Full Service Motorcycle Tour Company in Charlotte Area – Blue Strada Tours

Bill-Kniegge-Blue-Strada-Tours

Bill Kneigge

Isn’t it great when you come across those people in life whom everyone can’t help but like? Happy, enthusiastic, uplifting, and full of passion, they not only make your day but you can’t help but want to spend more time with them. I had the privilege and pleasure of meeting Bill Kniegge through the Asheville Bikefest when he provided exemplary service as one of the tour guides for that inaugural four day event. You may count on hearing more of him in the future, he’s one of those people you WANT to do business with.

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A photo from Backbone Rock, Tennessee, in one of the premier riding areas in the Smoky Mountains

With 30 years in the motorcycle and motorsports industry and involvement with brands like Bell Helmets, Husqvarna and ATK Motorcycles, Ford Motorsports, and his love of riding and competing since the age of 12, Bill Kniegge, brings his knowledge, desire, and passion to Blue Strada Motorcycle Tours putting together premier two-wheel experiences for the motorcycle vacationer.

Blue Strada Motorcycle Tours & Rentals is a Motorcycle Touring company based in the Charlotte area.  The company provides motorcycle riders with all-inclusive 5-8 Day tours of the Appalachian mountains, including the Blue Ridge and the Smokys.  Tour guests can ride their own motorcycles if they desire or pick from a series of Suzuki V Strom, BMW and Yamaha Touring bikes. Tour leaders are experienced with the roads and Tour guests arrive at their lodging to find their luggage already in their rooms… Kniegge is a self admitted “Foodie” and thus provides great choices for dinners and lunches along the way.

Photo and the Fiddling Pig

An admitted "foodie", Bill and company enjoy the dining as much as the riding.

Blue Strada Motorcycle Rentals are a important part of their business.  Riders that want to ride their own pace in the mountains can do so very easily.  Blue Strada provides help in searching for great roads to ride, a variety of lodging based on price points and will also deliver and pick up bikes from Charlotte area hotels and airport if needed.

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Quality endures - Bill and a classic Beemer

Look to the Blue Strada web site as a trusted source for motorcycle rentals and high quality touring experiences and consider working them into your motorcycle vacation plan. Whether it’s the Blue Ridge Parkway or any of the thousands of miles of superb back roads in the Smoky Mountains you seek to enjoy,  Bill and his team will do you well. Experience excellence in motion with Bill Kniegge.

http://bluestradatours.com

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A Good Tip Leads to More Great Motorcycle Rides Near the Dragon

Droning west on the Great Smoky Mountains Expressway this morning, my mind tends to wander. The greatest challenge of the highway is simply maintaining the legal limit leaving plenty of brain cells free to engage in other things. My wife rides alongside on her Beemer so I have something to look at every once and a while and count my blessings of how fortunate I am to have someone like her to come along with me today. The thought that comes to the forefront is “Just how many motorcycles are there on the road?”

It was far easier to snap a photo on the rare straight stretches - overall the roads were wonderfully curvy.

As the main artery between the Blue Ridge Parkway and the Dragon at Deals Gap, it’s no wonder there are a lot of motorcycle riders on this stretch of highway 23 / 74. Both the Parkway and the Dragon draw millions of two wheeled vacationers to the area every year. Still, we’re a good bit east of Cherokee, the southern endpoint of the Blue Ridge Parkway, and within minutes we’ve passed scores of bikes headed in the opposite direction.

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The roads we explored followed winding streams and creeks through rolling farm lands in a broad mountain valley. Plenty of great long range views.

We’re only going as far as NC 28 south today, about 45 minutes ride time to reach Lauada, and early on I wonder if we’ll pass 100 riders. I start to keep a loose count, but within 20 minutes or so it’s obvious the number will easily exceed that, and question answered, my mind drifts to other things. Turning off the highway onto two lane NC 28 we plunge south into the twisties and the bikes keep sweeping past us in the other direction.

Photo - Jackie rounds a curve

The pavement is generally excellent for back roads, and you can enjoy the ride with gusto. Just be wary for a little gravel now and then.

I’m following up on a tip from Brad at the Deals Gap Motorcycle Resort. I spent some time with him Friday and he suggested I revisit an area I’d previously sketched over. I knew there were a couple of nice rides hidden away around Franklin, but he hinted they could be linked together to make a nice route. I’d done some scouting on the way home that day, and I saw promise. Today was the day we’d put it all together and see if it added up to getting a place on my America Rides Maps.

Photo - Jackie leads

The only traffic we found was when we approached the main road. If you stick to the perimeter route you'll see very little if any and it's more curvy and fun.

It took about four hours for a thorough assessment. We checked out every one of the roads in the area, confirmed the unpaved areas remained so (I only focus on paved roads), the dead ends were still dead, and the links that joined the roads together followed a more or less natural flow or the turn points were easy enough to locate. When we completed our task, I had assembled an outstanding ride that will certainly be the next addition to America Rides Maps. I’ll add it tomorrow morning.

Photo - a day meant for riding a motorcycle

I highly recommend NC 28. These roads make it even better. Great to know when there's traffic. You can jump off and enjoy the ride again.

I make a claim to know almost every great motorcycle ride from North Georgia to North Virginia. While I can’t claim I know them all, I’ve just learned another, and we saw only one other bike the whole time we were exploring the area. Now that’s what I’m looking for.

America Rides Maps

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Tire Testing on the Dragon at Deals Gap – Michelin Power Pure

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The Deals Gap Motorcycle Resort - NC starting point for riding The Dragon

Opinions on what makes a good tire range across the scale. Some favor durability, others performance, while many put price at the top of the list. Where you fall on the spectrum depends on your riding style. Most riders put little thought into it except when purchasing, and for the typical rider a set of tires last the full riding season or longer. Once they’re on, they are mostly forgotten until the tread disappears and things get squirrely.

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Even on a rainy day, bikes line up at the Deals Gap Motorcycle Resort.

Cruisers and show bikers need not read any further. The Michelin Power Pure tire is suited for Sports-Touring and the occasional track day on a sports bike. I suppose I can legitimately claim I am a professional rider, it is a key component of how I earn my living. 90%+ of the time I am on a bike I am working, and with the season on, I’ll be going through the rubber. I’ve burned through sets in a month of typical riding.

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Rain clouds swirl over Fontana Lake in this view from an overlook on NC 28 approaching the Dragon.

I fitted this rear tire a little over a week ago, and with about 500 miles on it I can give a reasonable impression of its performance. I’ve still got some life in the Michelin Pilot Power  2C on the front, but I’m looking forward to replacing it to have a matched set. The Pure employs Michelins LLT technology eliminating any rubber that is not essential to performance, lightening and stiffening the sidewalls with additional aramid fiber. This reduces tire weight by a kilo making them lighter than the Pirelli Diablo Rosso or Bridgestone BT-106. As tires make up about 75% of a wheels inertial weight (tire/wheel/brakes) and a significant portion of unsprung mass, and thusly affect it’s gyroscopic impact on handling, Michelin claim its akin to fitting 3 kg lighter wheels.

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Views of the new Michelin Power Pure tire following the days ride.

Holy math test, Batman, that sounds like some awful technical track talk, what’s it mean on the road? I was already impressed with the the tires handling on dry roads though had been holding back during the scrubbing-in process. Satisfied I’d worn them in enough, I set out to test their wet road handling and what better place than the Dragon at Deals Gap.

The Dragon at Deals Gap with it’s 311 turns in 13 miles is currently not the ideal place to push any limits. The north end of the road remains closed due to a rock slide. A gate has been placed at the south entrance and a Tennessee State Trooper sits on the state line as a reminder to behave. Another patrolled the far end of the road this morning picking off offenders as fast as he could write citations. Any runners would be snagged at the gate by the sentry stationed there. They literally have a captive audience and it’s like shooting fish in a barrel – you will get popped. I knew it was no place to get jiggy.

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Due to the rock slide, the Dragon is open from 8AM- 8 PM. A fence at the south end is manned by a Tennessee State trooper acting as sentry.

Still, for wet weather testing it would work fine. Counting on herd theory, I knew the enforcement would be focusing on the worst offenders. So long as I kept it reasonable, I’d slip by. With wet roads I wouldn’t be breaking any personal records nor tempted to loft the front wheel out of corners. Mildly exceeding the limit on occasion and ignoring the fact the bike is fitted with brakes would get the data I sought.

The rain was light but steady and I hit a few decent showers on the ride out, but not the deluges I was looking for. NC 28 glistened with a fine sheen as I approached, but on reaching the Dragon I found the road nearly dry. An hour later I concluded my meeting at the Deals Gap Motorcycle Resort and mounted up to do the ride.

Photo-the-north-end-of-the-Dragon-closedAnother sentry from the DOT waits at the north end of the Dragon. You can’t see the rock slide from here.

It wasn’t going as I planned. With the obvious enforcement, I resigned to simply cruising through the road to satisfy my curiosity of what was going on at the far end. The no brakes technique makes stretching the posted limit just a bit more than entertaining and I carved my way to the end and back. It felt as if the tires were fused with the pavement. Lean angle was endless. I never felt any drift, not the first slippage, let alone anything breaking loose. Powering through the corners was precise, and while I never really got on it with the throttle, it felt so casual and relaxing I had my share of fun. But then, I already knew these tires worked on the dry road.

Photo-the-rock-slide-end-of-the-Dragon

With a large turn around area at the rock slide end, riders congregate here to regroup and show the tickets they got.

Leaving Deals Gap I got what I was looking for. NC 28 was still wet and a little rain kept the conditions nearly perfect. All warmed up from the Dragon, I hit the wet road to see how things compared. It didn’t seem to matter. Barely having shifted my weight for the hairpin corner with a posted speed of 10 mph, I was actually relaxed enough to take my eyes off the road and glance at the spedo – 40 mph and I really wasn’t trying. When the next turn was posted at 35, I did the math and quickly decided I wasn’t willing to go fast enough to find the edge. These tires work in wet conditions – in spades.

Testing over, I started back on the four lane Smoky Mountains Expressway to go home. Within minutes I was bored, and when NC 28 south appeared, I could not control the urge to keep riding. Brad Tolbert, proprietor of the Deals Gap Motorcycle Resort,  had let slip info about some back roads near Franklin and I just couldn’t resist investigating. Let’s face it, when the guy who runs the biggest outfit at Deals Gap suggests a good road, you listen.

Test back on, true conditions this time. Unknown roads, wet conditions, time pressure to get home, this was the real deal. I blasted through the back roads for more than an hour not sure which way to go, mostly by instinct, and linked together a fine ride. Mixed and broken pavement, gravel in turns, a few rocks dislodged by the rain, some mud wash, now this is what I do and that tire stayed fused to the road like it was integrated. Only once did I note a tiny slip, and when it broke loose on gravel it regained traction so quickly it was barely noted, and I can’t remember drifting the bike through a single curve.

Obviously this tire passes the performance test, it may be the best tire I’ve ever run in that respect. The next big question is durability and what happens when I’m forced to drone along on the endless highway to reach far away places. There’s no better way to waste good rubber than wearing out and squaring off the center of a good tire before you’ve used the edges. The soft compound comprises 40% of the edges of this tire, hence it’s performance (previously 11%). I’ll report back on mileage when it comes time to swap it out to determine how durable the harder compound in the center proves. If I can get more than 5000 miles out of it, I may have found my new tire of choice. Now if I could just get sponsored…

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The "lean stripes" on the tire. Not only did every line show wear, but it was evident all the way to the edge of the tread. 100% use.

Addendum – I heard about a trend which started with some German sports bike riders. They would mark the edges of their tires with chalk to show who had the biggest bragging rights at the end of the day for having achieved the greatest lean angles. Where you typically find the direction arrow at the very edge of the tread which tells the mounter which way the tire is built to rotate, the Michelin Pure incorporates three raised bars parroting the practice. Usually, I wear my tires about to the limit of where the rotation arrow is. That last 3/8 inch or so never gets touched. In typical use, I would expect to maybe graze the first of the raised lines on this new tire. When I took photos this morning, I noted not only had every one of the three bars received wear, but it extended to the very edge of the tire. Without seriously trying or getting on a track, I had utilized 100% of the available tread. Achtung, Baby!

Deals Gap Motorcycle Resort

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Another Great Motorcycle Ride to be Added to the List – My Secret

It’s not all that frequently I miss a great motorcycle ride in my explorations. I really try to be thorough as well as intuitive, so few slip by. Still, I can’t claim to know ALL the great roads in the southern Appalachians, just the vast majority of them. I continue to find more, and quite embarrassingly, they are too often close to home. Everyone believes they know ALL the great roads right in their back yard. Time and again I am proven wrong, and that’s not such a bad thing.

Stop reading now if you think I am giving this one away. No photos, no road names, nada. I just gave away 30 routes at the Asheville Bikefest for free and people gobbled them up. Nor is this a post about the Asheville Bikefest, I think you may be getting sick of hearing about that, but be cautioned, there will be more to come. The event was far more successful than expected and stuff is flooding in. The only reason I mention the event is because I found this great road because of it.

As Route Master for the Asheville Bikefest (there I go again, last time) I spoke with countless people helping them find the best rides in the area and getting them to see the most in the time they had. When you’re passionate about something, even work becomes fun. I went almost non-stop for four days and I had a great time. That’s why I founded America Rides Maps.

So anyway, this guy wants me to direct him to one of the two dozen local roadside waterfalls, which I do, so he can get of picture of his bike behind it. Yeah, you can actually drive behind this waterfall right off the road. He didn’t find it. Why, I don’t know, it’s one of the most obvious roadside waterfalls there is but that doesn’t matter. What matters is this guy doesn’t give up. He gets directions which lead him off into the forest. He rides and rides everything in sight, exploring places I know better than to go. He never finds it.

The next day he comes back to me and tells me he couldn’t find the waterfall. I’m a bit incredulous, it’s so easy. I redirect him. He relates his adventures and tells me he found this awesome motorcycle ride. I’m dubious. If he couldn’t find the easy waterfall do I believe him now? I made a mental note of it nonetheless. About an hour later I’m talking to a couple of women. They’re buying maps of the areas closest to them (we all think we know our own back yard), right down the street from the “event which will not be named again in this post. Out of curiosity, I ask if they know of this road the guy mentioned. “I live on that road, it’s great!”

So I can’t resist. Today I have to check it out. It rocks. Who cares how or why I missed it.   I’ll add it to the “The Best Roads South of Great Smoky Mountains State Park – EAST” map tomorrow. The other routes in the area I’d previously identified were detours around a congested town and a four lane section of road which formed one leg of a 100 mile+ triangle of superb riding. Now I think I’m looking forward to the detour more than the great rides that lead to it.

I have some more leads to follow up. I know some will be disappointing. I think I’ve done at least one and rejected it, my standards are high, but you never know. I’d be very pleased to find another jewel.

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Waiting to Hear About the Asheville Bikefest and the Blue Ridge Motorcycle Run

Photo - The Headquarters building

The big log building in the background was the headquarters for the event - as Route Master I rarely left it.

From before the gates opened to well after they closed, I spent the last four days at the Asheville Bikefest and yet I never really saw it. As Route Master for the event I was stationed in the luxurious air conditioned headquarters building and tasked with helping folks get out and ride the fantastic motorcycle roads in the surrounding area. I rarely stepped outside nor ventured far from my post.

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A printer, 30 routes, and me at work helping you find the best rides and routes.

Flanked by two long tables stacked with 30 motorcycle ride routes for people to choose from, I spent much of my time running back and forth to the printer to maintain the supply. There were great motorcycle rides in most every point of the compass, up and down the Blue Ridge Parkway, and to several of my personal favorite motorcycle roads. It kept me busy. When my wife came down Saturday to help me out, I urged her to take a few minutes and grab some photos. She probably saw more of the event than I did.

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A vintage Triumph Bonneville parked right out front - I rode one of those back in the day and find myself back on a Triumph today. Great bikes!

I met folks from as far away as Maine, New York, Florida, and a whole lot from South Carolina and Virginia. Considering the remnants of the Myrtle Beach Bike Rally were going on simultaneously, it was encouraging to see so many who had chosen to come here instead, a sure sign that beach venue has lost it’s luster. Most who came seemed to be local. It was a surprising turnout considering all the competing events in the region and up and down the Blue Ridge Parkway.

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Yamaha / Star / Boss Hoss and other big rigs set up in one corner. There was a steady stream of demo rides the whole time.

I expect more photos soon. I saw some wild ones from The Anti Team Stunt Show with the bikes in flames. When I caught the last of them on Sunday, they were pulling out all the stops and those boys went home with some painful souvenirs.

Photo - stunts provided by the Anti Team

Three stunt shows each day from the Anti Team kept getting better and better. They kept finding more stuff to blow up or burn, sometimes themselves.

I was there, but I can’t tell you much about it. I was too busy. I’ll post more as it comes in. If you made it, let me know what you thought and I’ll try to do even better next year. Unlike others, this event is all about the great motorcycle riding and should be one you add to your motorcycle vacation plans.

See some cool videos of the show at http://theantiteam.com

For routes and maps: http://americaridesmaps.com

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Video Compilation of People Running Red Lights – Stay Alert!

A video to remind us to keep our heads up and remember most accidents happen at intersections. It a compilation of people running red lights and the results.

http://www.youtube.com/watch_popup?v=-qvXbIenivk

There are thankfully few motorcycles involved. Many of the accidents happened while vehicles were making turns, something to consider the next time you’re doing so.

Don’t let your motorcycle vacation plans get spoiled by not paying attention and watching out for the crazy drivers out there. Better yet, avoid intersections altogether and stick to the back roads.

Have you ever been hit by someone running a red light?

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The Snake – A Motorcycle Ride and More

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http://www.421thesnake.com

While the Smoky Mountains are laced with great motorcycle rides, only a few get known well enough to get a name attached to them. The Snake is one such road. Tucked away in the corner where the states of North Carolina, Tennessee, and Virginia come together, this stretch of US 421 north of Mountain City boast 489 curves within a 33 mile stretch. Sections of this road are tighter than the infamous Dragon at Deals Gap and it deserves more attention than it gets. The Iron Mountain Inn B&B is seeking to change that.

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Scenes nearby - Watauga Lake

The Snake does not stand alone. When you see references to Shady Valley, the junction where TN 133 and 91 junction with US 421, it characterizes a surrounding area ripe with great roads, nice scenery, and miles and miles of fun. As you traverse the borders of the three states, then continue on up into Virginia, you enter a region full of so many good motorcycle roads it will fill days and days of riding. Surprisingly undiscovered, dotted with small rural towns and cities, the majority of the roads are empty of all but local traffic.

To the south lies Boone, Banner Elk, and Blowing Rock, the convenient jumping off point from the Blue Ridge Parkway and home to Grandfather Mountain and its mile high swinging bridge, and Watauga Lake. Bristol Motor Speedway and the city from which it is named is  at  the west end of US 421. North brings you to Damascus with the Virginia Creeper Trail and the Mt. Rogers National Recreation Area. To the east miles and miles of largely undiscovered two lane roads wind and twist through the hillsides waiting for your motorcycle tour.

Photo- Iron Mountain Inn B&B Creekside Chalet

Iron Mountain Inn B&B Creekside Chalet

Based out of Butler, Tennessee, the Iron Mountain Inn B&B offers a variety of settings in addition to the Inn itself – a lake house, a chalet, and a cottage. Choose your level of privacy, amenities, and setting. Wether you’re looking for the convenience of meals served on sight, a private hot tub under the stars, or a house pre-stocked with you dining choices, they will cater to your needs. Should you choose to have someone show you the area on your motorcycle vacation, day tours are available highlighting both the roads and nearby attractions which can include:

  • A visit to the Ashe County Cheese Factory
  • Visit Grandfather Mountain, a globally recognized nature preserve with the famous Mile High Swinging Bridge
  • A trip back in time at the Todd General Store
  • A picnic beside Watauga Lake
  • The Butler Museum to learn the story of “the town that wouldn’t drown
  • Festivals throughout the spring, summer and fall throughout the region
  • Taking a pontoon boat for an afternoon or  evening spin around Watauga Lake
  • A hike to Laurel Falls – part of the Appalachian Trail
  • Depending on the season a visit to the Rhododendrons at Roan Mountain State Park
  • Visit the Grey Fossil site to learn about rhinoceros which once roamed these hills
  • Visit Bristol Motor Speedway – take the tour and see what the banked track is really like!
  • A side trip to Mt. Jefferson where you can hike to the top for a magnificent view!
Photo- View from the deck

The view from the deck.

Come, share the magic of the mountains where every season has a reason to visit us at either:

www.ironmountainINN.com (a luxury B&B)

www.creeksidechalet.net (a very secluded log cabin in the woods)

www.cottageonwataugalake.com (a 3 bedroom/3 bath home right on the edge of Watauga Lake)

www.lodgeonironmountain.com (a 4 bedroom 4 bath luxury log home atop the mountain)

www.mountainlakevacation.com (lots of things to do and see in the area)

Host and Owner: Vikki Woods 423-768-2446 for reservations or book online 24 hours a day!

Email: stay@ironmountainINN.com

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Great Motorcycle Riding Weather is Killing Me, Must Work On Asheville Bikefest

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All fueled up and ready to go, the bikes collect dust instead of miles.

Clear blue skies, lush green mountainsides, temperatures in the 80’s, the first lavender rhododendron blooms are popping open to join the showy azaleas while the white dogwood trees are finishing their lower altitude show. Flowers are in bloom everywhere you look, miles and miles of empty two lane roads lead out in all directions. Fresh tires and a sparkly clean motorcycle prepped and ready for the challenge rest quietly in the shade of the carport under a dusting of pollen, the headlights eerily sad and dark longing to spark to life and shine with a roaring brilliance as they seek each new bend in the road. Come ride me, I’m ready for you. Taunting, teasing, tantalizing, it waits for something I can’t deliver right now.

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A photo from just down the road - the mountains are calling and I can't go.

For the next week it’s all about the Asheville Bikefest. As the official “Route Master” for the event I’ve got duties that must be served. The 13th is rushing at me like it’s pegged to the red line and I spend every spare moment getting things in order. Jumping from computer to computer as one gets tied up with processing the printing, the other pulls together the 30 or so routes I’m asked to prepare. It’s not hard to choose them, rather it’s the time involved in getting them in a form for output and reproduction. All the while the sunshine streams through my office windows and the view of the blue skies and green mountainsides beyond the glass has me pining away for just a little saddle time.

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Asheville Bikefest May 13-16. I'm doing everyhting I can to make sure you have the best time.

The road time will come, but not on my schedule. It will be in those last few days just prior to the event as I ride out to experience the routes first hand, identify where any problems and hazards lurk, and confirm the Blue Ridge Parkway is fully open on the sections required and identify the best detours as needed. If past experience holds, when the time comes to get out on the road the heavens will open up and I’ll pass the miles in torrential downpours, but I’m so accustomed to that it no longer matters. Still, while the sun shines it’s tough to be on the wrong side of the window glass.

I’m giving all I’ve got to make the Asheville Bikefest as successful as possible for it’s kickoff year. The rest is up to you. There is no better place to be on your motorcycle than the mountains surrounding Asheville. The weather is ideal, the flowers are blooming, fresh beer is flowing from the breweries, and the bands will be playing all day. Plenty of affordable rooms, campsites, cabins, and even luxury accommodations are waiting. I hope to see you there.

http://ashevillebikefest.com

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No Mountains, No Motorcycle – Key West Was Fun

My disappointment at not being able to ride my bike to Key West for this brief vacation trip quickly abated. A couple thousand miles on the Interstate would have been a waste of fresh rubber. This is not the experience I’ve been prepping my motorcycle for. Simply put, a motorcycle in Key West is just plain overkill.

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Posed on my mighty moped at the southernmost point in the United States in Key West, Florida. Mopeds are the ideal mode of transportation in the Conch Republic.

I try to keep an open mind regarding tw0-wheeled transportation. We’ve all heard the jokes. While I do prefer something a bit more performance oriented, on the small and congested island of Key West anything much larger than this is pretty much wasted. Just like the jokes (don’t tell anyone you saw me do it) we had fun with our 50cc rentals and buzzed around the island like a couple of happy mosquitos.

Photo-Jackie-at-the-southernmost-beach-in-Key-West

One of the first stops of course was the southernmost beach just a few minutes from our hotel.

We did pretty much the same things all the tourists do, the beach, the lighthouse, the restaurants, and of course, the bars. The little rental mopeds were ideal. No gear, heck, barely any clothing required, just throw your junk in the trunk and buzz on down to do whatever strikes your fancy. At first it felt strange with no helmet or jacket, or even long pants – just in case. Within a day or so the convenience had won us over and the freedom was wonderful.

Photo-Jackie-and-Wayne-in-Key-West

The only protective gear required - SPF 30

Of course we come away with a collection memories from Key West that reflect it’s quirky character. From drag queens and pole dancers, mojitos, and buckets of beer, divas and derelicts, great music and friendly watering holes.

Photo-on-a-sunset-sail

Strong winds made scuba diving and such uncomfortable, but were ideal for sailing.

Eat, drink, go here. Eat some more, drink some more, go there. You never tire of the sights, though a nap now and then is almost mandatory. Thank the good Lord for the breeze, we would have melted without it.

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The sunset sail - a Key West tradition. Wind + champagne = FUN!

We stayed just a block from Duval Street, the main tourist drag in Key West. Most everything is within walking distance including some of the best restaurants.  While the days are great and full of things to do, the sunset brings the transition to the night when things get lively. Once the sun goes down, the city lights up and the party kicks into high gear.

Photo-Jackie-rules-the-night-on-her-moped

The mopeds were not just for daytime - they're just as much fun for cruising around once the sun goes down.

So, with all said and done, if I lived in Key west, one of these little putt-putt bikes would probably be my primary transportation. I’d save the motorcycle for rides which it was worthy of. Since it’s hardly likely I’ll be leaving my mountain home, I leave the mopeds to thrive in their natural habitat. The Smoky Mountains require a bit more grunt to go anywhere and the idea of covering any distance on one makes me consider another drink. In Key West, you’re always considering another drink regardless.

Photo - on Duval Street

You don't need much of a motorcycle to cruise Duval Street as it will be parked most of the time while you fill your personal fuel tank.

As the photos show, and you already knew, Key West can be a lot of fun. I can’t rate it as a top motorcycle destination though, too congested, no place to ride, and the pace is too laid back for the excitement two wheeled travel deserves. My motorcycle vacations will stay where the road winds on and on, the wind is regulated by your throttle hand, and you try to avoid the sandy spots.

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