Greenville IMS Show is past – Asheville Bikefest coming May 12-15

Photo - Asheville Bikefest booth at Greenville IMs show

I don't look busy, do I. The crowds were distracted for a moment by the stage shows.

It’s the morning after the Greenville International Motorcycle Show and I’m beat. It was my first IMS show and it’s quite a step up from what I’ve seen previously – not that I had much time to see what was going on. I rarely left the Asheville Bikefest / America Rides Maps booth. It was my wife who snapped these photos when she popped in for a visit on Saturday and brought me something to eat.

Gary from the Switzerland Inn came down Sunday to help promote the Diamondback Motorcycle route. He’s a great guy and it’s always good to see him. The Diamondback Motorcycle lodge is already booked through the year on weekends, but he’s ready to work some mid week deals for your Blue Ridge Parkway travels. Me, I prefer staying in the Switzerland Inn itself. I ride long and hard and when I come in for the night I want all the luxury and pampering I can get. Park me at one of the bars, give me a great meal, watch the sunset over the mountains from the veranda and then recuperate in the spacious rooms. I deserve it. So do you.

Photo - Mark and Yvonne work their tails off

Mark and Yvonne Cresswell of World Wide Dynamics - promoters for the Asheville Bikefest ... and Sturgis... and Laconia.... and Leesburg... and...

Bill Kneigge from Blue Strada Tours also spent some time with us. He also works with Edlewiess Tours International and he’s one of those guys that everyone likes as soon as you meet him. We’re doing our best to get him to coordinate the guided tours for the Asheville Bikefest and Blue Ridge Run. I seem to run into him everywhere with his tour clients from around the world when I’m out on the road. It’s always a treat to see Bill.

I’ve got a lot of contacts to follow up on as I look to expand what America Rides Maps offers. The Blue Ridge Parkway and Deals Gap Classic Rides maps are selling like candy. I had a good meeting with Schampa.com motorcycle rider wear, and have some things cooking with Liberty Sports motorcycle eyewear. I’m really excited about BlueRidgeParkwayMotorcycle.com which is about ready to launch (the site’s still under development, but not for much longer).

Photo - working the Greenville IMs show

There we go, look at my big happy smile! I really enjoy meeting everyone.

I could go on and on but I’m just too exhausted. There’s so much to do to get ready for the Asheville Bikefest and Blue Ridge Run May 12-15. I’ll probably pass on Daytona, but I’m putting some serious thought into Leesburg. That’s a nice rally and I love meeting and talking with those Florida riders.

Thank you everyone who stopped by to see us. You make it worth all the effort.  I’m open to suggestions regarding the Asheville Bikefest and Blue Ridge Run and hope to exceed your expectations.

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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 – AmericaRidesMaps.com 
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Great Food in a Gas Station? Hello, Caffe Rel!

Photo - Hot Spot Gas Station in Franklin

You can't miss the huge Hot Spot gas station in Franklin, home to the Caffe Rel.

I’ve been hearing tales of Caffe Rel for quite a while but a good restaurant in a gas station? It was just a bit hard to believe. Nor does Franklin, NC come to mind when I’m thinking of great places to eat. It does now.

Let’s say I had my doubts when I pulled into the Hot Spot gas station in downtown Franklin. It is a very nice gas station. Big, new, clean. You can’t miss it. We arrived around 5:30 and there were already cars in all the spaces outside.

I had heard the place was small. It wasn’t as small as I supposed, but seating is limited. Get there early. It’s really nice on the inside. It’s not well set up for large parties – tables seat 4, there are a couple that will hold 6, but room is limited and if you come in with a huge group don’t expect to share a table.

Photo - Caffe Rel sign

Still seems odd - a decent restaurant connected to the Hot Spot convenience store.

The menu is extensive and I was surprised at some of the offerings. It’s got a French theme, but also covers a variety of cuisines. One of the specials of the evening was “snails and tails“,  the tails being crawfish. I chose another crawfish dish. We also tried the mountain trout (great), the french style roast beef (excellent), shrimp and grits (not the typical southern recipe, but a nice twist), and assorted ravioli. Everybody got a great meal and we had very good service. What more can you ask for?

So what has this got to do with Smoky Mountain motorcycle riding? A lot of motorcycle riders find their way to Franklin. It’s nice to know those good places to stop when you come to a decent sized town.

Photo - inside Caffe Rel

It's surprisingly nice inside. The food will surprise you as well.

Franklin, NC is one of those towns located at the crossroads of several great motorcycle rides. US 64 passes on the south side of town. Go east to see 4 great roadside waterfalls on the way to Highlands. Wayah Road lies just 5 miles to the west. The great motorcycle ride over Wayah Bald into the Nantahlala River gorge is a classic. The Moonshiner 28 runs north to lead you to the Dragon at Deals Gap. US 441 takes you to Cherokee and the start of the Blue Ridge Parkway. You’re only half an hour from some of the great motorcycle rides in north Georgia. Those are just the well known motorcycle rides in Franklin. There are plenty more on my America Rides Maps.

Photo - inside Caffe Rel

The next time you're near Franklin, remember the Caffe Rel and try to stop during the off hours.

I didn’t find a web site for Caffe Rel, but then, they don’t have a bathroom either. Use the one in the gas station. Maybe it has a web site. Don’t much care.

We’ll be revisiting the Caffe Rel, looking for opportunities to stop during the off hours. By normal meal times, the place is packed. Hope you get a chance to try it.

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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 – AmericaRidesMaps.com 
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Rare Valentines Day Parkway Motorcycle Ride

I made my first motorcycle ride on the Blue Ridge Parkway today way earlier than expected. I found the gates open in Blowing Rock and I turned south to enjoy what winter had to show. A few deep snowdrifts still lingered along the road in shady spots, but most of the rest had melted.  It was good to be back on the nations most popular motorcycle ride. I can’t wait for the southern section to open.

Photo - Feb ride on the parkway

Stopped on the Blue Ridge Parkway near Grandfather Mountain. The Lynn Cove Viaduct is just above my bike. Beautiful day even with the high winds.

I enjoyed some great views of Grandfather Mountain and the Lynn Cove Viaduct. It was lined with snow and very pretty. The Blue Ridge Parkway is wonderfully free of the gravel and salt that covers nearly every other road in the Smoky Mountains right now, though there were a few spots with some sand on them. There was a high wind advisory in effect today and it was howling up on the ride, but I enjoyed it all the same. No trees had come down (yet), though there were some branches to dodge. Keep your eyes out for rocks in the road with the thaw, and crews are out working on projects.

Photo - Lynn Cove Viaduct

The Lynn Cove Viaduct. It's the newest section of the Blue Ridge Parkway, the last piece completed in 1983. It was cutting edge for the time.

My fun was too short as I hit the first road closure south of Grandfather Mountain. I ducked around it with one of my fun little shortcuts, but had to leave Blue Ridge Parkway in Linville. I couldn’t resist making up run up the Diamondback on the way home. It was in pristine shape and I was on the edge of my tires until the last few switchbacks near the top of the mountain. Here I ran into the sand and salt again and wiggled my way to the top as quickly as it would allow. Unfortunately the parkway was closed here at both exits. I’m still thankful for what I got!

Photo - grandfather Mountain

It's no wonder this area is so well known. There is a great view of the Viaduct from below on US 221 and it's an outstanding motorcycle ride from Grandfather Mountain to Blowing Rock as is the Blue Ridge Parkway.

Tomorrow, a short video of the ride up the Diamondback.

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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 – AmericaRidesMaps.com 
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Finally – Warmer Blue Ridge Motorcycle Riding Weather

Man, that was a long cold spell, but it looks like we’re going to get a break here in the Smoky Mountains, at least for a little while. We all know winter isn’t gone yet, it’s still mid February, but we’ve missed those warm spells that make it tolerable for motorcycles in the Blue Ridge. No more!

Photo - Blue Ridge Parkway still closed

Blue Ridge Parkway - Beech Gap - Junction NC 215. The Parkway is still closed of course, though plenty were out enjoying it on foot and bicycle.

Jackie and I got out for some riding Sunday, including a stop at the Blue Ridge Parkway at Beech Gap. While we’re so grateful to have this opportunity to get out and ride, it’s no time for getting frisky. Snow lines the roads in the high places, and every shady curve has you watching for lingering ice. The salt, gravel, and sand still lays thick on frozen roads and columns of ice cover rocky faces which see little sunshine. Ride a little, slide a little, it can be a delicate dance sometimes.

Photo - ice along NC 215

Ice coats the rock faces near the heights of the Blue Ridge Parkway on NC 215. The winter sun is still too low in the sky to warm places like this.

We shot more video for the America Rides Maps winter video project, I showed Jackie a great road she’d never been on, and we saw plenty of other bikers out enjoying rides on their motorcycles. It should be similar tomorrow and maybe a few days more. I know I’m going to take advantage of it.

Photo - Frozen Waterfall

Frozen waterfall - Bubbling Springs Branch on NC 215

Hope you get a chance to ride soon. I can’t stop thinking about spring, though this break is sure welcome.

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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 – AmericaRidesMaps.com 
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Views On Bike Shows Changing

Photo - Motorcycle at Knoxville show

A thing of beauty, craftsmanship, design, and art.

Every so often you may still hear me utter the words “I don’t care much for bike shows”, but my perspective is changing. It’s a personal issue, one more defect to add to my already exhaustive list of character flaws. As with many dislikes, it was rooted in ignorance and a narrow understanding.

I give credit to Mark and Yvonne Cresswell from World Wide Dynamics for opening my mind. They’ve been involved with promoting shows and events like Sturgis, Leesburg, Laconia, Daytona, and a host of others for decades. When things went south with Myrtle Beach they saw a vacuum and the Asheville Bikefest and Blue Ridge Run was born to fill it. I watched them pull together the event last year, got just a little peek at all the behind the curtain challenges and frustrations involved, and came to appreciate the knowledge and connections they’ve built up over the years. I used to think they asked for my contribution for my expert knowledge about motorcycle riding in the Blue Ridge Mountains, but now I think there’s more to it. There has to be. I’m starting to wake up to what that is.

Photo - Bike at Knoxville motorcycle show

Nothing like purple to show passion.

Give me a good bike, an engaging road, and a tank of gas and I’m gone. I don’t need bling, all you’re gonna see is a blur as I flash by anyway. When form vs. function, function always wins for me, and shows seemed all about form – shiny bikes I’d never ride and baubles to dress them up. I struggled with this contradiction but now I think I’m bridging the gap in my understanding, finding the deeper connection. I’ve believe I’ve found the common ground – it’s passion.

I spent yesterday in Knoxville TN, at the Easyrider Custom motorcycle show. A few weeks back it was Charlotte NC, and before that Greenville SC. All of these were outstanding well run shows that crowds of thousands truly enjoy. Coordinating and managing them is an extraordinary accomplishment and a tremendous amount of work. Touring it on the road from city to city presents daunting challenges. I have nothing but awe and respect for Easyriders Events – well done! It didn’t happen without passion.

Photo - motorcycle at Knoxville show

Now here's one I'd enjoy riding! '73 Kaw rescued from a farmers field.

I’ve had just a little taste of what it takes to be a vendor at a show, a behind the scenes look, a “backstage pass” so to speak. It’s a grueling routine. Miles and miles on the road. Up before dark to get into the facility. Hauling in all your merchandise through the loading dock, building the booth, hoping and trying to get a good spot on the floor, the race to get everything set up before the doors open to the public. Once the people flood in you’re on your feet and on your game non-stop until they close again. It’s a long and exhausting day and at the end you’ve either got to break down and pack up to head for the next show or spend a night in a strange bed to do it all over again tomorrow. It’s done so well and they make it look so easy you never think about what went into creating it. You don’t do that without passion.

Photo - motorcycle at Knoxville show

I've always liked the red ones.

No need to waste words describing the passion of those who build and bring these bikes to the shows – the photos clearly show how much passion went into these creations. That passion is also evident in the thousands of people who come to these events, to share the enthusiasm and stoke their own personal passions for what motorcycling brings to them.

We motorcyclists are a diverse group. Each one of us gets something from the sport / hobby / lifestyle / – however you categorize what motorcycles do for you. We’re all different, but one of the things that unites us is passion. My passion is best expressed and fulfilled through riding at the edge of my abilities on the most challenging and engaging roads I can find. The shiny things don’t always fit in my personal world, but I can appreciate how it does for others. Passion is the tie that binds, the common denominator for us.

Asheville Bikefest Info

The Asheville Bikefest and Blue Ridge Run May 12-15, 2011

Passion has got to be one of the reasons Mark and Yvonne asked me to help again with the Asheville Bikefest and Blue Ridge Run May 12 – 15. It certainly isn’t my competence with putting on a bike show, they know my attitude and lack of experience with such things. Coordinating the vendors, the stunt shows, the entertainment, the manufacturers and their demo fleets, and all that difficult and exhaustive list of things that go into a show are their passion. It’s what they bring to the table and I was impressed with how well they pulled it off last year.

My passion is riding. That’s my mission. I’m taking it very seriously because it’s what I love most. I can point you to 100 outstanding motorcycle rides around this Asheville show and I don’t know anyone who is as passionate about motorcycle riding on the Blue Ridge Parkway as I am. Just 10 minutes from the Blue Ridge Parkway, the Asheville Bikefest offers something many other gatherings lack – a wealth of great motorcycle rides through the fantastic scenic Smoky Mountains. Motorcycles aren’t just welcome here, it’s a part of life. The mayor of Asheville rides. You’ve always been welcome here. When you have passion, you can’t help but share it with others.

Come see me at the show. Come with a full tank. Come and let me share our passion with you.

Image - Asheville Mayor Terry Bellamy Welcomes Bikefest letter

Asheville Mayor/motorcycle rider Terry Bellamy Welcomes Bikefest

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Wife – “Did you see what happened to your motorcycle last night?”

Not the first words you want to hear in the morning. A wind storm tore through the Smoky Mountains last night and wreaked havoc at our house. Stuff blown everywhere. Unfortunately, some of that stuff hit my motorcycle – hard.

Photo-windstorm-damage-to-motorcycle

It looks like my Tiger chipped a tooth. A heavy wooden pallet blew over onto it. This is gonna be expensive.

It blew all my maintenance supplies off the shelf, broke a jar full of cleaning brushes, wrecked my air pump, and I bet I find more bad news as I clean it all up.

Photo-wind-storm-causes-motorcycle-damage

What a mess. That pallet in the background will soon be kindling wood for the fireplace.

Things are settling down now and the sun is coming up. I suppose it’s not quite as bad as the time a stack of firewood blew over onto my wife’s new car. It’s what I get for forgetting that episode.

Occasionally harsh weather is nothing out of the ordinary in the Smoky Mountains, the price you pay for living in the best motorcycle riding area in the country. Sometimes that price is painful, but it’s well worth the cost. The Triumph dealer will collect the dues this 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 – AmericaRidesMaps.com 
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