Bargain Motorcycle Tires Online? Caveat Emptor

The most important piece of gear on your motorcycle is one where I often see riders make poor choices.  Riding a motorcycle,  particularly on the curvy back roads of the Blue Ridge and Smoky Mountains,  is an exercise in maintaining and maximizing traction. Your tires are your two points of contact with the road. Losing traction on either of them can quickly have severe consequences.

Too often though, I stumle across discussions where the emphasis is on finding the cheapest tires with the longest lifespan, and buyers often turn to online discount outlets to purchase them. If you’re buying a newly released tire online, you’ll probably do OK. If you are buying an old stand-by tire however, you may not be getting such a bargain after all.

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How fresh are your tires? Look for this code. This tire was manufactured in the 40th week of 2008.

Tires have a shelf life. The rubber compounds degrade with time, becoming harder and loosing flexibility. High performance tires may have a shelf life of less than 2 years. Sport bike tires are usually good for about 3 years. Touring bike tires may go as long as 5 years before they are degraded to where performance is affected.

The problem one can run into buying online is you have no way of knowing how old the tires you purchase are. It’s very possible they’ve been sitting in a wharehouse for years. Much of their life has been used up before they were ever mounted.

I once bought a 6 year old bike which had 600 miles on the original tires. Great deal. I quickly noticed a steering wobble that had me wondering if I’d been duped. It rapidly got worse and worse. All thoughts of causes ran through my mind, none of them good. The first remedy was to try fresh tires. It was an immediate cure.

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This tire was produced in the 12th week of 2010. Note the difference in the appearance of the rubber - you can see in the photos which tire looks older.

The old tires looked brand new. They had very few miles on them. Time had taken it’s toll, and I was concerned at how quickly they got to approaching dangerous levels of performance.

So how do you know how old a tires is? It’s listed on the tire. Amongst all that DOT code, manufacturer info, and branding, look for a small rounded rectagle with 4 numbers in it. The first 2 numbers are the week the tire was manufactured, the second two the year. For example, 44/10 indicates the tire was made in the 44th week of 2010.

I believe it’s best to buy tires from a local shop where you can see what you’re getting. As important as they are to your safety and riding enjoyment, insuring you have fresh tires should be standard practice for good motorcycle riders. Old tires may be cheaper, but there’s a good reason for 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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Central California vs. Smoky Mountain Motorcycle Rides

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Santa Barbara - coast & mountains

Earlier this year some magazine came out with a list of top 10 motorcycle rides. The Blue Ridge Parkway made the list. The Dragon at Deals Gap made the list. Others had me wondering what criteria they used to judge them.

I’ve been all across the US and I’m convinced the best motorcycle riding is in the Blue Ridge / Smoky Mountains, but I’m trying to keep an open mind. When the opportunity came to visit Santa Barbara on the California coast,  I made arrangements to insure I’d explore central California by motorcycle to see how west coast mountain riding compared to home sweet home.

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Nice section of CA 150 near Ojai

I’ve previously been on sections of the Pacific Coast Highway. It’s fabulously scenic, but there’s not a whole lot about it that drives me to want to carve through it on a motorcycle to get the most out of the ride. I remember too much time plodding along behind duffers with lines of cars behind them, not rolling on the throttle to course through the curves and drop a knee towards the pavement. I did ride the Ventura Highway several times, and that Eagle’s song jumps into your mind as soon as you see the sign.

My explorations this trip would be through central California, leaving the congestion of the coastal roads behind for the more challenging mountain passes. Unfortunately, this required time-wasting commutes on the expressway to reach them.

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You can see the Channel Islands from atop CA 33

The highlight of all that highway riding was experiencing lane sharing when traffic backed up, which it frequently did. Not for the meek, the skinny Ducati sport bike I was on was perfectly suited for darting between the lines of slower cars, flitting into every hole that opened, and filtering through the traffic.  Surprisingly, the cars and trucks made room for you to pass. I guess it beats having a speeding bike scrape along your car. It was fun and I felt like I was given a free pass to cheat at the game.  I think we need more lane sharing in the US.

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CA 58 a long, lonely ride to reach the twisties

I was a little disappointed to find the rides out to reach the mountain passes long and quite tame. While there was less traffic, it’s still far busier then you’ll find secondary roads in my Blue Ridge Mountains back home.

I first went south from Santa Barabara to Carpenteria, then headed inland to Ojai. Most of the towns are pretty cool, they look like great places to visit, but not what I’d come to do.

Leaving Ojai, my first run across the mountains on CA 33 had me feeling more at home. CA 33 is a good long run with curves that reminded me more of the Cherohala Skyway then the Dragon– a little more open and sweeping in comparison to the tight and technical curves I so enjoy back home.

The Ducati 848 made enjoying the canyon rides at a spirited pace easy. While the suspension was set up way to stiff for my liking, it always provided as much traction as I asked for, the bike ran the curves like it was on a rial. It was a challenge to keep from hitting triple digits when the road opened up, a challenge I failed many times.

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A long twisty section makes CA 58 so great

Once over the mountains I came down into the oil fields and farmlands near Maricopa. I then headed north through the desert where temps were just shy of 100 degrees to pick up the next great ride near McKittrick, CA 58. Fortunately, I’d topped up the tank as the “No services next 70 miles” signs appeared. CA 58 was another outstanding ride through high open mountain passes, great curves, and  a whole of of fun. Lot’s of bikes on this ride, it’s a great one so long as you’re up in the mountains. Once you come down, things straighten out again. I was reminded of the midwest where you ride a road that runs like an arrow to the horizon for miles and miles until you come to a 20 mph right angle turn to do it all over again and again.

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Cruising through wine country on Foxen Canyon and Santa Rosa Rds

I got bored on these long straight runs and after a while the speed crept up and up until I was playing a game to see if I could launch the bike off the hilltops as a the Ducati stretched it’s legs out and sang at the top of it’s booming baritone voice. I looped back through Santa Margarita then limped into San Luis Obispo with the reserve light crying out for a drink of fresh petrol. I wasted a bit of time looking for gas as every station was flagged off with yellow tape. They were all getting some kind of service done and I was running on fumes when I finally found one that had one bank of pumps in operation. I waited my turn in the long lines that had formed, then headed south on the freeway to return home.

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The coastal fog travels well inland and persists till after noon - Foxen Canyon Rd

The next day I headed north this time, taking CA 154 through the dense morning fog that rolls in off the ocean. My destination was Foxen Canyon Rd, a decent ride, but not as challenging as those I’d previously been on. Most of this day was in wine country and it was more scenic then I’d seen on the east side of the mountains. I worked my way from Santa Maria to Lompoc, then found a nice ride on Santa Rosa Rd. Passing through Solvang, I returned to Santa Barbara on CA 154, then got on the freeway and went back south to Carpenteria to make a few more runs on CA 33.

So how do the California motorcycle rides I was on compare to the Blue Ridge & Smoky Mountain motorcycle rides I know so well?

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The Ducati 848 - a precision guided missile - too much for all but the best riders

While the California rides were longer, so were the distances between them – they stood in isolation. Here in the Smokies, you finish one great road to continue your motorcycle ride on the next. You spend far more time in the nice sections and finding a long straight stretch of road means you made a wrong turn and left the mountains. I missed the green trees, the rushing mountain streams, the little waterfalls around the bends. The California countryside is dry, if not desert, close to it. Towns are much further apart, and you’ve got to pay attention to gas stations – when in doubt, top it out. You may have a long ride before you find another.

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Sometimes there are more oil derricks than trees

Many of the California roads were rough and bumpy – a patchwork of asphalt and concrete layer upon layer. I thought we had some rough rods, but I’m beginning to think we don’t have it so bad after all.

In the same amount of area I covered to reach just a few great motorcycle rides in California, there would have been a hundred or so in the Smokies and never  a 4 lane road or highway needed. I continue to believe there are more great motorcycle rides in the Blue Ridge and Smoky Mountains than any other area of the country.

To quote the now ex-governator, “I’ll be back”. Admittedly, I’ve barely touched the huge state of California. It’s a nice contrast to the motorcycle rides we have back home in the Smoky Mountains and makes me appreciate how great we’ve got it back east.

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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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My Experience – Total Rider Tech Advanced Motorcycle Course

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Dave Saam, our instructor, demonstrates one of the exercises.

So the first thing you’re probably asking is – Is this something I’m interested in?  You might have the impression it’s just for squids on sport bikes. You’d be seriously wrong. (honestly, do these guys look like squids?)

  • I’ve been riding for 37 years. I kinda thought I had most things figured out.
  • I can be fast when I want to be.
  • I  think I’m very smooth.
  • I’ve put one hell of a lot of miles under my wheels.
  • I really enjoy my motorcycle riding.
  • I was happy with what I was doing on, and with, a motorcycle.
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Altering your center of gravity while turning with correct body position is critical on any style motorcycle.

After this Total Rider Tech Advanced Motorcycle Rider Training I’ve got that same silly smile on my face I had the day after I’d just got my first motorcycle – I can’t wait to get out and ride.

No, it’s not like starting over.  Basic skills should be second nature before you consider a course like Total Rider Tech‘s Advanced Motorcycle Clinic. It’s a key to rising to another level in your motorcycle riding.

I’d already got a lot from Lee Parks’ “Total Control” book. At least I thought I had. I was seeing improvements in my riding.  I quickly learned it’s one thing to read a book.

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Body position too in-line with the bike, rotate left shoulder forward and drop left elbow, lean forward and more to the inside, repositioning will allow me to turn my head more and look deeper through the curve, yes that's me.

What looked so simple in print is a “whole ‘nuther world” when you have an expert there to coach you and help you recognize things you could apply to be a better motorcycle rider.

I appreciate the way the instruction was done. The classroom laid the groundwork for the drills. What seemed so easy in class often proved quite the challenge when put to practice. There was a lot to think about, each step building on what came before.

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L-R Greg, SportBikes4Hire, Billy - Microtel, and Dave, our instructor made the magic happen

The instruction, criticism, and feedback from drills on the riding course were provided in a way that accepted my input, listened to what I thought and felt during the ride, then reinforced the fundamentals described in class.

In this way you compared your idea of how you performed with coaching on how to achieve the ideal you are after.  It’s a very powerful method of instilling an awareness of how you can move closer to a better relationship with your motorcycle riding.

The class doesn’t just demonstrate how to be better, you learn and understand  why and how you do what you do, and when you do it will make you better. That’s powerful knowledge!

Total Rider Tech

 Backstage Pass –

(I hope you’ve already gone to the Total Rider Tech page)  Here’s the honesty part – I knew this class was coming, you’ve seen previous posts about it.  I kinda had an “in” on the goings on.

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Sport Bikes 4 Hire.com did a superb job with professional service

Thank Greg at SportsBikes4Hire.com for bringing this class to Robbinsville, NC. He took it about 3 months ago.

This track racer of many years knew the value he’d received and coordinated bringing a class to the closest facility to The Dragon at Deals Gap. He sited the course and got us a discount from Billy at the Microtel Robbinsville. He provided bikes for the instructor. I was humbled when he invited me to come early and see the inside story.

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I do believe Dave enjoyed our ride through the Dragon at Deals Gap

Dave Saam, our instructor, arrived the day before the classes to get things set up. Greg and I helped him evaluate the site and precisely measure out the course. After dinner, we went for Dave’s first run through The Dragon. The smile on his face tells the story.

Saturday I went through the class. That evening was spent making night runs through The Dragon with a few of my classmates. I’ll cherish those memories for a lifetime.

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Some of these riders had a lot of experience - everyone came away with a wealth of knowledge on how to become a better rider.

Sunday, I stuck around to shadow Dave and learn from a master how he works with the students to help them recognize and become aware of what is happening as they run through the drills.

In the classroom we learned the technical aspects of how the motorcycle relates to and functions on the road. The understanding of how suspension affects traction, how body position and center of gravity changes affect the motorcycle, and essentially how to allow the motorcycle achieve what it was inherently designed to do – how to work in harmony with the mechanics so they provide the maximum result.

I watched everyone progress through the day. Some made remarkable improvements in their riding, it was exciting to see it happen.

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The principals we learned are universal - they work on a race bike, they work on a Harley.

The class wrapped up with one of the best explanations of suspension and how to set it up I can imagine. Previously, fiddling with suspension settings was so mysterious and complicated I didn’t dare touch it lest I make things worse out of ignorance. Let’s face it, dealers and most mechanics may know how to change parts, but have no clue how to adjust settings for the individual rider to get just the basic performance out of the motorcycle.

I now understand it so well, setting up my suspension correctly and doing the same for my wife’s bike is one of the first things I’m doing before we ride again. I can’t believe this isn’t done for everyone when you first get a new bike, but it’s treated like black magic. Total Rider Tech taught me how to get my motorcycle optimized for me so it can work at it’s best and how to make the adjustments that tailor it to my comfort and performance desires.

So is a Total Rider Tech course for you? If you’ve got a few miles under your wheels and cruising around is now all second nature, you’ll benefit immensely from this course. The knowledge and understanding you’ll gain helps you really recognize how a motorcycle is designed to work and relate to the road, the dynamics of cornering well, how the output is affected by your inputs.

You will improve your riding. They promised that. Total Rider Tech kept their promise.

Greg at SportsBikes4Hire.com is hoping to have another in October. This one filled quickly and we had riders who came out to the course to see if anyone failed to show trying to get in. Jump on the opportunity when it comes again!

To my fellow students – I have your photos. Email me and I’ll get them to you. wayne@americaridesmaps.com

SportsBikes4Hire.com , Microtel RobbinsvilleTotal Rider TechThe Dragon, Lee Parks’ “Total Control” book

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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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Motorcycle Friendly Places – Hampton Inn & Suites, Sapphire, NC

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One of my favorite views is just 10 mins from the Hampton.

Few places rival the beauty surrounding Sapphire, NC. The small town and those surrounding it host some of the most expensive real estate in the Blue Ridge Mountains. Flanked by massive granite balds, host to the Cullasja River Gorge with it’s many roadside waterfalls, and nestled amongst the wilds of several national forests with views that will take your breath away, the area is laced with outstanding motorcycle rides.

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Above the clouds on my morning ride

On any weekend, 2 lane US 64 throbs and buzzes with motorcycles who come to play on the wonderfully twisty and scenic roads. Of course other tourists come as well, and US 64 rarely gives the motorcycle rider the freedom to enjoy its serpentine turns to full delight as they insist you share the road. Few tourists ever venture off the main drag though, and the many back roads which course over the mountains and along the valley streams give the biker what he really came for – great rides with outstanding views devoid of traffic.

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Hampton Inn & Suites, Sapphire, NC

Sitting in the heart of all this, the Hampton Inn & Suites in Sapphire makes an ideal place to base out of for an enjoyable stay while exploring all the region has to offer. Level parking, set back from the road, and close to good dinging and other amenities, the Hampton provides a quiet and relaxing place with a decor and atmosphere that reflects the quality of the surrounding area. I toured 3 different styles of room each of which deserves the descriptor – “posh”. I would be very happy to stay in any of them, it’s the kind of place I seek out in my travels.

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A comfortable place to gather and relax

It looks like an ideal place for those groups of motorcycle riders looking for a time they’ll remember fondly and come back to. 2 meeting rooms are available. The lobby is spacious and inviting, a good place to gather. All the amenities are at hand.

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Ride hard, rest easy.

The greatest thing about the Hampton is location. Roll out the driveway and you’re on the ride. Go west through Cashiers and Highlands to ride Wayah Bald and the Nantahala Gorge. The roads to the north – well, every time I go though there I come back thinking I don’t get that way often enough, they are so nice. Head east, and you enter my favorite area in all the mountains, home to some of the best rides I know of. To the south, the twisties which lead into South Carolina are outstanding. Whitewater Falls,

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Put your bike here.

the highest in the east is just a short ride from the hotel. The Dragon at Deals Gap is about an hour away, though the roads which lead you to it will have you all warmed up and ready to go when you get there, then go on to tackle the Cherohala Skyway. The best section of the Blue Ridge Parkway is the closest. As I add all these up, staying here makes a lot of sense.

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One of the roads I took going home

The sales manager was a rider, so she knows you guys. You’re welcome here. I’ll be adding the Hampton Inn Sapphire to the maps ASAP. The more I think about it, the more sense it makes to plan a stay here. It’s a total immersion in motorcycle rider’s bliss – point your wheel in any direction and the good roads are right there.

SAVE 10% on weekends, SAVE 20% during the week – Call and ask for your Smoky Mountain Rider / America Rides Maps discount.

Hampton Inn and Suites Cashiers/Sapphire Valley, N.C
3245 US 64 East
Sapphire, NC 28774
http://www.hamptoncashiersnc.com

 

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If waterfalls turn you on, you'll be in heaven. The Hampton sits at the heart of the "Land of the Waterfalls". Whitewater Falls, the highest in the east, is just a short ride, as are many others.

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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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Best Motorcycle Rides in North Georgia – digital soon?

Wow! It’s taken me 18 months to completely revise and update all my Smoky Mountain / Blue Ridge motorcycle ride maps, but the last of them is done – Map #9 “The Best Rides in the North Georgia Mountains” has been released.

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Roads are really bold, map is easy to and quick to read. Road descriptions on back of map.

If you have one of my Georgia motorcycle maps you honestly don’t need to replace the map you have. I had almost all of the really outstanding Georgia motorcycle rides on the earlier version. I did find a couple more really nice north Georgia motorcycle rides on the periphery of the main area of the map as you make your way to the classic rides  – you’ve got to ride GA 60,  Blood Mountain area, and I love to play back and forth across the North Carolina state line.

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Map #9 - The Best Rides in the North Georgia Mountains

So what’s the big deal? The reason this revision took so long was prepare the maps for digital use! I’ve looked at phone apps but decided the limiting factor in the mountains is reception. Live GPS positioning via phone just isn’t there yet for this region.

A solution I’ve been testing instead is map downloads which can be scaled and used from an ipad, ipod, iphone, or any other smart phone provided you’ve got a decent sized memory card. Got your phone? You’ve got your maps. It worked well on the ipad. I’ll be testing ipod, iphone, etc. next. If it goes well, you can expect to see them available in about 2-3 weeks.

So what about GPS? Next project. I have the software. I need the time.

See more about the new map here – goo.gl/ifTNr

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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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A List & Descriptions of More North Georgia Motorcycle Roads

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Map #9 - The Best Rides in the North Georgia Mountains

I’m way late getting back into Georgia. I’d planned to revisit the region in May. Here it is July, and I’m just now wrapping up the revisions to my Georgia motorcycle ride mapThe Best Rides in the North Georgia Mountains.

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Love d'em possums!

I’ve been poking my wheel into the periphery of the region as I’ve been exploring great motorcycle rides in Tennessee, North and South Carolina, but just haven’t had the time to dedicate a full assault on the heart of the best riding area in the Peach State. My motorcycle map business is expanding so fast it’s required far more time in the office and production than I expected. I wish you the same success.

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Clay's Corner in tiny Brasstown. Georgia is full of these little do-it-all pit stops. Lots of history to be discovered too.

There’s no need to revisit the well known rides – Blood Mountain, Wolf Pen Gap, Suches, Helen, etc., but I won’t resist hitting as many of those outstanding roads as I can while I’m there. If you’ve ridden them before, you already know what I mean. If you haven’t ridden the north Georgia mountains on your motorcycle, you’re missing out. Get it on your bucket list.

I found myself with a window of opportunity to get out on the road yesterday as the supplies I need won’t arrive until today, so I dressed for the deluge and headed south. No doubt it was going to rain. I’d hoped for thunderstorms that would come and go, but the torrent was steady from noon till dusk.

North-Georgia-View

The hilly countryside is such a nice mix of rural scenes, wooded byways, and historic little towns.

I’m used to riding in all kinds of weather, and have spent so much of my time on the motorcycle riding in rain it just adds another dimension to the ride for me. I’ve found excellent tires that allow me to keep my usual “spirited pace” when carving through the wet curves, and the principal factor that limits is visibility. You can only go as fast as you can see the road ahead and at times yesterday it was so dark and the showers so heavy I had to yield to the conditions.

I set out with 29 new roads to explore. The focus is not to find the next great classic Georgia motorcycle ride, but to determine better ways to link the already well known great motorcycle rides together with good 2 lane back roads so you have the most flexibility on your travels. I’m not sure if I got to all of them. I’d printed a paper map before leaving and within a few hours it was in useless tatters. I did much of the exploring from memory. Once I review the GPS logs I’ll see if another trip is needed.

Here are a few roads you should know about:

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I paused in Suches at this once popular motorcycle stop - the convenience store is till open, but no gas any longer. I laid my gear out to dry and as soon as I did it started pouring again.

Boardtown Rd / Sugar Creek Rd are west of GA 515 running parallel to it between Ellijay and Blue Ridge. Not an outstanding ride, it does allow you to get off the 4 lane divided highway when passing through. Use Scenic Rd at the north end to go into Blue Ridge or connect to GA 5.

When coming south on GA 60 Spur from US 64/74, Hardscrabble Rd will bring you west of Morganton, Blue Ridge, and Mineral Bluff so you avoid the town traffic. Orton Rd / Johnsonville Rd / Mt. Pleasant Rd! are really twisty ways to access Hardscrabble Rd from US 64 / 74 but the pavement is bumpy and your suspension had better be excellent to fully enjoy these curves.

Connecting GA 60 and GA 5, Curtis Switch Rd takes you to the Taccoa River, then Galloway Rd makes a curvy run to rejoin GA 5 midway between Blue Ridge and Mccaysville. To reach GA 5 closer to Blue Ridge, hop onto Barnes Chapel Rd, though keep an eye open for Dills Rd – it’s much more fun.

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View from GA 60 south of Suches. There are awesome rides through those rainy hills. Come and do them!

Just north of the border in North Carolina, Martin’s Creek Rd snakes south from Murphy. Access it via Hiawassee River Rd on the south side of the river. The north end is devilishly tight with 10 mph curves, then it opens up as you proceed south. At the midpoint, Brasstown Rd is a really enjoyable romp east leading to a knot of great rides near Hayesville.

Finally, south of Suches where GA 60 meets US 19 at Porter Springs, Stone Pile Gap Rd is easily overlooked. A large and fancy “Ranch” sign makes it appear as if the road is a private entrance to the facility. It leads to Yahoola Rd / Black Mountain Rd which loop back towards Dahlonega. All are enjoyable though not outstanding cruiser rides. Don’t be tempted to make a run out Camp Washega Rd – it’s a really nice ride but dead ends at an Army Ranger Camp.

I plan to have the new version of Great Rides in the North Georgia Mountains ready in about a week.

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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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The Blue Ridge Parkway – Old World Craftsmanship Endures

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Blue Ridge Parkway - History preserved

As you make that Blue Ridge Parkway motorcycle ride this year you will encounter one major detour near Doughton Park just south of the Virginia border in North Carolina. Within this stretch of road, the beautifully crafted stone walls which line the shoulders of the Blue Ridge Parkway are being restored and foundations added to insure they endure long into the future.  Originally built by master stone masons brought from Europe, descendants of the original craftsmen now labor to re-craft the work done by their grandfathers.  This video shows the care being taken to preserve the historic legacy of the national park insuring each stone is returned to its original position.

While the park service has routed traffic north on a detour which takes you through Sparta, I’ve identified another more challenging and scenic detour route that will take you on a ride that gets you away from all the other traffic and takes you to sights those others miss seeing. This video shows you the details of what I believe is a better detour route for motorcycle travelers –

Use this link to download a map of this detour route you can print at home and take with you on your journey. goo.gl/pCRdP

This section of the Blue Ridge Parkway is detailed on America Rides Maps Map #3 – North Carolina / Virginia Border Rides, part of the 6 map Blue Ridge Parkway set.

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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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Popular Blue Ridge Parkway feature destroyed

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The sign at the highest point on the Blue Ridge Parkway

What a surprise as our motorcycles rounded the bend on my favorite section of the Blue Ridge Parkway July 4 to find a familiar and highly visited overlook feature missing. We had to stop for a closer look.

It’s one of those classic photo opportunities on your Blue Ridge Parkway motorcycle ride – the highest point of the 469 mile roadway is prominently marked with a large sign at the popular overlook. You can pull your bikes right in front of it and get that great picture to commemorate your visit – until now. That sign is missing.

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It used to be a classic photo spot - pull your bikes in front of the sign and get the picture for your scrapbook

My first though was it had been struck by a car. It would have had to be a big car though, at least an SUV, maybe even a small truck, but the evidence did not show signs of a collision.

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Surveying the damage we speculate the sign was pushed over. Look at the bent steel supports, and the damage to the rock pillars up high.

The damage was too high, and it appeared more as if it had occurred from the top down. The twisted steel and fractured rock indicated the sign had probably been forced down by high wind, though it must have been one heck of a blow. Perhaps it was a tornado or one of those micro-burst events. At over 6000 feet elevation you can experience some pretty severe weather.

Photo-view-from-highest-point-on-the-Blue-Ridge-Parkway

The view from the highest point on the Blue Ridge Parkway.

Still, this sign has stood through harsh conditions for many years. I’m glad I wasn’t up high when this damage occurred. We’ve had extraordinarily unusual weather in the Smoky Mountains this year. Until now, I would have told you tornados don’t happen in the mountains. Great Smoky Mountains National Park has experienced a couple, you can still see the twisted steel tower in the middle of the lake at Deals Gap left when that cyclone blew through, and  I no longer know what to expect. Times are changing and the southeast has been pummeled with twisters this year.

If it’s the end-of-times, I’m going out riding my motorcycle. Watch me flash by in the twister like the wicked witch in the Wizard of Oz. See you on the yellow brick road.

You’ll find this outstanding motorcycle riding area featured on America Rides Maps “The Best Motorcycle Rides South of Great Smoky Mountains National Park

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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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