A Good Motorcycle Ride – The Road to Nowhere

Road to Nowhere Motorcycle RideA scenic motorcycle ride on an abandoned road in Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

Road to Nowhere Motorcycle Ride Map

Lake View Drive in Great Smoky Mountains National Park was planned to arc around the north shore of Fontana Lake to connect to the southern lake loop road (NC 28) at the Fontana Dam. The project was abandoned about half way through and has come to be known as “The Road to Nowhere”.

Road to Nowhere Motorcycle RideThe road starts in Bryson City, NC as Everett Street. This is a great motorcycle ride to add to your lunch plans, a nice little side trip. There are a lot of good places to eat in Bryson City. One of them, The Cork and Bean, sits at the corner of this route (Everett St. / Main St.) in town.

The road climbs gently from town arcing to the west as Fontana Road. Its a section of gentle flowing curves.

Road to Nowhere Motorcycle RideThere is a sign at the park border. The road gets much tighter and from here on with curve after curve the whole way.

There are a few spots to pull off and get views of the lake.

The road ends at a paved parking loop. A series of brown slats barricade the road beyond.  You can just see the stone arch tunnel where the road ends from the turn-around. Hiking only once through the tunnel.

Road to Nowhere end Motorcycle RideThere are many stories and controversies over this road. Some see it as a boondoggle. The government has yet to compensate for the land. A family cemetery was isolated, the park service periodically ferries them by boat. Regardless, the result is a really curvy ride with some nice views we can enjoy.

It’s 8.5 miles from town to the end of the road, so you can make it a quick out-and-back ride or stop to savor the views and the wildlife. There are other nice roads nearby if you enjoy exploring the more adventurous back roads including some good unpaved roads.

Road to Nowhere Motorcycle RideYou’ll find this road on map #7,Map #8, Map 100 Great Motorcycle Rides in the Smoky Mountains, and others from America Rides Maps. There are more great motorcycle roads in the Blue Ridge Mountains than anywhere else – find them here;

AmericaRidesMaps.com

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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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Best Motorcycle Rides in North Carolina – Short and Sweet

Best Motorcycle Rides in North Carolina – Short and Sweet 

Great Motorcycle Rides in North Carolina - short and sweet map

Great Motorcycle Rides in North Carolina – short and sweet map shows a collection of roads in close to Waynesville and Maggie Valley so you’re never far from home

Not every great motorcycle ride in North Carolina has to be an epic adventure. Sometimes you just want a nice, easy, short cruise to add at the end of a day or squeeze in once a shower passes.

If you’re in Waynesville, Maggie Valley, Canton, out at the Blue Ridge Motorcycle Campground, or anywhere else in the vicinity, here’s a collection of roads that not only keep you close in to town, but are excellent motorcycle rides and scenic to boot. You don’t have to go far to find a great motorcycle ride in the Smoky Mountains.

Best motorcycle rides in North Carolina  - Ratcliff Cove

Best motorcycle rides in North Carolina – Ratcliff Cove view – Not only are these roads twisty and fun, they have wonderful views along the ride

 

Start at Highway 23 / 74 Exit 104 at Junaluska. Follow 4 lane US 23 (Asheville Highway) into Waynesvillle, then exit town on US 276. Follow Raccon Road to Ratcliff Cove Road then on to Stamey Cove Road. Follow NC 215 through Canton to Thickety Road. Take Hyder Mountain Road to NC 209 and return to start.

33 miles – 1 1/2 Hours – an Easy Ride

Route:

Start at Exit 104 Highway 23 / 74 at Junaluska.

Turn right @ traffic light towards Waynesville. Continue through traffic circle.

2.7 mi Continue straight @ traffic light onto Walnut Street. Junction US 23 and Walnut Street.

3.1 mi Turn left @ traffic light onto US 276 (Russ Avenue). Junction Walnut Street and US 276 (Russ Avenue). Head downtown.

3.3 mi Turn Right @traffic light. Junction US 276 (Russ Ave) and US 23 (Main Street). Pass through Waynesville.

3.7 mi Turn left @ traffic light onto US 276. Junction Main Street and US 276 south.

5.5 mi Turn left @ junction with Raccoon Road.

6.9 mi Turn right @ junction with Ratcliff Cove Road.

10.4 mi Turn right @ stop sign onto Stamey Cove Road. Junction Ratcliff Cove Road / Poison Cove Road / Stamey Cove Road)..

13.8 mi Turn left @ stop sign onto NC 215 towards Canton. Junction Stamey Cove Road and NC 215.

15.9 mi Turn left @ traffic light onto US 19 in Canton. Junction NC 215 and US 19.

16.5 mi Turn right @ traffic light onto NC 215. Junction US 19 and NC 215.

17.3 mi Turn left @ traffic light onto Champion Drive. Junction NC 215 and Champion Drive.

18.1 mi Turn left @ traffic light onto Thickety Road. Junction NC 215 and Thickety Road.

18.8 mi Turn left  @ stop sign to continue on Thickety Road. Junction Thickety Road and Crabtree Mountain Road.

23.4 mi Continue straight onto Hyder Mountain Road. Junction Charles Street in Clyde. Thickety Road becomes Hyder Mountain Road..

25.4 mi Turn right @ stop sign to continue on Hyder Mountain Road.

28 mi Turn left @ stop sign onto Big Branch Road. Junction Hyder Mountain Road and Big Branch Road.

28.2 mi Turn right @ stop sign onto Golf Course Dr. Junction Big Branch Road and Golf Course Dr..

28.4 mi Turn left @ stop sign onto NC 209.

33.2 mi Follow NC 209 to return to start.

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Popular Blue Ridge Parkway feature destroyed

photo-sign-at-the-highest-point-on-the-Blue-Ridge-Parkway

The sign at the highest point on the Blue Ridge Parkway

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

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

Photo-sign-destroyed-on-Blue-Ridge-Parkway

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

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

Photo-sign-destoryed-on-Blue-Rdige-Parkway

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Wayne Busch
Wayne Busch – Cartographer
– Wayne Busch lives in Waynesville, NC, where he produces the most detailed and comprehensive and up-to-date motorcycle pocket maps of the Blue Ridge and Smoky Mountains to help you get the most of your vacation experience. See them here – AmericaRidesMaps.com 
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Asheville Lodging Bargain for Blue Ridge Parkway Motorcycle Travelers

Photo - Courtyard Marriott Asheville

Courtyard Marriott - Asheville

Courtyard Marriott and SpringHill Suites in Asheville is offering motorcycle travelers a 20% DISCOUNT on your stay and all you’ve got to do is tell them I sent you! How cool is that?

Springhill Suites - Asheville

SpringHill Suites - Carrabbas between the two inns

You know what a difference it makes to stay in a nice, comfortable, clean and quiet place where you can decompress and relax when you’ve been piling on the miles. You’ll appreciate knowing there’s something good waiting for you in Asheville, an easy-to-find place you can count on for a quality experience that welcomes motorcycle riders like you.

Photo - Corporate at Marriott

Lynn Prater, John Zellers, Christy Shamp, Teresa Taylor sincerely want your motorcycle business

Marriott Hotels honestly want to serve the motorcycle traveler and show you a good time in one of the top destination cities in the southeast – Asheville, North Carolina. Just 5 minutes from the Blue Ridge Parkway exit at US 70 just south of the Folk Art Center, it’s s straight shot and easy ride to outstanding and convenient accommodations.

Photo - View from the SpringHill Suites

View from the SpringHill Suites

Thank Sales Manager Christy Shamp for the favor. I met her at the Asheville Bikefest as she and her crew spent the long hours staffing a table next to mine promoting a charitable cause. We got to talking during our breaks and she was quite enthused about the motorcycle riders she was meeting at the event as well as the Yamaha factory crew they hosted at the SpringHill Suites. Christy’s corporate team was coming to town the following week and she asked if I’d come by and tell them about what I do.

Photo - Firepit at the Courtyard by Marriott

Firepit at the Courtyard by Marriott

So I spent a few minutes with corporate, toured both inns with Christy, and saw what they had to offer the motorcycle rider. I’m convinced they sincerely want your motorcycle business. Here’s what I found:

  • It’s barely 5 minutes from the Blue Ridge Parkway and a straight shot to get there
  • Both the SpringHill Suites and Courtyard Marriott sit well back from the road away from the noise of the traffic. Nor does the back of them border the highway. It’s pretty quiet for such a good location on the edge of downtown.
  • Level paved secure easy parking – can accommodate trailers
  • There’s a Carabbas between the inns, a Starbucks, and plenty of great places to eat nearby.
  • It’s about 2 minutes to get on I-240 to scoot around the city and just as easy to get downtown to enjoy what makes Asheville such a popular destination.
  • Enjoy a nice view of the mountains on the horizon from your room, the pool, or the outdoor fire pit.
Photo - Parkway exit 70W

Use the US 70 West exit on the Blue Ridge Parkway and just follow the road.

Everyone I met was happy, enthusiastic, and accommodating which pretty much describes a visit to Asheville. It’s consistently in the top 5 US travel destinations and continues to win awards (Beer City USA 3 years in a row!). A presidential visit is no longer out of the ordinary, a few movie stars reside on the surrounding slopes, and the Blue Ridge Parkway hugs the east side of the city. In a word – it’s easy.

Here’s a strategy to try when you visit Asheville– ride downtown and find a place to park. Walk a block in any direction. You’ve most likely arrived at or passed some excellent dining. It’s hard to find a bad meal in Asheville and you don’t have to go far.

Courtyard by Marriott
SpringHill Suites by Marriott
phone: 828-252-5831
fax: 828-281-1069
email: ashevillessc@mckibbonhotels.com
www.courtyardasheville.com
www.springhillsuitesasheville.com

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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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How to Ride Your Motorcycle more Confidently when it Rains in the Mountains

I see a lot of riders intimidated by rain when they visit the Blue Ridge and Smoky Mountains. It’s something we all try to avoid, yet its inevitable that someday you’ll be caught in a downpour or ride through the wash of one on your motorcycle travels. The key to riding wet roads with confidence is being super smooth with the throttle and the brakes.

Photo - Rain over Deals Gap / Fontana Lake

Rain over Deals Gap this morning

We all know to slow down and take it easy in the rain. Still, I come up on too many riders who put themselves at greater risk by riding hesitantly and overcautiously.  That car looming up on you also has less grip and his visibility is reduced. Don’t become a hazard on the road when it rains. The crop of tires available for your motorcycle has never been better and the wet grip from a good set of rubber nowadays is amazing. On decent pavement you can usually match the speed of other traffic. Corner with the confidence your tires are up to the task by practicing flowing smoothly on/off the throttle and the brake.  See post – Tire Testing at Deals Gap Here

To fully exploit your tires wet weather capabilities load and unload them gently. There’s a surprising amount of grip available to be used, but sudden or abrupt actions will overwhelm it. A smooth and even approach puts the load on your tires gradually so the reduced limits of grip on a wet road are not exceeded. Demanding less grip for hard braking and aggressive throttle input leaves more grip available for the tire to use cornering. You can and should still use your brakes and throttle in a turn, just use less of them and apply them more slowly and evenly.

Photo - Motorcycles shelter from rain at gas station

Sometimes it's best to let the worst of it pass. Bikes seek shelter at gas station.

The real challenge is getting some lean on in the turns. There’s only so much tire grip available. You can only brake or twist the throttle so hard before you exceed the total grip available and the tire skids. In a straight line, all the weight of the motorcycle and rider is straight down on the tires. All of the tires available grip is used to either propel the bike forward or slow it down. Once you lean into a curve, some of that total amount of  tire grip is used up fighting the sideways push on the tires. The more you lean, the harder the tire has to grip the road to hold on as the sideways push gets stronger and stronger. That leaves less tire grip available to work on stopping the bike as it’s taking more and more of the tires capacity to work against the sideways force. At the extreme, 100% of the tire’s grip is being used to just to fight the sideways push on the tires and keep the bike from skidding off the road. The slightest touch of the brakes or gas at 100% lean demands more grip from the tires and there is none left to give.

Since there’s less tire grip available on a wet road, we all know you can’t lean as hard nor brake as hard. But if you’re smooth and easy with your throttle and brakes demanding less grip from your tires, you’ll have that much more grip left to use leaning into a turn. Find the balance where the grip needed to accelerate or decelerate plus the amount of grip used by the leaning bike doesn’t exceed what your tires have to offer, and carve sweetly and confidently through the curves even in a downpour.

Photo - motorcycle at the Dragon in rain

A confident rider tames the Dragon with grace and smoothness in the rain this morning. Experience made it look so easy.

Practice on the dry days. Learn to judge the entrance speed at which you can cruise smoothly into a turn without using your brakes while holding the throttle steady through it to maintain a constant speed. Do this over and over and you’ll find your confidence improves and you’re comfortably leaning deeper through the curves. Then practice using closing the throttle to slow you into the turn then gently rolling it on to maintain your lean and pull out of it. Next practice gently feathering your front brake well into the turn, during the turn, and to slow on exit. Play with gently using both brakes. Focus on being smooth, gentle, and flowing.

The experience you’ll gain will make your next mountain motorcycle ride in a downpour a lot easier. You’ll be using the skills you’ve gained to ride more confidently and safely at speed. Knowing how your bike behaves in the curves will give you the ability to make the most of the surprising amount of rain grip a modern tire has to offer. The smoother you are, the easier it will be.

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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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100 miles out on the Blue Ridge Parkway, my motorcycle was stuck in top gear

I’d dropped the bike. Pulling out from a back road along the Blue Ridge Parkway, a car suddenly appeared out of the dense clouds rounding a curve and I stalled the engine on the incline.  It went down hard on it’s left side breaking a turn signal lens and mangling the clutch and shift levers. Minor damage considering I’d avoided the car, but it would prove enough to make the trip home a challenge.

Photo - View From Switzerland Inn

The nicest weather came just before my meeting at the Switzerland Inn - http://SwitzerlandInn.com

Already modified from a prior incident (click to read about that debacle) the shift lever was now wedged beneath the side stand. The clutch lever flopped precariously but it was working, and with a decent foot effort I managed to pry the shifter upwards and snick through the gears to get moving again towards Asheville. It was when I tried to downshift for a curve the real problem became apparent. I could not shift into a lower gear.

Thankfully I was on the Blue Ridge Parkway, uninterrupted in its 469 mile length. No stops, no traffic lights, it would be a manageable inconvenience to be restricted to a single gear. The problems would come when I left the parkway and entered the city traffic. At least I’d have plenty of time to come up with a plan on how I’d get home without slowing or stopping.

Photo - bad weather on the Parkway

It's days like this a waterproof camera comes in handy on the Blue Ridge Parkway

Trying to bend the shift lever into a more useful shape was a last resort. Previously bent once, it would likely break if I stressed it any more. I decided I’d need to find a way home where I would not need to stop even once.

Traffic was light. The weather was already miserable at these high elevations and would continue to deteriorate as a strong front moved in. The wind gusted powerfully, rain squalls spit at me, and I was enveloped by thick clouds as I passed by the signs for Mt. Mitchell, then Craggy Gardens. The low fuel light came on as I drew near to Asheville but I knew there was no way I could negotiate traffic, stopping was not an option. I decided I must go on.

In 20 miles or so I’d reach the US 276 exit south of Waynesville. If I could get off the parkway without stalling, then make it down through the switchbacks on the steep incline, there would be but one traffic light to gamble on to reach home.

Cresting the rise that led into Bethel, I saw the light blink from red to green and rolled on the throttle to cleanly pass through it. 10 minutes later I pulled into my driveway. Just another day on the road.

A little video from the day –

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j57PPHa_vVI

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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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Smoky Mountains Adventurous Spring Motorcycle Ride Photos

Photo - Soco view

Morning view on Soco Rd - Click on pics for LG view

15 minutes from home and already I was fighting the urge to jump off the motorcycle and start snapping pictures. It was a beautiful Smoky Mountain spring morning. Rounding every curve the canvas repainted another fabulous scene as I droned down from the Blue Ridge Parkway at Soco Gap towards Cherokee.

Photo - view from Clingman's Dome

Clingman's Dome view

Not a car on the road ahead of me, I let the bike stretch it’s legs through the curves effortlessly riding every last inch of rubber as my Triumph Tiger charged down the incline in pursuit of it’s prey.

Photo - view from Roaring Fork Rd

Roaring Fork Road - must be Roaring Fork!

It felt so good, all is right with the world when you’re on your motorcycle in the mountains. Wrapping around a rock face with the mellow grace of a cat arching it’s back, I flicked left to begin my plunge to the valley floor on the first of the new roads I’d see today.

Photo - hairpin curve on Alpine Rd

Alpine Rd - one of my newest favorites

How had I missed this road? I’ve bypassed it many times on my passages to Cherokee. It’s not like I haven’t studied the area and it’s so close to home. Yet when we came through on a motorcycle ride Saturday, a road I was vaguely familiar with suddenly jumped out at me and said, “Come back and take a closer look”.

Photo - Cherokee Orchard Rd

Cherokee Orchard Road Overlook

The clue  that tipped me off  was the name – “Old Soco Road”. It suggested I was riding the “new” Soco Rd (US 19). “Old” Soco Rd was the way things used to be. Sometimes these “old” roads are gems.

It was like riding off a cliff and I had to quickly adapt to the more primitive road surface. Gliding through turn after turn I delicately parachuted through the  loose gravel and the windblown debris that had rained down on the switchbacks on this third day of roaring mountain wind. April was coming in with a bang.

Photo - Old mill

I passed this old mill again today

So began a day that took me across Great Smoky Mountains National Park and out into the wilds to the north as I clicked off road after road on my search for the best motorcycle rides. The afternoon would bring me into a violent storm navigated on what were now familiar byways through seemingly remote and isolated hidden valleys where angry streams threatened to crest their banks and wash across the pavement.

Photo - Tapoco Dam

The Dam at Tapoco

Looping around the west side of Great Smoky Mountains National Park near the end of the day, I’d arrive at Deals Gap to find the motorcycle resort closed due to the lack of electricity as a wind blown forest fire raged up a flank of the park consuming the lines and felling trees in it’s path. I’d squeeze through a gap between the fire trucks parked on a back road to ride through the smoke and smolder where crews fought the flames and mended the wires.

As the day drew to an end the lightening and rains caught up to me again, followed me home bringing the fury of the storm with them, and toppled trees that would have me without power for the next few days.

I’ve lost a couple days of work and will now double-down to make it up. With each new day the grays and browns of winter give way to the soft pastel greens of emerging leaves as spring wrestles the cold grip from the old season to bring the warm blooms of the new.  The fuse is lit for the explosion of color. It’s time to point your wheels towards the high country, its ready for you.

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Wayne Busch
Wayne Busch – Cartographer
– Wayne Busch lives in Waynesville, NC, where he produces the most detailed and comprehensive and up-to-date motorcycle pocket maps of the Blue Ridge and Smoky Mountains to help you get the most of your vacation experience. See them here – AmericaRidesMaps.com 
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Views On Bike Shows Changing

Photo - Motorcycle at Knoxville show

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

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

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

Photo - Bike at Knoxville motorcycle show

Nothing like purple to show passion.

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

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

Photo - motorcycle at Knoxville show

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

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

Photo - motorcycle at Knoxville show

I've always liked the red ones.

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

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

Asheville Bikefest Info

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

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

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

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

Image - Asheville Mayor Terry Bellamy Welcomes Bikefest letter

Asheville Mayor/motorcycle rider Terry Bellamy Welcomes Bikefest

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Blue Ridge Parkway Snow Photos – 12-5-10 Soco Gap, NC

Riding was out of the question today – too icy. Instead, we took a hike on the Blue Ridge Parkway to enjoy the recent snow fall.

Photo - Parkway entrance at Soco Gap

The Blue Ridge Parkway access at Soco Gap on US 19 just west of Maggie Valley, NC

Soco Gap is the last (paved) Blue Ridge Parkway exit before you reach the south end of the parkway at Great Smoky Mountains National Park just north of Cherokee (13.3 miles).

Photo - Parkway gates

Don't think the parkway goes unused when it's closed to traffic for the winter. Look at all those footprints. For the next few months it's a playground for hiking, biking, and skiing.

So far, it’s not much of a snow. There was a bit over an inch accumulated with a layer of ice underneath. If we get a couple more inches tonight, there’s a chance the Blue Ridge Parkway may be decent for cross country skiing tomorrow.  It’s just as likely to melt away.

Photo - snow on the Blue Ridge Parkway

That's not a fox, it's one of my dogs - Sophie. I was surprised to see so much snow had stuck at just 4500 feet elevation.

It doesn’t feel cold enough for a significant amount of snow to accumulate. 1000 feet lower in elevation most of it is already gone. I wonder what it’s like up high? If we get more snow tonight, maybe I’ll go up higher tomorrow.

Photo - Snow on Blue Ridge Parkway

This section of the Blue Ridge Parkway makes a steady climb to reach the Waterrock Knob overlook in about 6 miles. That's a bit more than we wanted to walk today. The first overlook hasn't been cleared and there's no view.

We were fortunate to be out of the wind on this side of the mountain. We dressed expecting it, so we were quite comfortable when the extra protection wasn’t needed.

Photo - Blue Ridge Parkway Snow

The snow is like a ghost - you can see the yellow lines on the road. Rumor has it drunken ghosts wander the parkway at times - just look at those footprints!

We walked as far as the Thunder Struck Ridge overlook at Milepost 455, about 1 mile.

Photo - Blue Ridge Parkway Snow

Thunder Struck Ridge is a great place for sunset photos.

It’s a faster walk going back – all down hill. The dogs love the Blue Ridge Parkway in the winter and so do Jackie and I.

Photo - dog with snow beard

That's my other dog Ajax wearing a snow beard. The parkway is their playground in the winter too.

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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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