Motorcycle Loop Ride near Hot Springs, NC

French Broad River in Hot Springs, NC

French Broad River

The small historic town of Hot Springs, NC, has long been a familiar pit stop for mountain area motorcycle riders. It is situated north and west of Asheville near the border with Tennessee on the banks of the French Broad River. The town is popular with rafters and hikers, has couple biker friendly places to eat, and there are natural hot springs to soak in at the spa.

Hot Springs, NC

Hot Springs, NC

Motorcycle riders are attracted to this area for the wonderful and tricky two lane back roads which thread through the surrounding mountains. The newfound popularity of NC 209 a.k.a. “The Rattler” as one of the top 10 motorcycle rides in the Blue Ridge Mountains is bringing more motorcycle touring enthusiasts to discover this playground of nice biker roads.

Hot Springs to Flag Pond Motorcycle Ride Map

The map shows a motorcycle loop ride that takes you across the border to Flag Pond, TN., then loops you back to Hot Springs.

  • Leaving Hot Springs, go east on US 25 / 70 making the gentle climb then descent to the junction with NC 208 at Hurricane.
  • Turn north (left) and follow NC 208 along the winding river. As you come to the junction of NC 208 and NC 212 note the small bridge over the creek. Guntertown Road is on the right just before the bridge, NC 212 is at the stop sign once you cross the bridge.
  • The north leg ( NC 212 / TN 352 ) of the triangle shaped motorcycle ride is a pretty nice cruise following along creeks and streams for the most part with a few tricky curves thrown in to keep you on your toes.
  • The east leg ( TN 23 / US 23 ) is pretty relaxed riding, there are a couple passing zones on the long inclines. You’ll want to keep an eye out for the turn onto Big Laurel Road, then hold on for the wild ride back.
  • Big Laurel Road is the south leg of the loop and full of tricky curves. Be alert for scattered debris in a couple of the hairpins around bluff faces. Walnut Creek Road spurs off to the south, be sure you veer in the correct direction when you reach this junction to remain on Big Laurel Road.
  • Guntertown Road leads you east to the small bridge on NC 208. Retrace your path to return to Hot Springs.
Motorcycles on Big Laurel Road

Big Laurel Road

The roads in this area can be extremely challenging and tight. If you prefer an easier course, the ride to Flag Pond on NC 212 / TN 352 can be done out-and-back. There is a large pull off riders use for a break at the junction of TN 352 & TN 23.

————————————————————————————

wayne busch - Smoky Mountain Motorcycle Rider.com

Wayne Busch

– Wayne Busch lives in Waynesville, NC, where he produces the most detailed, comprehensive, 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

Share

Best Motorcycle Rides in North Carolina – Secrets

Best Motorcycle Rides in North Carolina – Secrets

Here’s another bunch of the best motorcycle rides in North Carolina that few ever discover – it’s a nice loop ride that includes a section riding the Blue Ridge Parkway

Best Motorcycle Rides in North Carolina - Sandy Mush

Best Motorcycle Rides in North Carolina - This loop ride will surprise you with some very challenging roads, nice scenery, and places you'd never see otherwise.

The roads shown south of I-40 are pretty well known biker roads. US 276 runs from Waynesville to the Blue Ridge Parkway, always a popular North Carolina motorcycle ride. The section of the Blue Ridge Parkway shown includes Mt. Pisgah and The Pisgah Inn. NC 151 is legendary for it’s treacherous curves as it plunges towards  the valley that leads into Candler.

Best Motorcycle Rides in North Carolina - Pisgah View

Best Motorcycle Rides in North Carolina - the view from the Pisgah Inn on the Blue Ridge Parkway represents others on this section of the road - outstanding!

Most riders then point their wheels to I-40 or US 19 and miss out on the roads that lie north of I-40. This area gets little attention from motorcycle touring visitors who are lured to the more publicized roads elsewhere. To the east lie the suburbs of Asheville, the west is mostly rural valley farms.

Best Motorcycle Rides in North Carolina - NC 151

Best Motorcycle Rides in North Carolina - The section of NC 151 which descends from the Blue Ridge Parkway is full of tricky curves.

The two primary roads north of I-40 are Newfound Road which runs from Canton to Leicester, and Leicester Rd (NC 63) which runs into Asheville. Both are decent rides, particularly the west end of NC 63 as it climbs out of the valleys to intersect NC 209 – The Rattler (Click for ride guide). Still, they are the most heavily used roads so this route avoids them in favor of the empty two lanes which provide a much more relaxing and fun scenic motorcycle ride.

Best Motorcycle Rides in North Carolina - Hookers Gap Rd

Best Motorcycle Rides in North Carolina - Hookers Gap Rd has little traffic and wonderful curves as it climbs over a mountain.

You’ll want to pay attention to the map and watch for the turns as it’s easy to wander off on the maze of small surrounding roads. The turn onto Hookers Gap Rd is not well marked and the road can be hard to spot, but the ride is worth the effort. You’ll also find a short unpaved section of road where Morgan Branch Rd runs into S. Turkey Creek Rd. Be sure to veer right and take the high road where N. Turkey Creek meets Earlys Mountain Rd. NC 215 makes a nice alternative to NC 110 leading out of Canton.

Best Motorcycle Rides in North Carolina - Earlys Mtn Rd

Best Motorcycle Rides in North Carolina - Earlys Mountain Road is one I often ride in winter. The valleys will be clear while snow covers the higher elevations. A nice ride any time of year!

You’ll enjoy a variety of motorcycle riding experiences on this nice loop ride. The valley roads often follow along rushing streams or wind through twisty mountain passes. You’ll enjoy farms and pastures, the park atmosphere of the Blue Ridge Parkway, and the contrast of the massive paper mill when passing through Canton. There are historic buildings and timeless views.

Best Motorcycle Rides in North Carolina - Beaverdam Rd

Best Motorcycle Rides in North Carolina - If you ride Beaverdam Road north from Canton when you crest the mountain the Sandy Mush Valley view explodes as you plunge down the steep hillside.

Step-by-step Route: (uses NC 215 instead of NC 110, either does the job)

  • Start in Canton. Follow NC 215 to Bethel.
  • 5.4 mi Turn left  @ stop sign onto Sonoma Road. Junction NC 215 and Sonoma Road.
  • 6 mi Turn right @ stop sign onto NC 110. Junction Sonoma Road and NC 110.
  • 6.4 mi Turn left @ traffic light onto US 276. Junction NC 110 / US 276 / NC 215. Follow to Blue Ridge Parkway.
  • 20.9 mi Left turn onto ramp to Blue Ridge Parkway.
  • 21 mi Turn right  onto Blue Ridge Parkway (towards Asheville). Follow to next exit.
  • 27.3 mi Turn left onto NC 151. Junction Blue Ridge Parkway and NC 151. Steep descent with tight switchbacks.
  • 39.1 mi Continue through traffic light @ US 19 onto Dogwood Road. Traffic light. Junction NC 151 and US 19.
  • 41.4 mi Turn right onto Hookers Gap Road. Junction Dogwood Road and Hookers Gap Road. Poorly marked, be alert for this turn.
  • 46.5 mi Cross Newfound Road @ stop sign to continue on Morgan Branch Road. Junction Hookers Gap Road and Newfound Road.
  • 49 mi Unpaved section of road for short distance. Cross single lane bridge.
  • 49.4 mi Turn right @ stop sign onto S. Turkey Creek Road.
  • 52.4 mi Turn left  @ stop sign onto NC 63 (New Leicester Highway). Junction S. Turkey Creek Road and NC 63.
  • 53.7 mi Turn left onto N. Turkey Creek Road. Junction NC 63 and N. Turkey Creek Road.
  • 55.1 mi Keep right on Earlys Mountain Road. Junction N. Turkey Creek Road and Earlys Mountain Road.
  • Earlys Mountain Road becomes Big Sandy Mush Road.
  • 59.6 mi Turn left onto Willow Creek Road. Junction Big Sandy Mush Road / Willow Creek Road / Bald Creek Road.
  • Willow Creek Road becomes Beaverdam Road
  • 69.6 mi Turn right @ stop sign onto Newfound Road and follow into Canton. Junction Beaverdam Road and Newfound Road.
  • 71 mi Stop sign. Junction Beaverdam Road and Main Street in Canton.
Best Motorcycle Rides in North Carolina - Willow Creek Rd

Best Motorcycle Rides in North Carolina - Willow Creek Rd has some pretty views and pretty challenging curves.

You can do this North Carolina motorcycle ride in half a day or less. It’s a good one to know about if you’re staying in Waynesville or Maggie Valley or at the Pisgah Inn on the Blue Ridge Parkway. It’s a nice one to fill the rest of the day if you visit Wheels Through Time Motorcycle Museum. If you get caught here during a rainy spell, it’s a quick one you can dart out and do between showers with easy options to run back for shelter if you get caught in a downpour.
Best Motorcycle Rides in North Carolina - old store

Best Motorcycle Rides in North Carolina - riding through historic farms and tiny towns that date back a hundred years or more.

 

Don’t underestimate these roads, they are plenty challenging and worth the time to investigate. You’ll see sights others miss, and experience a part of the mountains rarely visited. You’ll pass by homes and farms that have been there for hundreds of years and many generations. It’s a ride through the history and heritage of the Smokies. Enjoy!

______________________________________

Map #6These roads are just a few of the more than 50 great motorcycle rides found on America Rides Maps pocket map  #6 – The Best Motorcycle Rides EAST of Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

____________________________________________________________________
wayne busch - Smoky Mountain Motorcycle Rider.com

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 – AmericaRidesMaps.com

Total Rider Tech Logo

Learn Total Control

Wayne is an advanced motorcycle instructor for Total Rider Tech teaching Lee Parks Total Control Advanced Rider Courses. Isn’t it time you looked into advanced rider training to ride more confidently and safely? It can transform your mountain riding experience.  Total Rider Tech

____________________________________________________________________

Share

A Fun Motorcycle Ride out of Maggie Valley, NC

photo-Wayne-shares-the-secret-roads

A Holiday Motel in Maggie Valley hosted the ride and fed us well!

13 bikes left with me, 2 returned. Here’s what happened on our motorcycle “fun ride” –

I came in Friday night to share my Secret Roads with the riders in Maggie Valley. With 200 great motorcycle rides on my map of the Great Motorcycle Rides of the Smoky Mountains, I helped them plan their rides for Saturday.

I then invited them to come on a “Fun Ride” in the morning.

photo-group-of-bikers

The riders from the A Holiday Motel stop for a group shot on The Rattler Motorcycle route.

So what’s a “Fun Ride”? Quite simply, I’m going out for a ride. You are welcome to tag along. No strings, no hassles, no fees, no one is responsible for you. It’s an opportunity to hook up with a “local” who knows the roads and will likely take you places you’d otherwise never see.

photo-motorcycles-on-the-rattler

Some of the group on NC 209 a.k.a. The Rattler.

A “Fun Ride” invites adventure. The route is decided on the fly. Nothing’s been scouted, no arrangements for meals, stops, etc. The group of riders I met at the A Holiday Motel in Maggie Valley this weekend wanted to ride to Hot Springs, NC and experience parts of “The Rattler” motorcycle ride. I got them on the best sections, and a whole lot more.

photo-motorcycles-on-nc-63

Such a great day to be out riding. Follow the leader!

Adventure? Yesterday I chose one photo stop in a “parking lot” that was more like a minefield, but everyone survived without dropping their bikes. We stopped for lunch at a place I’d never been when we were hungry and it was pretty darned good.  Some got chased by a dog. Each break spot serendipitously had something memorable about it (a parrot riding a motorcycle?). The weather was sweet, the roads clean, and I know there are other stories to be told.

photo-parrot-rides-on-motorcycle

Polly wants a diaper? Poor mans bike alarm? Touch my bike and you'll lose a finger! I wonder what this riders leathers look like! Seen at a stop on our ride through Hot Springs, NC.

The group paired down as the day wore on.  Some needed to be back earlier and followed the quick route home. No big deal, nobody is counting heads at the rest stops or will come back looking for you at the end of the day. We lost one rider when he wore out a tire, and another tagged along with him to insure he made it for repairs. Some followed along only as part of another ride they’d planned for the day. No rules, no hassles, ride your own ride.

photo-belts-show-through-tire

So how good were those roads? This tire tells the tale! Our only mechanical issue of the day and I knew where to get it fixed. Thanks to MR Motorcycle in Asheville for getting him back on the road.

I returned to the A Holiday Motel with two bikes at the end of the day. Others had peeled off at the Leather Shack, the gas stations, or went up for a quick ride on the Blue Ridge Parkway as we came into town. Those two, both women on their own bikes, had really enjoyed the day and had fun. I know I did. At the superb BBQ dinner provided by the A Holiday Motel that night, everyone was very happy after a nice day riding motorcycles through the Smoky Mountains.

photo-motorcycles-on-nc-63

Making our way back on the best section of NC 63. It was a great day of riding. This road was tame after what we'd been through earlier.

The next “Fun Ride” will be based out of The Lodge at Copperhead in Blairsville, Ga. on Saturday, May 19. On Friday evening, I’ll do a short “Secret Roads” presentation and share what I know in hopes you’ll find some great new rides to add to your collection. Afterwards, I’ll be out on the porch, most likely in the vicinity of the very nice bar at the Lodge. Come see me if you’re interested. Kickstands up at 09:30 on Saturday.

photo-the-lodge-at-copperhead

The Lodge at Copperhead near Blairsville, GA sits on the Gauntlet Motorcycle Ride

I’m going out for a ride on Saturday, May 19. Maybe, you’d like to tag along. Bring a full tank and an empty bladder.

A Holiday Motel in Maggie Valley

The Rattler” motorcycle ride

Map – Great Motorcycle Rides of the Smoky Mountains

The Lodge at Copperhead in Blairsville, Ga

__________________________________________________________________

Photo-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 – AmericaRidesMaps.com

Total Rider Tech Logo

Learn Total Control

Wayne is an advanced motorcycle instructor for Total Rider Tech teaching Lee Parks Total Control Advanced Rider Courses. Isn’t it time you looked into advanced rider training to ride more confidently and safely? It can transform your mountain riding experience.  Total Rider Tech

____________________________________________________________________

Share

Smoky Mountain Motorcycle Rides – Meadow Fork Rd

Two good motorcycle roads are found along NC 209, a.k.a. “The Rattler“. They make a nice side loop on the popular motorcycle ride from Junaluska to Hot Springs in North Carolina. 

Photo-Meadow-Fork-Rd-View

A section of Meadow Fork Road which demonstrates the character of the curves through much of the ride.

Meadow Fork Road Map

Meadow Fork Road spurs off NC 209 about 7 miles south of Hot Springs. The road follows the twisty banks of a whitewater creek for quite a while climbing gently on the challenging and scenic run. It  leads into the Pisgah National Forest where it becomes one of many unpaved forest roads high in the mountains.

Photo-The-Rattler-Motorcycle-Ride

The 1.7 mile section of NC 209 which crosses the Spring Creek valley is the straightest road I can think of in western North Carolina. View approaching Caldwell Mountain Road

Caldwell Mountain Road meets Meadow Fork Road in 6.9 miles. 2.1 mile long Caldwell Mountain Road will take you over the mountain and down to meet NC 209 near the middle of the long straight stretch across the Spring Creek Valley.

photo-NC209-The-Rattler-motorcycle-ride-campground-sign

Caldwell Mountain Rd is easy to find. Ride to the middle of the long straight stretch of NC 209 in Spring Creek. Look for the sign for Meadow Fork Campground.

Caldwell Mountain Road and Meadow Fork Road form a nice loop on the west side of NC 209 when joined together. It’s a good way to vary the ride to and from Hot Springs and  see a few different sights.

Photo-road-sign

The sign may be a little crooked, but so is Caldwell Mountain Rd .

Both Meadow Fork and Caldwell Mountains Roads are paved, though if you miss turning at their junction you will run out of pavement before long when Meadow Fork Road reaches the National Forest. If you are on a dual-sport or adventure bike, this is one way to access the great unpaved roads that lead up to Max Patch bald and wind into Tennessee and the eastern edge of Great Smoky Mountains National Park. (See map OR-1)

Photo-Caldwell-Mountain_rd-motorcycle-ride

One of the few long range views on Caldwell Mountain Rd. You’ll probably be looking at the road instead.

Both of these roads are easy to find from NC 209. Their junctions are well marked. There is a prominent sign for the Meadow Fork Campground which marks the junction and it’s easy to spot Caldwell Mountain Road cutting across the felids in the valley as you approach.

Photo-Motorcycle-Ride-Meadow-Fork

Never far from the edge of the roaring creek, Meadow Fork Road twists through steep rocky hill sides and small valleys and coves.

Caldwell Mountain Road has some nice curves on the climbs and a few brief long range views. The pavement is a little bumpy in places, but generally is pretty good overall.

Photo-motorcycle -ride-meadow-fork-rd

There are some very pleasant views along Meadow Fork Road and lots of places to pause and enjoy it.

Meadow Fork Road follows the Roaring Fork River from NC 209 as it carves through the mountains for 7 miles to reach the junction with Caldwell Mountain Road. The road  traces the bank of the river  making it a nice curvy motorcycle ride for the most part. The pavement is in good shape – a long section near the river washed out and was replaced a few years ago with nice new pavement.

Photo-junction-NC-209-Meadow-fork-rd

The junction of Meadow Fork Rd and NC 209 is easy to spot though it may come up on you quickly as you come around a curve on either side.

Neither road has scenery you’ll be framing on the wall, though in general it’s pretty nice with small remote and isolated coves and valleys, the whitewater river along the road, and lots of hundred year old barns and the like.

Photo-start-of-Meadow-Fork-Rd

Just a peek down Meadow Fork Road shows what lies ahead.

This side loop off NC 209 adds a nice diversion, a little something different, without adding a significant amount of time to the longer motorcycle ride on classic NC 209 – The Rattler.

photo-junction-meadow-fork-caldwell-mountain

The junction of Meadow Fork Rd and Caldwell Mountain Rd is easy to spot, so navigation of this ride is easy and you can focus on enjoying the roads.

Related – Map and info about NC 209 – a.k.a “The Rattler”

America Rides Maps Map #6 – The Best Motorcycle Rides EAST of Great Smoky Mountains National Park

_______________________________________________________________________________

Wayne Busch

Wayne Busch – Cartographer

Total Rider Tech Logo

Learn Total Control

– 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

Wayne is an advanced motorcycle instructor for Total Rider Tech teaching Lee Parks Total Control Advanced Rider Courses. It’s time you looked into advanced rider training to ride more confidently and safely, it will change your mountain riding experience. It worked so well for me I became an instructor! Total Rider Tech

_______________________________________________________________________________

Share

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.

photo-marking-on-tire

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.

Photo-tire-age-code

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.

_______________________________________________________________________________

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 
Share

My Experience – Total Rider Tech Advanced Motorcycle Course

Photo-total-rider-tech

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.
photo-total-rider-tech

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.

Photo-total-rider-tech-motorcycle-class-me

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.

Photo-Microtel-Robbinsville-NC

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.

Photo-SportBikes4hire.com

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.

Photo-the-Dragon-deals-Gap

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.

Photo-total-rider-tech-practice

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.

photo-total-rider-tech-drill

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

_______________________________________________________________________________

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 

 

 

 

Share

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Share

Some Photos of the Diamondback Motorcycle Ride

Sorry there are no great shots of bikes tearing it up on this great motorcycle ride, but it was early in the morning and I was alone. I missed the couple bikes that did pass and fortunately the early morning turkeys strolling up the road.

Photo-Start-of-the-ride

While you've already hit some curvy sections on NC 226, once you get on the Diamondback NC 226A, the traffic disappears. The sign hints at what's ahead.

The photo (above) gives you an idea of where you start from relative to where you are going – up on those smoky mountains in the background. There’s a good trout stream along this section if you’re packing the fly rod, and some nice places to stop and cool your feet in the frigid waters.

Photo-section-of-the-Diamondback

Once you start climbing, the road begins a series of turns and switchbacks that grow tighter as you gain height.

This ride will appeal to both the cruiser and the sports bike rider. You can take a leisurely approach and simply enjoy it, or you can attack it with vigor and challenge yourself. There are a few short and relatively straight sections between the curves, but they are not long enough to get you into too much trouble if you keep a lid on your enthusiasm.

Photo-section-of-the-Daimondback

As you get higher and higher, the road looks more and more like this. One curve after another, the occasional hairpin switchback to keep you on your toes.

Once you reach the highest sections, you’ll want to be wary. No guardrails, the terrain drops off precipitously and going off the road is going to guarantee you some air time followed by a very nasty landing from which only the luckiest will walk away.

Photo-section-of-the-Diamondback

The great ride ends at the intersection with the Blue Ridge Parkway at Little Switzerland. While Nc 226 is more direct, and still very curvy, as it's the shorter route it gets all the traffic.

As you approach the Blue Ridge Parkway, the Diamondback runs parallel to it for a stretch. You’ll pass through Little Switzerland, though it’s hardly noticeable. The Switzerland Inn lies sandwiched between the two roads.

Photo - Switzerland Inn sign

The Switzerland Inn is sandwiched between the Diamondback and the Blue Ridge Parkway near the top of the ride.

It’s unusual to find such a nice resort that actually invites and enjoys motorcycle travelers. You can live it up and get some fancy accommodations or get an affordable room in the Diamondback Lodge bunkhouse. Don’t be fooled by the lower prices, it’s still really nice and you can access the bars and restaurants to enjoy the full experience of the Switzerland Inn. The views are free to all and they are priceless.

I’ll be shooting a video of the Diamondback, the Switzerland Inn, and some of the surrounding rides ASAP similar to the NC 209 video. Once the Asheville Bikefest is done it’s next on the list.

Share

Great New Motorcycle Route Named In North Carolina

The practice of naming great motorcycle rides is a long and honored tradition. It’s a convenient shorthand way to refer to a road or series of roads that makes for a particularly good motorcycle ride. The Dragon, Hellbender 28, Blood Mountain, The Devil’s Triangle, Thunder Road, and many others are all utilized to describe rides that rise to the level of classic motorcycle rides. Add one more to the list – the Diamondback (NC 226A) and the Lake James Route.

Image - The Diamondback Post Card Map

Postcard image of the Diamondback / Lake James Route which originates at the Switzerland Inn

This 65 mile loop combines a number of great sections of road into one beautiful and entertaining ride which offers a great combination of outstanding mountain scenery and challenging curvy two lane roads. The ride originates at the luxurious Switzerland Inn adjacent to the Blue Ridge Parkway in Little Switzerland. Located on sinuous 226A, the ride can be enjoyed in either direction though I’m inclined to immediately jump down the steep and technical descent from the Inn and get the party started. On the return via the Blue Ridge Parkway I’ll savor my fun and let the bike cool down after the hot sections along the route.

Photo - View of the grounds at the Switzerland Inn

The Switzerland Inn - A beautiful Resort on the Blue Ridge Parkway

After the initial descent, NC 226 gives you a chance to catch your breath before you turn northeast to trace the foothills and the twisty ride to reach NC 181.  Turn back towards the high country, I most enjoy NC 181 when climbing. The sweeping turns and curves have long been a favorite ride for motorcyclists in the area and you’ll get the best views of dramatic Table Rock while clawing your way up the mountainside. While beautiful and entertaining, the Blue Ridge Parkway section returning to the inn is a nice cherry on top of the shake below.

Photo - Table Rock

Table Rock is even more dramatic as it imposes on the horizon viewed end on from NC 181

I’m shipping post card maps of this ride with every order America Rides Maps so long as they last to help you discover this great loop ride. For those motorcycle touring along the Blue Ridge Parkway, the Diamondback makes for a wonderful side trip to add to your motorcycle adventures.

You’ll find these great roads and many, many more on America Rides Maps “The Best Roads North and South of Asheville, NC” . Contact the Switzerland Inn for even more detail and be sure to visit http://diamondbacknc.com . I’ll have video of this ride ASAP.

Share

Tail of the Dragon Closed – Great Rides Nearby – Hot Springs

No new info on the rock slide which has closed the Tail of the Dragon at Deals Gap. In a previous post I suggested some great rides nearby in the “Land of the Waterfalls” and provided a video sample. It’s just one great spot near the Tail of the Dragon with great motorcycle rides nearby, here’s another.

Photo - View of Hot Springs, NC

Hot Springs, NC - A town so small it fits on one photo.

This time I’m going to direct you to an area which sees little traffic, yet contains some fabulous and challenging motorcycle rides with some enjoyable sights and scenery. It’s an area most motorcycle tourists either drive right past on their way into the region or sample only the most notable road. Trust me, there is a lot there to explore and enjoy.

Photo - A roadside view near Hot Springs

Pausing to admire the view near Hot Springs, NC

I urge you to spend some time riding the great roads found in the mountains east of Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The Smoky Mountains do not end at the border of the park, in fact they continue their long run northward reaching their greatest heights north of Asheville, North Carolina at Mt. Mitchell, highest peak in the east just off the Blue Ridge Parkway. The mountains between the park and Mt. Mitchell are spectacular and beautiful, the valleys dotted with rural farms and tiny hamlets, sections of wild national forest, and roads which trace the serpentine courses of rushing mountain streams.

Photo - entrance to the Hot Springs Spa

Entrance to the Hot Springs Spa - Natural Mineral Baths and Massage

The hub of this great motorcycle riding area is the small and historic town of Hot Springs. It’s a good place to pause for lunch, do a little sightseeing, and maybe pay a visit to the natural hot springs which give the town its name. Long popular with hikers (the Appalachian Trail passes through town), fly fisherman, and whitewater rafters and kayakers on the French Broad River, it’s also a popular local motorcycle watering hole as it’s a convenient ride from Asheville.

Photo - French Broad River at Hot Springs

The French Broad River flows through Hot Springs

Honestly, there’s not a lot to the town. No traffic light. One gas station. A few shops and restaurants, a campground, and of course the Hot Springs Spa. You can capture the whole thing in a photo. It’s the roads and the beautiful countryside which surrounds that makes it worth the visit.

Photo - Iron Horse Station, Hot Springs

Iron Horse Station - One of several places to grab a bite and quench your thirst in Hot Springs.

If you take but one ride into the area, do the classic section of NC 209 which runs from Lake Junaluska to the heart of town. It’s such a nice ride. It takes about an hour one way. It’s a local classic. Be aware there is plenty more out there if you know where to look for it.

Photo - Fall Color at Lake Junaluska

One of the best rides, NC 209, starts near Lake Junaluska

I’ve been working on a video to showcase the area, though the severe winter pretty much closed the door on that for a long while. I’ll be getting back to it ASAP. Here’s the sample that gives you a good idea of what to expect:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3hsCLMCIUOo

For more detail on the area look to America Rides Maps ” East of the Smokies, West of Asheville, All Around Hot Springs” map which catalogues about 400 miles of the best roads in this small area.

Don’t worry, there’s still more great riding alternatives to come in future posts. Closing the Tail of the Dragon opens the door to you discovering just how much you’ve been missing.

Share