Smokey Mountains Ride II - June 2013
(GoldWing - Road Trip)

Road Trip Background - First Road Trip after having Prostate Surgery on May 28’ 2013. Still waiting to get some blood work done to know for sure if they got all the Cancer out of me but I’m not waiting for that to seize the day and take a road trip. Recover issues will follow me but least I won’t be staring at 4 walls any longer. Wife said get out of here, she knew I needed a ride … I said thank you very much. Off to attend the SMRI - Smokey Mountain Ride In … and continue my recovery as I do it.

http://smokymountainridein.com/

SPOT Navigation Device Link if you want to track where I’m at or see what roads I took -
https://spotwalla.com/tripViewer.php?id=50145008b22e7bde9


Thursday, June 20’ 2013

Plan was to hook up with my friend, Jim (Big Cat), at Uncle Pete’s Truck stop in Lebanon, Tn at 8:30 a.m. in the morning. Jim was coming from Franklin, TN and I was leaving from Dover, TN. Jim already had plans to attend SMRI and I was a later addition having only deciding recently if I was recovered enough from surgery to do a road trip. Once on the bike this morning heading out there was no doubt I was ready. This was just what the Doctor ordered.

Jim and I meeting up in Lebanon, TN
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Jim knew the best back roads to get us over to Tellico Plains so I fell in behind him and enjoying the new roads he was showing me. We got lunch in Pikesville, Tn and then stopped in at the Outfitters shop in Tellico Plains. Jim had to part with some hard earned money for a new jacket :-)
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Scrolled across the street for some ice cream before tackling the Cherohala Parkway. Beautiful at elevation but stormy weather on the horizon.
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By the time we got over to Robbinsville we were getting drenched with a downpour and we had to seek shelter under something.
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We waited awhile for it to slow and eventually decided to move forward with our rain gear on. Bryson City wasn’t far and as the rain tapered off we made it into town and found our respective motels. We were across from each other but the events were already getting started at Gracey Manor. How about Belly Dancing …
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Quite a few Wings and some old and new friends

Had a nice dinner hot dogs and burgers drink … Every thing was for donations to help local merchants and help foster children.

Got a great room with a little patio over looking the river. Next couple of days Jim will be leading a small group of riders out and back as we HQ here in Bryson City for 3 nights to enjoy and explore the roads in the area for a couple of days.

Pop up storms likely each day but riding is the focus and our pleasure. Tomorrow should be a blast.

Friday, June 21’ 2013

This morning everyone was up early and grabbing breakfast and planning out today’s rides and who was going with who.
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This is the absolutely best way to spend the first official day of Summer 2013 …. filling your belly up then filling the bike up and then high tailing it out of town ready to enjoy some of the finest roads anywhere. Jim (Big Cat) was our ride leader and he already had a nice route selected for us and all we needed to do was follow. I was expecting more riders to join our ride but we ended up with only 3. Jim’s rides are billed as a little bit spirited although nothing crazy but we were moving along at a pretty good clip. Jim is a good rider and it was all I could do to stay up with him as we zoomed through the hills and valleys. Today’s ride has convinced me that the car tire CT (Michelin Alpine) that I recently put on my bike is the way to go. I’m really starting to get used to how it handles now and I can easily take the twisties at the speeds I’ve become accustom to with no problems. If it gets any where near the mileage as others have claimed I’m sold and will probably continue to run this type of tire on my Wing. I’ve become a believer in the dark side
:-)

Lots of scenery today but since we’re all addicted to riding we didn’t stop much for taking pictures. I was able to finally grab some after lunch when the last leg of our route today took us along one of the most scenic parts of the Blue Ridge Parkway.
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Magically beautiful
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Temps were a perfect 70 degrees as we rolled happily along the very top of the ridges along the parkway. Ted Nugent’s Stranglehold is blasting out of the speakers as I savor every turn. The rain stayed at bay and we never did get any significant amount of it where we rode this day
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Here’s a shot of the guys (left to right Rich and Jim) That stud of a bike on the right is mine :-)
This was at a stop along the Blue Ridge Parkway

We got back to Bryson City around 4:30 p.m. and I rested up and cleaned up in time to head down to a local camp site for the Friday Night Fish Fry. Unfortunately not before finding out a biker went down while riding the Dragon today. Mike’s ok and he’s hurting some but his bike (V-Max) will need repair. Important thing is Mike’s ok and is resting.

I had some tasty trout and all the fix’ins at the Fish Fry and met up and said hi to Gary (FL Cracker) and joined Ron (Ron Fuller) and his wife and some other friends at their table for dinner. Good times
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Lining up to eat with Live Auction to follow.

As I rode back to the motel I gassed up the Wing in anticipation for tomorrows run. We covered about 250+ miles today through some mighty curvy roads. It was also nice to have my riding habit of passing on a double yellow line validated by Jim :-) Now if I can get Jim to convince my wife it’s ok for me to pass on a double yellow line when she is on the back of the Wing I’d be eternally grateful :-)

After everyone tucks their toys in for the night many sit out side in chairs and chat and talk and I was outside talking to Mike and Fred when I noticed a Suzuki V-Strom, Black like the one I have park up a ways. Found out it belonged to Randle. We met and chatted for quite a while about Wings and our V-stroms his a 1,000 and mine a 650. So interesting to meet new people. Amazing what people have in common

Hoping tomorrow is the same as today … lean left, lean right … repeat

Saturday, June 22’ 2013

Today’s ride was ever bit as good as the one that preceded it yesterday. We covered close to 300 miles today dipping down into South Carolina briefly and the roads and temps were near perfect. No rain around today either which took that concern out of the equation. I can’t quite put my finger on the mystery of why I enjoy riding motorcycles so much but it’s days like today you wish you could just put in a bottle and save … it was that good.

Jim and I were the Dynamic Duo today as we were the only two on our ride although everybody got a chance to ride and get out in different groups and activities. We rode another route Jim had and hit some very good roads. More traffic today because of the weekend but the “passing on a double yellow line is ok” rule is still in affect I’m happy to say. We made quick work of a bunch of slow movers, cages and motorcycles and kept the ride fresh for us while evading any unwanted attention. After we grabbed lunch at Aunt Sue’s in Pickens, S.C. we then headed toward Blue Ridge Parkway.

Picture this ...
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Could be any Blue Ridge Parkway overlook
You pull in with your bike and park.
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Take a look around and you can take in views like this below
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My favorite shot on this trip so far. What a view! I think I took this shot when we just pulled into an overlook real quick and I didn’t even get off the bike. If God every made a perfect day this was it.

We ended the evening back in Sylva, North Carolina at the Ryan’s Steak house for the last dinner. Most will be leaving in the morning.
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Great bunch or people and riders.

I said good by and thanked Jim for the Grand Road Tour the last few days. He was heading back home in the morning. I have my sights set on going North up towards Kingsport, TN to visit a new friend I made in the Vanderbilt Recovery ward after Prostate Cancer surgery. His name is Ray and he rides a Harley … LOL sound like he needs therapy. Great guy I met him and also Bruce. Another great guy out of Clarksville, TN (Ha … he also rides a Harley) I’ve got my work cut out for me :-) Having all just gone through the same procedure we bonded as instant friends and have been in touch via email since supporting each other. We plan a ride together somewhere when everyone is fully recovered and schedules match up.

However since I’m already over this way for the SMRI I’m going to stop in and see Ray in Kingsport, TN for a day or so before heading home. I’m sure he’s got some good roads to ride under his sleeve up that way :-)

Tomorrow’s ride awaits.

Sunday, June 23’ 2013

After breakfast and good-bye’s to Ron & Mary I rolled quietly out of Bryson City this morning around 8:00 a.m. Sacrificed the morning “good road” riding by taking the most direct route up to Kingsport, TN I26 figuring that the afternoon there would be plenty of good riding roads to enjoy with my friend Ray and his friend Charlie. I got to Ray’s house about 12:45 and snapped this shot of Ray and Charlie before our afternoon ride.
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Charlie is like 2 of me put together :-) Great guys. My new riding partners. Wings and Harley’s together … who knew?

Ray took us on the Snake this afternoon US 421
http://www.421thesnake.com/ but not before a swing by

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Bristol Motor Speedway - NASCAR anyone? I’d like to take a lap around that track on the Wing
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1st break at the US 421 Country Store
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Backbone Rock Tunnel Tennessee - Shortest Tunnel in the World?

We rolled back into Kingsport and Ray graciously bought me dinner over which we discussed plans for tomorrow. He suggested tomorrow we’d all 3 ride over to Middlesboro, Kentucky across the Cumberland Gap. We’d have lunch up there and then afterwards I could continue on heading west and home since I’d already have a 100 mile head start in the right direction. They would then return back home to Kingsport. Sounded good to me and it gave us some more riding time together in the morning and then gets me home a day early.

Sounds like a plan …

Resting tonight in Kingsport, Tn

Monday, June 24’ 2013

Today was Blue Monday for those sadden by having to return to the grind today. My sympathy … blue Monday’s are only a not so fond memory any more for those of us that have already paid the price of a life of toil. Instead we were more concerned about breakfast and where our ride would take us today. We were up early eating GIANT tomatoes with our breakfast courtesy of Charlie who brought along this gem to compliment our breakfast of less healthy items like bacon.
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After breakfast it was off to ride west to Cumberland Gap and take in the views from the Pinnacle overlooking Cumberland Gap and surrounding area. We made short order of that stopping only once for this shot along the road.
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Once arriving at Cumberland Gap National Park we traversed up to the pinnacle for some petty spectacular views
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This is the little town of Cumberland Gap.

For those that don’t know the Cumberland Gap is a V-shaped passage through the Appalachian Mountains at the intersection of Kentucky, Virginia and Tennessee. It was created by continental shifts, flowing water and a meteorite impact. I was aware of most of that before my visit but it wasn’t until Ray mentioned the Meteorite impact that I became aware of that piece of the equation as to how it was formed. Very cool. It has been used over the years as a migration point for animals and our ancestors to get through the Appalachian Mountains.
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Before leaving I had to have Ray take the obligatory picture of me and my ride in front of the sign. Nothing quite says you’re been there until you have a shot like this in your album.

It was then time for good-bye’s. Ray and Charlie were going to head back east to Kingsport and I was continuing west through Kentucky in hopes of reaching home by early evening. I thanked Ray and Charlie for the time they spent with me the last day or so showing me around the area and we discussed plans to meet up next month for a short ride when Ray has to come to Nashville for his surgery followup.

I had glanced at the map quickly last night and had 3 roads in mind for skirting along the bottom of Kentucky on the way home. I’d traversed some of this route before so I was familiar with most of it. Highways 92 - 90 - 100. My only concern for the ride home was that storms were building up again to the West and in all likelihood I would encounter stiff rain or Thunderstorms on the way at some point. I made my way effortlessly west practically dancing around all the thunderstorms until at last my luck ran out and in front of me was just one big wall or dark skies heading towards me. I pulled in to a McDonalds and grabbed an ice cream cone and used their internet connection to get a peek at the storms and how it was looking over all. Not good. I thought briefly for a minute or two if I should try and dart south in hopes of avoiding the bulk of it but past experience has taught me that you can’t always out maneuver Mother Nature. Especially these types of storms that just pop up anywhere anytime and move in erratic directions. Instead, I donned my rain suit, prepared the bike (put away all non water proof electronics), close all vents and stored my gel seat pad in the trunk. I mentality prepared my mind and riding style for heavy rain and off I went determine to punch a hole and come out the other side. As it turned out it was a good decision and the rain although heavy at times was short lived and after an hour or so I was back into less threatening skies. The rest of the way would be rain free.

As I rode and creeped ever closer and closer to home my mind always reflects back on the road trip as a whole that I’m about to complete. Pretty amazing stuff when you think about all the places I went and roads I enjoyed not to mentioned the wonderful old friends I saw again the new ones I made. I always pretend there are people lining the streets and waving welcome home flags just like when the astronauts used to return from space. Atlas it was not to be so I simply patted myself on the back for a ride well done. Unfamiliar roads and terrain quickly turned into familiar roads and terrain and before I knew it I was pulling into my driveway around 6:00 p.m.

Like and Artist that had just put the finishing touches on his Masterpieces of a painting I too had just put the finishing strokes on my Masterpiece of a ride.

I covered 1,678 miles in 5 days of riding on a most amazing motorcycle. To boot it was done only about 3 1/2 weeks after prostate surgery so I’m confident now longer roads trips are doable as I continue my recovery. The odometer now reads 271,215 miles.

Thanks for tagging along on this one … next road trip - 1 full month - heading west - hopefully in late July or August


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