I tried to convince Willie to come along with my friends, the GTASportriders.com of Toronto on our four day annual spring warm up down the Blue Ridge Parkway on The Victoria Holiday long weekend. Ordinarily we head down as far south as Roanoke Virginia then head back through West Virginia for the return leg. Willie opted for a longer run down to Deals gap North Carolina, for three days down, one day there and two days back. Who am I to argue?
Somewhere in North Carolina
So the GTAS crew would basically follow this route over four days:
I won't bore you with the details of our ride down the 407 and the Queen Elizabeth's Way to Fort Erie and our wait at the border as the real part of the trip began once we left the I-90 and hit Route 219 and met up with our friends in Springville New York Tim Horton's in New York State. It's the last one you'll see for the rest of the trip, but sadly, they only serve steeped tea now, so if you like a strong cup of good tea, you'd best bring your own.
Now things go a bit wrong and we have our very first Adventure by Garmin™, and we find ourselves backtracking across Pennsylvania towards Renovo PA so we can have our lunch at Yesterday's and still hit Route 144 south through Sproul State Forest.
Now we're in Pennsylvania and the roads are a bit more fun!
And that's why we're here.
Chew Mail Pouch Tobacco
Route 144 Traffic Jam
Sometimes when you have to go, you just have to go.
There's no helmet law in Pennsylvania.
And he goes for the pass on the outside!
And he does it! Willie moves up into second with that daring use of throttle.
This is just too nice not to stop and enjoy.
It's not the hathead so much as it is the old cut stone rail bridge over his shoulder.
Haagerstown MD, our first stop of the trip.
Who trusts their kickstand?
We multiply like mad!
Let's get this dinner started!
Aren't they cute?
Day 2 - Hagerstown MD to Salem VA
Our second day of riding is meant to incorporate the Blue Ridge Parkway, so our mileage is going to slow down quite a bit, but the riding is awesome once we turn off the I-81 south at New Market Virginia. Now Willie and I find ways to amuse ourselves...
Him not so much.
Willie must have hit "Home"on his GPS. We're at New Market VA.
My view for the next seven days.
Virginia Road Kill!
Willie examines the road kill in greater detail while I take time out for a smoke.
Not the one One, but from afar I thought he was Rory. My bad.
I am so glad I have an engine at this point.
The sign said "Closed" Willie.
I thought the night was going to be uneventful, but Karen had a minor flub when she unloaded her bike, as she neglected to disconnect the newly wired in brake light that had been attached to her topbox, and in the process of removing it to take it into the hotel, the wiring got munched and she lost her brake light and running light. DOH! What fun! What a wonderful time we had tracing the wiring as darkness fell and we ran out of beer!
What's going on?
Geoff and Livio were drawn like nails to a magnet and while various people came and went, they waited out the new arrivals and stuck with it, until they reached a verdict...
One more beer and my work here is done!
...nope, can't be done until we get more beer. If I recall correctly she had to ride back between two other riders all the way to Toronto before it was repaired.
Day 3 - Salem VA to Robbinsville NC
In the morning we left early as we had another day of riding before getting down to Deal's Gap, so the idea was to get on the throttle an stay on the Interstate until we put some distance behind us and got bored of fast and straight.
1286 Highway 105
Boone, NC 28607-7804
Troy's 105 Diner, Boone NC
It's a Diner alright.
BBQ Pulled Pork. The best I've had so far, and the sauce is great, although more vinegar than I was expecting.
Now that my tummy is full I want to go that way. Coincidentally, Garmin says we should head that way too.
We're on US129 and headed into Robbinsville NC
The Tree of Shame
We run into Tyler. It's a friggin small world when you're on a bike, and can he ever ride the gap on that R6!
I was going to push him over the ledge, but the damned camera came out and I had to improvise.
Here come the Leo's. :(
Now that wasn't such a bad thing at all. If you'd heard, there was a very large rock slide in the spring of the year that shut-down Deal's Gap which is largely on the Tennessee side of the state-line, but North Carolina gets a huge tourist boost from the riders spending their money in the local towns, so they made a deal with Tennessee to open up the road as far as the lookout, but it had to be closed at sunset. The cruisers were there and patrolling the area, handing out tickets for 5mph over the limit, or non DOT approved novelty helmets and the like.
On our run in we were very careful indeed, but did not pass any police, and now here he was telling us to leave. I figured out that the first guy with his helmet on would get the fastest run back to the resort before the rest of the cruisers suited up and came hell bent for leather after us.
Well, I got onto the road before Tyler and I knew he'd be held up by me, so I gave him the track signal to pass on this side and he was gone from my sight in seconds. There was a street fightered SV650 back there as well, and when he failed to pass with the track signal to pass, I simply waved him past me on the next straight. Then nearly collided with him as I found out that he parked it in the corners! So can you can imagine a KLR 650 chasing a young kid on an SV650 down the tail of the dragon? Nope, me neither, but here I was living it. He'd blast out of the straights and I quickly found that there was no use using third gear if I wanted to stay on his ass, as he wasn't taking enough speed into the corners, so I was forced into a downshift to exit in my power-band, so I stayed in second and played just under the rev limiter. Sweet Sweet ride. It makes me want to ride that road on Paul's Supermoto'd DR650 in my racing leathers.
Willie came in behind me ginning ear to ear saying he'd scraped his pegs on that road. :D
Hey, we're both adults, and we both had our emergency trip medical coverage. ;)
I think the dog was peeing on Tyler.
Not only did I run into Tyler, but Dan and Christine were in town as well, and I got invited back to their rental cottage for dinner with the rest of the gang.
Hi Ron, we're so happy and delighted to see you down here in Robbinsville. :D
The GTAM Gappers.
Day 4 - Tatham Gap, Route 28 and a bit of the Dragon
The famous wheelers. I got a couple pieces of kit.
Tatham Gap NC
The view from the top of Tatham Gap NC
We're down the mountain and back on pavement and happy to have done it.
Garmin is going to takeover now and lead us on another adventure.
This guy rode that Duc all the way from Montreal to the Gap. He admits that his two friends had to carry all his gear though.
We just went for a swim on at the swinging foot bridge along US129, and while Willie is heading back to the hotel, I'm feeling refreshed and want to see where that road to Fontana goes.
The scars of another rock slide show fresh and pink in sharp contrast to the weathered rock of the mountain. The contrast shows more clearly as I get nearer.
A little waterfall along the road.
Tomorrow's adventure brought to you by Garmin and Willie
Day 5 - Robbinsville NC to Scott Depot WV
This is why they're called the Great Smokey Mountains. The cloud and mist make them look as if they are on fire. Coupled with the morning sun, it's glorious!
The armour in his knee fell out of place and is now around his ankle.
I promised him I wouldn't post this on Facebook. Promise kept my friend.
That's the road we used to get here. It was thrilling!
Kenda 270's at about four thousand kilometres and they're just showing significant where now. I used to lean it over further on these tires, but I've calmed down these days.
I'm thinking this might have better highway legs than the KLR.
You breathe this as you ride up to it. I won't tell you how fast I was going to get out of the choking fumes. It's admissible in court.
Back into Virginia albeit briefly
Too much of the Interstate and you need to stretch and loosen up.
Garmin sends us on some one way adventures.
They're a lot more fun when you have a full tank of gas and a buddy along to pick up your bike up off you.
Rural West Virginia. The dog was over by the corner of the building. A basset hound.
Chatting with the local hell raiser and fellow biker. We tell tall tales of get offs and the perfect bike.
Yep Darryl, she's still burning oil. Especially on the Interstates at elevated RPM.
Kentucky doesn't have a helmet law either.
There are streaks of black coal that aren't worth the effort of mining lining these highways.
West Virginia is the place for a good suspension, and a rider unafraid of the lane and a half blind corners
He did say make myself at home.
We meet up with FF's AllenTC2 and kick him out to drink his beer.
He's got all the best toys!
Day 6 - Scott Depot WV to Bradford PA
Start mileage for day six. Will we make it home today?
We've made it into Pennsylvania, but we're tired and agree that we'd both enjoy the ride more if we spend the night up ahead in Bradford PA, then make the run home tomorrow on day seven.
This is the biggest cut of meat I've ever had in my life. I couldn't finish the mashed potatoes, I was stuffed!
Locking up the bikes so they're still there in the morning.
All this riding puts rapid wear on parts, so chain lube is a must if you want to have a chain at the end of the trip. You can do three or four tanks of fuel in a day and need to lube your chain twice, especially if you ride dusty roads.
Day 7 - Bradford PA to Toronto ON
Welcome New York!
Time for a self portrait while Willie shops for that cross border bargain.
Willie's gonna get Sheelagh all liquored up and ask her if he can head to the Catskills later on this year.
We're almost home!
They let us back in. Back to Onterrible we go.
Thanks for coming along this virtual trip with us.
Some people get worried their bike won't make it on a long trip. Look down at your odometer, how far has it already taken you trouble free? Now get out a map and see how far you could have gone in that distance. Get out there and go!
Get a CAA card and bring your Visa. They're both waterproof accepted anywhere. ;)