Riding the Blue Ridge Parkway – Fall leaves can be deadly!

Motorcycle riding tips – Wet leaves in the road can be slick as ice! Watch out for them.

The fall leaf color show is nearing it’s end. With every good breeze a shower of tree trash rains down to blanket the ground for winter’s slumber. Usually those winds blow it clear from the road and it’s no big deal for the motorcycle rider flying along with trails of floating color swirling romantically in your wake.

There is still plenty of fall color to enjoy in the Blue Ridge, but those leaves can become a hazard!

There is still plenty of fall color to enjoy in the Blue Ridge, but those leaves can become a hazard!

But add water to the mix and those leaves get heavy and stick to the road piling up between the two tire tracks cleared by passing autos. The water acts as a lubricant. Stray out of those tire tracks cleared by the cars, especially in a curve, and you’ll find your traction goes from hero to zero in an instant.

We all know the painted lines are slick when wet -

We all know the painted lines are slick when wet – it can be deadly when you add wet leaves on top of them. Watch out and hold your line in the curves!

Be especially alert and cautious when riding now after it rains. The problem goes away pretty quickly with sunshine, but don’t be fooled. Many areas of our mountain roads are perpetually shady and those leaves remain wet and slippery even on the brightest of days.

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

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Motorcyclists – Never Underestimate the Weather on the Blue Ridge Parkway

I sometimes do dumb things on a motorcycle. Learn from my mistakes, I’ve made a lot of them.

Forecast – High’s in the 50’s, windy, partly cloudy, 10% chance of rain, IN WAYNESVILLE, NC. I’d become pretty complacent regarding the weather as it had been an unusually warm fall so far. The morning wasn’t too bad for what was supposed to be the DAY BEFORE our first cold snap – high 40’s and an unexpected wet driveway overnight greeted me and my morning coffee as I started the day on the porch of my cabin. Low clouds raced overhead, there was little wind at all IN MY LITTLE COVE.

Blue Ridge Parkway - Fall color at Second Falls , Graveyard Fields on the Blue Ridge Parkway. Head-turning gorgeous.

Blue Ridge Parkway – Fall color at Second Falls , Graveyard Fields on the Blue Ridge Parkway. Head-turning gorgeous.

I wanted new photos to feed MY BLUE RIDGE MOTORCYCLING FACEBOOK PAGE at the peak of fall color in the Blue Ridge Mountains. I post a couple each day for my motorcycle riding friends and they sure do seem to like them as I currently have something like 33,000 people who check in to see them. So I set aside the day to run up to Boone, NC on the Blue Ridge Parkway and see the colors so I could report back and tell them what to expect and where to go to see it.

Fall Colors on the Blue Ridge Parkway near Waynesville

Fall Colors on the Blue Ridge Parkway near Waynesville a couple days ago.

“It’s not too bad” I thought, no need for the long johns or the Gerbings Heated motorcycle riding gear. It would be dry and mostly sunny, I can handle this, no problem. I packed up the morning motorcycle map orders, hit the post office, then I-40 east to Asheville to pick up the Blue Ridge Parkway and head north.

Fall colors near the highest point on the Blue Ridge Parkway

Fall colors near the highest point on the Blue Ridge Parkway from my collection.

I got on the Blue Ridge Parkway at US 74 and started the pleasant ride north. The colors along the Asheville corridor and leading up to Craggy Gardens were spectacular! My goal was the Linn Cove Viaduct at Grandfather Mountain. The plan was to race up there to get some photos, then take my time coming back shooting more along the way as the lighting would be better. It was  getting a bit cloudy, so I’d surely get better shots later in the day on the return.

Charlies Creek Road

Charlie’s Creek Road – Not only will you find some of the best hidden pockets of leaf color, but you have one of the best rides of your life.

I quickly found myself doddering along behind the light tourist traffic at 25 mph. “Don’t be an asshole” – just enjoy the sights and behave” I told myself. That lasted about 3 minutes before I started darting around the cars. Damn, it was chilly as I approached Craggy Gardens and a light rain started.

I hit the clouds climbing to Mt. Mitchell, highest peak in the east. “That’s normal”, I told myself, “it’s always cloudy here”, its still early in the day. It was getting cold now, and I saw the first SNOW along the roadside. Wished I’d put on the heated gear. The wind was beyond “blustery” by now.

Approaching Mt. Mitchell, I saw the first snow along the roadside.

Approaching Mt. Mitchell, I saw the first snow along the roadside.

It was another hour and then some to reach Grandfather Mountain. I scrambled up on the rocks for the photo of the Linn Cove Viaduct and shivered violently in the bitter gusty winds waiting for the sun to hit it while a motorcycle was crossing and get the photos I wanted. I never got the perfect shot, but after  almost an hour I was shaking so violently I just gave up. It was too cloudy and I recognized the beginnings of hypothermia. It would be a long ride back, and the temperature was dropping.

Blue Ridge Parkway Linn Cove Viaduct Fall

Here’s the best shot I got with motorcycles. Waiting to see one yesterday was like waiting for Bigfoot and his family to come out and pose. The smart riders hunkered down and stayed in.

The fall colors at Grandfather Mountain were unbelievable, though only during the very rare moments when the sun peaked through the heavy cloud cover. It finally just all went gray in the sky above, and I couldn’t stand it any longer. I had to get back.

The wind was wailing now, the rain of leaves horizontal, and the times when the sun poked through the racing clouds were fleeting. I sped through Little Switzerland, trying to relax as my body shook violently from the cold so I could maintain control of the bike at speed. Wheels kicking out on the wet leaves, the tick-tick-tick on the helmet told me the rain had turned to sleet. Breathing as shallow as I could to keep the visor from fogging, I poured on the throttle to get this pain over with as quickly as possible.

Linn Cove Viaduct Fall Colors

Best shot from the day. It was a long cold wait to get it.

Getting photos had long been dismissed as any priority, it was all about escaping my predicament now. Underdressed, the climb to Mt. Mitchell was brutal, just get it over with. I passed the park and the sleet turned to tiny white flecks – it was snowing.

Coming into Asheville I looked to the west and home. The skies were blue, the sun was shining, it was exactly as the forecast predicted.

Lessons Re-learned:

  • It’s always more extreme up on the parkway – colder, wetter, windier. Don’t be fooled sitting on the porch.
  • Weather in the mountains varies widely and can change quickly. Check the forecast in several places.

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

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Favorite Blue Ridge Motorcycle Rides Closed

Favorite Blue Ridge Motorcycle Rides Closed – 

January 17, 2013

Unusually warm weather and extreme rain wash out roads, bridges, and cause landslides, many favorite motorcycle rides affected;

photo - slide closes park

photo source: Great Smoky Mountains National Park – Newfound Road US 441 hit by slide, park closes

Days of pouring rain in the Smoky Mountain region has caused severe damage, flooding, landslides, closing many favorite motorcycle roads – significant roads so far affected:

US 441 – Newfound Road which crosses Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Landslide closes road indefinately

US 19 – west of Cherokee, slide and house sized boulder in road – road closed

Blue Ridge Parkway – Slide near Soco Gap US 19 / Maggie Valley  (MP 455) – road closed

Cherohala Skyway – NC 143 Slide – road closed

US 74 – Nantahala Gorge – slide, one lane closed

Many other bridges / roads washed out, heavy flooding – Still raining. Freeze coming tonight which may dislodge more rock and weaken slopes.

Current updates on Facebook pagehttp://Facebook.com/blueridgemotorcyclerides

Will update with assessment and suggested routing when situation stabilizes.

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

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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

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Best Motorcycle Events for Riders in the Smoky Mountains

There are all kinds of motorcycle events though few focus on the best thing about your motorcycle – riding it.

Best Motorcycle Events for Riders in the Smoky Mountains

Best Motorcycle Events for Riders in the Smoky Mountains – I’ve attended many events, often as a vendor, but few focus on the best thing about your motorcycle – riding it.

Most shows, rallies, and gatherings center on one thing – getting you off your bike so you can reach your wallet. Park it here, pay to get in, visit our vendors. OK, so they have a place in the big scheme of things. You get to ride there and back, maybe play a few riding games in the grass to entertain the crowds, but mostly you and your bike part ways for the duration. I seem to end up at them too often, and I’d rather be riding.

Best Motorcycle Events for Riders

Best Motorcycle Events for Riders in the Smoky Mountains – typical rally scene. Surrounded by some of the best riding in the world, the bikes sit idle, the riders milling about wondering what next? Riding opportunity wasted.

Looking back on this year, two events hit the mark for me. Well run, well organized, and all about the ride – the RoadRUNNER Magazine event in Maggie Valley and The Smoky Mountain Motomarathon in Asheville / Fontana. Both were firsts for the Smoky Mountains region and both impressed someone who believes motorcycles are best enjoyed when riding them. Both endured weather conditions that kept most bikers in the lazy-boy watching the tube, yet the riders who came went out on the road every day and had a blast.

Best Motorcycle Events for Riders

Best Motorcycle Events for Riders in the Smoky Mountains – Well organized rides made for an outstanding RoadRUNNER Magazine event in Maggie Valley, NC. The weather did not stop the riders from having a great time on their bikes. Lining up for the days adventures one wet morning. The weather cleared, and it was a great time.

The RoadRUNNER Magazine Event in Maggie Valley drew several hundred riders. Each morning they set out in small groups led by a guide to show them the way. There were a variety of destinations, skill levels, lengths of ride, even some dual-sport routes. At the end of the day, riders returned to a catered dinner and swapped stories beneath a circus-sized tent. Off to bed, then back on the road the next day. The handful of vendors were there to give support to the riders, to address the needs that came up when you get so many bikers together. Despite several days of rain, the groups went out each morning and came in happy every evening.

Best Motorcycle Events for Riders

Best Motorcycle Events for Riders in the Smoky Mountains – I got to enjoy one of the dual sport rides at the RoadRUNNER magazine event, one of the highlights of my year. There was something for everyone at this well run gathering, all had a great time.

The Smoky Mountain Motomarathon drew only a couple dozen riders, but those that attended were the hard core enthusiasts that go unsung in the magazines and print. These men and women came in from all over the country and Canada, most riding from home to participate in an event designed to challenge their skills and fortitude. When greeted by Hurricane Sandy with the winds, rain, snow, and ice, they cheerfully saddled up each day eager to get out and ride whatever came up. They enthusiastically went out in conditions that kept cars off the road, and every one of them returned safe and sound each night, ready to embrace the next day.

Best Motorcycle Events for Riders

Best Motorcycle Events for Riders in the Smoky Mountains – Photo from one of the Smoky Mountain Motomarathon riders during the event as Hurricane Sandy added to the already challenging routes. It slowed them down, but didn’t stop these hard core riders. Awesome event, pretty sure the weather will be better next year.

As you hunker down for the all-to-long winter season and your thoughts turn to riding goals for next year, consider these two events for your calendar.  They were both firsts, and if you’d like to see them back let the organizers know it’s what you want to see more of. I know it’s my kind of motorcycle event, and I’ll lend my support again next year if you want to see more like them.

Best Motorcycle Events for Riders

Best Motorcycle Events for Riders in the Smoky Mountains – bagging a checkpoint in the Motomarathon – Each rider is issued a badge. Route sheets are dispersed at the last minute. As you ride the routes you verify your checkpoints with a photo of your badge at each location. Points scored for each checkpoint. Cool idea.

If this is your idea of what makes a great motorcycle event, let these organizers know you want more of it. Contact them, show you are interested, and I’ll do what I can to help make it happen for you.

RoadRUNNER Magazine – http://www.roadrunner.travel

MotoMarathon –  http://www.motomarathon.com

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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

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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

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Dual-sport Motorcycle Rides in North Carolina and Tennessee

Dual-Sport Motorcycle Rides in North Carolina and Tennessee

Dual-sport Motorcycle Rides in North Carolina and Tennessee

Dual-sport Motorcycle Rides in North Carolina and Tennessee – over the rivers and through the woods!

As the adventure bike segment of the motorcycle market explodes, I get more and more requests for maps of unpaved dual sport rides. There are loads of them in the Blue Ridge and Smoky Mountains. Much of the mountainous area is National Forest or wildlife management land criss-crossed by unpaved graded roads. While I know of many good unpaved rides, and am often inclined to point my wheels down one, I don’t have a dual-sport bike to do the mapping from the saddle and that’s the only way I’ve found to accurately evaluate a good motorcycle ride – you’ve got to ride it.

Dual-sport Motorcycle Rides in North Carolina and Tennessee

Dual-sport Motorcycle Rides in North Carolina and Tennessee – The roads were easy as we started out in the morning. Good warm up to let the group find it’s stride.

I‘ve been fighting the urge to get another dual-sport adventure bike because I’m afraid I won’t get anything else done – I love riding the wild back roads and trails. After this ride, I’ve got the fever again.

Dual-sport Motorcycle Rides in North Carolina and Tennessee

Dual-sport Motorcycle Rides in North Carolina and Tennessee – Lt. Dan from GSMmotoRent.com has a large fleet of dual-sport bikes in the heart of some outstanding riding.

When Lt. Dan from GSMmotoRent.com invited me to come along on a dual-sport ride with the group from the RoadRUNNER Magazine Event in Maggie Valley, I jumped at the chance. He had a spare KLR 650, the workhorse of this class of motorcycle, a bike I’d been wanting to ride for a long, long time.

Dual-sport Motorcycle Rides in North Carolina and Tennessee

Dual-sport Motorcycle Rides in North Carolina and Tennessee – The trickiest riding for some wasn’t the logs, puddles, nor pot holes, but the thick deep gravel in some places.

We left Maggie Valley and made our way north on NC 209 to Fines Creek. From there we continued north to Max Patch Road and began the climb through the national forest capped by the 6000+ ft. high bald mountaintop. While it was wet with morning rain, the roads are pretty tame gravel and well maintained. Even so, they are plenty tight and twisty.

Dual-sport Motorcycle Rides in North Carolina and Tennessee

Dual-sport Motorcycle Rides in North Carolina and Tennessee – beautiful deep dark woods even when the sun poked though the clouds. So nice!

After playing around on some of the back roads near Max Patch, we emerged on Big Creek Road to take lunch in Hartford. As we were near the Interstate, a few riders had had enough of the unpaved challenge and headed back. The remainder were eager for more.

Dual-sport Motorcycle Rides in North Carolina and Tennessee

Dual-sport Motorcycle Rides in North Carolina and Tennessee – These roads are great for those on the big adventure bikes, though we also found a few more technical rides as the day wore on.

Heading south now, we followed TN 32 around the twisty northeast border of Great Smoky Mountains National Park, then continued into the park on Mt. Sterling Road when the pavement ended.

Dual-sport Motorcycle Rides in North Carolina and Tennessee

Dual-sport Motorcycle Rides in North Carolina and Tennessee – The view from Buzzard’s Roost is spectacular, but it helps to have a good guide like Dan from GSMmotoRent.com to find it.

We took a side road off Mt. Sterling Road to visit Buzzard’s Roost. A chin of rock juts out 1000 feet above the Pigeon River overlooking the gorge where Interstate 40 connects North Carolina and Tennessee.

Dual-sport Motorcycle Rides in North Carolina and Tennessee

Dual-sport Motorcycle Rides in North Carolina and Tennessee – blasting along these back roads is a lot of fun!

We returned to the pavement when we passed Cataloochee Valley, home to the parks famous herd of elk. We covered more than 100 miles on unpaved roads. We crossed streams, logs, rocks, and gullies washed out by the heavy rains. It was wonderful.

Dual-Sport Motorcycle Rides in North Carolina and Tennessee

Dual-Sport Motorcycle Rides in North Carolina and Tennessee – I can’t wait to do this again! The next time you’re in the area, spend a day enjoying the cool refreshing rides through the woods.

If you’d like to challenge some of the best dual sport motorcycle roads in North Carolina and Tennessee, contact Dan at GSMmotoRent.com in Townsend, Tennessee. He has a great variety of dual-sport motorcycles and there are so many great roads for you to enjoy. Don’t forget to follow GSM MotoRent on Facebook – http://www.facebook.com/pages/GSMmotoRent-Dual-Sport-Adventures/57878901570

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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

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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

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RoadRunner Magazine Event in Maggie Valley – the Wet and the Wild

RoadRunner Magazine Event in Maggie Valleythe Wet and the Wild

I’ve posted in the past how I’m not much of a motorcycle rally kind of guy. I’ve just witnessed an event that’s my ideal of what one should be – all about the ride.

RoadRUNNER event in Maggie Valley

RoadRUNNER event in Maggie Valley – 8 AM start, pouring rain, day after day.  The riders took it in stride and came out to spend the full days riding in the Blue Ridge Mountains.

Picture this – you come to Maggie Valley, NC and check in to your motel. The next morning there are rides scheduled leaving every 10 minutes from 8 AM till 9:30 AM or so.

Choose a loop ride you’d like to do. Pick the kind of riders you’re looking to ride with – i.e., a leisure ride, an adventure ride, etc.

RoadRUNNER Magazine Event in Maggie Valley

RoadRUNNER Magazine Event in Maggie Valley – Choose a loop ride you’d like to do. Choose the pace of the ride you’d find comfortable. Follow the guides. So easy.

The rides are some of the best you may ever experience. The faster groups have additional side loops added in as a bonus. They use some of my best and favorite back roads and people raved about riding these unknown great North Carolina and Tennessee motorcycle roads.

Ride all day. Lunch is arranged along the way. When you get back in the evening, a huge tent awaits with a great meal.

RoadRUNNER event in Maggie Valley

RoadRUNNER event in Maggie Valley – You can see the big tent in the background where dinner is served while riders assemble for their respective groups in the morning.

Wash, rinse, repeat.

T-shirt, hat, all provided and prizes to boot, don’t need to deal with vendors. Very few there anyway, everyone is out riding all day and the fairgrounds is deserted.

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I don’t know about you, but this is my dream of what a motorcycle event should be – ride, ride, ride!

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The location was ideal. Rooms are plentiful and affordable. Maggie Valley, NC sits on the south side of Great Smoky Mountains National Park and is the hub of the best motorcycle rides in the Smoky Mountains. My big map of this area shows more than 150 outstanding motorcycle roads.

The people who came, around 200 of them, came to ride. The weather could have been much better – after about 2 weeks of hot and dry weather in the Smoky Mountains, the moisture returned with a vengeance. It didn’t seem to matter – these riders donned the gear and took it in stride with hardly a whimper.

RoadRUNNER Magazine Event in Maggie Valley - Rental bikes of all sorts were available

RoadRUNNER Magazine Event in Maggie Valley – Rental bikes of all sorts were available – dual-sport / cruisers / sport bikes / sport touring bikes. I got a KLR 650 from GSMmotoRent.com for the dual-sport adventure ride.

I got to tag along on the dual-sport ride on a bike provided by GSMmotoRent.com. Lt. Dan led us on 100 miles of unpaved riding through the national forests and Great Smoky Mountains National Park. It was more fun than I’ve had in a long time. I’ll have a post soon which will tell that tale and show the great photos.

RoadRUNNER Event in Maggie Valley

RoadRUNNER Event in Maggie Valley – There are so many roads to ride – paved and unpaved. Ride to the mountain tops, the waterfalls, and the places most riders never see.

It’s the easiest motorcycle vacation you’ll ever make“just show up and ride”. You can spend all-day every-day riding and return to a god hot meal each evening and a nice Asheville craft brew.

RoadRUNNER Magazine event in Maggie Valley - the adventure ride

RoadRUNNER Magazine event in Maggie Valley – the dual-sport adventure ride was a blast!

For more information, subscribe to RoadRUNNER Magazine herehttps://www.roadrunner.travel/order/subscription – the best motorcycle magazine for the dedicated motorcycle tourer.

For online info, go to http://www.roadrunner.travel/, and don’t forget to LIKE them on Facebookhttp://www.facebook.com/RoadRUNNERmag.

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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

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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

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Motorcycle Riding on the Blue Ridge Parkway – Safety Tips

Motorcycle Riding on the Blue Ridge Parkway – Safety Tips

Visibility

I first heard rumors in town yesterday a motorcyclist had died in an accident on the Blue Ridge Parkway. http://www.citizen-times.com/article/20120516/NEWS/305160022/Motorcyclist-killed-Parkway?odyssey=tab%7Ctopnews%7Ctext%7CFrontpage It is a sad occurrence which typically happens a few times each year. Considering the millions (YES MILLIONS) of motorcycle riders who will make the journey to one of our nations top motorcycle rides this year, I have a few suggestions on how to be safer on your travels.

image-motorcycle in fog on Blue Ridge Parkway

Motorcycle Riding the Blue Ridge Parkway - Safety Tips - fog

This tragic accident seems to have happened because of reduced visibility from rain / fog. At most entrances to the Blue Ridge Parkway you’ll see signs which say “avoid the parkway during fog and bad weather” (my paraphrasing, wording on signs varies).

Motorcycle Riding on the Blue Ridge Parkway - Safety Tips

Motorcycle Riding on the Blue Ridge Parkway - Safety Tips - Wait for the clouds to rise

Motorcycle Riding on the Blue Ridge Parkway – Safety Tips
1) Wait for the clouds to rise

As it was the middle of the day when I heard the first rumor, it means this accident probably happened earlier in the morning. Here’s the first bit of advice – wait until later in the day to get up in the high elevations. Typical weather patterns in the Smoky Mountains have the clouds settling on the mountains and valleys over night. You awake to fog in the morning. As the sun warms the clouds from above, they rise and the fog clears from the lower elevations. If there is a lot of moisture in the air (we’ve just been through an extended rainy period) it can take quite a while for the clouds to get above the 6000 ft heights of the Blue Ridge Parkway. If there is any bad weather occurring, it will hit the high parts first, and can linger up there all day while it’s fine and dandy down low.

 

Motorcycle Riding on the Blue Ridge Parkway - Safety Tips

Motorcycle Riding on the Blue Ridge Parkway - Safety Tips - It's on days like this a waterproof camera comes in handy. Visibility quickly vanishes when the clouds and rain close in.

Motorcycle Riding on the Blue Ridge Parkway – Safety Tips
2) If you want an early start, see some other great biker roads first

Adopt a “locals” strategy. Most local riders know how different the weather can be up on the Blue Ridge Parkway, and know to wait until later in the day to get the most out of that ride. As there are so many other great motorcycle rides in the area, there’s no reason to make the quick jump up high when you can get out and have a fun motorcycle ride down low. The Blue Ridge Parkway is just one great motorcycle ride. There are so many more. Use the opportunity to get the most out of your travels. With so many good biker roads intersecting the Blue Ridge Parkway, you can spend an hour or two cruising some of the best motorcycle roads in the country, then pick up the Blue Ridge Parkway at one of many entrances later in the day.

Photo-clouds-move-in-on-the-Blue-ridge-Parkway

Clouds will hang just at the mountaintops. Dense, wet, thick clouds which can reduce visibility to nearly nothing but whiteness.

Motorcycle Riding on the Blue Ridge Parkway – Safety Tips
3) Eat first so you don’t lose time later

Take your time, enjoy a nice breakfast, you’ll make up the time lost – So you’re just interested in riding the Blue Ridge Parkway, no time to see those other roads, got to stay on schedule and knock out the miles?  One strategy I use when I need to cover some distance is to eat my big meal at breakfast. Sure it prevents that early eager start, but get your belly full, and you can make it through lunch with snacks at the overlooks. There are few convenient lunch stops on the parkway, so you’ll lose time later in the day when you go searching for one. You’ve got to sacrifice some time to eat, so do it early when it makes you safer through the day.

Visibility can be severely limited at the high elevations found on the Blue Ridge Parkway, and it’s best to avoid the situation if you can.

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Wayne Busch

Wayne Busch - Cartographer

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– 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. 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

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Motorcycle training: Tell all the Harley riders this really works!

Motorcycle Training – Comment from one of the participants in a Lee Parks Level 1Total Control Advanced Riding Clinic this weekend – “Tell all the Harley riders this stuff really works!”

Motorcycle Training

Motorcycle Training: Learn to take a lowered bike through the curves without scraping the hard parts

Total Rider Tech held it’s first class in the Maryville,Tennessee location this weekend and we had a diverse mix of both bikes and riders. The advanced rider training in a Total Control Advanced Riding Clinic focuses on cornering skills with an emphasis on traction and control.

Motorcycle Training: Gain confidence handling a big bike in tight conditions

Motorcycle Training: Gain confidence handling a big bike in tight conditions

Regardless of what type of bike the riders brought, they all saw a specific and measurable improvement in their riding by the end of the day and challenged themselves to take their riding skills to a higher level.

Motorcycle Training: Get more enjoyment out of the performance your bike can deliver

Motorcycle Training: Get more enjoyment out of the performance your bike can deliver

Total Rider Tech provides instruction for the experienced rider who has progressed well beyond the basic techniques learned in an MSF or similar courses, but is not ready or interested in a full blown high dollar race track school. The emphasis is on street riding in real world conditions, though those with racing aspirations certainly gain valuable skills which are applicable for them as well.

 

Motorcycle Training: Several women came to improve their riding skills.

Motorcycle Training: Several women came to improve their riding skills. This experienced rider has been to Alaska and back!

The diversity of this class truly demonstrated how the techniques taught work on all bikes. We had all types of motorcycles. There were cruisers, big touring bikes, sports tourers, sport bikes, and even a motard bike that participated in the class, and everyone benefitted and gained skills applicable on the road on every ride.

Motorcycle Training: This woman wanted to sharpen her street and track skills and get more out of her riding

Motorcycle Training: This woman wanted to sharpen her street and track skills and get more out of her riding

Total Rider Tech teaches riders the technology of how their bike works and how what they do on their bike affects its ability to maintain traction and control. Learning the  science behind the riding techniques gives students the understanding of what specifically they can do to maximize their motorcycles built-in cornering capabilities while being safer out on the road.

Riders leave with the knowledge to identify riding problems while out on the road, know the solutions, and apply them on the fly. Classroom presentations provide the foundations for each skill, followed by live demonstrations of proper and improper technique on the course. Riders then practice applying these skills on their motorcycle with coaching that helps them learn how to perform them on their bike when out on the  road.

Motorcycle Training: This rider wanted to get better at managing traction

Motorcycle Training: This rider wanted to get better at managing traction

The way the material is presented and the coaching provided is designed to embed these principals and techniques so they will be remembered and incorporated once the riders leave the class and go out riding on their own. They can then take these skills an adapt them to their motorcycle, their style of riding, and their physical capabilities to become better and safer riders.

Motorcycle Training: This woman wanted to improve her skills and confidence in tight conditions

Motorcycle Training: This woman wanted to improve her skills and confidence in tight conditions

It’s the ideal skill set for improving your enjoyment and saftey of mountain riding, though they apply regardless of the terrain and situation. That Harley rider on a lowered bike was so glad to learn the skills to corner faster, smoother, and without scraping the floorboards in tight corners, he implored me to pass it along to others. It really works!

Motorcycle training: Static exercises help riders become more confident at high lean angles

Motorcycle training: Static exercises help riders become more confident at high lean angles

 

The next Total Rider Tech courses in the mountain area will be in Maryville, Tennessee  on June 5-7, then in Robbinsville, NC on July 14 -15. See calendar of courses here –

 

Motorcycle Training: This racer was so impressed with what he learned he may pursue becoming an instructor!

Motorcycle Training: This racer was so impressed with what he learned he may pursue becoming an instructor!

http://www.totalridertech.com/calendar.html.

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Learn Total Control

If you want to get the most enjoyment out of your motorcycle and appreciate the performance of a modern sports bike, cruiser, tourer, adventure bike, bagger, motard, dresser, dual sport, or custom, AND be safer on the road, this class will take the experienced rider to a new level of riding performance and enjoyment. If you typically ride with a passenger, bring them along and develop your skills together.

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Wayne Busch

Wayne Busch - Cartographer

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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. 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

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First Day of Winter – Let’s Ride the Blue Ridge Parkway!

So here it is, winter is officially upon us today and I spent the best of it on my motorcycle on the Blue Ridge Parkway.

I couldn’t stand it any longer. It was so warm when I took the dog out this morning I knew I was going to HAVE to get on the bike. The weatherman says rain is coming to the Smoky Mountains so I knew I’d need an early start.

photo-wayne-at-lake-junaluska-dam

I would have settled for a nice short ride - (if you believe that, you don't know me very well)

“Just a short ride” I told my wife.

If nothing else I’d top up the near-empty tank and make a short spin of it. Thinking of someplace close I could get a photo, I headed to the dam at Lake Junaluska. Sure looked like rain was coming. Got my photo, then where?

It’s been so unusually warm lately, I decided to ride over to Maggie Valley and see if the Blue Ridge Parkway was open. Slim chance of it, but just maybe….

Photo-Wayne-celebrates-at Waterrock-Knob

Made it to Waterrock Knob! Enveloped in clouds, raining, but totally unexpected at this time of year. That would have been enough for most riders - it just goaded me to push on.

Passing the man made snow at Tony’s Tube World as I left the valley, I started to consider alternatives. If snow could linger down low, it would sure be too cold up high for the parkway to be open. If it wasn’t, I could always cruise over to Cherokee.

I turned onto the ramp to the Blue Ridge Parkway at Soco Gap, and sure enough, the gates towards Cherokee were closed when I reached the top. Oh well.

motorcycle-at-fork-ridge-overlook-1st-day-of-winter

I stopped for a photo when I came down to the mile-high Fork Ridge overlook. You can see the cloud ceiling a few hundred feet above me and the clouds in the valleys below.

As long as I was here, might as well ride over to see if the gates were closed heading south though the chances were even slimmer as the parkway climbs to some of the highest parts in that direction.

Surprise, surprise, the gates were open and I rolled on the throttle!

I didn’t think I’d get far, but I might at least get a photo from one of the lower overlooks. As I climbed, I came nearer and nearer to the cloud bank that socked in the mountain tops. Still, the road was clear.

Photo-first-day-of-winter-on-blue-ridge-parkway

It was a good day for riding so long as you stayed down low. At 4000 feet, the Woodfin Valley overlook shows it's fine at the lower elevations. I couldn't resist going higher.

I was stoked when I reached Waterrock Knob. Totally enveloped in thick clouds and peppering light rain, I stopped for another photo. This was awesome and a rare occasion this far into the cold season.

I was happy as I continued towards the next exit at US 74 in Waynesville, dropping back below the ceiling of clouds and out of the rain.

I almost left the parkway at Waynesville (see my video of Waynesville), as the next section of the Blue Ridge Parkway leads to the highest point on the road. No way it would be open. Still, I was curious as to how far I would get and amazed to find the gates open as I crossed over the highway.

photo-wayne-rides-his-motorcycle-to-the highest-point-on-the-parkway

Can't believe it! I rode to the highest point on the Blue Ridge Parkway on the first day of winter. Same day last year we got a snow that covered the yard until well into march.

I began climbing again, and before long was back in the wet cloud bank. Except for a few stray cars, I had the road to myself and enjoyed it with enthusiasm.

It was windy and poor visibility when I reached the high point, but it was another unexpected treat. Took another photo to remember it by.

I rode the rest of the way to Beech Gap and NC 215 in heavy wet fog (here’s a wicked ride nearby). No views to speak of, and lots of rocks and debris from the small slides that occur where rocky faces run close to the road. Winter thaws and freezes cause a lot of little slides during this season but it’s not much of a problem as no one is there to be affected by them.

photo-fall-on-nc215-great-motorcycle-ride

Road condition has improved marginally since this fall photo of NC 215 following the resurfacing. Still plenty of loose gravel and slippery corners to negotiate. Not for the faint-of-heart. It will improve, but how much?

The ride home via NC 215 (see my video of NC 215)is unchanged from my last visit – the road is till a mess. If riding sharp turns on loose gravel isn’t your thing, you will want to avoid it a while longer until things clean up.

Same day last year, we got snow so deep it laid in my yard for 3 months. This year I’m riding. I think I like this year better!

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Wayne Busch

Wayne Busch - Cartographer

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– 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

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A List & Descriptions of More North Georgia Motorcycle Roads

image-georgia-motorcycle-map

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.

photo- opossums on sign

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.

Photo-Clay's-Corner

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:

photo-stopped-in-Suches

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.

Photo-Georgia-rain

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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