How I Dress for Winter Motorcycle Riding in the Blue Ridge

How I Dress for Winter Motorcycle Riding in the Blue Ridge

How I Dress for Winter Motorcycle Riding in the Blue Ridge

How I Dress for Winter Motorcycle Riding in the Blue Ridge – Clear skies, great views, low traffic are some of the rewards of winter riding. Dress right and it’s no big deal.

Don’t let the cold weather put an end to your motorcycle riding season. If you dress well for it, winter riding can be comfortable and fun even here in the mountains. It’s not all snow and ice all the time here in the Smokies. Even the highest sections of the Blue Ridge Parkway stay open for most of the winter. Here are some of my personal tips on dressing for winter motorcycle riding in the Blue Ridge and Smoky Mountains, what works best for me.

Dress to adapt to the changing temperature. Often winter days start out very cold then get milder once the sun is high. Bundle up for the chilly start then simply zip your jacket open and loosen the seals at the wrists a bit once it warms. Using vents keeps you from having to stop and peel off layers.

How I Dress for Winter Motorcycle Riding in the Blue Ridge

How I Dress for Winter Motorcycle Riding in the Blue Ridge – With the right clothes, you can ride all day in conditions like this and never be cold.

Cinch and Seal – Before you head out, close all the vents on your jacket. Cinch wrists, ankles, and neck to keep out drafts and seal the warm air in. Snug up any adjustment straps on your jacket to trap warm air better.

A full face helmet is warmer – a balaclava or thin hoodie under the helmet helps when it’s really cold. Manage fogging by cracking the visor just the right amount, flipping it up at stops. Lifting your chin increases air flow, it sometimes works. Eventually your helmet temp equilibrates until you come to a stop again, etc. Fogging problems usually go away as the day gets warmer. Keep visors clean.

Get “Expedition weight” long underwear – go for the warmest, the best quality. You don’t want big seams, buttons and flaps, keep it simple and comfortable.

Landslide on the Cherohala Skyway last year. It was a gorgeous day in February.

Landslide on the Cherohala Skyway last February. It was a gorgeous day, don’t pass up these great opportunities to enjoy winter on your motorcycle.

Seal your inner layer – make your outer shirt a windblock layer that extends up your neck to the chin, and have a zipper so you can vent it. It’ll hold heat better and a zipper lets you vent when it warms.

Put the linings back in – If you took those quilted linings out of your jacket and pants for the summer, put them back in, as well as any waterproof or wind blocking linings.

2 socks, 2 gloves – Start with a warm thinner sock, then add a heavy duty second sock that extends up to your calf. Thin glove liners add heat under a good lined gauntlet style outer glove.

How I Dress for Winter Motorcycle Riding in the Blue Ridge

How I Dress for Winter Motorcycle Riding in the Blue Ridge – you can see so much more in winter when the leaves rare off the trees. It’s a new landscape to enjoy.

If you ultimately decide you enjoy year round motorcycle riding, heated electric gear is the way to go. It’s a big expense, but it lasts for many years. Go all the way and get dual controllers – you’ll want your exposed gloves warmer than your covered vest.

There is one thing you can do to help keep your motorcycle running or stored during the winter months – install a battery tender. It’s as simple as adding a couple wires to your battery terminals for the plug/connector, or if the bike is put up for the winter, just attaching a couple clamps to the battery terminals. Cold weather kills batteries, a battery tender will kept it alive and fresh and extend it’s life for many years. 


How I Dress for Winter Motorcycle Riding in the Blue Ridge – A minute after this photo was taken my bike lay on its side and I couldn’t pick it up on the ice. Read about it here –

Got a winter riding question or tip to share?

If you enjoy photos of motorcycle riding in the Blue Ridge and Smoky Mountains, like MY BLUE RIDGE MOTORCYCLING FACEBOOK PAGE.

wayne busch - Smoky Mountain Motorcycle

Wayne Busch

– 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 –



Sights From the Motorcycle Road – Penland Post Office

Yesterday’s explorations north of Asheville brought me back to many familiar roads, several good new ones, and far too many unpaved and unsuitable trails that had to be investigated regardless. With leaf season past its peak thanks to some windy storms, I followed the Blue Ridge Parkway north and paused along the way to see what remains. There’s still some good color down low, but it’s mostly yellows, browns, and gold that hold fast to the branches for another week or so.

Photo - view from the Blue Ridge Parkway

The Black Mountains viewed from the Blue Ridge Parkway between Crabtree Falls and Little Switzerland. Still some leaves giving a last show of color.

Northeast of Spruce Pine, NC, an excellent motorcycle ride can be enjoyed on Penland Road. It diagonals between the the too heavily trafficked US 226 and US19E and is a welcome relief from the four lane bustle. Near the midpoint sits the tiny hamlet of Penland and the ancient Penland Post Office.

Photo - Penland Post Office

The flag was the giveaway the Penland Post Office was still in business. I've passed by many times, today I stopped to visit.

I’d passed by it many times, noting it’s location, but never paying it much attention as it appeared to be abandoned. Yesterday, seeking a spot to stop and consult my map, I found it’s very much alive and functional despite its antique appearance.

Photo - Penland Post Office

A place preserved in time, I had wondered if the Penland Post Office was just another abandoned relic of the past. Hardly the case.

The female postmaster seemed to welcome the intrusion of me poking about, snapping a few photos, and inquiring about the location. She tells it’s slated for restoration thanks to the efforts of the nearby Penland School of Crafts.

Photo - Penland Post Office

I suspect many of these boxes are tended only by ghosts, though it's hardly an isolated area. Generations have lived back in these mountains and continue to do so.

Discovering sights like these is one of the best reasons to get off the Blue Ridge Parkway and explore the wealth of back roads that weave throughout the Smoky Mountains. Were I to photograph and visit all of them I’d get little mapping done. Trust me, there are plenty more awaiting your discovery and the roads and motorcycle rides that lead to them are what keep me going.

Photo - Penland Post Office

While I did see a computer in the back room, I suspect this typewriter and brass scale got just as much use.

The Blue Ridge Parkway projects an image of isolated mountain wilderness that doesn’t truly reflect just how many people have lived adjacent to it since times before there were cars and motorcycles. Think about it – something like popular Mabry Mill on the parkway could never have existed were there not a community that needed and supported it. Many of those communities persist and the roads which connect to and lie nearby the Blue Ridge Parkway are the gateways to discovering them. Discover America Rides Maps and find this wealth of hidden treasures.


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 –

New Map – North Carolina / Viginia Border Rides

It’s finally ready! Thousands of miles of road work, hundreds of hours, the first of the Virginia series of maps, North Carolina / Virginia Border Rides is now completed.

It’s been a long journey to reach this point. I never expected to be including so much of North Carolina in this map, but that’s the way the mountains and the Blue Ridge Parkway run. As you approach the border between the states, the mountains make a lateral jog east-west before resuming their regular diagonal parallel to the coastline.

The Appalachians are comprised of more than a dozen different mountain ranges. While the tallest ones to the south start to play out here, those more west begin to grow. What this area lacks in height, it makes up for in breadth. The steepest flanks are along the eastern edge descending from the highest ridges towards North Carolina. The west is characterized more by rolling hills, sometimes quite impressive, but lacking the grandeur of the regions south.

The cities, all of them relatively small, and the towns, lie in the valleys between the mountains. Most of the major roads run though these valleys connecting the towns. Roads perpendicular to these vallies traverse gaps in the ridge lines. It’s a hilly and rolling country regardless, much of it rural and pastoral, and you will be rewarded with views of the extensive ranges of low mountains from almost every high vantage point.

Most notable to me was the large number of roads that are found here. I suspect this is due to the fact the mountains are not as high as to the south, so there are less impediments to travelling through them. Where dramatic rock outcroppings erupt, state parks sequester the areas for all to enjoy and preserve.

The other thing I enjoyed was discovering some of the hidden historic sights on many of the rides. More accessible, this area was probably settled much earlier than the higher areas of North Carolina. I came across old abandoned mills, country stores, barns, farms, and other relics that tell of a historical past worth delving in to and I took more than a few photos for my collection.

I must confess, this central portion of the Blue Ridge Parkway tends to lull me to sleep. Urban encroachment is far more evident, and challenging sections of roadway give way to gently rocking, almost monotonous curves. There are points of historic interest, but I suspect many just motor through seeking the more dramatic views to the north and south. This map reveals there is far more here than meets the eye.

Check out the new map, North Carolina / Virginia Border Rides here.

>> Go To America Rides Maps.com