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Thread: Riding the Southern Appalachians and the RA Rally

  1. #1
    BeemerBoy terham's Avatar
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    Riding the Southern Appalachians and the RA Rally

    I had a great time riding the Blue Ridge Parkway this past Fall, and with the RA Rally in Asheville, NC at the Biltmore, I made plans to attend the rally so I could return to this area and ride the wonderful roads. I've never been to an RA rally, but the location drew me in. I wasn't disappointed with the rally or the location.

    I had planned to take three days to get there, attend the rally for three days, and return home in two days to my home outside Philly. As a preview, my route took me through western MD, into WV and south to VA, TN and NC, camping along the way. I rode WV 16, VA 16 including the Back of the Dragon, Blue Ridge Parkway, Cherohala Skyway, and wonderful roads in SW VA and Skyline Drive on my return trip.

    I was packed Monday ready for an early Tuesday departure.

    DSC_0015_tonemapped-L.jpg

    To be continued...
    Terence
    R75/5 R100RS K100RS R1100S

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    Chromehead bobs98's Avatar
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    Well .... ? We're waiting ....
    Bob Smith
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  3. #3
    BeemerBoy terham's Avatar
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    I'm still drying my tent out and unpacking.

    (BTW, you missed a good trip. Hope your wife's surgery went OK.)
    Last edited by terham; 06-25-2013 at 01:22 PM. Reason: Added text.
    Terence
    R75/5 R100RS K100RS R1100S

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    MearthA rdalland's Avatar
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    ride what you've got; enjoy the road you're on!

    Reid - Stone Ridge, NY - MOA #69187 - Turbo Fluffy Motoclub - IBA #50182

  5. #5
    BeemerBoy terham's Avatar
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    This is going to be really disjointed, since I keep getting a message that I can only upload three files per post. I think I used to be able to attach 20 pictures per post. I have a few pictures/videos to go with this report.

    For the ride to Asheville, I wanted to mainly ride WV/VA 16 down to the VA/NC border, since I?ve heard a lot about this road, and planned day 1 to get into WV near route 16. There were a couple of state parks that were not too far from home and convenient to WV 16, and settled on North Bend SP, about 450 miles away. With a chunk of interstate riding, it wouldn?t be too long of a day.

    I left home north of Philadelphia at 6 and rode the PA turnpike to Carlisle. As turnpikes go, it?s not a bad ride, especially as you head west. I picked up I-81, probably my least favorite interstate, and headed into MD, where I picked up I-70 west to I-68 west, two very nice interstates as interstates go.

    I finally got off the interstate in western MD at Cumberland and headed over to Oakland, where along the way it started to rain pretty hard. There aren?t a lot of pictures from day 1 due to interstate riding and the rain. I had put a mostly back roads route into the GPS to get to the SP, but abandoned that due to the weather. The visibility was poor and there was debris in the roads and I didn?t want to ride secondary and tertiary roads under those conditions. I decided to stay on WV 50, as it was fun to ride even in the rain.

    I stopped in Grafton at a Mickey D?s to try to dry out a little and figure out my plan.

    Image-L.jpg

    I had a personal mopper assigned to me to follow me around the store and mop up the wet floor that seemed to follow me wherever I went. I think they were happy to see me go.

    The worst of the rain had let up some, and since the SP was just south of route 50, I continued west towards Parkersburg, picked up WV 16 and headed south a short distance to North Bend SP. I arrived around 3, and chose a site on the bank above the river - above flood stage but near enough to hear the sounds of the river.

    Image 1-L.jpg

    Since it started to clear, I rode around the SP after setting up camp.

    DSCF1075-L.jpg
    Terence
    R75/5 R100RS K100RS R1100S

  6. #6
    BeemerBoy terham's Avatar
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    There were some nice roads in the area.

    DSCF1077-M.jpg

    I headed back to camp for dinner.

    DSCF1101-M.jpg

    DSCF1098-M.jpg

    After a dinner of freeze-dried and a little single malt sippin? whiskey, it was off to bed after chasing a raccoon out of my site.

    Hoping the rain was finished, I was looking forward to tomorrow, when I thought of the trip as really starting, and riding route 16.
    Terence
    R75/5 R100RS K100RS R1100S

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    Chromehead bobs98's Avatar
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    All is well, last of the stitches out yesterday and she's back to work.

    Looking forward to my own early departure in .... let's see now .... 16 days! Woo Hoo !!!
    Bob Smith
    '98 R1200C
    '80 XS850 Special
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  8. #8
    BeemerBoy terham's Avatar
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    The problem I was having of multiple photos solved thanks to Kurt.

    End of Day 1.

    North Bend SP from Terence Hamill on Vimeo.



    I awoke at 6, had my customary breakfast of oatmeal, poptarts and coffee, packed and was on the road by 8.



    For the day, it was sunny early, clouded up a little and misted on me and then cleared again as I made my way south.

    I started the day by picking up 16 south out of Harrisville, and started to smile.



    I think this must be the state flower of West Virginia ? I?m not sure what it?s called but it grows all along the roadsides everywhere I went.





    Following the same route number all day, makes it easy to navigate and makes a GPS unnecessary.



    I stopped to poke around this house some. I always wonder what the story is of a place like this and why someone would abandon the house. Probably a sad story.



    Makes me want a GS to explore a little bit.



    Route 16 continued to twist and turn and took me through lots of small towns.





    I eventually made it to Gauley Bridge, southeast of Charleston, where I stopped and ate my lunch out of my tankbag ? power bars and almonds.





    From there, it was easier to take highways to just south of Beckley, where I picked up 16 again.







    I eventually reached Virginia.

    Terence
    R75/5 R100RS K100RS R1100S

  9. #9
    Registered User DPeakMD's Avatar
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    Burke's Garden

    Great RR. Keep it coming!

    BTW, wondering if you made it over to Burke's Garden (as mentioned on the Tazewell Co. sign)?
    Dallas
    2011 R1200GS Adventure
    Smoke Grey Metallic Matt

  10. #10
    BeemerBoy terham's Avatar
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    I never did make it to Burke's Garden - it wasn't on route 16. I actually liked stopping to read the county signs in VA and TN as most of them had some bit of information about the county. They made for some interesting reading.
    Terence
    R75/5 R100RS K100RS R1100S

  11. #11
    BeemerBoy terham's Avatar
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    I really liked riding in SW VA. It seemed a little more open than WV so there are great views. The topography is rolling, but plenty of mountains to ride up and over.

    The Back of the Dragon, VA 16 running from Tazewell to Marion, was a really fun road to ride. It doesn?t get the press of the Tail of the Dragon so it wasn?t very crowded and it?s a longer ride, ~30 miles.







    There was a section in Tazewell county that had gravel shoulders, so the inside of most turns had gravel. I didn?t enjoy that section very much, but it wasn?t too long. The next county to the south has grass shoulders, so there wasn?t any problem. It starts fairly open with great vistas, then climbs into the hills and becomes quite twisty. I rode the first bit back and forth a couple of times. I liked the section approaching Hungry Mother SP and there?s a nice view at the top.

    Here?s a short video of the section near Tazewell.

    Back of the Dragon from Terence Hamill on Vimeo.



    I continued on 16 through Troutdale to Volney and turned west on VA 58, another fun road to ride, to Grayson Highland SP, where 5700? Mt Rogers is located.



    I arrived around 4 and set up camp.



    After relaxing a little, I rode around the SP a bit before dinner.



    Another freeze-dried dinner and a little adult beverage, and it was off to bed. At the elevation in the SP, it made for good sleeping weather.
    Terence
    R75/5 R100RS K100RS R1100S

  12. #12
    Out There Somewhere bmwrider88's Avatar
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    Lovin it! I have been down that way twice in the past month. We rode down thru WV into VA, TN, NC, & back up thru VA. Awesome roads, sweet mountain riding. We had rain & fogg too, but it didn't dampen the fun too much.

    I'm looking forward to more of this RR.
    Be The Change You Want To See In The World

  13. #13
    BeemerBoy terham's Avatar
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    It was cool and misty in the morning as I ate breakfast and packed up and took one last ride around the park.





    I picked up VA 58 towards Damascus.



    I?ve done a bit of hiking on the Appalachian Trail in the mid Atlantic states and wanted to visit the well-known trail town of Damascus. I used VA 58 some ? I always like to see the warning signs for trucks and large campers saying the road is unsuitable for them ? as well as some other back roads on my way.











    After looking around Damascus, I headed south into Tennessee.





    I was headed for Boone and the Blue Ridge Parkway.



    I picked up the BRP and headed south. What a nice ride ? sunny with light traffic.





    I exited the BRP at Asheville late in the afternoon, headed to registration at the Asheville BMW dealer near the Biltmore, got my bracelet and headed over to the rally site. I?d been by but never to the Biltmore ? what a setting. The ride in was a long, shaded, landscaped route. Very nice. Camping was in a large field that was a bit muddy from recent rains that was, ahem, interesting to navigate. Not so nice. I love mud riding on street tires. With feet up, gas on and a little fish-tailing, I managed to find a spot to set up my tent and met my neighbors.





    I took in some of the sights, listened briefly to the Thursday night band and turned in. I like drifting off to sleep with the sound of rally goers BSing and the sweet sound of airheads, oilheads and K bikes passing by in the night.



    Terence
    R75/5 R100RS K100RS R1100S

  14. #14
    Old man in the mountains osbornk's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bmwrider88 View Post
    Lovin it! I have been down that way twice in the past month. We rode down thru WV into VA, TN, NC, & back up thru VA. Awesome roads, sweet mountain riding. We had rain & fogg too, but it didn't dampen the fun too much.

    I'm looking forward to more of this RR.
    I grew up on Rt 16 near Marion I the 60s and we cursed the crooked roads for years. I moved away and became a motorcycle nut. I retired and moved to within 2 miles of Rt 16 and the beginning of the "Back of the Dragon". A big reason I moved back was so I could ride the roads I used to hate on my motorcycles. (Also, like a salmon, we want to return home to die).
    'You can say what you want about the South, but I almost never hear of anyone wanting to retire to the North.

  15. #15
    BeemerBoy terham's Avatar
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    A misty morning with heavy dew greeted me on Friday morning. A fresh layer of moisture on the slippery route in and out of camp.





    I had ridden the BRP in the Fall and time constraints made it necessary to exit at Balsam Gap and skip the last twenty miles or so. I was determined to ride this section of the BRP.

    I took NC 25 from the rally site to the Parkway and headed south in a bit of a mist.



    It cleared up shortly though.



    At these elevations, the rhododendron was starting to bloom.



    Beemers were everywhere.





    With stops along the way, I reached the end of the BRP after about three hours of riding. In Cherokee I headed west with the intention of riding the Cherohala Skyway. From what I had read, this road would suit my style of riding better than the Dragon. I prefer flowing, uncrowded roads over technical, crowded roads, with the emphasis on uncrowded. I also liked that it was a longer stretch of road compared to the Dragon.

    I picked up 74 west to 28 north to 143 west to Robbinsville. Signs for the Cherohala Skyway took me up 129 and I apparently missed a turn, and next thing I knew, I was at Deals Gap. Quite the scene there.

    I ended up riding 28 to Fontana Village and back again and wished I had more time to ride that road. It started to rain pretty heavily on my ride back to Deals Gap, so at Deals Gap I stopped to put on my rain suit, and headed south on 129.

    I stopped along the road for a break, removed my rain suit and looked at the map again and realized the mistake I had made earlier. I think using a GPS has eroded my map reading skills - use 'em or lose 'em. I must?ve been enjoying the ride too much, to read the signs along the road.



    It was getting late in the day, but I found my way to the Cherohala. It was worth it. The road surface is great, there was little traffic, the elevation is high so there are nice views and there are plenty of turn outs with little cross traffic and no stop signs/traffic lights. There are some tight corners, but for the most part, is a flowing road that was a blast to ride and I made very few stops along the way.

    Cherohala Skyway from Terence Hamill on Vimeo.


    A commercial photographer was out ? now I know why the edges of my tires aren?t worn.



    I initially thought I?d ride the Skyway in each direction, but when I reached the end in Tellico Plains, I really didn't have time to head back the other way as I wanted to get back to the rally by 7 or 8. I decided to let the GPS route me back to Asheville. I?m not sure it routed me the best way, but ended up heading back via Knoxville. I really enjoyed the stretch of I-40 at the Tenn/NC border.

    I got back to the rally about 8 and hung out in the beer tent (at $5/beer, I savored each one) listening to the bluesy band that was pretty good. This day turned out to be my highest mileage day, so I slept well that night.
    Terence
    R75/5 R100RS K100RS R1100S

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