ridge. The morning pavement was cool but clean and dry, and is superbly cambered, with many 25 mph- to 35 mph-posted corners. This felt like the ‘real’ introduction to Appalachian riding.

IMG_1111 (2) by Don Serl, on Flickr

There were some enjoyable side-roads to begin the run south from Chatsworth, then pleasant but ordinary highways led to Gadsden. What they save on fencing in this area, they more than spend on riding lawn-mowers!

IMG_1126 (2) by Don Serl, on Flickr

Here we jumped on the interstate, which took us without effort to Leeds AL, where we were booked into the America’s Best Value Inn ( $70; roomy and comfortable), only a couple miles from Barber.

We got our stuff into the rooms and changed (it was hot!), then squidded over to Barber, where we spent the afternoon soaking up the ambience provided by hundreds and hundreds of remarkably assorted motorcycles. The variety and breadth of the collection is truly staggering!

IMG_1167 (2) by Don Serl, on Flickr

IMG_1153 (2) by Don Serl, on Flickr

IMG_1162 (2) by Don Serl, on Flickr

IMG_1169 (2) by Don Serl, on Flickr

We ate at Rusty’s BBQ a couple miles down the road, and while the ‘sampler’ portions were huge, I wasn’t exactly swept away in fits of epicurean delight. “OK, not great”, reads my journal entry. Worse yet, the internet service at the hotel was poor, so watching the Moto GP race would have to wait…
 

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Discussion Starter #4 (Edited)
Day 3: Monday May 7

Day 3: Monday May 7
525 kms 7 1/2 hrs
Leeds AL to Dahlonega GA

map: https://www.google.ca/maps/dir/Americas+Best+Value+Inn+-+Leeds/Birmingham/Childersburg,+AL,+USA/33.6417203,-85.6379649/Borden+Springs,+AL,+USA/Summerville/Dahlonega,+GA,+USA/@33.9833603,-85.8452413,9z/data=!3m1!4b1!4m69!4m68!1m5!1m1!1s0x888912cc1d2dcc61:0x2c96e495e6e7ce18!2m2!1d-86.5853266!2d33.5420586!1m10!1m1!1s0x888959f01ba4e1af:0x7019d475cb03540!2m2!1d-86.3549774!2d33.2781686!3m4!1m2!1d-85.8151948!2d33.4632217!3s0x888bbb85b5d2e035:0xae6cc9f768b0cef2!1m10!3m4!1m2!1d-85.5943643!2d33.7065951!3s0x888b000edc9dc403:0x1f3ac3a78a31d2f5!3m4!1m2!1d-85.5052841!2d33.7092499!3s0x888b020ed622fbd3:0x9b8f38020ba94f09!1m5!1m1!1s0x888af05196dd1727:0x24de9ac25132039!2m2!1d-85.470235!2d33.9298233!1m25!1m1!1s0x88603d1dcb98a4b7:0x29f8590bd48829f7!2m2!1d-85.3477343!2d34.480642!3m4!1m2!1d-85.1860055!2d34.6447995!3s0x8860112c4492b8bb:0x810738e297f7363c!3m4!1m2!1d-85.0645683!2d34.5687576!3s0x88600573842e14fd:0x407459e4d8a14c88!3m4!1m2!1d-84.5159427!2d34.5308105!3s0x885f8e715f460967:0xecf36b38d93fbc1f!3m4!1m2!1d-84.4207695!2d34.6473872!3s0x885f99f5dd84e947:0xd745697be84001d2!1m5!1m1!1s0x885f663a6c225031:0x4107f4a9601eba83!2m2!1d-83.9843953!2d34.5261465!3e0!4e1


We had breakfast at what is apparently a local legend, Laney’s. A very ‘down-home’, basic atmosphere contrasted intriguingly with the many signed portraits of various Republican luminaries hanging on the walls: Bush, McCain, Kissinger, and so on.

20180507_081137 by Don Serl, on Flickr

AL 25 runs southeast thru highly varied, relatively prosperous looking countryside. We got stopped at level crossings twice by a paralleling train, and then had an hilarious movie-chase episode beating it to the third crossing, ripping at full speed across the tracks with the whistle wailing in the not-very-distant background. All in good fun!

IMG_1204 by Don Serl, on Flickr



This part of Alabama has broad stretches of flat, open (boring) countryside interspersed with forested uplands. Talladega lies in one of the boring parts; Cheaha State Park, a bit to the east, could not more different. Forest roads 96 and 42 are tight and narrow; AL 281, beyond, is superbly paved, devoid of traffic, and offers 15 miles or so of ludicrously good sweepers.

IMG_1208 (2) by Don Serl, on Flickr

IMG_1218 (2) by Don Serl, on Flickr

IMG_1225 by Don Serl, on Flickr

The intermittent ‘rushes’ continued as we passed back from Alabama into Georgia. I recall GA 100 north from Cedartown to Summerville as being highly pleasant. The Gore-Sublinga-West Arumchee road sequence passes thru wonderful farmland. The short stretch from Lake Marvin to Sugar Valley would be an awesome attraction if it were longer, and closer to other ‘great’ roads.

IMG_1236 by Don Serl, on Flickr

And finally we arrived at Dahlonega, a pleasant tourist and college town just up into the hills north of Atlanta. The Dahlonega Mountain Inn ($80; very fine) was very well hidden behind a McDonalds, but within a 20 minute walk of the extremely attractive core of town, where we enjoyed an excellent Mexican meal at Pueblos. Moto GP preceded bed.
 

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Discussion Starter #5 (Edited)
Day 4: Tuesday May 8

Day 4: Tuesday May 8
Dahlonega GA to Deals Gap NC
385 kms 9 hrs

map:
https://www.google.ca/maps/dir/Dahlonega,+GA,+USA/34.7701245,-83.9191209/34.6934585,-83.7718589/34.8122474,-83.8365399/Highlands,+NC,+USA/Franklin/Robbinsville,+NC,+USA/35.4243592,-83.7296121/Deals+Gap+Motorcycle+Resort/@34.9966258,-83.8889893,10z/data=!3m1!4b1!4m62!4m61!1m10!1m1!1s0x885f663a6c225031:0x4107f4a9601eba83!2m2!1d-83.9843953!2d34.5261465!3m4!1m2!1d-84.0147214!2d34.697327!3s0x885f6b5f9bfcf605:0x66a1ad011d8d598d!1m5!3m4!1m2!1d-83.8560683!2d34.6642958!3s0x885f40d7eabcc5c5:0xea25ea2fa58c4fa6!1m5!3m4!1m2!1d-83.8448776!2d34.7460495!3s0x885f38ccc829f111:0x84172538d8e928c4!1m5!3m4!1m2!1d-83.6907727!2d34.73603!3s0x885f36644a3eb3e7:0xfcbd430697407331!1m5!1m1!1s0x88591e43b7493627:0x7a4520f9a0c172d6!2m2!1d-83.1968173!2d35.0525909!1m10!1m1!1s0x8859251b3c341e5b:0x7d6abd5c00dca225!2m2!1d-83.3815429!2d35.1823171!3m4!1m2!1d-83.604455!2d35.1553671!3s0x885ed349ed0f1e43:0x17752c9ee5333236!1m5!1m1!1s0x885ec65ea3b816a1:0xe93831a052d79c43!2m2!1d-83.807399!2d35.322866!1m0!1m5!1m1!1s0x885ebe30657a3177:0x276afb4e43fdeec3!2m2!1d-83.9194711!2d35.466753!3e0!4e1


The Dahlonega- Helen-Clayton axis is the epicentre of great riding in northern Georgia, and GA 60 north to Suches is about as good as it gets – smooth, twisty, nicely cambered, varied, and demanding but not overly tight and technical. This remains one of my favorite handful from the entire trip.

IMG_1246 (2) by Don Serl, on Flickr

Wolfpen Gap Rd is really nice, but a considerable step down in intensity.

IMG_1252 (2) by Don Serl, on Flickr

US 129 is about as exciting as a ‘main’ highway can be, with tight, highly cambered corners and double lanes for uphill traffic. Luckily there was very little traffic to dispose of on our downhill run from the crest. A short distance to the east, GA 348 follows a remarkably twisty route back north; then another short distance further east again, GA 17 brings you back south, completing our zig-zag assault on this mountain network.

IMG_1258 (2) by Don Serl, on Flickr

An easier hour or so northeastward, Clayton GA beckoned for lunch. The patio at the Universal Joint was remarkably pleasant, and the superb food fortified us for the second half of the day.

The Sky Valley Parkway leads across an extensive upland, into the extensive tourist / weekend / recreation get-away community of Highlands, North Carolina. Onward, I must admit to having no memories at all of US 64 to Franklin NC (part of the famed "Moonshiner Run"), although a few photos refreshed them back here at home.

IMG_1267 (2) by Don Serl, on Flickr

Wayah Road, just to the west, is quite remarkable. Starting in farmland, it climbs and switchbacks up to a forested ridge, then drops to and snakes around the Nantahala reservoir. Beyond that, the road carves thru the upper sections of the Nantahala canyon, before debouching onto US 74 in the main valley.

IMG_1277 (2) by Don Serl, on Flickr

A short, moderate section of NC 129 leads to Robbinsville, then we took NC 143 till it evolved into NC 28, which twists down to and along the Fontana reservoir in maybe a dozen miles of remarkably fine motorcycling road.

Fontana Rd, north of Robbinsville NC by Don Serl, on Flickr

A last tight corner, and the world-famous Deals Gap Motorcycle Resort open before you – a mecca for riders, and our home for the night.

20180508_182525 (2) by Don Serl, on Flickr

Deals Gap is justifably famous, and the motel is reasonably priced (about $70), but beware: there is no internet, and not even cellphone service, so you're pretty 'off the grid'. Also, the restaurant is the ONLY choice, and - while tolerable - rather at the burger-joint end of the spectrum. Plus it closes at, what, 7 was it? Oddly, our room had one 'normal' bed plus one bunk bed, despite my having booked for two people, way back in January. ( Scott took the bunk, even declining to toss for it! Most honourable! ) So, cool place to stay, but a bit 'eccentric'...
 

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Discussion Starter #6 (Edited)
Day 5: Wednesday May 9

Day 5: Wednesday May 9
The Dragon, the Cherohola, and Gatlinburg
385 kms 7 1/2 hrs

map: https://www.google.ca/maps/dir/Deals+Gap+Motorcycle+Resort/Chilhowee,+TN,+USA/Deals+Gap+Motorcycle+Resort/35.5035962,-83.9762814/Deals+Gap+Motorcycle+Resort/Robbinsville,+NC,+USA/Tellico+Plains,+TN,+USA/Deals+Gap+Motorcycle+Resort/35.6787355,-83.7268692/Gatlinburg,+TN,+USA/@35.5105649,-84.0422079,11z/data=!3m1!4b1!4m63!4m62!1m5!1m1!1s0x885ebe30657a3177:0x276afb4e43fdeec3!2m2!1d-83.9194711!2d35.466753!1m5!1m1!1s0x885e972e65b43c8b:0x8bd3d5315f8e0e40!2m2!1d-84.01056!2d35.55722!1m5!1m1!1s0x885ebe30657a3177:0x276afb4e43fdeec3!2m2!1d-83.9194711!2d35.466753!1m0!1m5!1m1!1s0x885ebe30657a3177:0x276afb4e43fdeec3!2m2!1d-83.9194711!2d35.466753!1m5!1m1!1s0x885ec65ea3b816a1:0xe93831a052d79c43!2m2!1d-83.807399!2d35.322866!1m10!1m1!1s0x885ef5cef1140925:0x3ce678d9c35d5f62!2m2!1d-84.294087!2d35.362855!3m4!1m2!1d-83.9210541!2d35.3621522!3s0x885ec1ce57db006b:0xec57916e6c77d3dd!1m5!1m1!1s0x885ebe30657a3177:0x276afb4e43fdeec3!2m2!1d-83.9194711!2d35.466753!1m5!3m4!1m2!1d-83.6744061!2d35.6707117!3s0x885eabfd91e6e3d7:0x34b836a156392751!1m5!1m1!1s0x885953eacb08a589:0x4ab1d7ae7eb779a8!2m2!1d-83.5101638!2d35.714259!3e0!4e1

This was a great day! First order of business after breakfast was to store our luggage for half a day, then we rode the famed Tail of the Dragon out and back a couple times, unladen. This, of course, is the wickedly twisty section of US 129 west of Deals Gap: 318 curves in 11 miles! A few of the turns are too tight for good flow, but overall this is an amazing chunk of road, and very justifiably famous.

IMG_1313 (2) by Don Serl, on Flickr


But better yet, in both of our opinions, is the Cherohala Skyway, 43 miles of superb riding connecting Robbinsville NC to Tellico Plains TN. Two thirds of the road is high, open, deserted, and fast – a welcome change from the heavily travelled tightness of the Dragon. Here the bikes could really stretch their legs, which – in the rather heavily populated eastern USA – is pretty unique.

IMG_1317 (2) by Don Serl, on Flickr

IMG_1332 (2) by Don Serl, on Flickr


After a trip out and back, and we saddled up the luggage again to move onwards to Gatlinburg. The Dragon was still enjoyable, even with the extra weight, and the Foothills Parkway proved to be a wonderful chunk of road… once we got past the repaving equipment!

IMG_1345 (2) by Don Serl, on Flickr

We took the Little River Gorge road the last 20 miles or so into Gatlinburg, and while this is an amazing winding road thru an impressive canyon, it’s chock-a-block with tourist traffic, so we just relaxed and flowed along.

IMG_1362 (2) by Don Serl, on Flickr


Gatlinburg is a full-on tourist town, with tons of ‘attractions’. We were booked into Johnson’s Inn ($80; excellent), which is on a quiet side street within easy walking distance of the core of town. Dinner was at the Best Italian Café, which was “good, not great” – the garlic bread side-dish alone likely would have provided enough calories for most hungry folk.
 

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Discussion Starter #7 (Edited)
Day 6: Thursday May 10

Day 6: Thursday May 10
to Maggie Valley NC & loop
385 kms 8 1/2 hrs

map (morning transit): https://www.google.ca/maps/dir/Gatlinburg,+TN,+USA/Maggie+Valley,+NC,+USA/@35.5900082,-83.456945,11z/data=!3m1!4b1!4m25!4m24!1m15!1m1!1s0x885953eacb08a589:0x4ab1d7ae7eb779a8!2m2!1d-83.5101638!2d35.714259!3m4!1m2!1d-83.3896948!2d35.5940253!3s0x88595af34c1dee7b:0x878271a96b9f2aa8!3m4!1m2!1d-83.2098612!2d35.4786057!3s0x885969761ae6c571:0xf0218b5d6fb5dfa5!1m5!1m1!1s0x8859743fb2acd19b:0xfc9516f5192e34e8!2m2!1d-83.0976419!2d35.5181575!3e0!4e1

map ( afternoon tour): https://www.google.ca/maps/dir/Maggie+Valley,+NC,+USA/Rosman,+NC,+USA/Pumpkintown,+SC,+USA/Caesars+Head+State+Park+Visitor+Center,+Geer+Highway,+Cleveland,+SC,+USA/Brevard,+NC,+USA/Sylva,+NC,+USA/Maggie+Valley,+NC,+USA/@35.2584391,-83.1972627,10z/data=!3m1!4b1!4m54!4m53!1m10!1m1!1s0x8859743fb2acd19b:0xfc9516f5192e34e8!2m2!1d-83.0976419!2d35.5181575!3m4!1m2!1d-82.9080628!2d35.3166176!3s0x88590a83e7a87c45:0xec2dff256a69815a!1m5!1m1!1s0x8859a8d2b8ac0163:0xc0f480356f0102b8!2m2!1d-82.8212432!2d35.143721!1m5!1m1!1s0x8859b3574562df79:0xb6ce9f87b784256e!2m2!1d-82.65306!2d35.00278!1m5!1m1!1s0x8859b6e7b315549b:0x4870b297be11fd07!2m2!1d-82.626111!2d35.105859!1m10!1m1!1s0x8859a4cb5640a41d:0x8f85466844a544b3!2m2!1d-82.7342919!2d35.2334472!3m4!1m2!1d-83.020497!2d35.2518881!3s0x88590eebc9c05229:0x8bbc449a14ee058e!1m5!1m1!1s0x8859155161a913f3:0x7ca9080df083e59c!2m2!1d-83.2259803!2d35.3737111!1m5!1m1!1s0x8859743fb2acd19b:0xfc9516f5192e34e8!2m2!1d-83.0976419!2d35.5181575!3e0


Early in the trip we realized that the short distances from one overnight base to the next, coupled with the wandering nature of our ‘interesting’ riding, allowed us to ‘move onward’ directly in the morning, to then stow the luggage in the motel with an early check-in, and to ride unladen for the second half of the day. This we did when we moved from Gatlinburg to Maggie Valley.

Of course, success in such endeavours requires cooperation, and while the folks at the Meadowlark Motel ($75; clean and comfortable) were very friendly, they did not have our room available early, as requested and confirmed in advance on the phone.

However, we finally got away for the afternoon by about noon, and soon were battling thru surprisingly congested and slow traffic in nearby Waynesville. Eventually we got onto our destination road, NC 215, one of the myriad of wonderful secondary highways that climb from the adjacent valleys to the Blue Ridge Parkway, then descend on the opposite side. There are dozens of such offerings, with many being quite remarkable.

Unfortunately, Scott wasn’t ‘feeling it’ by the time we reached the BRP, so he took that west to 'cruise' back to Maggie Valley, while I carried on south.

IMG_1395 (2) by Don Serl, on Flickr

215 down to Rosman is actually in better shape than the ascending section on the north side, altho it’s nicer to ride twisty roads up rather than down.

IMG_1398 (2) by Don Serl, on Flickr

IMG_1400 (2) by Don Serl, on Flickr



A jaunt south and east took me to the road up Caesar’s Head, supposedly ‘legendary’. It’s good alright, although short, and the pavement is a bit questionable here and there, plus a shower at the top ‘dampened’ enthusiasm.

IMG_1408 (2) by Don Serl, on Flickr

Brevard is a nice enough town, but it took me asking for directions to find the intersection for US 64 west – there seemed to be no signage whatsoever. A bit of a "you can enter, but you can never leave" situation...

I had plans for some obscure and twisty roads on my return, but just after I exited 64, the skies opened, big time, with frequent nearby lightning strikes and dramatic thunder. I put on raingear and waited for a while under a tree in a protective gully, then set off again. It was dead obvious I was not going to ascend to the BRP again in the teeth of this storm, so I did an ‘end-run’ across the base of the mountains, fumbling along at a very moderate pace with foggy visor, no landmarks, and a map in my tankbag that was impossible to read, to Sylva, where the rain ended; then I just took the 4-lane home.
 

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Discussion Starter #8 (Edited)
Day 7: Friday May 11

Day 7: Friday May 11
Maggie Valley NC loop
380 kms 6 hrs

map: https://www.google.ca/maps/dir/Maggie+Valley,+NC,+USA/Hot+Springs,+NC,+USA/Citgo/35.9138429,-82.3970869/35.9086999,-82.5538825/35.9250865,-82.717998/Marshall,+NC,+USA/Trust,+NC,+USA/Maggie+Valley,+NC,+USA/@35.8165429,-83.0026049,10z/data=!3m1!4b1!4m67!4m66!1m15!1m1!1s0x8859743fb2acd19b:0xfc9516f5192e34e8!2m2!1d-83.0976419!2d35.5181575!3m4!1m2!1d-82.9564085!2d35.5410649!3s0x885979d6b1379697:0x50f79813d036440c!3m4!1m2!1d-82.9363959!2d35.6024746!3s0x885978c2167e0737:0x730437f3a93cb170!1m5!1m1!1s0x885a3218bdd5fedd:0x79a534f1577692ee!2m2!1d-82.8290318!2d35.8923253!1m10!1m1!1s0x885a6e9a57248cd1:0x182ef4d7c52001ee!2m2!1d-82.4458318!2d36.1205079!3m4!1m2!1d-82.3808959!2d36.0128373!3s0x885a0d4f62d74fe5:0xfd2879e81397547c!1m0!1m5!3m4!1m2!1d-82.6834267!2d35.9267845!3s0x885a3bb6bb85fa6f:0x13ddd34730eb252d!1m0!1m5!1m1!1s0x885a2436afde3d29:0x7273e113bd197ed8!2m2!1d-82.6840251!2d35.7973284!1m10!1m1!1s0x885a2b03fb95e195:0x198f569da7615020!2m2!1d-82.8698628!2d35.7526025!3m4!1m2!1d-82.9400976!2d35.6238141!3s0x88597f2e5d22e111:0x3e01727fbe62b47e!1m5!1m1!1s0x8859743fb2acd19b:0xfc9516f5192e34e8!2m2!1d-83.0976419!2d35.5181575!3e0!4e1

The Butler map, which was our primary source for route suggestions, shows a dense network of great roads in the section from the Smoky Mountains to Boone NC. Many of these are easily accessible as day-loops from Maggie Valley and/or Asheville.

NC 209, north to Hot Springs NC, is one such road, and offer really fine riding, despite some morning dampness under the trees. In fact, one section a few miles south of Hot Springs inspired us to run laps and take ‘hero photos’!

IMG_1420 (2) by Don Serl, on Flickr

IMG_1425 (2) by Don Serl, on Flickr

IMG_1435 by Don Serl, on Flickr

IMG_1441 (2) by Don Serl, on Flickr

IMG_1452 (2) by Don Serl, on Flickr


More fine wandering northeastward finally got us to a refuelling stop at Erwin, then we plunged back into the hills on 19W, which the map made to look outstanding. Unfortunately, there had been heavy recent rains, and poor ditching resulted in lots of grit and gravel being carried onto the pavement in corners, resulting in some unexpected puckering, so this section was quite a stressful disappointment.

Windy Gap Rd and Big Laurel Rd led us west thru lightly populated valleys, and US 25 took us south to the dilapidated but rejuvenating brick downtown of Marshall NC.

IMG_1468 (2) by Don Serl, on Flickr

NC 63 took us across Doggett Gap and we dropped into Trust NC where we had a nice late lunch cum early dinner. A reversal of the southern half of 209, unfortunately partially after a squall, got us back to Maggie Valley again.

IMG_1498 (2) by Don Serl, on Flickr
 

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Discussion Starter #9
... and that's all for today!
 

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Discussion Starter #10 (Edited)
Day 8: Saturday May 12

Day 8: Saturday May 12
Maggie Valley to Boone NC along the Blue Ridge Parkway
280 kms 6 hrs elapsed time

map: https://www.google.ca/maps/dir/Maggie+Valley,+NC,+USA/Murphy+USA+#6597/36.0569071,-81.8496097/Blowing+Rock,+NC,+USA/Super+8+by+Wyndham+Boone+NC,+Highway+105+South,+Boone,+NC,+USA/@35.8589772,-82.650622,10z/data=!3m1!4b1!4m43!4m42!1m10!1m1!1s0x8859743fb2acd19b:0xfc9516f5192e34e8!2m2!1d-83.0976419!2d35.5181575!3m4!1m2!1d-82.2196963!2d35.7224601!3s0x885a009b7036c365:0xeae06da92bd2b686!1m5!1m1!1s0x8850a4d58760737f:0x12f26eb911d48728!2m2!1d-82.0436932!2d35.8693011!1m10!3m4!1m2!1d-81.8114039!2d36.0955939!3s0x8850ec4695516f8b:0x4f231b9bbba816fa!3m4!1m2!1d-81.7429871!2d36.1199084!3s0x8850ee4fc2186e5b:0x76e46125bb60f91f!1m5!1m1!1s0x8850e550ea77a3b9:0x95376337d13c1fa9!2m2!1d-81.6776059!2d36.135129!1m5!1m1!1s0x8850f09c5592e0d7:0x3953058fc4572d72!2m2!1d-81.69412!2d36.20456!3e0!4e1

Moving Day. The plan was to ride the Blue Ridge Parkway to Boone, then to hit a couple nearby routes in the afternoon. In the end, we spent enough time touristing along the way that we didn’t get to Boone till 3:30 pm, so we quit with that.

The BRP never fails to amaze. After an hour or so at the Visitor Center just east of Asheville, we set off north. We made lots of photo stops, including a side-trip (not shown on the map) up Mount Mitchell, the highest summit in the eastern USA at 6684 ft. The road leads to about 6500 ft, and we wandered around and took photos but didn’t bother with walking to the top. We also had a pleasant lunch at the restaurant near the top.

BRP

IMG_1503 (2) by Don Serl, on Flickr

IMG_1504 (2) by Don Serl, on Flickr

IMG_1512 (2) by Don Serl, on Flickr

Mount Mitchell State Park

IMG_1521 (2) by Don Serl, on Flickr

IMG_1524 (2) by Don Serl, on Flickr

BRP on slopes of Mt Mitchell

IMG_1526 (2) by Don Serl, on Flickr

IMG_1535 (3) by Don Serl, on Flickr


One of the ‘great’ sections of the BRP is the famous Linn Cove Viaduct, which curls ‘round the slopes of Grandfather Mountain in a quarter-mile-long horizontal bridge. Unfortunately, this section was closed for repaving, and the wonderfully twisty paralleling detour thru Blowing Rock was also in the midst of repaving and choked with traffic, so enjoyment was limited.

[Linn Cove Viaduct photo from pinterest:]

https://www.pinterest.ca/pin/123426846010870021/

https://goo.gl/images/d3Dyyo

Accommodation in Boone was at the Super 8. This is a tourist town, so the rate for Saturday was outrageous, about $150… but come Sunday, it dropped to $70, so the net was roughly $110 per nite. There were plenty of more expensive options! A really good southern meal was available just up the road at The Pedalin’ Pig.
 

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Discussion Starter #11 (Edited)
Day 10: Monday May 14

Day 10: Monday May 14
Boone NC to Roanoke (Salem) VA
295 kms 5 hrs

map: https://www.google.ca/maps/dir/Boone,+NC,+USA/Fancy+Gap,+VA,+USA/Super+8+by+Wyndham+Salem+VA,+Wildwood+Road,+Salem,+VA,+USA/@36.7532255,-81.375,9z/data=!3m1!4b1!4m51!4m50!1m15!1m1!1s0x8850d12869945a65:0x6e0a346179f5a6e9!2m2!1d-81.6745517!2d36.216795!3m4!1m2!1d-81.452946!2d36.256822!3s0x8851011986731807:0x81bd304302ac31!3m4!1m2!1d-80.9906138!2d36.4623767!3s0x88519018f699d8ab:0xa19d7e1c1ccaba2f!1m25!1m1!1s0x8852199a34d8f083:0xa7483b54c487975b!2m2!1d-80.6922924!2d36.665964!3m4!1m2!1d-80.437034!2d36.703682!3s0x88526d27aa75eb71:0x1965795f3f4e4c6b!3m4!1m2!1d-80.1116218!2d37.0311604!3s0x884d82977281c683:0xa10ea84dcc607a20!3m4!1m2!1d-79.9666233!2d37.2051672!3s0x884d7329d8db84bd:0x38c90ed4ec619541!3m4!1m2!1d-80.0052745!2d37.264671!3s0x884d0c79489923f1:0x737b7e1b493614be!1m5!1m1!1s0x884d0a0bb5b03817:0x52ef30ef8b1e3e4c!2m2!1d-80.0952806!2d37.2907771!3e0!4e1

I was not well on Sunday ( Day 9 ), so we stayed put in Boone. Fact is, the rest was very welcome – it was only when we stopped that it became apparent how ‘worked’ we both were – a week of intense riding, every day, even without the days being long, requires a bit of recuperation.

North of Boone, the Parkway is lower and more ‘pastoral’ than in the higher terrain to the south. The benefit of travelling early in the season was made obvious by the utter lack of traffic: we encountered exactly zero other northbound vehicles in the 125km to a refuelling stop at Fancy Gap; and 3 cars plus one RV in the following 125 kms to the outskirts of Roanoke VA. And while the pace was relaxed, it was actually very pleasant to just roll along and ‘soak up’ the surroundings – this is very beautiful countryside, less spectacular than the vistas out west, but deeply appealing. ‘Civilization’ starts to impinge lightly beside the Parkway the further north you go, but it’s only scattered farms and so on, so not disruptive.

Cool Springs, BRP

IMG_1541 (2) by Don Serl, on Flickr

BRP north of Boone

IMG_1554 (2) by Don Serl, on Flickr

IMG_1563 (2) by Don Serl, on Flickr

IMG_1567 (2) by Don Serl, on Flickr

IMG_1569 (2) by Don Serl, on Flickr

BRP, Orchard Gap

IMG_1582 (2) by Don Serl, on Flickr

BRP, south of Roanoke VA

IMG_1588 (2) by Don Serl, on Flickr


It was hot when we descended into Roanoke, and I was a bit shocked by the traffic as we tracked around to our motel in the suburb of Salem: Super 8 again, about $80.
 

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Discussion Starter #12 (Edited)
Day 11: Tuesday May 15

Day 11: Tuesday May 15
Loop north of Roanoke VA
375 kms 5 1/2 hrs

map: https://www.google.ca/maps/dir/Super+8+by+Wyndham+Salem+VA/New+Castle,+Virginia+24127,+USA/Paint+Bank,+Virginia+24131,+USA/Warm+Springs,+Virginia+24484,+USA/37.4946528,-79.8785119/Super+8+by+Wyndham+Salem+VA/@37.6717933,-80.3192013,10z/data=!3m1!4b1!4m63!4m62!1m5!1m1!1s0x884d0a0bb5b03817:0x52ef30ef8b1e3e4c!2m2!1d-80.0952806!2d37.2907771!1m15!1m1!1s0x884daa6cdf41343b:0x97d7addec8bb4617!2m2!1d-80.1108815!2d37.5001287!3m4!1m2!1d-80.3755373!2d37.3799719!3s0x884db984f6429b83:0x9537023e9e6a39a5!3m4!1m2!1d-80.2429514!2d37.4937686!3s0x884dadd9e145900b:0xa9462471699f2d45!1m5!1m1!1s0x884dad4eedbc4b93:0x121c31624df1fc59!2m2!1d-80.2620015!2d37.5690146!1m20!1m1!1s0x884c99d150d7c8ed:0x7bc493cc20df8d2!2m2!1d-79.7905863!2d38.0460901!3m4!1m2!1d-79.7539401!2d37.9608075!3s0x884c960f811210d7:0x51fba051f2e4f207!3m4!1m2!1d-79.8916618!2d37.778025!3s0x884cee697f5faf61:0xa443c4a0a157a082!3m4!1m2!1d-80.0015152!2d37.5932321!3s0x884cfdd3125d0df7:0x6f81b44c819eacd6!1m5!3m4!1m2!1d-79.8969524!2d37.4527838!3s0x884d1b6738bbbc75:0x864396a41147e2a7!1m5!1m1!1s0x884d0a0bb5b03817:0x52ef30ef8b1e3e4c!2m2!1d-80.0952806!2d37.2907771!3e0


The lower elevations and gentler landscape in Virginia, if anything, allow for an even denser network of interesting roads than in the mountains to the south. Up until about Maggie Valley, we had more or less followed a routing and itinerary that we had planned at home, before the trip. However, ‘as events unfold’, we were aware that, despite having trip plans for every day of the full three weeks, plans beyond about the first week were going to change. That said, the underlying plans plus the Butler maps allowed for easy adjustments.

There is a plethora of fine roads north and northeast of Roanoke, and we stitched together a loop thru that country. The route is complex, so I’ll just knock in a few notes:

VA 311 to New Castle – just a highway, but nice.
VA 42 west to Simmonsville – high and flowing.
VA 658 ( Johns Creek Rd ) northeast back to 311 – quite ‘goaty’; some questionable surfaces; “gnarly” but some parts really good.


Johns Creek Rd

IMG_1605 (2) by Don Serl, on Flickr

IMG_1609 (2) by Don Serl, on Flickr


VA 311 to Paint Bank – excellent!
We stopped at the Paint Bank General Store for fuel and a break – what a wonderful place! Lovely restoration of a fine interior; accommodation and fine dining available…

IMG_1618 (2) by Don Serl, on Flickr

IMG_1624 (2) by Don Serl, on Flickr

IMG_1626 (2) by Don Serl, on Flickr

IMG_1622 (2) by Don Serl, on Flickr


VA 18 to Covington – pleasant.
US 220 north to Hot Springs and Warm Springs – very pleasant, with a couple ‘great’ sections.

US 220 south of Hot Springs VA

IMG_1644 (2) by Don Serl, on Flickr


VA 39 – link to: VA 629 (Douthat State Pk Rd), south to Clifton Forge – a really good secondary route.
616 to 621 to 615 to 606 east to Fincastle – lots of entertainment.

Unfortunately, as we ran east across the valley approaching Fincastle, at about 3 pm, we could see a wall of rain approaching from the southwest, with the high squall winds preceding it blasting us from the side. Soon enough, we were sheltering under a road-side tree to get the raingear on, and the run down 220 and I-84 back to the motel was pretty soggy.

IMG_1662 (2) by Don Serl, on Flickr
 

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Great ride report Don! Good info on shipping and roads.**
 

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Yep. *Amazing report. Thank you for taking the time. *I love the southern US. The people i’ve met there have all so friendly and unpretentious. **
I’m blown away by the cost of accommodations. *You can buy a decent house in the burbs for like $200k in all those places. *$80-110 / night for cheapo roadside motels does not compute. *Is tourism that heavy in summer?
*
 

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Discussion Starter #15 (Edited)
sAdam, the average for the whole trip for accommodation was roughly USD 80 per nite.. that's exactly what I found in 2015: USD80 per nite in the east; USD 70 per nite in the west. that's all in pre- Memorial Day trips; it'll be more expensive after that.

as for housing costs, a couple conversations with taxi drivers revealed to me that you can buy a decent, non- basement, 2 bedroom house in Knoxville, for instance, for USD80k. ditto for something rather run down, but on the edge of a rejuvenating area, in Chicago. housing costs in Vancouver are NOT rational!
 

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Discussion Starter #16 (Edited)
Day 12: Wednesday May 16

Day 12: Wednesday May 16
Roanoke VA to Beckley WV
205 kms 2 1/2 hrs

map: https://www.google.ca/maps/dir/Super+8+by+Wyndham+Salem+VA,+Wildwood+Road,+Salem,+VA/Blacksburg,+VA,+USA/Beckley,+WV,+USA/@37.4548063,-80.9220901,10z/data=!3m1!4b1!4m26!4m25!1m5!1m1!1s0x884d0a0bb5b03817:0x52ef30ef8b1e3e4c!2m2!1d-80.0952806!2d37.2907771!1m10!1m1!1s0x884d950adc06dcc3:0x86ceb8ea4842da2d!2m2!1d-80.4139393!2d37.2295733!3m4!1m2!1d-80.9886618!2d37.6664103!3s0x884e887794c8bd69:0xfb13eb3baee166fb!1m5!1m1!1s0x884ef2c26c8ee0e9:0xc6238a4c992406ab!2m2!1d-81.1881557!2d37.7781702!3e0!4e1


Tuesday’s rain presaged a dramatic change in the weather. A huge frontal system established itself across virtually the entire eastern USA, sucking warm, wet air in from the Gulf of Mexico, and leading to sustained periods of heavy rain. In fact, downburst winds associated with the front were responsible for 5 deaths in the northeast, and many dramatic ‘weather’ photos and vidoes:
http://earthsky.org/todays-image/shelf-cloud-over-new-york-may-15-2018


This was not good news for us, of course. Our next destination was West Virginia, which is largely high and mountainous, and therefore a ‘weather magnet’. There seemed to be little hope that we could salvage this part of our trip given the current conditions, but we decided to move onwards, to Beckley WV, so that we could judge this ‘on site’.

Parts of the route could have been quite nice, despite persistent light rain the whole way. WV 12 and 3 especially, have ‘potential’; but maintenance work on the highways left them gobbed with dirt, and mining (?) truck traffic added to the general mess, so this was a bit of a trip to forget!

I had recalled Beckley as lovely little town, but that was based on a wonderful lunch downtown – the accommodations are strung out along peripheral highways, with little sense of ‘community’ at all. Once again, it was the Super 8 – this time only $66, taxes incl.
 

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Discussion Starter #17 (Edited)
Day 13: Thursday May 17

Day 13: Thursday May 17
Beckley WV to Berea KY
420 kms 6 1/2 hrs

map: https://www.google.ca/maps/dir/Beckley,+WV+25801/Oceana,+WV,+USA/Logan,+West+Virginia+25601,+USA/Inez,+KY,+USA/Burning+Fork,+KY,+USA/Clay+City,+KY,+USA/37.7436922,-84.2622703/Historic+Boone+Tavern+Hotel+and+Restaurant,+Berea,+KY,+USA/@37.7617205,-83.2988561,9z/data=!3m1!4b1!4m51!4m50!1m10!1m1!1s0x884ef2c26c8ee0e9:0xc6238a4c992406ab!2m2!1d-81.1881557!2d37.7781702!3m4!1m2!1d-81.2614648!2d37.7959717!3s0x884ef18e7492e7b1:0xe3b5604b3e68fcb!1m5!1m1!1s0x884f076589084125:0x7a1a9711f696aa32!2m2!1d-81.6239985!2d37.6920553!1m5!1m1!1s0x884f705ca4a31431:0x5af2af2bd9e66c1c!2m2!1d-81.9934581!2d37.8487147!1m5!1m1!1s0x884598f4ff5faa3f:0x67ec7c3feaf8271a!2m2!1d-82.5387633!2d37.8664833!1m5!1m1!1s0x8844f8e30e7f81f9:0x1408523889a1ecfd!2m2!1d-83.0232243!2d37.7334263!1m5!1m1!1s0x88439f80959c6dc7:0xdd89e5002583550a!2m2!1d-83.9185323!2d37.8592479!1m0!1m5!1m1!1s0x8842e1ec5873a985:0x4958c469229d121d!2m2!1d-84.2884406!2d37.5717967!3e0!4e1


You don’t go riding in an area for 3 weeks expecting every day to be perfect weather, but the extent and severity of the weather system was disheartening. After much consideration, we decided our best bet was to retreat, to lower, gentler terrain, where the showers were more likely to be more intermittent and the warmer temps more likely to dry roads more quickly. With this in mind, we set off west, crossing much of southern West Virginia to get to Kentucky.

Quite a bit of the riding had the potential to be really good, but mining truck traffic seemed to have a secondary agenda to dump dirt onto the highways. For instance, on the first leg of 3 > 99 > 85 to Oceana, WV 99 has the potential to be absolutely world class: a high, relatively remote, superbly paved highway carved thru impressive rock bluffs along a sinuous ridgeline. Smeared with dirt, of course… And much of the remainder of the travel was along highways in narrow valley bottoms, with houses and trailers fronting onto the road for much of its length – not the place for an enthusiastic pace.

West Of Beckley - pretty darn nice, some of it...

IMG_1670 (2) by Don Serl, on Flickr

Typical WV... the highway is the front yard...

IMG_1673 (2) by Don Serl, on Flickr


You can really see why this is Trump Country, in towns like Logan WV – an obviously once-prosperous burg, with plenty of solid brick buildings, now run-down and largely boarded up. The coal jobs are gone, and the alternatives are scant… The people look about as run-down as the buildings too. Quite sad...

IMG_1676 (2) by Don Serl, on Flickr

Kentucky, by contrast, feels comfortable, maybe even prosperous. The land is gentler; the hills are lower; the farms are more extensive; the grass might even be greener. And people live ‘back from’ the road, not with a highway bounding their front yard. The riding is ‘easier’, but not necessarily more interesting. This day was more about ‘transit’ than ‘twistiness’.

About 6pm we pulled into Berea KY, a fine old college town with a distinctly artsy flair, and deposited ourselves into the Boone Tavern Hotel, an old and grandiose establishment right in the heart of town. This was not at all typical of our accommodation choices, but at just $100 per nite for luxury, we splurged, and were mighty glad of it.

20180517_184533 (2) by Don Serl, on Flickr

20180517_185215 (2) by Don Serl, on Flickr

20180517_181931 (2) by Don Serl, on Flickr

Scott’s bike had been developing charging problems, and when we arrived at the hotel, the bike refused to restart. Thus commenced the unravelling of the rest of the trip – of which, more to follow. But first, a fine shower and a hearty and tasty meal at Papa Leno's, at the opposite end of the block, rounded out the day, and somewhat made up for the plan-disruption we had suffered the previous two days.
 

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Discussion Starter #18 (Edited)
Day 14: Friday May 18

Day 14: Friday May 18
Berea KY

If you’re going to have a trip fall apart, it might as well be in comfort. Thus it was with us.

Scott’s charging problems needed attention. The previous evening, we had gotten the bike running by push-starting down a short grade, but in the process I had had the bike run out from under my hands and done a full-on, full-loop header down the pavement, hammering my right wrist and forearm pretty hard in the process. Luckily, I had gloves on, as we’d just been trying to use ‘simple’ wires to boost the bike; otherwise, both my palms would have been ground-meat! Even with extensive icing in the evening, I could barely operate the controls in the morning, so we spent the day in short trips to various locations in Berea seeking chargers, booster cables, and pain killers. No proper replacement battery was available, of course. Luckily, the hotel had open rooms for the Friday, altho it was full Saturday, so we stayed an extra day.

Scott is a full-on techie, and has ‘tools’ with which he could easily see that the voltage in the system was slowly failing, but without much deeper analysis, it was not obvious whether the problem lay with the stator, the regulator/rectifier, just a wonky battery, or some combination thereof. When in doubt, the simplest solution is usually the one to try first (especially when you don’t really have other options), so we worked on the theory that the battery just needed a solid overnight charging, and went for a superb dinner downstairs in the Tavern while consuming electrons upstairs. The morrow would tell the tale…
 

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Discussion Starter #19 (Edited)
Day 15: Saturday May 19

Day 15: Saturday May 19
Berea KY to Middlesboro KY
320 kms / way too many hours…

map: https://www.google.ca/maps/dir/Historic+Boone+Tavern+Hotel+and+Restaurant,+100+Main+Street+North,+Berea,+KY+40403,+USA/Manchester,+KY,+USA/36.867666,-83.3164755/Happy+Mart/Days+Inn+Middlesboro+KY/@37.0895134,-84.1061984,10z/data=!3m1!4b1!4m28!4m27!1m5!1m1!1s0x8842e1ec5873a985:0x4958c469229d121d!2m2!1d-84.2884406!2d37.5717967!1m5!1m1!1s0x88434d59d2a6a4ab:0xb24caacadd6dcd88!2m2!1d-83.7618641!2d37.1537007!1m0!1m5!1m1!1s0x0:0xdecb438ef4c4ad1c!2m2!1d-83.6932999!2d36.748301!1m5!1m1!1s0x885c84cfcbf95d7d:0xa1e5e9876ee9cafb!2m2!1d-83.708426!2d36.6067936!3e0!4e1

The day started fine. The weather was reasonable, especially considering how bad the forecasts had been, so our decision to ‘bail’ to Kentucky seemed a good one. Scott’s bike started just fine too, with the freshly charged battery, so we set off with a glimmer of hope.

We rode south on the interstate for 20 miles or so, then cut east into more remote country. This is rolling terrain, with farms and villages dotted through a forested background. Most of the riding is relatively gentle, with sections of twistiness interspersed into a background of ‘flow’.

IMG_1695 (2) by Don Serl, on Flickr

IMG_1706 (2) by Don Serl, on Flickr


Unfortunately however, Scott’s instruments were telling him that the voltage in his system was slowly but surely declining. Heading for Knoxville was the only rational choice, and after a nice run down US 421, we struck out west on US 119, planning to hit the ‘main route’ at 25E to carry us ‘back to base’. Scott left his bike running at a refuelling stop just outside Manchester KY, and he did the same when we reached the junction with 25E. However, before we could get underway again, the bike quit, and would not restart.

We had jumper cables, purchased in Berea, and we tried that, but there was not enough ‘excess’ output from my system to fire Scott’s. A group of friendly locals offered a jump-start from their van, which successfully got the bike running again, but the luggage and seat have to come off to reach the battery terminals, of course, and just as Scott finished getting his luggage back on, the bike quit again. Plainly, it was on its last legs, electrically speaking.

20180519_165041 (2) by Don Serl, on Flickr


It was now about 5 pm. Middlesboro KY was only 8 miles away, and a couple phone calls sourced what seemed to be a replacement battery at an Advance Auto Parts location, so I emptied some luggage and set off for town. Of course, the battery was not correct. Checks at Autozone and O’Reillys yielded the same result, but it also became apparent that there was a powersports dealer in town, Shake and Bake Powersports. I quickly popped over there, now at about 6 pm, and their parts guys pulled up some info that (apparently) showed an acceptable substitute for Scott’s Yuasa YT12A-BS. They were open till 7pm, and I had a photo that made the substitute look right, so we put that on quick charge while I headed across the street to book a motel ( Middlesboro Inn; $88; nice).

Just about then, the skies opened, big time… and of course, some of the luggage I had left behind to make space for the battery included my raingear! No problem… a neck hole and two armholes in a big, orange garbage bag kept me mostly dry on the way back. And of course, while the battery was the correct length and width, and had the positive pole on the correct side, it was MUCH too deep to fit Scott’s bike!

OK, now we were truly screwed. Scott made a final attempt to get the bike to fire up, by pushing it down a gentle slope south of the gas station, but that failed, and he pulled into a side-road intersection and called for a tow-truck. A hundred and seventy-five bucks and a couple hours later, we settled in for the night. “Dinner”, if you could call it that, came out of the Dairy Queen. Quite the day!

Not how you want to see your friend end his day of riding!

20180519_210042 (2) by Don Serl, on Flickr
 

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