Classic Motorcycle Roads Closed – a blessing?

Classic Motorcycle Roads Closed – a blessing?

Extreme rain causes flooding and washes out many favorite motorcycle rides – here’s an update and what it means for your motorcycle tour plans;

Note: we are hardly out of the woods – all this moisture in the soil could lead to more slides over time, and now with some hard freezes coming in, the freeze/thaw cycles could contribute to more problems as more rock is cracked, split, and loosened.

US 441 – Newfound Gap Road, Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Seems this road is always under construction, over the past year or two, to repair a slide near the top on the Tennessee side of the border. As the only road which crosses the park, right through the heart of it, it carries heavy traffic loads. Now, a large section has washed out about 9 miles north of Cherokee, and it will require a substantial and costly repair.

photo - slide closes park

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

Of all the damage from the recent weather, this is the most significant. While I do show this as a great motorcycle ride on my America Rides motorcycle pocket maps, it’s one of those “if you haven’t done it, you should ride it”, but it’s not one of my favorites due to the traffic, and I typically avoid it.

If you are planning to base a motorcycle vacation out of Gatlinburg / Pigeon Forge, you will now be forced to ride completely around the park to reach many of the best motorcycle rides. While there are some great motorcycle rides on the north side of Great Smoky Mountains National Park, you will also be dealing the the tourist traffic that  floods into this area. I suggest you look at options on the south side of the park instead. Map #8 details the best motorcycle rides free of traffic on the north side of GSMNP, but there are so many more on the south side you will get in more riding by basing your motorcycle trip on the quiet side of the park.

The Cherohala Skyway – NC 143/ TN 165

A significant slide on the North Carolina side of the border, about 1 mile from the state line has taken out one lane of the road and it has been closed. This is one of the nicest rides in the area, and the only road that crosses through this remote area of high mountains, a favorite scenic motorcycle ride often done as a loop ride with the infamous Dragon at Deals Gap.

Photo Source - Graham Star - Slide on Cherohala Skyway takes out 1 lane

Photo Source – Graham Star – Slide on Cherohala Skyway takes out 1 lane

This is a “wait and watch” situation right now to determine how stable the slope is over time. The good news is there is likely enough room for a temporary detour, though the work required to fix the problem will be extensive. I am hopeful, it will reopen before the riding season cranks up.

This road is featured on Map #7,  Map #8, and 12 Classic Deals Gap motorcycle rides.

US 19 – Near Burnsville

This is not a large slide in scope, but the issue is a “house sized boulder” which now sits blocking the road. Complicating the cleanup is a nearby house which is too close to permit blasting of the rock. Plan is to drill in to it and use expanding materials to break it up. I expect this problem will be cleared up relatively quickly.

yancey county slide

Photo source – Yancey County News – Large boulder blocking road

Detours use Jack’s Creek Road and Coxes Creek roads, this area is detailed on Map #5

Blue Ridge Parkway (near MP 455) Soco Gap area, near Maggie Valley

Reports of a small slide in this area seem to be over-hyped. I have hiked to it for inspection, and found a few rocks in the road which I could have cleared with one hand. No worries here.

photo - small slide on Blue Ridge PArkway

The rock slide reported near MP 455 is nothing to worry about. I could have taken care of it myself.

The most significant Blue Ridge Parkway closure in North Carolina is for slope stabilization near Mt. Mitchell. The road is closed here at least through April. You can download a free printable map of my suggested detours for motorcycles that give you other options here – http://smokymountainrider.com/Downloads/parkway-closure-2013.pdf

NC 63 – Leicester Road

I have not had personally investigated this slide, it is reported one lane has been affected. This is a popular motorcycle ride connecting to NC 209 (The Rattler), often used to make loop rides or access Asheville. The slide occurred in the best section of the road, the steep switchbacks that climb over the mountain. No further info on this one right now.

Great Motorcycle Rides in North Carolina - NC 209, a.k.a. "The Rattler" This is some of the best motorcycle riding you'll find in the world. These riders are looping back to NC 209 on NC 63.This is some of the best motorcycle riding you'll find in the world. These riders are looping back to NC 209 on NC 63.

Great Motorcycle Rides in North Carolina – These riders are looping back to NC 209 on NC 63.

Fortunately, there are many other options to make loop rides through this area, you’ll find them them extensively detailed on Map #6

So where are the blessings in all this bad news?

Most of the mess will be tended to by the time the real motorcycle riding season gets going. While 5 important roads are closed, some of them consistently on the “top 10 motorcycle rides” lists, it is only 5. I show nearly 200 other great motorcycle rides in this area, the blessing is you now have the opportunity to get away from the tourist traffic that flocks to these biker roads and discover some of little know and best scenic motorcycle rides detailed on my maps.

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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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Wayne’s 2012 Blue Ridge Parkway Alternative Detours for Motorcycles

map-brp-detour-2012

Don’t get caught up in the traffic on the Park Service Detour Route 

These roads allow you to take the shortcuts (or the long way round) that will keep you riding!

Get your free copy! Instructions at bottom of page.

photo-parkway-closed-signs-nc18

30+ miles of the Blue Ridge Parkway is closed for most of 2012 near the NC / VA border. Detour via NC 18.

 

There is one significant detour on the Blue Ridge Parkway for 2012. To my surprise, it’s an extension of the detour that closed this middle section of the road near the North Carolina / Virginia border last year. While I found a much better detour route for motorcycle touring in 2011, 2012 is a real challenge in this very rural area where a paved road is a rarity.

photo-stone-walls-on-brp

The Blue Ridge Parkway is closed for maintenance, repair, and rebuilding of the historic stone walls found in this 30+ mile section.

The Blue Ridge Parkway will be closed to traffic (including bicycles) in 2012 from Milepost 216.5 near Cumberland Knob to Milepost 248.1 for repair of historic stone walls (see photo). While the wall shown may not seem impressive, this is where the Blue Ridge Parkway was born back in 1930-40. The early masonry work you see on the overpasses, bridges, and walls was done by master masons brought over from Europe. A few third generation descendants continue this restoration work today.

photo-brp-barricade

4 Road Closed signs, barrels, barricades, flashing lights, locked gate, - seriously closed!

Last year’s detour was north of the Blue Ridge Parkway through Sparta. I knew of a longer though much better route on the south side and produced a free downloadable map of it. It was fun. That route is included on the map. This years extension of the closure means there is no good way to bypass it completely on the south side of the Blue Ridge Parkway.

photo-sparta

The Allegheny County Courthouse is the cornerstone of downtown Sparta. It's a small crossroads town, little of interest to me.

The 2012 Park Service detour route is simple, just one road – NC 18 which intersects the Blue Ridge Parkway at two points. It’s the easy, elegant solution passing through Sparta. While NC 18 could be a decent motorcycle ride, it’s curvy and rolling, the lack of paved roads in the area means it also carries all the traffic. Few cars and trucks are able to maintain the 55 mph speed limit and there’s always that one or two that can’t seem to get much above 40 mph and the lines back up behind them. It can be frustrating to ride when you can’t enjoy the curves at a proper motorcycle pace.

photo-sparta

There - now you've seen Sparta. Don't feel like you've missed much if you bypass it.

Nor is there a compelling reason to go into Sparta. It’s a historic town at the crossroads of NC 18 / US 21, but I saw no places which looked enticing to eat at (one coffee shop), and the 2 gas stations require you to leave NC 18 and go a short distance on US 21. There’s a little museum, but miss Sparta and you won’t miss much.

map-brp-detour-2012

Download this map and print your copy or save it in your phone!

The roads show on the map offer alternatives to avoid most of the standard route and should save you some time. They will at least help you avoid getting caught up in any traffic that could get backed up on the official detour. For those on adventure bikes I’ve included a couple non-paved options that will let you get your wheels dirty on gravel roads.

Downloads:
Use http://americaridesmaps.com/downloads/BRP-detour-2012.pdf for a map you can print on a standard sheet of paper.

Use http://americaridesmaps.com/downloads/BRP-detour-2012.jpg for an image file you can store in your cell phone, iPad, or GPS.

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Wayne Busch

Wayne Busch - Cartographer

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Learn Total Control

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

Wayne is an advanced motorcycle instructor for Total Rider Tech teaching Lee Parks Total Control Advanced Rider Courses. Isn’t it time you looked into advanced rider training to ride more confidently and safely? It can transform your mountain riding experience.  Total Rider Tech

____________________________________________________________________

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