Ride-2-Q in the great state of Mountainia
folks who frequent the "east" regional forum are aware of new state, consisting of all areas with mountains from georgia, south and north carolina, tennessee, kentucky, virginia and west virginia... and points north when we feel like it.
so... as the earl of mountainia, [URL="http://www.bmwmoa.org/forum/showthread.php?t=33397"]i suggested a ride to decide[/URL], to perform a weekend-long review of a few good bbq joints near the rally site in gray, tennessee.
given the short amount of available for the evaluation, the long list of restaurants available, and the huge amount of twisty roads to ride, we narrowed our focus a little to concentrate on two likely candidates that were clearly representative of the local flavor.
18 riders from 5 states joined in, converging on [URL="http://www.highcountrymotorcyclecamp.com"]high country motorcycle camp[/URL] as early as friday afternoon.
i rode up from atlanta with the veg, ben lower, giving him a preview of twisties to come by riding north on GA197 past lake burton and lake rabun before reaching an overnight stopping point in clyde, nc.
friday morning was a mixture of twisties on nc209:
... leading us to the rally site where some rally business ensued.
onward to high country, riding the snake - US421 - southeast toward boone, nc, which is just west from the campground.
riders who know the place are aware of stoney fork road, a nice gravel road shortcut to the campground:
... which lead us to a gorgeous green meadow that was ready to welcome our tents... the first of the season. well, the second and third of the season, as ken gadley from coward, sc had arrived earlier and already set up his tent. the veg and i got to work:
not too much later, a certain mr. sibud rode in from southern illinois, and after being roundly razzed for not having gotten his mountainia passport stamped at the border, he was ably assisted by ken, who lent bud an electric air pump for his mattress, as he had forgotten his.
a few others arrived from charlotte, carl from charlotte on an airhead RT and his son on a screaming yellow suzuki sv650.
bud graciously broke out an earl-sized bottle of maker's mark, and ian hauled some beer and ice in the jesse box.
much celebration ensued. the next morning dawn bright, screaming yellow bright for carl's son...
... and it didn't look good for getting an early start on the day. before long, the rest of our ragtag group arrived, a large selection of carolina club members from charlotte, led by 308nut, Wade. well, sorta led... Wade took a wrong turn about a mile east of the campground and other than one guy on and LT, everyone else knew not to follow him.
as introductions and pleasantries ensued, and we waited for wade and friend to find their asses with both hands as they toured some of the finer gravel backroads of mountainia, we got rolling toward our first stop at the crack of 10:30.
following some good advice from buzzard brent (new owner of high country... following in the footsteps of previous owner turkey tom) we rode up NC16, old NC16, vannoy Road and a super-sweet and very technical buckwheat road....
... north on the blue ridge parkway and down mahogany road road to windy hill bbq, an open-air place run by airhead rider steve and his lovely wife.
as everyone ordered their hogzilla pork sandwiches and peach cobbler, a glorious meal proceeded.
i ordered mine with the cajun-spiced option and i have to say, it was some of north carolina's finest q, served open-air style.... my personal favorite. the pork was chopped, very moist... the bun was just right and the french fries were potatoes in the ground earlier that morning. the peach cobbler was fresh, and the ice cream on top was just the right way to finish off a hogzilla of a meal.
we made wade work it off on the windy hill fitness center while the rest of us basked in the glorious sunshine.
on to ridgewood outside of bluff city, tn
after lunch, it was time to do some twisty twistin' as we had ~125 miles of pure country roads to get to our next stop, the famed ridgewood bbq between bluff city and elizabethton, tn... no more than 20 minutes from the site of this year's national rally.
i personally didn't get many pictures, as i was leading the ride and trying to keep all the birds in the flock as we rode along us221, nc88, us421 and tn44. of course *i* would be the one to take a wrong turn on a tiny country road... fortunately everyone else knew not to follow.
given that the ridgewood bbq is extremely popular with the locals, we had a different plan for this venue. ordering takeout ahead of time, the hungry group arrived at about 5pm to find one small challenge... the pan holding 5 pounds of pork would not fit in anyone's luggage.
resourceful carolina club members came to the rescue, and it took at least 5 of them to engineer a highly-effective back-seat-spider-mesh solution:
riding 3 miles east into bustling downtown bluff city, we set up dinner, or supper as they say in these parts, in the city park picnic shed, complete with excellent sliced pork, fantastic sesame seed buns, beans, coleslaw, a unique tomato and vinegar-based sauce, blue-cheese and saltines (a ridgewood specialty) and chocolate cake, courtesy of dr. cal, who rode in from abington. virginia to meet us for dinner.
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this cake was phenomenal, rich and gooey chocolate goodness and about the last thing we needed after eating a ton of q. cal even brought a bottle of hot water and a cake knife so that the slicing was neat and smooth.
so..... afterwards, everyone was *way* up for a 100+ mile ride back to the campground. with much cajoling, threatening, and then just getting on the HP2 and riding off... the group reluctantly followed. never in your life have you never heard more groaning and moaning while getting onto bikes and into gear.
but we had to get there before dark because the carolina guys still had to set-up their tents.
man, some people really know how to camp... a mattress with an integrated 110v air compressor, powered by an inverter, plugged into the bike. :bow i am not worthy.
that evening, warm fellowship flowed along with the rest of the beer and bud's maker's mark, some cigars and a good share of pine firewood. life is good.
the next morning, it was time to depart, new friends all and a commitment to do it again in the future.
thanks everyone for coming. it was great to meet you and i had a fantastic time!