Friday, April 3, 2015

Smoky Mountain Planning

I can't believe that I haven't been riding in the Smoky Mountains (Western North Carolina) in two years. One thing or another has been going on and I just haven't found the time. Now retired, and with a new touring model, I have no excuses.

The motorcycling in West North Carolina is unparalleled, certainly compared to the straight and flat of the roads in Florida. But its also the scenery that makes the Smoky Mountains attractive to motorcyclists. The Blue Ridge Parkway, Cherohala Parkway and many other routes seemed to have been carved in the mountains just for motorcyclists.

This place is also home of the famous Tail of the Dragon at Deals Gap with its 318 curves in 11 miles of road stretching into Tennessee on US129. My last ride on the Tail was on a 2012 Yamaha Super Tenere. There are photo outfits all along the Tail of the Dragon that snap photos of bikes and sport cars traveling the route. They sit in the gnarliest places, obviously waiting for a crash ... which, as I understand it, happens quite often. So here's a photo of yours truly coming down a steep slope into a vicious off-camber left sweeper and then back up and out. No crashes for me.

So I've scheduled a four day trip for mid May. Home base while in North Carolina will be at the Oak Park Inn located in Waynesville. I've stayed there once before; nice folks, decent facilities, fair $80 a night pricing. That may be a little early in the year for a thin blooded Florida guy, but there's a group of riders that I know who are scheduling a trip at that time and I'm hoping to join them on a couple of their rides. I'll take an extra layer and suck it up.

In addition to the riding, I plan on visiting the Wheels Through Time Motorcycle Museum in Maggie Valley, North Carolina. It's a huge facility with hundreds of rare vintage and classic motorcycles. Here's a link to a SLIDESHOW of photos from my last vist.

I'm also thinking about extending this trip over to Nashville (about half a days ride) and catching the Natchez Trace Parkway down to Mississippi. The Natchez is a 444 mile scenic parkway, run by the National Parks Service. I had planned on riding the Natchez on a past trip and didn't quite make it. So I'm very past due on knocking this ride off my list of rides that I want to accomplish.

Only a month and a half away!

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