Motorcycle Riding the Blue Ridge Parkway – Commuter Zones

Riding the Blue Ridge Parkway - commuter zones

You have no clue you’re passing through some sizable cities on a Blue Ridge Parkway ride  – 10 minutes ride from a parkway exit puts you in the heart of Asheville, NC, a fun place to visit!

On a 469 mile long Blue Ridge Parkway ride you will pass through two cities – Roanoke in Virginia, and Asheville in North Carolina. Each has its “commuter zone”.

In both cities, the parkway weaves along the east edge of town then curves around to the south, though barely a hint of the surrounding neighborhoods are visible. Riding along you never see a downtown area at all nor any indication you are near a sizable city. It’s part of the magical illusion of a Blue Ridge Parkway ride. The views have been well protected over the years.

What’s a Commuter Zone?

There will be a handful of exits relatively close together as you pass through one of the cities on the Blue Ridge Parkway. For locals, the Blue Ridge Parkway is just one more road to get through town, a shortcut. A lot of local traffic hops on it to save time and zip an exit or two to the road they want.

photo-no-gas-sign-on-blue-ridge-parkway

This sign is a legacy to when gas was available on the Blue Ridge Parkway. It should now read “No gas next 400 miles”. There is no gas on the Blue Ridge Parkway. Take advantage of close gas stations to the parkway in the commuter zones.

What you need to know about Parkway Commuter Zones –

Expect more traffic and more aggressive traffic in the commuter zones on the Blue Ridge Parkway. Locals are hopping on the parkway to save time and they may push the speed limit.

The speed limit drops in some areas and it’s more heavily enforced in the commuter zones. The Asheville commuter zone of the Blue Ridge Parkway went to 35 mph last year to try to slow down the local traffic. Watch for the signs.

Enforcement is heavier near cities, especially in commuter zones. More traffic means more resources assigned to deal with it. Watch your speed whenever you feel you are getting into a populated area. You can also expect more attention near popular areas along the Blue Ridge Parkway.

ranger on the parkway

Watch your speed and be alert in the commuter zones

Here are some places where I tell myself to roll back on the throttle when riding the Blue Ridge Parkway:

  • From the Start of the Parkway  in Virginia to Humpback Rocks
  • Peaks of Otter area in Virginia, near Buchanan
  • From 221 exit to 221 exit near Roanoke
  • Linn Cove Viaduct area near Blowing Rock
  • Moses Cone / Julian Prince Park near Boone
  • Altapass Hwy north of Spruce Pine / Little Switzerland
  • Crabtree Falls area
  • From Craggy Gardens through Asheville
  • The southern section of the parkway into Cherokee

Be aware of and alert for these commuter zones near the cities along the Blue Ridge Parkway. There are few signs on the road, but if you see any indication you are approaching a congested area be alert and ready to deal with increased traffic with a different agenda than you.

7 map Blue Ridge Parkway + The Dragon set

7 map Blue Ridge Parkway + The Dragon set

Get the maps!
http://shop.americaridesmaps.com/Blue-Ridge-Parkway-The-Dragon-Package-BRP12.htm

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

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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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Best Blue Ridge Parkway Overlooks by Motorcycle

Best Blue Ridge Parkway Overlooks by Motorcycle – Highest Point

Richland Balsam Overlook
Elevation – 6053 feet
Milepost – 431.4 

Best Blue Ridge Parkway Overlooks - highest point

Best Blue Ridge Parkway Overlooks – highest point. The long sweeping overlook  provides expansive views of the mountains which comprise ‘The Land of the Waterfalls”

The highest point on the Blue Ridge Parkway is in North Carolina at milepost 431.4. Here, the nations top motorcycle ride reaches an elevation of 6053 feet as it carves it’s way along  the southern exposure of the Balsam mountain range.

Best Blue Ridge Parkway Overlooks by Motorcycle - highest point

Best Blue Ridge Parkway Overlooks by Motorcycle – Getting your picture with the sign at the highest point on the Blue Ridge Parkway is one of those “must have” photos from your trip to reach the long paved overlook which spans the radius of the curve around the mountain.

There is no dramatic climb to reach the long paved overlook which spans the radius of the broad curve around the mountain. The Blue Ridge Parkway maintains a steady altitude through this long remote and isolated section of the national park rarely dipping below 5000 feet. While the grades are gentle, the curves are full of surprises and the drop-offs along the roadside inspire a real respect for the altitude on this best motorcycle ride in the USA.

Best Blue Ridge Parkway Overlooks by Motorcycle - high point

Best Blue Ridge Parkway Overlooks by Motorcycle – peer into several states from the highest point on clear days, but it not place to be in bad weather

Only 37.7 miles from the southern end of the Blue Ridge Parkway at Great Smoky Mountains National Park near Cherokee, NC, a ride to the high point is an easy one to squeeze in even if you’re not on an end-to-end parkway ride on your motorcycle. From Asheville, Waynesville and Maggie Valley, it’s a wonderful way to spend a few hours riding a motorcycle on one of the the best scenic motorcycle rides you’ll find anywhere.

Best Blue Ridge Parkway Overlooks by Motorcycle - high point

Best Blue Ridge Parkway Overlooks by Motorcycle – Few can resist a stop at the high point. The large parking area is able to handle the crowds, and it’s a great lace to get shots of large groups of riders.

As you might suspect, this spot is one of the most remote and isolated on your Blue Ridge Parkway motorcycle ride. It’s a long ride for gas, tank up before you go. The high parts get the wet weather first – if it looks cloudy from the valley, you may not see much when you get up high. It will be a lot cooler than down in the valley and more windy, be prepared.

Best Blue Ridge Parkway Overlooks by Motorcycle - high point

Best Blue Ridge Parkway Overlooks by Motorcycle – A fall view from the high point overlook. Clear days are just spectacular!

Map of the best section of the Blue Ridge Parkway

Blue Ridge Parkway Map best

Map of the best 50 mile section of the Blue Ridge Parkway shows the location of the high point and the ways to reach it from nearby towns. Click for larger image –

See a 360 degree panoramic view at Virtual Blue Ridge – http://www.virtualblueridge.com/parkway_tour/overlooks/00431b.asp

image-motorcycle-ride-map-cover

You’ll find the highest point on the Blue Ridge Parkway on America Rides Maps motorcycle pocket map

#6 The Best Motorcycle Rides Near Smoky Mountains National Park – EAST http://shop.americaridesmaps.com/6-The-Best-Motorcycle-Rides-Near-Smoky-Mountains-Park-EAST-NC017.htm

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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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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 – in January?

I should be in Vegas – luck is with me today. Although the weather has been unseasonably warm here in the Smoky Mountains this week, it’s also been wet. Not that “Old Testament” deluge kind of wet, but a wintery wet with light but persistent rains.

photo-winter-view-of-cold-mountain

A winter view of Cold Mountain from the Blue Ridge Parkway near Mt. Pisgah.

In a normal year we’d have a bit of white on the ground, and I did see a rare patch or two today. It’s not the ideal season for motorcycling the Blue Ridge Parkway. In fact, the Blue Ridge Parkway is normally closed to traffic through this season due to the frigid conditions.

When I saw the sun this morning I knew a motorcycle ride was in order. There’s a weather front passing over with a few hours of blue sky before the snow moves in tonight. I wrapped up the mornings work and fired up the bike.

Photo-wayne-on-parkway

The weather looked great to the south, what a difference the other direction.

I just wanted a nice little ride. The threatening clouds on the northern horizon foretold this break in the weather was temporary, so I chose to just head south from Waynesville on US 276 and ride up to the Blue Ridge Parkway and back after running a few errands in town.

US 276 is a well know road to motorcycle riders and part of a classic loop called the “Pisgah Triangle” south of Waynesville. US 276 forms one leg of the triangle, the Blue Ridge Parkway the second, and NC 215 the third. It’s a “must do” fun ride if you’re in the Waynesville / Maggie Valley area.

photo-winter-view-blue-ridge-parkway

Winter riding in the Smoky Mountains can be as beautiful as the summer, just in a different way.

It takes about 25 minutes to ride out across Bethel Valley then follow the Big East Fork of the Pigeon River in the Pisgah National Forest and make the steep and twisting climb to the heights of the Blue Ridge Parkway at the Wagon Road Gap. The ramp to the Blue Ridge Parkway leads to the large parking area  overlooking Cold Mountain  (MP 412.2).

The overlook is accessible year-round. The parkway is gated on either side. The south gate (towards Cherokee) was closed, but the north gate to Mt. Pisgah was open so I took advantage of the opportunity to snap a few photos.

photo-clouds-on-the-blue-ridge-parkway

By the time I turned back, those clouds had swallowed up everything.

The blue skies didn’t last long, and by the time I had turned around nearing Asheville, the clouds were swallowing the views. The wind was gusting and I started to hit some wet stuff on the way back. Some of it was white.

It was a rare treat this time of year. Next time you’re passing through, take a motorcycle ride on the Pisgah Triangle. I had a great time on just one leg of it, and the other two are better!

haywood-county-postcard

A postcard from Haywood County, North Carolina shows the Pisgah Triangle

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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. 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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North Carolina Motorcycle Rides – Hookers Gap Road

Photo-view-of-Hookers-Gap-Road

View of Hookers Gap Road - uphill section which leads from Newfound Road.

Hookers Gap Road is a secret little motorcycle ride near Asheville, North carolina, only a handful of motorcycle riders know about.  

Excellent pavement, non-stop  back-to-back curves, and an occasional views of the Smoky Mountains and valleys make it a ride any biker would love, but few ever discover. Shame – it’s really useful.

Hookers Gap Road is a useful motorcycle road as it (indirectly) links two well known favorite motorcycle rides – The Blue Ridge Parkway & NC 209 (The Rattler) 

Connecting Roads:

  • NC 151 – (also known as “The Devil’s Drop”) – Descends from the Blue Ridge Parkway through a steep section of tight hairpin curves that is cherished for the challenge. Some people rave about this road, but I can’t give it a red  “best road” rating on my America Rides Maps. The twisty section is good, but too short. Most of NC 151 rolls across open valley with average views. It ends when it meets US 19 and the suburbs.
  • Newfound Road – Newfound Road runs from Canton to Leicester. It’s a popular ride that courses through long open valleys with a short but tight curvy section in the middle. It’s a good ride, views are mostly average. On my America Rides Maps Newfound Road does not get any favorable rating.
Photo-section of Hookers Gap Road

The west end of Hookers Gap Road is the best.

Newfound Road gets a lot of  motorcycle traffic as it connects to NC 63 in Leicester. To the east, NC 63 leads into Asheville,  but many riders go west on NC 63. Within a few miles, the road starts a climb to the top of a mountain that winds through a tight series of switchback curves. The long descent down the west side of the mountain leads to a junction with NC 209 (a.k.a. “The Rattler”) near the midpoint of it’s run to Hot Springs or Junaluska at Trust.

Description:

A motorcycle ride on Hookers Gap Road is most easily navigated from the south end. Come down NC 151 from the Blue Ridge Parkway to the traffic light at the junction with US 19. Continue through the traffic light on Dogwood Road. Follow west then veer left onto Pole Creek Road. It will become Hookers Gap Road. It ends at Newfound Road. Distance: 7.4 miles.

To find Hookers Gap Road from Newfound Road,  watch for the “+” (crossroad) sign on the north side of the curvy section of Newfound Road. There is no sign for Hookers Gap Road, but there is one across the street for Morgan Branch Road, the western continuation of Hookers Gap Road from Newfound Road.

Image - Section of America Rides Maps shows Hookers Gap Rd.

Section of America Rides Maps shows Hookers Gap Rd.

Hookers Gap Road keeps you out of the congestion and traffic on I-40 and busy US 19 and it’s one of the most challenging rides in the area.

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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. 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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You’ll find Hookers Gap Rd and some of the best motorcycle rides in this outstanding area along with a guide to more than a dozen roadside waterfalls on America Rides Maps “The Best Motorcycle Rides EAST of Great Smoky Mountains National Park

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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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Greenville IMS Show is past – Asheville Bikefest coming May 12-15

Photo - Asheville Bikefest booth at Greenville IMs show

I don't look busy, do I. The crowds were distracted for a moment by the stage shows.

It’s the morning after the Greenville International Motorcycle Show and I’m beat. It was my first IMS show and it’s quite a step up from what I’ve seen previously – not that I had much time to see what was going on. I rarely left the Asheville Bikefest / America Rides Maps booth. It was my wife who snapped these photos when she popped in for a visit on Saturday and brought me something to eat.

Gary from the Switzerland Inn came down Sunday to help promote the Diamondback Motorcycle route. He’s a great guy and it’s always good to see him. The Diamondback Motorcycle lodge is already booked through the year on weekends, but he’s ready to work some mid week deals for your Blue Ridge Parkway travels. Me, I prefer staying in the Switzerland Inn itself. I ride long and hard and when I come in for the night I want all the luxury and pampering I can get. Park me at one of the bars, give me a great meal, watch the sunset over the mountains from the veranda and then recuperate in the spacious rooms. I deserve it. So do you.

Photo - Mark and Yvonne work their tails off

Mark and Yvonne Cresswell of World Wide Dynamics - promoters for the Asheville Bikefest ... and Sturgis... and Laconia.... and Leesburg... and...

Bill Kneigge from Blue Strada Tours also spent some time with us. He also works with Edlewiess Tours International and he’s one of those guys that everyone likes as soon as you meet him. We’re doing our best to get him to coordinate the guided tours for the Asheville Bikefest and Blue Ridge Run. I seem to run into him everywhere with his tour clients from around the world when I’m out on the road. It’s always a treat to see Bill.

I’ve got a lot of contacts to follow up on as I look to expand what America Rides Maps offers. The Blue Ridge Parkway and Deals Gap Classic Rides maps are selling like candy. I had a good meeting with Schampa.com motorcycle rider wear, and have some things cooking with Liberty Sports motorcycle eyewear. I’m really excited about BlueRidgeParkwayMotorcycle.com which is about ready to launch (the site’s still under development, but not for much longer).

Photo - working the Greenville IMs show

There we go, look at my big happy smile! I really enjoy meeting everyone.

I could go on and on but I’m just too exhausted. There’s so much to do to get ready for the Asheville Bikefest and Blue Ridge Run May 12-15. I’ll probably pass on Daytona, but I’m putting some serious thought into Leesburg. That’s a nice rally and I love meeting and talking with those Florida riders.

Thank you everyone who stopped by to see us. You make it worth all the effort.  I’m open to suggestions regarding the Asheville Bikefest and Blue Ridge Run and hope to exceed your expectations.

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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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Photos from Todays Motorcycle Ride in the NC Mountains 12-9-10

It was noon before the temperature finally crested freezing, though I’m not sure it ever reached the predicted high of 35.  The sky was blue, the sun was shining, and the roads were dry. I couldn’t stand it any longer and had to get out on the bike.

Photo - motorcycle and snow in NC

Shady spots on the north side of the mountains still held snow, but mostly it was gone. Roads were in pretty good shape. This is at Hookers Gap. Saw a Post-lady but no hookers. Probably too cold.

I ended up covering about 200 miles today, most of it riding back and forth on the roads which run between Liecester and Marshall, North Carolina. The majority of the key roads have already been discovered for this motorcycle ride map I’m working on. What I’m seeking now are  the best ways to link them together and show you how to make connected rides that keep you cruising along without hitting traffic or four lanes or the interstate.

Photo - Potato Branch Rd near Liecester, NC

I think this is a section of Potato Branch Rd. It's one of my new favorites. You can link-ride it all the way back to the Blue Ridge Parkway or out to Hot Springs and beyond.

This area is only minutes from downtown Asheville. It doesn’t take long to “get lost” in the mountains surrounding the city. Outside of paving, these old roads have changed little in more than 200 years. They twist and wind through older neighborhoods, farmlands, homesteads and old barns, following the path of least resistance over mountain passes and along rushing streams and rivers.

Photo - A winter scene near Liecester, NC

Winter riding may not be as frequent as during the warmer months, but it has it's rewards. I enjoy it as much as the rest of the year. This might be Early Mountain Road.

I also took a ride over by Cherokee to investigate a road which I thought I’d overlooked. As is too often the case, there was a good reason to ignore it – it was another one of those half-paved roads that lead up into mountain coves. They start out nice enough but once the grade gets steep the pavement ends. Rarely does one go through and you can waste a lot of time riding up dead end roads. I’m out discovering those roads which DO go through and are worth the ride. It was a very successful day.

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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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Sights From the Motorcycle Road – Penland Post Office

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

Photo - view from the Blue Ridge Parkway

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

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

Photo - Penland Post Office

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

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

Photo - Penland Post Office

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

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

Photo - Penland Post Office

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

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

Photo - Penland Post Office

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

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

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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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I Just Keep Finding More Great Motorcycle Rides

Image - Map CoverAsheville

Map - The Best Roads North and South of Asheville, NC - the revision is so close to being done.

I’ve resigned myself to the fact it’s going to take at least one more day on the road to investigate some roads for the revision of America Rides MapsThe Best Roads North and South of Asheville, NC“. I’ve already added more than a dozen new roads to the hundreds of miles of great motorcycle rides I’d already charted, roads which link the existing great rides together and expand the options to stay out on the two lane back roads enjoying the twisty bliss of carving through the tallest mountains in the east. I’ve got at least a dozen more yet to be evaluated and judged.

I systematically go through each of the dozen maps I now produce, re-evaluating each of the roads by riding them again, noting any changes along the way to insure you get the most up to date and best ride info I can produce. I’ve been reworking this Asheville map for well over a month now and thought I was closing in on wrapping it up. I sat down to knock off the last chunk of it today, and as the clock now approaches midnight my efforts have only yielded yet more possibilities that must be explored. The devil is in the details, and I too often find as I get down to the final detail work I start to ask questions. Has this road been paved? Is there a way to find a link between these two great rides? If this road was so good, what about this one nearby? The questions just keep coming and I research them as best I can then pencil in the ones I can’t rule out. There are enough unanswered to warrant another long day in the saddle, maybe two.

I’ll spend tomorrow getting things as close to finished as I can. Then, I’ll go out on the road and spend the day or two that’s needed to ride each and every one of them to see if they measure up. Though my last trip was very rewarding, this time I suspect it will be mostly disappointment – that’s the norm. Still, if one or two of them pan out, I’ll come home happy. These are the last of the last, kind of like sifting through the tailings at a gold mine to see if any small nuggets were missed. A real bonus is finding another reliable out of the way gas station. Maybe, just maybe, I’ll stumble across a real jewel. You never know until you ride it.

 

Photo - Wayne and his motorcycle

A couple more days on the road should do it. I'm really excited to get to the next map, I have some big plans for expansion.

Addendum: This region north of Asheville is one of the most undiscovered areas of great mountain motorcycle rides. Few venture into this area though there are a wealth of fabulous motorcycle rides through the tallest mountains in the east virtually devoid of any traffic. This time of year, when leaf peepers clog most of the backroads, you can ride all day through this area and count the cars on one hand. This map will give you a vacations worth of great rides and you’ll still come back for the ones you didn’t get to.

America Rides Maps – nobody covers the Smoky Mountains as comprehensively so you can make the most of your precious riding time.

_______________________________________________________________________________

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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