This Bike Nite Will Be Hard To Top!

Photo – Bikes at the Mountaineer Restaurant / Riders Roost

Wow! Joanne at the Mountaineer / Riders Roost in Maggie Valley pulled out all the stops. What started as a social ride turned out more social than ride, but what a party! Only a handful of us enjoyed a fabulous cruise in the evening sunset on the Blue Ridge Parkwayjust up the hill. The action kept most at the restaurant.Photo – Bikers Always Welcome at The Mountaineer / Riders Roost

The handful of riders expected turned into a crowd of 50 or more. The place was full and lively. There was mountain music to liven things up. Some of the crew from Ghost Town in the Sky came down in full costume. Joanne had extra staff on hand to handle the crowd. Food, drink, music, entertainment, it was not surprising most stayed put.

We’re off to a good start. It’s going to be tough to top this show, and quite honestly, I’m happy just to make the rides. The timing is ideal. It’s cooling off, the sun is low and golden, the day traffic is gone, it’s a perfect time to be out for a spin.

Photo – Live Mountain Music Entertained The Crowd

It’s nice to be off to a great start. These Wednesday evening rides are open to all. I can’t promise we’ll always throw a party this good, but we’ve got some talented and resourceful people involved. If you’re in town or nearby please come by and get to know the people in Maggie Valley who really welcome and appreciate the motorcycle tourist as much as the local. We’ve got some special deals for you, discount cards to help your dollar go farther while your here, and information on the best rides in the area.

Photo – Happy Diners At The Mountaineer

Look for the flyers, ask at the visitors center, e-mail me, or visit All Roads Lead To to find out what’s happening each week. There is a group of people, growing and expanding, that are working overtime to insure you have the best affordable motorcyle vacation found anywhere. We’ve built all inclusive packages that include, meals, lodging, tours, discounts, entertainment at prices you won’t find elsewhere. It’s all possible because we are surrounded by hundreds and hundreds of miles of the best motorcyling roads found anywhere, more than you can see in one, two, even three trips. You never run out of great riding.

Every day is a motorcycle rally in Maggie Valley. The only thing missing are the noisy crowds. They’re too busy spending evenings on the porch in a rocking chair. Ride all day. Kick back in the evening. Now that’s a vacation.

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Good Day, Good Motorcycle Tour, Great Guests!

Carolyn and Larry G. from Granger, IN., enjoy one of my secret waterfalls

Paperwork is all done, bikes in the barn, time to crack open a cold one. A good time was had by all, especially me, but that’s not hard when you’re out riding in the mountains. Thanks to Carolyn and Larry for treating me to breakfast and dinner – somehow we were having so much fun we missed lunch. My fault, I didn’t know it was some kind of secret Latin holiday and all the Mexican restaurants on the route would be closed today. The pizza was good enough.

Most guides or tour companies won’t mess with just one bike or day tours. It’s the same amount of paperwork, liability, wear and tear on the bikes, and us guides don’t work cheap. The more sensible thing to do is run groups, preferably on multi-day trips. But then most companies have to cover hundreds of miles to get enough quality sights and scenery to make a trip rewarding. Not so here. As soon as you leave the barn you’re in the heart of it.

As should be the case things ran like clockwork. I waved at Larry as he was picking up his rental Harley from Gryphon Bikes in Maggie Valley. They met me for breakfast exactly on time at the Mountaineer Restaurant. I’d urged them to take their time and not leave too early so the mountains would clear of morning clouds. The last vapors were dissipating from the high spots at Waterrock Knob when we arrived – right on time.

That hearty breakfast from the Mountaineer stayed with us and we chose to skip the lunch stop at the Pisgah Inn on the Blue Ridge Parkway. Not accustomed to a Harley, the parkway was the ideal place to get a feel for the bike on the comfortable curves. By the time we were ready to go in search of waterfalls he was ready to tackle the twisties.

As the day evolved we progressed from the easy roads and waterfalls to those more challenging and off the beaten path. Though the first couple times the floorboards scraped on the sharper turns were unnerving for a flat-lander, I assured Larry the rental agency would consider this “normal wear and tear” for our mountain territory (it is). I saved the best for last with a collection of my “secret” waterfalls, a few I don’t reveal on my maps.

The weather was pleasant, just cool enough and a little breezy up high. It was hot but not stifling down in the valleys. The clouds threatened just enough to heighten awareness of the good fortune we had with no rain. Even the bathrooms appeared at just the right times. We ended the day by returning the rental Harley with 25 minutes to spare, bellies full, and all ready to spend some quality time riding the rocking chairs on the porch. Nothing like a good tour.

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Trooper Shawn Blanton Memorial Ride

Photo – Troopers were well represented (I kept a low profile)

Even with mesh pants, a mesh jacket, and my visor open, it was hot. Another heat wave hits the mountains. It hit 89 degrees on my thermometer at home, though it was surely much hotter through town. I know Al Gore has something to do with this but I just can pin him down on it. Not the best of days for a memorial ride from a comfort standpoint, but at least the frequent rains of late held off.

Generally I’m not much of one for charity rides and such. There’s one every weekend somewhere, and quite frankly, while I do hit a few, I don’t need an excuse to validate my going somewhere on the bike. In this case, I felt participation was mandated. This ride memorializes the one year anniversary of the death of one of our homeboys, Trooper Shawn Blanton.

It’s a story almost so scripted it’s like something that came off the Lifetime Network – but in this case it gets to me. It happened just a few miles from my house. Trooper Blanton, a relatively new officer was slain in broad daylight, shot down with his own gun as witnessed by many local passers-by during a routine traffic stop. He had a newborn child, premature and struggling for life in neonatal intensvie care who died shortly thereafter. His wife, young and of stunning beauty, was suddenly left alone losing all she held dear. It is truly a tragedy.

He was Cherokee. That alone is a story of his success to become a state law enforcement officer. And while the story starts with tragedy, his widow has taken what was left and devoted her efforts to several charitable causes, a testimony to her nobility and strength. We couldn’t miss this ride.

It started from three separate locations, all coverging at Cherokee High School on the reservation. I don’t have official numbers, but I counted hundreds of bikers. The streets of town were lined with those paying their respect. Sometimes, the cause is so worthy you have to participate. This was one of them.

God Bless Trooper Blanton.

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Virginia Maps Are Coming

Photo – Jackie enjoys the country roads of Virginia

You know the story – excuses, excuses. Where the heck are the Virginia maps? I’ve got them started. Two scouting trips have narrowed the focus. They are not going to be ready as soon as I’d wished, but that’s usually the way it goes. Business has been booming and it’s been difficult to get away. Lots of activity, particulalry related to Maggie Valley, North Carolina.

I do have a new map about to be released of the 5 most popular rides surrounding Maggie Valley. It was supposed to be a custom job, but you know, it’s turning out so nice I may just make it public. It includes Deals Gap and the Tail of the Dragon, Thunder Road, The Blue Ridge Parkway, Hot Springs, and the Devil’s Triangle. All of these rides are fairly well known. All of them are classics. Some take just a few hours, others are an all day excursion. It’s easily enough to give you a ride a day for a 5 day visit.

Unlike my other maps, this map is exclusive to just these 5 rides. None of the hundreds of miles of great surrounding roads are included. The usual mileage, gas stations, and a few of the most obvious points of interest are included, but to get the full detail and all the best surrounding roads you’ll need to get one of my normal detailed maps.

We’ll see how it goes. I like it so far. I’ll put it out for testing and review. Let’s see what others think and maybe, I’ll have a new map availabe within a week.


Report on Blue Ridge Parkway Construction

I’ve been curious about the construction on the Blue Ridge Parkway since the road reopened north of Asheville, NC. This section of the parkway has been closed for more than a year due to a landslide. The detour around it took more than an hour and access to the highest mountain in the east, Mt. Mitchell, was limited. It reopened May 15, though there are still delays. It’s not so bad after all.

Now that I’m on the road again, I checked things out. The parkway advisory makes it appear much worse than it is – at least when I was there. 16 miles of the parkway are being resurfaced. It definately needs it. The road has deteriorated from Mt. Mitchell south. The southbound lane is in worse shape than the northbound lane. Expect some rough roads in this area if you’re headed south. North is much better, though there are a few places most easily described as “potholes” that are really spots where the road has subsided in large deep dips. Be alert, they are marked with orange paint, and you’ll avoid them.

The actual construction area is quite short though you may encounter construction vehicles and activities through the area. They appear to be doing it in small sections so the really bad stuff is limited to very short portions of the road. You may want to snap a photo (as
I did) of the rare appearance of traffic lights on the parkway. Delays are relatively short, you’ll cross a section of unpaved road, then all is well again.

Honestly the detours to the north around Boone, Blowing Rock, and into Virginia are much more inconvenient. There are a couple of bridges being repleced in these sections and the detours route you close enough into the cities to experience some traffic.

I expect to be in the area again soon and am confident there are better detours than the Park Service provides. Once I discover them I will map them out and offer them as free printable downloads at my America Rides web site as I did last year.

In the mean time, be sure to include Mt. Mitchell as a stop on your parkway ride. The new observation platform is completed so you can enjoy the views if you’re willing to take a short hike up the trail. Don’t forget there is also the opportuntiy to eat at the highest restaraunt in the east just a mile or so down the road in Mt. Mitchell State Park.

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