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

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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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5 thoughts on “Motorcycle Riding on the Blue Ridge Parkway – Safety Tips

  1. Nothing in the Roanoke news area of a motorcycle fatality on the Parkway..I check Channel 7 & 10’s websites and they have nothing on a accident involving a motorcycle

  2. It appears that the fatality was that of a police chief from Sarasota Florida area, who had a “need for speed”!. So sad really.
    He of all people, should have known that “speed kills”!
    I have ridden the Blue Ridge, on my motorcycle, on a number of occasions, and as much as I like “speed”, being a SMART rider is much more important. You have to respect those curves. Save the speed for the straight aways!

  3. Like your posts. Have ridden many of the roads you tell about but know I have not been on all of them. Like hearing about new places to see and roads to ride.

  4. @ Nancy – this is how rumors get started. Your advice is great but in this case it appears misdirected. Everything I’ve read about this accident says he was traveling under the posted speed limit and wearing full protective gear. He and his companions were also experienced riders. What I believe we have here is a tragic motorcycle crash due to weather conditions. I think Wayne’s advice is more relevant. Be careful everyone and stay safe.

  5. We’ll never know just what happened or why. Spend enough time riding the high parts and you’ll surely hit some bad weather. Something either distracted this rider, caused him to lose his bearings, or perhaps he had some kind of physical problem. As much as we all try to ride safe, sometimes accidents happen regardless.

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