– I Spend A Day With a Customer. What fun!

Wayne – had an absolute blast riding with you today. Your knowledge and these roads add up to a experience that should be had by all that like freespirited riding. I’m glad that I rented the Aprilla from Greg and that he told me about you. I will tell all my riding buddies back in PA about my excellent experience and I highly recomend your maps or you as a tour guide or both. WOW I had fun. Thanks much  – Jim M.,Riegelsville,PA

Photo - logo on windscreen offers one of the best experiences you can find on a motorcycle.

When I first heard about I, and others, were skeptical. Turn loose someone you barely know one of these “crotch rockets” on some of the most challenging roads in the world?  It sounds like Julia Child’s favorite Halloween recipe for death, carnage, and mayhem.  Thoughts quickly conjure up grisly scenes and visions of bikes in pieces. After more than a year in operation, it turns at such is not the case. Quite the contrary, the clients of end up with the experience of a lifetime.

Photo - Sportbikes4hire

I met Jimmy and his rented Aprilla Mille in Brevard on a beautiful Smoky Mountain Saturday morning.

It all came about quite suddenly. Friday evening I got a call from Greg asking how one of his customers could get a hold of some of my maps. Evidently the guy had no clue about any of the local roads and needed help. He was making a short visit to family south of Asheville, saw the add for and couldn’t resist the opportunity. I asked Greg to give him my cell phone number so I could suggest some roads. Jimmy called me later that evening.

We talked for a little while, and I gave him a list of roads. As I ticked them off I kept thinking to myself, “I can lead him to the major roads, but he’s never going to find the real gems without getting hopelessly lost, and without knowing something about the roads he could quickly get in trouble.” While he’d have a GPS, it wouldn’t do the job and he’d end up missing out.

Photo - on the ride

Jimmy quickly adapted to the bike and the warmup ride went well.

I asked him to give me a call in the morning when he was ready to head out. Maybe, just maybe, I’d run down and bring him some maps. I even hinted I might ride along with him. I had my concerns. What if he was a bumbly and had no business on a bike like this on these roads? What if I took him out, pushed too hard, and he got hurt or worse? I needed to sleep on it.

Saturday morning was one of those early fall days in the Smoky Mountains that postcards feature. Still warm, skies blue and clear of morning fog that so often blankets the valleys, I was sipping coffee on the porch when the cell phone tweeted. What the heck. If nothing else I’d have a nice ride over and back to meet him and give him the maps if he didn’t size up. I threw on my gear and headed for the high ground.

Photo - Stopped in Rosman for the first break

By the time we reached the first break in Rosman, it was obvious Jimmy knew what he was doing. Time to bump it up.

We met in a shopping center parking lot in Brevard. Time for the quick assessment. He had the right gear – good. The bike, a 1000cc Aprilla Mille was impeccable and fitted with top equipment (save the GPS which had been zip tied on in a decent jury rig). Jimmy was used to riding a BMW K bike so he was accustomed to handling the power. He was honest and humble in describing his abilities and experience – all good. When I asked for next-of-kin contact info he didn’t flinch. And he’d admitted never ridden a full on sport bike. Let’s go.

Photo - out on the ride

Approaching the Blue Ridge Parkway and enjoying the fresh pavement on the climb.

I led him out south of Brevard on some roads to let him get his bearings where I could watch in my mirrors to see how he was adapting. No problems. Turning south I bypassed one side road at the last minute thinking it was a bit much to throw at him this soon. We turned west and started on another great road that would start to put him to the test. He did well. Cautious where he needed to be, but willing and able to use the bike where he was comfortable. I stopped in Rosman to see how he was doing.

He was having fun and getting comfortable with the bike. It was a good choice for these roads. I was having fun. Time to kick it up a notch.

Photo - shot from motorcycle while riding

Look Ma, no Hands! Pitching through the curves while snapping photos.

We spent another few hours zipping through some of my favorite roads, old and new, with a little bit of everything thrown in. Spanking fresh new asphalt, crumbly bumpy back roads, first gear hairpins and high speed sweepers, one lane bridges, a break on the Blue Ridge Parkway. Jimmy soaked it up and rode with a controlled enthusiasm that showed he was aware of his comfort zone yet able to enjoy what the bike had to offer.

Photo - motorcycles at Devil's Courthouse

We made only one brief visit to the Blue Ridge Parkway for a break at Devil's Courthouse. Everything else was on more challenging roads.

We were both smiling when I left him 30 miles or so from where we started with directions to follow US 276 back to our meeting place. It was a good day riding. I’d do it again. I hope he comes back.

Photo - tank with logo

The Aprilla is one of many choices. For today's ride, it was one of the best. offers a great service. Fly in and they meet you at the airport. They’ll bring the bike to you all ready to go. It’s an experience that you’ll treasure and a chance to ride a great bike on the best of roads. When you consider all the time and expense of hauling or riding your bike here, it’s a superb option – heck you can make it a quick weekend trip. Find a cheap airfare and come on. Spending some time in the mountains and want a day to get away from the family and do something exhilarating? This is it.


Wayne Busch

Wayne Busch - Cartographer


– Wayne Busch lives in Waynesville, NC, where he produces the most detailed and comprehensive and up-to-date motorcycle pocket maps of the Blue Ridge and Smoky Mountains to help you get the most of your vacation experience. See them here –



Blue Ridge Parkway Rockslide Update for Motorcycles – photos

It has been the year for rock slides. There were 6 major ones in southern region of the Smoky Mountains. Interstate 40 near the North Carolina – Tennessee state line is still being worked on with one lane closed. Be aware traffic backs up there on Fridays and weekends, 30 minute delays are advertised. If you’re planning on staying on the north side of Great Smoky Mountains National Park (link to map – .pdf) factor the delays into your travel time, or better yet, stay on the south side of the park.

Photo from Blue Ridge Parkway this morning

I was out on the BMW this foggy morning. Traffic is increasing on the Blue Ridge Parkway, especially motorcycles.

The fence and gates are still visible at the Dragon near Deals Gap even though the rock slide there has long been resolved. It’s a reminder of when the road was first closed, then open only from 8 Am to 8 PM. It’s been open since August and you can plainly see where the rock slide happened along the lake. I still stop at the pull off to take photos occasionally.

Photo - rock slide site on the Blue Ridge Parkway

Little change is evident from the road. Most of the work is going on above, terracing and stabilizing the slope.

The rock slide on the Blue Ridge Parkway near Mt. Pisgah is yet to be resolved completely. It was supposed to be done by the start of September. The road is open for travel, but only one lane. Timed temporary traffic lights are positioned on each side of the work area to regulate traffic, and the duration of the delays seems to have been decreased. It used to 5 minutes, but now it feels like less. Maybe I’m used to it.

Photo - traffic lights on the Blue Ridge Parkway

Temporary timed traffic lights manage the traffic through the work area. It seems like they've decreased the wait times.

Looking at the photos I took today and comparing them to the last set, there is little visible difference at the rock slide site. As I’m up there often, I can see subtle signs of progress. While it looks pretty devastated along the road, it’s comparatively minor in contrast to the amount of work that has been done to terrace and stabilize the slope above. They were still drilling rock today so there’s work yet to be finished.

Photo - motorcycles pass the rock slide on the Blue Ridge Parkway

The delays are short, there's nothing challenging, motorcycles of which there are plenty have nothing to worry about.

Also be aware there is another delay for tunnel work as you reach Mt. Pisgah. Another set of temporary traffic lights controls traffic there as well. The scaffolding came down weeks ago, the road bed has been freshly paved, and when I passed today they were raking the edges of the road. It appears this delay is nearly over.

So long as I’m relating Blue Ridge Parkway road conditions, there is still paving going on north of Asheville. I thought they were done here when I passed through a couple weeks ago and raved about how nice the pavement was. When I went through a couple days ago they were putting another layer of fresh asphalt on top of the already wonderful road that was there. It’s SO nice! I hit two delays, one near Craggy Gardens and another further south, but they were not long waits. This second coat is going down fast so it won’t be long before they move out of there.

I’ll sum all this up in the somewhat monthly newsletter I put out (subscribe bottom right of page). There are a few paving projects I need to ride out and check on. If you have any info to add, please send it to me.


Wayne Busch

Wayne Busch - Cartographer


– Wayne Busch lives in Waynesville, NC, where he produces the most detailed and comprehensive and up-to-date motorcycle pocket maps of the Blue Ridge and Smoky Mountains to help you get the most of your vacation experience. See them here –



It’s Verified – This Motorcycle Ride is HOT

Scanning the blogs and forums I often stumble across the discussion Motorcyclist vs. Biker. I rarely get into it as it’s never resolved. I believe I fall into a separate category – Rider. For me, it’s all about the ride. I don’t care what I’m riding. I don’t care what my image is. I don’t care what you ride or how you look. For me it’s getting as much out of the ride as I can. It’s all about the ride.

<insert gratuitous Blue Ridge Parkway picture here>

Photo - View from Craggy Gardens Overlook

Gratuitous Photo 1 - Amazingly clear skies from the Blue Ridge Parkway. That brown stripe in the distance is I-26 more than 22 miles distant. Visibility must have been nearly 50 miles this day.

Thats why I do what I do. I constantly seek out the best rides. It’s the best job in the world. When I find them, I share them with you, mostly through my motorcycle pocket  maps. A couple weeks ago I literally stumbled across a ride while exploring near Banner Elk, North Carolina. It’s 13.8 miles long which puts it in the same range as the Dragon at Deals Gap and the Diamondback at Little Switzerland. I had just been up at the Snake in Shady Valley. On my way home I used the rest of the afternoon (which turned into a night ride home) exploring.

<insert another gratuitous Blue Ridge Parkway photo here – making you work for it>

Photo - Blue Ridge Parkway View

Gratuitous Photo 2 - View from the Blue Ridge Parkway - The Smoky Mountains got their name from the blue haze which is primarily caused by moisture in the air. Clear and warm days are so rare you should treasure them.

It wasn’t the best of conditions. That recent big hurricane was passing off the coast. Winds were gusting bringing down limbs and debris. Spits of rain had dampened the roads. The skies were dark. I didn’t care. When seeking out roads I’m on a mission.

<Why doesn’t he just tell us about this this road?>

On the first pass through I paused to takes notes. The ride had been a handful. It was certainly challenging. Looking at my notes I actually wrote, “But was it fun?”

<Wait for it>

The return ride was confirming and answered the question with a resounding “Yes!” As the storm broke I continued on and added another superb ride to my list. Then another good side road. I realized I’d overlooked an area that could be a gold mine.

<Get to it man, or I’m outta here>

The ride haunted me. I kept thinking about it. Was it really that good? Two passes was not enough. I needed to ride it again. So I did. It was better than I recalled.

<Ok.> You’ve been overly patient.  Here’s the scoop:

The road has two names over its length. On the south end it starts as Beech Mountain Road. Midway it changes to Flat Springs Road. It connects Banner Elk Highway (NC 194) to US 321. Here are photos to help you find it. I’ll describe it from south to north, from Banner Elk Highway to US 321.

Photo - Start of ride

This abandoned gas station/store on Banner Elk Highway (SR 194) alerts you to the start of the ride. The road is just beyond it.

It starts off easily enough. Gentle straights with a few decent turns. A couple miles in it gets downright squirrely. You enter a series of tight curves, some of them first gear, with the occasional more or less straight section. Be wary of catching too much speed on these  easier portions as they are punctuated with screaming tight curves. Carrying any speed through this road has you flicking and throwing the bike around. It rarely lets up at all.

I was going to get more photos of the road, but I;

1) realized one curvy road pretty much looks like another in a photo, and

2) I was having too much fun to stop

Photo - view from road

One of the views from Beech Mountain Road.

While it’s not particularly scenic, I did pause at one point to get some photos when a good view presented.  You’ll just have to trust me. It’s curvy. It’s fun. I wouldn’t be writing about it if it wasn’t.

Photo - My bike on Beech Mountain Road

Another view from Beech Mountain Road - I think that's Roan Mountain behind my Triumph Tiger.

It’s a good road to know about as it lets you pass to the north without going through the traffic and congestion of Boone. It saves you time. It gets you somewhere and it’s useful.

Photo _ view of start of road from US 321

This is what to look for from US 321. Flat Springs Road makes a sharp climb with sharper curves. There's a dilapidated building to the left.

It does get some local traffic, and if you time it wrong you might run into school buses who know this shortcut. Opportunities to pass are rare and may have your spinchter puckering. Watch out for gravel in some turns.

Photo - view from nearby road

This photo is from another road in the area. Though challenging, it had way too much gravel dragged on it from the local traffic. The other roads stay cleaner.

The photos show the landmarks to help you find it at either end. The roads it connects to are good rides. This one’s good enough I have to give it away, but only because I’ve found more great roads nearby.

Photo - view from road

One last view of what I think is Roan Mountain. It's not the rare views that make Beech Mountain / Flat Springs Roads good, it's the ride.

I’m still discovering more roads in this area. I’ve got more sleepers in my quiver, more roads I need to ride again before I decide if I really like them and want to add them to my maps. I’m mighty picky. But this is one you deserve to know about. It’s that good.  It’s all about the ride.

Let me know what you think of it and don’t be surprised to see a white bike flashing by. I’ll be using this road whenever I can.


Wayne Busch

Wayne Busch - Cartographer


– Wayne Busch lives in Waynesville, NC, where he produces the most detailed and comprehensive and up-to-date motorcycle pocket maps of the Blue Ridge and Smoky Mountains to help you get the most of your vacation experience. See them here –



Video – The Diamondback Motorcycle Ride Near the Blue Ridge Parkway

Ride along with Jackie (from America Rides Maps)  as she careens down the Diamondback Motorcycle Route. Accessed from the Blue Ridge Parkway, this is one of those side roads you should add to your motorcycle vacation plan. The Diamondback is one of the big three motorcycle rides in North Carolina, joining the Snake and the Dragon in the pantheon of classic and challenging rides. Included are scenes from the Switzerland Inn, one of the top motorcycle friendly destinations on the Blue Ridge Parkway.

You can find videos of other great Smoky Mountain motorcycle rides, video tips, and more at America Rides Maps YouTube channel –


Wayne Busch

Wayne Busch - Cartographer


– Wayne Busch lives in Waynesville, NC, where he produces the most detailed and comprehensive and up-to-date motorcycle pocket maps of the Blue Ridge and Smoky Mountains to help you get the most of your vacation experience. See them here –



Motorcyclists – Help Support the Blue Ridge Parkway with Bling

Image from Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation -

End-to-Ender decal - get yours online when you've made your ride. I'll be shipping them as a bonus with BRP orders as long as they last

I enjoyed lunch yesterday with Houck Medford from the Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation. He’s a great guy with ties to Waynesville – where I live. We talked about the Blue Ridge Parkway of course, as well as local hiking and motorcycle related subjects. Houck had seen my post about my “Blue Ridge Parkway in a Day” motorcycle ride, and sent me my End-to-End Rider packet. It contained a nice certificate, a pin, a decal for my bike, info and stories. I was impressed and glad to have it.

If you’ve made an end-to-end ride of the Blue Ridge Parkway you too can get your package by filling out the form here – . Leave your story, read of others travels, the Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation web site has a lot of good info.

Ok, so the pin is not what you’d call “hefty bling”, though North Carolina motorcycle riders and Blue Ridge Parkway enthusiasts can get a Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation license plate for your ride and/or car and help support the good work of the foundation.  It’s so easy, you do it online right from this link –

Houck wants you to help support the Parkway, share your stories and enthusiasm, and has given me a supply of end-to-end Blue Ridge Parkway rider decals which I’ll be shipping with every Blue Ridge Parkway Series map order as a bonus for as long as they last.

Image from Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation -

Blue Ridge Parkway License Plates available for your car or bike and easy to order online.

Hmm, Jackie’s bike is due, this might just make a very nice gift!

Show you appreciation at

PS – don’t leave home without your America Rides Maps – ride the Blue Ridge Parkway and much, much more. Free decals with orders.


Wayne Busch

Wayne Busch - Cartographer


– Wayne Busch lives in Waynesville, NC, where he produces the most detailed and comprehensive and up-to-date motorcycle pocket maps of the Blue Ridge and Smoky Mountains to help you get the most of your vacation experience. See them here –



Just Completed – Update to Blue Ridge Parkway Motorcycle Pocket Map #1

Image - Map Side

Map Side

I am proud to announce the release of the most recently updated America Rides Maps Motorcycle Pocket Map in the Blue Ridge Parkway Series – VA016; “Great Rides Near the Start of the Blue Ridge Parkway in Virginia“. It’s taken more than a month of working on it every spare minute to bring it into the new and improved format and incorporate more than 50 additional miles of great motorcycle rides in this region. It contains more than 40 roads which either cross, connect, or lie adjacent to the north end of the Blue Ridge Parkway with detailed info, descriptions of the rides, locations of gas stations and points of interest, and more.

While I’d hoped new cartographic software would speed production times, the process of conversion from simple graphic images to fully digital representations is as laborious and meticulous as before. The benefits are recognized in the ease of future updates as well as the improved clarity that is gained. As I’m constantly updating and improving all the maps, more than a dozen which cover the Smoky Mountains from north Georgia to north Virginia, the effort is worth it. There is nothing else like America Rides Maps motorcycle pocket maps, and best of all I’ve been able to improve the maps without increasing the price, already the lowest on the market.

Image - Description of rides

Description of the rides on the back of each map

I’ve sold thousands of maps and get lots of thankful emails from customers. You love them. Here’s an email I got from a professional motorcycle tour guide, someone who covers thousand of miles in the region and knows it well –

“Your maps are truly awesome.  As you know I have also ridden many miles in NC and surrounding areas laying out our Tours for Blue Strada.  Just yesterday, I was studying your “Best Roads South of GSMNP East.”  You have done riders and drivers a huge service by pointing out all the important little details along the way… I love the Red & Blue definitions of Great and Good roads..  but just looking at gas stations.. and the waterfalls locations make these maps fantastic.  (In fact, I need to get the whole set for NC and GA).  Anyone coming here to ride without a guide could do no better than to get a set of your maps and just start studying the options… of which there are so many… and making their own Tour.  I’m going to send my motorcycle renters your direction in the future… they will be better off than trying to use my Tour maps… “

Bill Kniegge
POB 1336
Waxhaw, NC 28173
704 292 8801

Get the most out of your motorcycle vacation. Expand the horizons of your motorcycle tour. Discover the roads and sights others will never see. Whether you’re looking for the best shortcut or would prefer to take the long way around, these inexpensive, easy to use, fit in your pocket maps are the best thing going and I can get them to you in just a few days.

http://americaridesmaps.comsee videos of the maps in use

www.bluestradatours.comexpert tours and motorcycle rentals

www.wheeljockey.comI love this gadget. It makes maintenance on the road a breeze.


Wayne Busch

Wayne Busch - Cartographer


– Wayne Busch lives in Waynesville, NC, where he produces the most detailed and comprehensive and up-to-date motorcycle pocket maps of the Blue Ridge and Smoky Mountains to help you get the most of your vacation experience. See them here –



Pre 1916 Coast to Coast Motorcycle Race Going On? Here are the photos! – here are some of the photos I took this morning.

Photo - Cannonball motorcycle run

Bust? Highly likely

I can’t adequately describe this event so I’m just going to give you the link right off the bat. See for yourself, follow them as they progress, it’s just hard to believe it’s actually happening.

Photo - Cannonball Motorcycle run

7:30 AM and getting ready

For those of us in western North Carolina, it’s not all that unusual to see vintage motorcycles from time to time thanks to Dale Walksler’s Wheels Through Time Motorcycle Museum in Maggie Valley.  Not only does he have one of the most extensive collections of early motorcycles, and a historical representation of the Harley Davidson line, but they all run and he races them. More than once I’ve been cruising through Maggie Valley when he pulls up alongside on one of the vintage motorcycles out for a spin.

Photo - Cannonball Motorcycle run

Not all the bikes were vintage - THIS WAS MY FIRST ROAD BIKE! 1974 Harley Davidson 90cc

I watched the bikes straggle in last night. They filled the A Holiday Motel in Maggie Valley as well as 2 others. I got to talk with the support crews and some of the riders.

Photo - Cannonball Motorcycle Run

Excelsior Motorcycles were well represented

What’s it like riding one of these? They’re lucky to hit 50 mph so you don’t get windblown. The seats are fairly springy. It’s not all that bad – so they say.

Photo - Cannonball Motorcycle Run

Plenty of early Harleys

On the other hand, going up hills is a challenge. I think those pedals get used. Things fall off – like brakes.

Photo - Cannonball Motorcycle Run

Lots of Indian Motorcycles

Electrical problems, particularly magnetos, are a problem that can stop you dead and tough to resolve.

Photo - Cannonball Motorcycle Run

Somehow they got the magneto repaired on this Indian.

A lot of these guys were up till the early morning hours in Wheels Through Time repairing the bikes to keep them running.

Photo - Cannonball Motorcycle Run

Not all the bikes were restored to original condition

It was interesting to see what it took to make these bikes run. The right fuel mix, careful coaxing and monitoring, and a lot of attention.

Photo - Cannonball Motorcycle Run

Some bikes were in mint condition

Photo - Cannonball Motorcycle Run

Would you race this baby across the country?

48 bikes started the race. Some had already dropped by this 3rd day. Will any make the west coast?

Photo - Cannonball Motorcycle Run

Getting them started is a challenge

They average about 200 miles per day. The longest day is 300 miles. No interstates. Only one rest day. Holy cow.

Photo - Cannonball Motorcycle Run

I wouldn't know where to start to work the controls

I hope they make it. I’d like to see it become an annual event, though I don’t know how long the bikes could make repeated trips.

Photo - Cannonball Motorcycle Run

You couldn't pay enough to duplicate the finish on this machine.

Photo - Cannonball Motorcycle Run

The detailing on this machine attests to its authenticity

It’s something to see motorcycles nearly 100 years old not only running, but racing.

Photo - Cannonball Motorcycle Run

Best to get an assistant to do the starting

Photo - Cannonball Motorcycle Run

Is that a "cheater tank" on this Harley?

Some of these guys were stopping to fill up every 20 miles.

Photo - Cannonball Motorcycle Run

With VERY limited range, this was the way to go.

Photo - Cannonball Motorcycle Run

A police escort helps

it’s pretty cool to see these old bikes. It’s even cooler to see them run. But when you see them take off down the road to race, it just defies coolness and becomes something beyond.

Photo - Cannonball Motorcycle Run

People came from surrounding states to see the event.

Follow the progress, read the trails and tribulations of the riders a t




Photo - Cannonball Motorcycle Run

The race is on!

Photo - Cannonball Motorcycle Run

Another racer hits the road

Photo - Cannonball Motorcycle Run

Dude, that flag is gonna slow you down!

Photo - Cannonball Motorcycle Run

Horsepower Ok. Dog power - disqualified.

If you like this you need to pay a visit to Wheels Through Time Motorcycle Museum in Maggie Valley, NC.


Wayne Busch

Wayne Busch - Cartographer


– Wayne Busch lives in Waynesville, NC, where he produces the most detailed and comprehensive and up-to-date motorcycle pocket maps of the Blue Ridge and Smoky Mountains to help you get the most of your vacation experience. See them here –



Cannonball Vintage Motorcycles in Maggie Valley

I just got a couple photos this evening, bikes were still coming  in and heading to Wheels Through Time motorcycle museum on the Cannonball cross country vintage motorcycle race.

Photo - vintage Harley

One of three similar vintage Harleys in the Cannonball motorcycle race.

I’ll head over first thing in the morning when things get organized and the bikes are all together to head out and get some more pics. They’ve taken all the rooms at the A Holiday Motel in Maggie Valley.

The bikes were just rolling in this evening. Too scattered for good photos. More in the morning.

The bikes were just rolling in this evening. Too scattered for good photos. More in the morning.


Wayne Busch

Wayne Busch - Cartographer


– Wayne Busch lives in Waynesville, NC, where he produces the most detailed and comprehensive and up-to-date motorcycle pocket maps of the Blue Ridge and Smoky Mountains to help you get the most of your vacation experience. See them here –



A Motorcycle Ride You Should Know About – A stop at Wolf Creek Dam

If you were in the Smoky Mountains this weekend you already know what perfect motorcycle riding we enjoyed. Cool mornings, warm afternoons, bright sunshine and unusually clear skies meant you were in for enjoyment regardless of where you rode while motorcycle touring. Bikes were everywhere. Riding the Blue Ridge Parkway was outstanding, but no more so than anywhere else.

Photo - wolf Creek Dam

Wolf Creek Dam near the midpoint of NC 281, one of the scenic points on this great motorcycle ride.

As it was a holiday weekend, we chose to avoid the more popular venues and when Labor Day came around I celebrated by – going to work. It was the good kind of work though, out on the motorcycle exploring and discovering more new roads to add to my America Rides Maps. I found a couple more, and today will be an office day as I update the maps. Along the way we took a ride on NC 281 (which I’ve written about previously) a road you should know about.

Photo - wolf Creek Dam

NC 281 is a great motorcycle ride - even the dam is curved and you can see the road leading on to it rarely lets up.

NC 281, a.k.a. Canada Road, is well marked at both ends. The north end is accessed from NC 107 south of Sylva and Cullowhee. The south end is accessed from Us 64 near Toxaway. The road takes you through sections of the Pisgah Forest climbing and rolling gently up and down the mountains with generally nice pavement, some decent views, and excellent curves. It a great road for viewing fall colors.

Photo - view from the Wolf Creek Dam

NC 281 is surrounded by the rugged mountains of the Pisgah Forest with scenic vistas of the craggy rocks and valleys, mountain lakes, and streams.s

We stopped for a break at the Wolf Creek Dam near the midpoint. To the north, NC 281 climbs over a pass then descends through a series of fast sweepers to reach NC 107 at Tuckaseegee. There’s a convenient (though expensive) gas station near the junction. To the south, the road is tighter and more technical as it claws it’s way through the rugged hills on the most recently paved portion. It’s certainly worth your time to take a ride on this great motorcycle road and this weekend many chose to do so.

Photo - stopped near the Wolf Creek Dam

Jackie enjoys a break in the warm sunshine from our nearby explorations of great motorcycle rides.

With the dry weather, the dam was spilling water from the lake to keep the popular trout fishing rivers below flowing. It an earthen dam and riding across it’s arcing top is a thrill for some. While there is a concrete K-barrier on the lake side, the drop off on the boulder strewn face is posted only by a series of large rocks widely spaced.

Photo - Spillway at the Wolf Creek Dam

The lake provides water for the popular trout streams below.

Add NC 281 to your list of rides to do this fall. This is just one section of it, it continues south after it joins with US 64 for a few miles. It’s a far better ride than nearby NC 107 which carries most of the local traffic. There are lots of other great motorcycle roads nearby with outstanding scenery, roadside waterfalls, and challenging and fun curves. You could spend your whole motorcycle vacation exploring them. It’s a road you will return to.

America Rides Maps – Dozens of roads in the surrounding area make it one of my favorites.


Wayne Busch

Wayne Busch - Cartographer


– Wayne Busch lives in Waynesville, NC, where he produces the most detailed and comprehensive and up-to-date motorcycle pocket maps of the Blue Ridge and Smoky Mountains to help you get the most of your vacation experience. See them here –



The Most Challenging Motorcycle Ride Found? A day with the map guy.

I am either;

  1. Getting too old and out of shape
  2. Coming down with the flu
  3. Rode harder than I have in a long time

It’s probably a combination of the first point and the last. I awoke last night sore from the chest down due to throwing my bike around all day in my never ending quest to discover the best motorcycle rides in the Smoky Mountains. It was not planned to be such a day but it turned out to be quite an adventure.

I set out around 8AM for Shady Valley, Tennessee, home of “the Snake” motorcycle ride to make a delivery of motorcycle maps to the Shady Valley Country Store. Plan was to ride up, enjoy the Snake, make the delivery, then check out half a dozen roads nearby in hopes to add some to my motorcycle pocket maps. I knew one would just be a connector route. I didn’t have high hopes for many of the others, though a couple held promise.

It was beautiful and cool up on the Blue Ridge Parkway in the morning. Skies were clear and bright. Even the half hour on Interstate 40 to Asheville was pleasant. There’s little traffic before 10AM once you leave the highway and I pretty much had the road to myself. I watched hopefully for bears north of the city, then enjoyed the run up the wonderful new sections of pavement to pass Mt. Mitchell. Looks like they’ve pretty much wrapped that job up. Saw one grouse, a few hawks, but no bruins.

Photo - on the Blue Ridge Parkway

Clear, cool, breezy morning on the Blue Ridge Parkway near Altapass.

I stopped to tweet my first photo at an overlook where I could count on cell phone reception. Though hurricane Earl was approaching the coast, here in the mountains no impact was expected. Even so it was noticeably breezy.

I hit one brief delay for tree work, and another for guardrail replacement. I surprised a flock of turkeys as I came near Little Switzerland. Passing Linville, I left the Blue Ridge Parkway at Roseborugh Road, one of those handy unmarked crossroads that descends through a series of tight turns to NC 105 at Grandfather Mountain. NC 105 took me north through the congestion of Banner Elk. Broadstone Road led me west of Boone to Valle Crucis. NC 194 led to US 421 which I followed through Mountain City and into Tennessee to reach Shady Valley.

A brief pit stop turned into a decent delay as I took time to chat with several riders, mostly locals, and return phone calls when the intermittent cell reception cooperated. I figured it would take a couple hours to see the roads I wanted, then I’d zip back home as I came.

Photo - Shady Valley Country Store

The sun was still shining at the Shady Valley Country Store though the winds were getting gusty. Things would change as the afternoon wore on.

The first few roads proved less than expected. They were a decent ride for a cruiser maybe, though it was not type of rural scenery that makes a road interesting. I explored another after a couple bikes passed in the opposite direction to find it intersected the fourth road at an unknown point. Still nothing special. I turned to backtrack on the fourth road so I would be sure to ride it end to end and was thrilled to find the short leg wonderful. Nice sweeping turns through pretty countryside. Hopeful, I spun about at the intersection with 197 and headed back. The remainder disappointed. Too much straight and only mildly interesting. It was worth adding to the map but not recommending highly. The natural flow dictated I bypass the next on the list meaning another backtrack to explore the better alternative.

The last of the most promising roads was accessed from US 321 near Watauga Lake. It was tight, it was twisty, but it didn’t appeal. It was then that serendipity  struck. Rather than continue on my planned path, instinct told me to detour onto another road. I followed it through turn after turn after turn and it went on and on and on. All the while I expected it would peter out  into a goat trail but it just kept going without letting up. Mile after mile on narrow, sometimes poor, blacktop it climbed through the mountains finally dumping me out at Banner Elk Highway. I pulled into an abandoned gas station to take my notes and decide how to describe it.

I kept asking myself, “But was it fun?” There was no doubt it was challenging, very challenging. It kept you on the edge the whole time. It never let up. I ride the Dragon routinely and this road is much more difficult and sustained. I’d come up on some traffic and had to simply ride behind it, no room to pass, so I didn’t feel I could give it an accurate evaluation. Nor was I sure what lay at the other end. Only choice was to ride it back and see where it came out.

As I turned about my heart sank. A school bus turned onto the road ahead of me. While it looked empty, this would still be an exercise in pain as it could only crawl through the narrow serpentine climb ahead. What a relief when it pulled off within a few hundred feet. It wasn’t long before I had my answer. This road WAS fun.

Unimpeded I rode it enthusiastically back as I’d come. A few miles in I remember thinking, “If you get out of second gear on this road, look down – you’re riding a moped”. I reached the point where I’d first turned on to it and continued past. The road name changed, but its character did not. I continued mile after mile carving through the exquisitely tight turns, dodging gravel patches, potholes, and debris now falling on the road from the increasing wind. I was so happy when US 321 appeared at the margin of the screen on the GPS. I’d found a new way to link a couple major roads. Awesome.

That ride was worth the trip. I stopped and entered the notes in my Blackberry. From there I turned onto US 321 to head on to check out the last couple roads. The weather was deteriorating. Skies dark, winds gusting, it didn’t bother me a bit. Shortly, I came up on another biker who suddenly veered off on another road back in the area where I’d just been riding. I circled back out of curiosity to see what business this cruiser guy had in such a rugged area. The road he chose was a superb cruiser road and I caught up to him just as he pulled into his yard at the junction with the first great road. Bonus! Instinct paid off again.

I returned to US 321 via the cruiser road to make time. It was getting late and the weather would soon add more to the challenge of these tight roads. After a short ride on US 321, I started down the last of them which turned out to be a disappointment. A few miles in I spied a road connecting to it I felt needed exploring and eventually found a better approach though I did waste a good bit of time on dead ends and gravel lanes. Plan was to take this road a few miles, then turn onto another to make my way back towards Mountain City. As I approached the turn, instinct took over again and I purposefully rode past it.

The GPS showed the road I was on getting tighter and twistier and it was climbing higher into the mountains. Thats usually a pretty good indication it’s going to deteriorate to nothing once it nears the top and the road grew narrower and more challenging as it went on. I considered just giving up on it, but something made me go on. The smell of fresh rain on a dry road filled the air and I started hitting dark patches of pavement. I was really questioning myself when I emerged  atop a pass with a rugged valley stretched below and signs warning of a steep descent and switchbacks appeared. It would have been beautiful in nicer weather, but the dark and angry clouds only hastened my urgency to continue on, dreading the thought of having to retrace my steps.

I’ve ridden a lot of miles in the mountains yet never seen switchbacks as tight as these. I plunged down through the valley wondering where I’d end up, hoping I’d find some landmark to steer me back to something familiar. When the road ended, I looked at the sign ahead to see I was on the road I’d meant to explore next. Another great ride found, and I was ready to wrap things up after this last road.

It was longer then I thought and I reached US 421 south of Mountain City. It was now 5 PM. Rain was coming down in sheets. I turned south towards Boone. The Friday evening traffic before the holiday weekend crawled and stalled in the rain. I dreaded the idea of going into Boone and  veered off on 194 to bypass it. More traffic. I stopped near Banner Elk to top off the tank and called home to let my wife know I wouldn’t be there for dinner. We discussed the weather, the traffic, and decided I’d prefer the exposure to the elements on the Blue Ridge Parkway over the hazards of this crazy traffic. It was the right choice. The rain let up once I got up high.

I coursed through the mountains in the twilight relatively unimpeded. It got cold but I made good time. Reaching Asheville, I merged into the traffic jam that clogged Interstate 40 all the way home. Arriving in my driveway as darkness fell, I’d had a successful day. I’d discovered some great roads. I had reason to go back with hopes of more. I had money in my pocket. Sometimes, a cartographers life is to be envied. I wish I had more photos, but I got swept up in the riding. Maybe next time.

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Wayne Busch

Wayne Busch - Cartographer


– Wayne Busch lives in Waynesville, NC, where he produces the most detailed and comprehensive and up-to-date motorcycle pocket maps of the Blue Ridge and Smoky Mountains to help you get the most of your vacation experience. See them here –