Motorcycle + Ice + Fun = Minor Damage

A minute after this photo was taken my bike lay on its side and I couldn’t pick it up.

Photo-Whitesides-mountain-nc-motorcycle-by-frozen-lake

A minute after this photo was taken my bike lay on its side and I couldn't pick it up. Whiteside Mountain in the background has the highest cliffs in the east.

It was the last of the roads I planned to explore on a winter motorcycle riding dayin the Blue Ridge Mountains. I stopped at this frozen lake to take the picture beneath the 1000 foot cliffs of Whiteside Mountain. As I tried to turn the bike around and leave, my foot slipped on the icy gravel and down it went. Each time I tried to pick it up the wheels just skated on the frozen ground and I couldn’t get the leverage to lift it. Within minutes I was exhausted, out of breath, and starting to seriously wonder just how I was going to get out of this predicament.

Photo-motorcycle-on-icy-US-276

I didn't realize how icy US 276 was until I stopped. My feet skidded on the thin coat of black ice that covered parts of the road. It had been a long slow climb to get this far.

Had I any sense I would have turned back this morning and put this off, but I’ve set a deadline for this motorcycle ride map revision. After several days of a hard cold followed by rain, I figured the roads should be in better shape now with the relatively warmer weather. When the frostless morning came with 33 degrees on the thermometer and the promise of sunshine, I was elated to get back out on the road. It wasn’t as warm as I thought.

Photo-view-of-mountains-in-clouds-from-Blue-Ridge-Parkway

As I looked south when I crossed the Blue Ridge Parkway my destination lay beneath that bank of clouds near those mountaintop islands on the left horizon.

Heading out things appeared to be fine. The rains melted all but the last clumps of snow the plows had skidded to the roadside. The ride out through the Bethel Valley was as usual. Once I entered the Pisgah Forest and started the winding climb to crest the Blue Ridge Parkway it got interesting.

photo-motorcycle-on-snowy-US-276

I thought conditions would get better once I started down the south side of the mountains but if got worse until I reached US 64 in Brevard.

This is where I’m supposed to entertain you
with how hard it was, how bad the roads were,
that it was all harrowing moments
of slips and slides and near spills –
That’s not how I recall it.

I play with conditions like these,
flirting with the balance
at the the edge of control.
Find the sweet spot of the given moment,
do my best to guide the slides,
find the rhythm of the road,
and push as far as I dare let it go.
That’s what I remember –

It took 2 hours instead of one
to reach the South Carolina border,
but once I came down off Caesar’s Head
the ice was gone.

Photo-table-rock-south-carolina

Table Rock in Table Rock State Park, South Carolina, viewed from US 276 coming down through the hairpin turns that descend from Caesar's Head State Park.

I picked up a few new roads in South Carolina for you to enjoy on your motorcycle vacation tour this year including one that was so promising I’m going to research the potential for mapping in that area. While I had to be vigilant for salt and sand, I had lots of fun on motorcycle rides old and new to me. As soon as I crossed back into North Carolina the snow and ice was back.

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A view of Lake Jocassee, SC from the Wiginton Scenic Byway as I climb back into snowy North Carolina. Whitewater Falls, highest in the east, feeds the lake.

I knew it was probably a waste of time to ride out into Whitesides Cove, but I know this great spot to get a picture. There’s always the chance the unpaved portion to Highlands has been improved. Unless I check periodically I don’t know when one of these two lane twisties has had an upgrade and is worth adding to my Blue Ridge motorcycle ride maps.

Photo-ice-on-NC-215

By spring these rocks on US 215 near the Beech Gap exit of the Blue Ridge Parkway will be coated with ice several feet thick.

You already know I got out of the jam. It sure wasn’t pretty. For a second I thought – “take a picture of this”, then a wiff of gasoline told me the longer it the bike lay there the less likely it would start. Little chance of someone passing by to help on this isolated road. The sun was getting low, things were already frozen, it would be a long cold night.  It was time to be working my way home.

Photo-broken-lens

New lens already on order

I flushed with adrenaline when those thoughts hit, carefully considered the mechanics, dug my feet in, and with my back to the bike I half lifted-half wresteled the beast up with a quivering slo-mo almost failed heave. A broken turn lamp lens lay on the ground, the mirrors had twisted out of position, but otherwise the mud would wash away when I got home.

Hooray – I think that completes the roadwork I needed to finish up this new motorcycle ride map. I plan to have it ready by Christmas. It not only combines 2 existing maps into one, but adds more than a dozen new motorcycle roads I’ve never published before. It also gets nearly all the roadside waterfalls on a single map. This will be one of my most popular ride maps yet!

Visit America Rides Maps.com – the most inexpensive & comprehensive motorcycle ride maps available

_______________________________________________________________________________

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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SportBikes4Hire.com – I Spend A Day With a Customer. What fun!

Wayne – had an absolute blast riding with you today. Your knowledge and these roads add up to a experience that should be had by all that like freespirited riding. I’m glad that I rented the Aprilla from Greg @SportBikes4hire.com and that he told me about you. I will tell all my riding buddies back in PA about my excellent experience and I highly recomend your maps or you as a tour guide or both. WOW I had fun. Thanks much  – Jim M.,Riegelsville,PA

Photo - logo on windscreen

SportBikes4Hire.com offers one of the best experiences you can find on a motorcycle.

When I first heard about SportBikes4hire.com I, and others, were skeptical. Turn loose someone you barely know one of these “crotch rockets” on some of the most challenging roads in the world?  It sounds like Julia Child’s favorite Halloween recipe for death, carnage, and mayhem.  Thoughts quickly conjure up grisly scenes and visions of bikes in pieces. After more than a year in operation, it turns at such is not the case. Quite the contrary, the clients of SportBikes4hire.com end up with the experience of a lifetime.

Photo - Sportbikes4hire

I met Jimmy and his rented Aprilla Mille in Brevard on a beautiful Smoky Mountain Saturday morning.

It all came about quite suddenly. Friday evening I got a call from Greg asking how one of his customers could get a hold of some of my maps. Evidently the guy had no clue about any of the local roads and needed help. He was making a short visit to family south of Asheville, saw the add for SportBikes4hire.com and couldn’t resist the opportunity. I asked Greg to give him my cell phone number so I could suggest some roads. Jimmy called me later that evening.

We talked for a little while, and I gave him a list of roads. As I ticked them off I kept thinking to myself, “I can lead him to the major roads, but he’s never going to find the real gems without getting hopelessly lost, and without knowing something about the roads he could quickly get in trouble.” While he’d have a GPS, it wouldn’t do the job and he’d end up missing out.

Photo - on the ride

Jimmy quickly adapted to the bike and the warmup ride went well.

I asked him to give me a call in the morning when he was ready to head out. Maybe, just maybe, I’d run down and bring him some maps. I even hinted I might ride along with him. I had my concerns. What if he was a bumbly and had no business on a bike like this on these roads? What if I took him out, pushed too hard, and he got hurt or worse? I needed to sleep on it.

Saturday morning was one of those early fall days in the Smoky Mountains that postcards feature. Still warm, skies blue and clear of morning fog that so often blankets the valleys, I was sipping coffee on the porch when the cell phone tweeted. What the heck. If nothing else I’d have a nice ride over and back to meet him and give him the maps if he didn’t size up. I threw on my gear and headed for the high ground.

Photo - Stopped in Rosman for the first break

By the time we reached the first break in Rosman, it was obvious Jimmy knew what he was doing. Time to bump it up.

We met in a shopping center parking lot in Brevard. Time for the quick assessment. He had the right gear – good. The bike, a 1000cc Aprilla Mille was impeccable and fitted with top equipment (save the GPS which had been zip tied on in a decent jury rig). Jimmy was used to riding a BMW K bike so he was accustomed to handling the power. He was honest and humble in describing his abilities and experience – all good. When I asked for next-of-kin contact info he didn’t flinch. And he’d admitted never ridden a full on sport bike. Let’s go.

Photo - out on the ride

Approaching the Blue Ridge Parkway and enjoying the fresh pavement on the climb.

I led him out south of Brevard on some roads to let him get his bearings where I could watch in my mirrors to see how he was adapting. No problems. Turning south I bypassed one side road at the last minute thinking it was a bit much to throw at him this soon. We turned west and started on another great road that would start to put him to the test. He did well. Cautious where he needed to be, but willing and able to use the bike where he was comfortable. I stopped in Rosman to see how he was doing.

He was having fun and getting comfortable with the bike. It was a good choice for these roads. I was having fun. Time to kick it up a notch.

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Look Ma, no Hands! Pitching through the curves while snapping photos.

We spent another few hours zipping through some of my favorite roads, old and new, with a little bit of everything thrown in. Spanking fresh new asphalt, crumbly bumpy back roads, first gear hairpins and high speed sweepers, one lane bridges, a break on the Blue Ridge Parkway. Jimmy soaked it up and rode with a controlled enthusiasm that showed he was aware of his comfort zone yet able to enjoy what the bike had to offer.

Photo - motorcycles at Devil's Courthouse

We made only one brief visit to the Blue Ridge Parkway for a break at Devil's Courthouse. Everything else was on more challenging roads.

We were both smiling when I left him 30 miles or so from where we started with directions to follow US 276 back to our meeting place. It was a good day riding. I’d do it again. I hope he comes back.

Photo - tank with logo

The Aprilla is one of many choices. For today's ride, it was one of the best.

SportBikes4hire.com offers a great service. Fly in and they meet you at the airport. They’ll bring the bike to you all ready to go. It’s an experience that you’ll treasure and a chance to ride a great bike on the best of roads. When you consider all the time and expense of hauling or riding your bike here, it’s a superb option – heck you can make it a quick weekend trip. Find a cheap airfare and come on. Spending some time in the mountains and want a day to get away from the family and do something exhilarating? This is it.

_______________________________________________________________________________

Wayne Busch

Wayne Busch - Cartographer

 

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

 

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See ME in Road Bike Magazine Sept Issue

Photo - Wayne from America Rides Maps with copies of Road Bike Magazine

A nice feature article in Road Bike Magazine by Neal Bayley and Jim Miller

September, 2010 issue of Road Bike Magazine just hit the stands and my smiling face graces the pages. Look for the “Maggie Valley Mayhem” article.

wayne@americaridesmaps.com

http://AmericaRidesMaps.com

_______________________________________________________________________________

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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Planning Your Motorcycle Vacation Trip – What Will The Weather Be Like?

Photo - Rain clouds swirl over Waynesville, North Carolina

Rain clouds swirl over Waynesville, North Carolina

The weather on your motorcycle vacation trip will probably be better than you think or what the weatherman says, – or not. I swear that guy drinks. I know I would be hitting the old mason jar if I had his job. Predicting the weather in the Smoky Mountains is tough. Sometimes, there’s little question about taking that great ride. When there’s a massive front coming through or some system stalls for a while, you can pretty much go with what’s obvious.

In the Smoky Mountains each little valley has its own weather. It can pour down rain all day in one spot, ride your motorcycle over the hill, and the sun is shining. If I had a dollar for every time they’ve predicted rain and I’ve spent a dry day riding the great roads…

My advice – if there’s any question, get on the bike and go for it and always have some rain gear and a warm jacket or fleece in the bags. The highest elevations, like the Blue Ridge Parkway, see the most intense weather. If something’s going to happen it’s going to happen up high first. Coming down, or staying low when planning your motorcycle rides on the iffy days will often do the trick.

Weather also stalls when it hits the mountains and can’t quite make the climb over them. Try heading in the opposite direction and you can often avoid it. Bottom line, when planning your motorcycle vacation, be ready for anything.

Useful Web Resource:

One of the best resources for weather in North Carolina is Ray’s Weather site -http://www.raysweather.com/

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