Some Photos of the Diamondback Motorcycle Ride

Sorry there are no great shots of bikes tearing it up on this great motorcycle ride, but it was early in the morning and I was alone. I missed the couple bikes that did pass and fortunately the early morning turkeys strolling up the road.

Photo-Start-of-the-ride

While you've already hit some curvy sections on NC 226, once you get on the Diamondback NC 226A, the traffic disappears. The sign hints at what's ahead.

The photo (above) gives you an idea of where you start from relative to where you are going – up on those smoky mountains in the background. There’s a good trout stream along this section if you’re packing the fly rod, and some nice places to stop and cool your feet in the frigid waters.

Photo-section-of-the-Diamondback

Once you start climbing, the road begins a series of turns and switchbacks that grow tighter as you gain height.

This ride will appeal to both the cruiser and the sports bike rider. You can take a leisurely approach and simply enjoy it, or you can attack it with vigor and challenge yourself. There are a few short and relatively straight sections between the curves, but they are not long enough to get you into too much trouble if you keep a lid on your enthusiasm.

Photo-section-of-the-Daimondback

As you get higher and higher, the road looks more and more like this. One curve after another, the occasional hairpin switchback to keep you on your toes.

Once you reach the highest sections, you’ll want to be wary. No guardrails, the terrain drops off precipitously and going off the road is going to guarantee you some air time followed by a very nasty landing from which only the luckiest will walk away.

Photo-section-of-the-Diamondback

The great ride ends at the intersection with the Blue Ridge Parkway at Little Switzerland. While Nc 226 is more direct, and still very curvy, as it's the shorter route it gets all the traffic.

As you approach the Blue Ridge Parkway, the Diamondback runs parallel to it for a stretch. You’ll pass through Little Switzerland, though it’s hardly noticeable. The Switzerland Inn lies sandwiched between the two roads.

Photo - Switzerland Inn sign

The Switzerland Inn is sandwiched between the Diamondback and the Blue Ridge Parkway near the top of the ride.

It’s unusual to find such a nice resort that actually invites and enjoys motorcycle travelers. You can live it up and get some fancy accommodations or get an affordable room in the Diamondback Lodge bunkhouse. Don’t be fooled by the lower prices, it’s still really nice and you can access the bars and restaurants to enjoy the full experience of the Switzerland Inn. The views are free to all and they are priceless.

I’ll be shooting a video of the Diamondback, the Switzerland Inn, and some of the surrounding rides ASAP similar to the NC 209 video. Once the Asheville Bikefest is done it’s next on the list.

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Motorcycle Group Riding Video – Good to review before the Asheville Bikefest

I stumbled across this video and with all the rides scheduled at the Asheville Bikefest May 13 – 16, it’s a good one to review. There will be guided tours as well as self-guided rides and something to satisfy most any motorcycle rider. With all the bikes in town, it will probably come in handy up on the Blue Ridge Parkway. Enjoy!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=erpkyD7SMfw

Asheville Bikefest

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Photos of Blue Ridge Parkway Damage Near Linnville

Despite the threat of rain, not an idle threat by the time I headed home, I rode the motorcycle up to Little Switzerland this morning to do some recon on the Diamondback Motorcycle and Sportscar Route. I’d started to add it to the appropriate maps and realized I needed to refresh my recollections. It was nice to revisit NC 226A. I had it all to myself early in the morning and took the appropriate measures to enjoy it with full enthusiasm much to the dismay of several groups of wild turkeys that were enjoying an early morning stroll. I’m sure they heard me coming at the Switzerland Inn as I spent the last micrometers of my rear tire spinning out of the turns.

Photo-Table-Rock-NC

The most dramatic profile on the horizon, Table Rock, NC viewed from Fish Hatchery Road.

After meeting with Gary at the Switzerland Inn, I returned down the mountain at a relatively passive pace to scope out suitable locations for filming shots, then headed south on NC 221 to ride the Lake James Loop. I snapped the first photo of Table Rock (above) from Fish Hatchery Road as I skirted along the north shore of Lake James. It holds a dear place in my heart from my rock climbing days of yore.

Photo-Table-Rock-north-profile

Hard to believe this is the same geologic feature, but you can see why the sheer 400 ft cliff faces are popular with rock climbers. Table Rock viewed from NC 181.

The second photo of Table Rock shows it in dramatic profile when viewed from the north on NC 181. Long a favorite road for motorcyclists, NC 181 makes the climb from Morganton to the Blue Ridge Parkway. The broad sweeping curves and occasional passing lanes make it a run that is (sometimes) done at speeds in excess of the posted limit  (no, not me, never).

Photo-section-of-the-Blue-Ridge-Parkway-damage-near-Linnville

The volume of trees down on the section of the Blue Ridge Parkway near Linnville is amazing. This may be one of the last sections to open.

The final section of the Lake James Loop returns to the Switzerland Inn via the Blue Ridge Parkway. While the section south of Little Switzerland is slated to open on Friday, these photos of the parkway north show how much is yet to be done. The volume of downed timber is unbelievable as the photos show.

Photo-trees-down-on-Blue-Ridge-Parkway-near-Linnville

As far as the eye can see in both directions, the Blue Ridge Parkway is totally impassable due to the amazing number of trees that fell this winter.

With this section of the Blue Ridge Parkway still closed (for obvious reasons) I took another route home. It will be impressive if this mess gets cleared by the end of the month. As soon as it does, expect a new video of the Diamondback and the Lake James Loop.

For local info contact the Switzerland Inn at http://switzerlandinn.com

To learn more about the Diamondback Motorcycle and Sportscar Route go to http://diamondbacknc.com

To get a free pocket sized post card map of the Diamondback, email info@americaridesmaps.com with you mailing address.

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Test Drive – New Bar at Motorcycle Friendly Mountaineer Restaurant

Photo - motorcycles at the Mountaineer Restaurant

Biker friendly Mountaineer Restaurant add new bar

Just a mile down the hill from the Soco Gap exit (US 19) of the Blue Ridge Parkway, the Mountaineer Restaurant has long been a popular stopping off point near the southern end of America’s favorite motorcycle ride. Over the years, as more and more motorcycle tourists have come to patronize the biker friendly stop, Joanne has adapted to cater to their every need. It’s the last stop to pull off and savor your motorcycle vacation tour before rolling into Cherokee.

Photo-View-of-the-new-bar-at-the-Mountaineer

I should have got a better photo, but I spent a bit more time at the bar than I should have before I remembered to pull out the camera.

This season brings still more changes, the first of which is the new bar. In addition to more seating, more specials, and new staff, the addition of the bar expands the offerings and gives you additional choices to indulge your sipping pleasures while contemplating the extraordinary mountain views from your table, the back porch, or the large outside deck.

Photo-Band-at-the-Mountaineer

Live entertainment is common when the motorcycles come to town

Of course, I felt it my duty to verify this new venue as worthy of your visit, so I headed up there last night for the inaugural  celebrations. As usual, whenever something is going on, Joanne had arranged for some of the best local musicians to provide entertainment and cleared an area for a little dancing. Surf and Turf was the special of the night, and I judged the brews as cold, wet, and effective to the point of enjoying a few spins on the dance floor myself.

Photo-View-from-the-porch-at-the-Mountaineer

No better proof that the bar was working just fine. Come on in and enjoy the view.

Just in time for the Thunder in the Smokies spring rally just down the hill and the Asheville Bikefest, the bar has passed muster and is ready and waiting for you.

For more info see http://firesidecottages.net/html/restaurant.html

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Motorcycle Friendly Lodging – Maggie Valley, NC – The Chalet

Photo - Maggie-Valley-Chalet

Motorcycle Friendly Lodging at the Chalet

The Chalet in Maggie Valley offers a quiet off highway setting for all individuals, no matter the number of wheels, that desire spotless accommodations.

Photo-Maggie-Valley-Chalet

Private, secluded, secure, peaceful, and friendly - What more could you ask for?

We offer all paved easy access, plenty of trailer parking,  bike/car washing area, rag bucket,  and even some garage parking.Our location is secure and bikes are not visible to traveling public.

Photo-View-of-room-at-Maggie-Valley-Chalet

Now that's what I'm looking for at the end of a good day of riding!

The vast lawn area with gas grills, horseshoe pit and enclosed hot tub is ideal for socializing.

Photo-View-of-room-at-Maggie-Valley-Chalet

Comfortable, relaxing, all you need to feel at home

Our units are all studios or suites with kitchens excellent for small groups of up to 30. Most of our guest come back yearly to enjoy the comfortable accommodations we offer.

Photo-Facilities-at-Maggie-Valley-Chalet

They have all you need to make sure your bike has a nice stay too!

For more info contact http://www.mvchalet.com

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Bet you didn’t know about this Classic Motorcycle Ride – Video

My winter project is finally done, a gift to you, a video guide to one of the best kept secret classic motorcycle rides in the Smoky Mountains.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xg-pDqHpUsY

While it’s well known to those who live nearby, few from out of the area ever discover this great motorcycle ride to Hot Springs, North Carolina. Fewer yet ride the hundreds of miles of wonderful motorcycle roads which surround it. Great scenery, engaging and challenging two lane mountain roads devoid of traffic, and miles and miles of fun are waiting for you just east of Great Smoky Mountains National Park. This is one of those ‘must do” rides for those who come down the Blue Ridge Parkway and wonder what to see once they reach the southern endpoint.

Discover more at http://youtube.com/americaridesmaps

For the most inexpensive, comprehensive, and detailed maps of the area go to http://americaridesmaps.com

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Great New Motorcycle Route Named In North Carolina

The practice of naming great motorcycle rides is a long and honored tradition. It’s a convenient shorthand way to refer to a road or series of roads that makes for a particularly good motorcycle ride. The Dragon, Hellbender 28, Blood Mountain, The Devil’s Triangle, Thunder Road, and many others are all utilized to describe rides that rise to the level of classic motorcycle rides. Add one more to the list – the Diamondback (NC 226A) and the Lake James Route.

Image - The Diamondback Post Card Map

Postcard image of the Diamondback / Lake James Route which originates at the Switzerland Inn

This 65 mile loop combines a number of great sections of road into one beautiful and entertaining ride which offers a great combination of outstanding mountain scenery and challenging curvy two lane roads. The ride originates at the luxurious Switzerland Inn adjacent to the Blue Ridge Parkway in Little Switzerland. Located on sinuous 226A, the ride can be enjoyed in either direction though I’m inclined to immediately jump down the steep and technical descent from the Inn and get the party started. On the return via the Blue Ridge Parkway I’ll savor my fun and let the bike cool down after the hot sections along the route.

Photo - View of the grounds at the Switzerland Inn

The Switzerland Inn - A beautiful Resort on the Blue Ridge Parkway

After the initial descent, NC 226 gives you a chance to catch your breath before you turn northeast to trace the foothills and the twisty ride to reach NC 181.  Turn back towards the high country, I most enjoy NC 181 when climbing. The sweeping turns and curves have long been a favorite ride for motorcyclists in the area and you’ll get the best views of dramatic Table Rock while clawing your way up the mountainside. While beautiful and entertaining, the Blue Ridge Parkway section returning to the inn is a nice cherry on top of the shake below.

Photo - Table Rock

Table Rock is even more dramatic as it imposes on the horizon viewed end on from NC 181

I’m shipping post card maps of this ride with every order America Rides Maps so long as they last to help you discover this great loop ride. For those motorcycle touring along the Blue Ridge Parkway, the Diamondback makes for a wonderful side trip to add to your motorcycle adventures.

You’ll find these great roads and many, many more on America Rides Maps “The Best Roads North and South of Asheville, NC” . Contact the Switzerland Inn for even more detail and be sure to visit http://diamondbacknc.com . I’ll have video of this ride ASAP.

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Deals Gap, NC -Tail of the Dragon Reopening April 12

PRESS RELEASE
April 9, 2010
For Immediate Release
Contact:
Ron or Nancy Johnson
800-768-7129 or 828-479-8400
Tail of the Dragon, LLC

Tail of the Dragon Reopening

April 12, 2010

ROCK SLIDE UPDATE April 9, 2010:

The rock slide on US 129 is located between the Dragon and Happy Valley Road/Foothills Parkway.

TDOT has announced in a press release that the 11 mile section known as the Tail of the Dragon will be open from 8 am to 8 pm beginning Monday April 12, 2010. The only access is from North Carolina US 129. THP announced that there will be zero tolerance for traffic violations, so I’d travel the Tail with extreme caution. Please obey the traffic laws and report any undue harassment to us. We will forward all complaints to the Tennessee and North Carolina senators and representatives who worked so hard to get the road open.

We will continue to post the latest information here so keep in touch. The only alternatives from 8 pm to 8 am are the Cherohala Skyway and US 441 through the Great Smoky Mountains. There are many great roads in North Carolina and the Cherohala Skyway is clean.

http://tailofthedragon.com

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Motorcycle Friendly Lodging – Maggie Valley, NC – Creek Wood Village Resort

I’ve found another place which welcomes the motorcycle vacation traveler looking for a place to either spend the night or base out of to enjoy the hundreds of miles of great motorcycle rides just over the hill. It’s just a few miles off the Blue ridge Parkway from the Soco Gap exit.

Photo - aerial view of the cabins on the roaring creek

Aerial view of the cabins on the roaring creek at Creek Wood Village Resort

Photo - motorcycleCreek Wood Village Resort is located in the heart of Maggie Valley, directly behind the Maggie Valley Festival Grounds on three and one half FLAT acres with easy access for motorcycles and trailers. It’s convenient to most everything in town including the restaurants, shops, waterholes and Wheels Through Time motorcycle museum.

They have one, two and three bedroom cabins, all with full kitchens, fireplaces, color cable T.V. and the most beautiful views of the mountains.

Photo - one of the cabins

Historic and comfortable cabins are waiting for you.

No hectic life style here. Just kick back and set on your porch, enjoy the mountains, reflect your day in the quiet pond or listen to the water rushing through the nearby creek,  and take in the views after a great day of riding some of the best touring rides around.

Totally motorcycle friendly, they also have two fishing ponds and 650 foot of rushing creek.

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Motorcycle Friendly Eateries – Rock Bottom Sports Grill, Hot Springs, NC

Photo - Rock Bottom Sports Grill in Hot Springs, NC

The Rock Bottom Sports Grill in Hot Springs, NC - Biker Friendly

I spent a bit of the beautiful weekend in Hot Springs, NC, getting the final footage for my upcoming video about one of North Carolina’s classic motorcycle rides – NC 209. While we were there I made a lunch stop at the Rock Bottom Sports Grill in the heart of town.

Photo - the bar at the Rock Bottom Sports Grill

It was too nice a day to be inside at the bar - everyone was out on the porch overlooking the stream and enjoying their meals

I was lucky enough to catch Melissa, the owner there on Easter Sunday. She’d come in to put out the fires that developed over the holiday weekend. They’d been swamped with business and she was doing her best to locate more staples and replenish the menu on a day when many suppliers were closed for the holiday. The photos of the bar and inside of the restaurant are misleading – with the beautiful weather, the covered porch outside was packed with diners enjoying their meals while overlooking the creek which flows aside the building.

Our food was good, though they’d run out of buffalo burgers, always a treat when I can find them. The standard version fit the bill quite nicely and I overheard several complimentary comments about the fries – there are very tasty.

Photo of painting of the town of Hot Springs, NC

Photo of painting of the town of Hot Springs, NC - river rafting, backpackers passing through on the Appalachian Trail, how many motorcycles can you spot?

My visit had another purpose. As route master for the Asheville Bikefest, I’m trying to visit any many locations as I can prior to the May 13 – 16th event to not only alert them of the traffic it is likely to generate, but verify they are welcome to biker business. Before I start telling thousands of motorcyclists of great places to stop while enjoying the wonderful two lane mountain roads I’ll suggest to them for their visit, I want to insure they are welcome there. No problems with the Rock Bottom Sports Grill in Hot Springs. Melissa has been riding for years, made the pilgrimage to Sturgis last year, and is looking forward to seeing you and insuring you have a great time.

Photo - another interior shot

Got to talk with the still photographer - entirely missed the crowds outside on the porch.

I’m pulling the video together as time permits, expect to learn a lot more about Hot Springs and the fabulous motorcycle riding in the surrounding area. Here’s the Teaser I put together before the snow shut things down. The full version is coming soon;

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3hsCLMCIUOo

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