Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Ridge Riding Through The Carolina's, USA

The Gang that took me in for the night and treated me like familiy. I enjoyed the company and hospitality of these great folks and savored the food and local beer and local tonics which was shared with me. I'll never forget these people and hopefully we'll all hook up again in the future.
Riding at the back of the pack has the added advantage combining my two favorite things, riding motorcycles and watching motorcycles.

The mountain cabin tucked away in the Ash and Maple forest up in the Hills of North Carolina.

The famous Deals Gap, fun ride of 318 Turns, in 11 miles.

After making my way up from New Orleans and into Alabama for the night, I pitched my tent in a State Campground in one of their "remote areas". Here I ran into a young couple set up at a picnic table under the light of a coleman lantern playing a bit of scrabble. I introduced myself and proceeded toward the loaded motorcycle to unpack and set up my brand new tent that I picked up at a giant camping and outdoors store that sold everything under the sun related to the outdoors.

I set my tent up knowing that the rain clouds, (that I finally out ran were looming on the horizon evident by the flashing black clouds that were occluding the stars and from the occasional rumble of thunder from above) would be moving in soon. After fully pegging out the tent I hopped inside and listened to the deafening crickets and cicada's. They were so loud infact, that their noise eventually seemed like white noise and dissappeared completely from the mind. Finally the first heavy drops hit the tent at about 1am and boys...O...boys did it ever rain. The rain came down so hard that the pressure from the water drops forced their way through the fly and I was showered by a light mist from the exploded drops screened by the fly sheet.
In the morning I pulled out and pointed the motorcycle northward and began cutting a little more easterly following the suggestion of the fellows from Cycle Rider to ride the "Tail of the Dragon" Route 129 that goes across the border from Tennessee to North Carolina. Luckily the first gas station that I inquired about the Dragons Tail at, informed me that I took the correct turn off and that the road was 12 miles at the next intersection. Fate couldn't have served me better and so I rode along the twistiest most famous road in the east which boasted 318 curves in 11 miles. I rode to the end of the curves and stopped into Deals Gap for a break where I met Andrew who was riding his Aprilla and carried on a conversation about the good ole KLR 650.
I pulled a U-turn and planned to head further northward as it was still a few hours until dark. At an interesting looking intersection with new asphalt I spotted a group of 6 riders on sport bikes. I decided to stop and inquire about where the intersection might possibly lead me. Within roughly 3 minutes Jonathan (one of the fellows from the group) had me convinced that I needed to experience the best riding in the east and followed that up with an offer to hang out at the Mountain Cabin that the Group had rented. As crazy as it may sound I was on the edge of saying no because of the proximity to home and the light at the end of the tunnel, but, I came to my senses and agreed that I'd hangout, have some BBQ'd steaks, beer and a dry warm place to stay for the night among like minded fun people.
In the morning the decision had to be made whether or not to head out or stay yet another night with my new friends and explore more of the epic roads that NC has to offer. Alas, this time I felt the need to move on and accepted the fact that I'd probably kick myself later for passing on good times, good riding and good people....but after 8 months it was time to keep moving.
After saying goodbye to the whole gang I hit the road and headed through the Great Smokey Mountains riding through the twisty roads along side rivers and bumper to bumper traffic. Although the scenery was terrific, the traffic was too much for me and I had to hit the interstate once again. I finally pulled into some familiar territory in Virginia. I found some of the old roads that me and my buddies used to ride bicycles on once upon a time for training camps when we'd get a jump on the competition with some early spring miles while the weather was still too bad back home. I followed the roads until I encountered Shenandoah Acres. Here I ended up pitching my tent under a roof that covered a group picnic table area. I knew the black clouds would open up in due time and luckily I was under cover when the clouds finally burst. The water came down in sheets and the thunder in the valley was tremendous. I crawled into my tent just as the rain tapered off and fell asleep exhausted pondering my destination in the morning.

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