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Old 03-14-2007, 06:41 PM
 
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Me and a couple friends are taking a cycle trip from Iowa to Tennessee, then taking the Blue Ridge Parkway through North Carolina to Roanoke. Then coming back to Tennessee and home to Iowa. Wondering what the best scenic / curvy roads would be to take back to Tennessee from Roanoke. Also, we plan on camping during the trip and need suggestions on camping spots in the area of a good watering hole (biker friendly). Interested in finding some good BBQ and fish places also if anyone has some ideas. If someone knows of a cycle rally or festivals going on during July or August that would be nice to incorporate into the trip. Plan on taking 10 - 12 days for the trip but haven't set a firm date yet. Thanks for your help!
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Old 03-14-2007, 07:18 PM
 
Location: From WNC, now in Raleigh
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318 curves in 11 miles

http://www.tailofthedragon.com/
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Old 03-15-2007, 04:44 AM
 
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Thanks Cowboy. Heard a lot about the dragon. Definitely will hit it. You guys have any backwood roadhouses along our journey?
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Old 03-15-2007, 04:49 AM
 
Location: North Carolina
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bouskaelec View Post
Me and a couple friends are taking a cycle trip from Iowa to Tennessee, then taking the Blue Ridge Parkway through North Carolina to Roanoke. Then coming back to Tennessee and home to Iowa.
You can get a pdf BRP map here
http://www.nps.gov/blri/planyourvisit/upload/blrimap-2.pdf (broken link)

At any of the parkway visitor centers you can get a free paper map plus pins and patches if you are of a mind to collect those.

Personally, if you don’t plan to do the entire parkway, I wouldn’t go farther north than Mabry Mill. Between Mabry and Roanoke is alright, but kind of a let down after the drama of the southern section. In fact, if you find yourself running short on time, a good stop-and-turn-back point would be Grandfather Mountain. Also, mind that the parkway speed limit is 45mph, lower in areas like Grandfather Mountain. These last few years it’s been abused, giving the rest of us riders who obey the rules a bad odor and contributing to a crackdown on racers http://news.motorcycle.com/article.motml?sid=2783 (broken link) I know that where the parkway comes in and passes thru Asheville there is a definite police presence. Some residents use the road as a shortcut around town and speed.

Keep in mind that you’ll be sharing the road with a diverse number of tourists: other riders, bicyclists, old people in land yacht RVs, people stopped on the verge for picnics … I’ve seen people do some really stupid stuff. Not all the best views have waysides to stop, so some people will merely pull off on a wide shoulder and scamper across the road with their camera. They always seem to do this just past a blind curve, too. And watch out for the wildlife. I’ve had close calls with turkeys and deer.

This is a good site for alerts, weather, and general biker talk
http://www.motorcycleadventuremap.com (broken link)

Motorcycle campgrounds along the BRP
http://www.blueridgemotorcyclecamp.com/ (broken link)
http://www.willvillebikecamp.com/ (broken link)

You’ll meet other riders on the parkway at the waysides and exhibits; being from out-of-state you’ll find that people will be more than willing to talk about the good roads. If you plan to continue on to Roanoke there is a stop right off the BRP that has become very popular with riders. Just north of mile marker 250, hop off onto route 18. There might be a sign that says Laurel Springs. There’s a restaurant/hotel/gathering spot just a skip off the BRP.

If no one tells you different, a decent route to return to Tennessee would be to head down I-81 and get off on hwy 460 to take you over to Blacksburg. Take that over into W.Va and take the 19/460 route south. You’ll eventually end up in Kingsport, TN. Along the way, check out Burke’s Garden http://www.adventuredamascus.com/adventure/adventurefolder/BurkesGarden.html (broken link)
I haven’t been on the road down into the valley yet (plan to make the ride this year) but message board postings say that the only-way-in-or-out road is curvy

Enjoy the ride, take your time; this is a gorgeous part of the country to ride. Be careful with the speed. And take some good memories back to Iowa.
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Old 03-15-2007, 04:55 AM
 
Location: North Carolina
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cowboy_wilhelm View Post
318 curves in 11 miles

http://www.tailofthedragon.com/
I was going to say 'killboy dot com', but - wow - has he gone commercial! Still, he runs a good blog. I'd check his site for that reason.
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Old 03-15-2007, 05:32 AM
 
Location: North Carolina
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bouskaelec View Post
You guys have any backwood roadhouses along our journey?
Stop at the Deal's Gap store and ask any dude who looks like an authentic Harley rider: hoary appearance, slightly beat up bike. They would probably know Anyone with a two day growth of stubble and a shiny bike would probably just direct you to the nearest Hooters

There's a place north of Mabry Mill, at Tuggle Gap. I think it's called Tuggles. We don't often go north of MM, instead keeping our rides to the southern section. I do remember passing the place and seeing a fleet of cruisers parked there.

Too bad you won't be on the parkway the latter part of June. The 29th annual sidecar rally is to be held at Grandfather Mt Campground June 21-24. Hackers are outside the usual pale of riding. We plan to be there with a Ural+sidecar and Silverwing+sidecar on one of the days.

As a preview of the parkway ride, here's an album I came across. I swear, it looks like the fellow took pics of nearly every mile of the road
http://rides.webshots.com/album/553018010mHEwgh?start=0
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Old 03-15-2007, 06:26 AM
 
Location: Indianapolis Indiana
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The Parkway is a wonderful ride but. It is a good ride to work on one's skills at apex attacking but it is one of the roughest roads you'll find in the area.
Like the Dragon or the Stripped Snake (421 between Mountain City and Shady Valley TN) the best riding is side trips off the Parkway.
If you want to overload on information check out GL1800riders.com and search Blue Ridge Parkway but Silver Wing is right on!
If I were you I would start my ride at Indiana exit 58 of I-74, IN39 south to 142, east to Mooresville and IN 267, one mile south to 67. Eat at Gray Brothers Cafeteria (best pie you will find anywhere!!!) 67 one mile north to 144, east to 135, 135 to KY(check with IN to make sure it's open and not being widened down south). 135 from Morgantown IN to Brownstown is a great ride. If you need to you can go over and catch I-65.
Getting into KY on either 135 or I-65 make you way over to 127 and take it south to I-40. Avoid Knoxville and Chattanooga and make your way to the Smokies. Take the Parkway north and consider a return route on US 58 to TN91 south to Mountain City, ride the Stripped Snake then head back north west on US 421. In KY take a side trip into Smithfield and eat at Our Best Restaurant...........more pie!!!!
If you like big sweeping curves leave the Parkway in Boone NC and take US321 toward Mountain City.
One side trip for sure is NC hwy 181! Ride it both directions or take it down to NC 126, NC70 west and 80 back up to the Parkway.
Another is over to Margurettaville (watering hole) in Lake Lure.
I strongly recommend that you drink no alcohol before parking bikes for the night. I have ridden in Iowa. You aren't used to these type of roads.

Last edited by hapaleeretired; 03-15-2007 at 06:38 AM..
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Old 03-16-2007, 06:24 AM
 
Location: North Carolina
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hapaleeretired View Post
Take the Parkway north and consider a return route on US 58 to TN91 south to Mountain City, ride the Stripped Snake then head back north west on US 421.
Beat me to it, Hap After I typed my screed, I thought "waitaminit!" 58/91/421 are even better than something like The Dragon, IMO, simply because they haven't been "discovered" by hordes (yet ) To make time and save time to do those roads, I would suggest I-81 from Roanoke down to Wytheville, then find hwy 21 and ride down to Independence and get on 58 heading west. The section from Independence to Volney is OK; a nice enough road; but watch for the 58/16 split. There'll be a junction with a country store/restaurant/gas station. Hang a left onto 58 (you're braced for the road by a sign warning truckers to take 16 rather than 58 to avoid the intense curves).

There's some really nice riding once you pass Grayson Highlands State Park. If you want to stop there it's something like 4 miles up to the ranger station where you pay $2 - I think - to get in. There's a decent campground - basic amenities, a spot where people offload their horses to ride on the trails, a place where you can access the Appalachian Trail, and a mile of switchbacks down to the picnic area. Each time we've gone there I take bread to feed the deer. They're so abundant and used to humans (no hunting in the area) that you can sit and eat at a table and toss the scraps to the deer sleeping under the rhododendrons just a few yards away.

Back on 58 - from GHSP to Damascus, where you'd turn south on 91, is niiiice Some of the sections are so twisty the speed limit is 15mph. Watch for gravel in the corners. Very scenic as well. There are stocked trout streams along the length, and stops for people to picnic or fish, so watch for that traffic. And don't be surprised if you look over into the woods and see people on bicycles. You'll be seeing sections of the VA Creeper Trail, a rails-to-trails bike path.

91 from Damascus to Mountain City is twisty along the initial length, bordered by another trout stream, then it turns straighter as you pass through mountain farmland. It's a very pretty ride and a dose of NE Tennessee that hasn't yet been discovered by developers. 421 out of Mountain City is initially deceiving. You'll see another one of those "truckers beware" signs, but the road is tame for the first few miles out of town, then it gets wicked We took that section for the first time last fall in our car. As stable as that vehicle was, I was still whimpering "MOMMA!" going thru those curves. Once the road (temporarily) smoothed out and we stopped in Shady Valley at the Shady Valley Country Store http://www.shadyvalleycountrystore.com/, Spouse and I looked at each other and said "we gotta take the bikes on this road next year!" We didn't get much farther than that, taking 133 back into Damascus. If you've had enough of the twisties (I've read 421 picks up and gets wild again past Shady Valley) 133 is a great road for scenery and a stop at Backbone Rock http://www.mce.k12tn.net/johnson/features/backbone_rock.htm before getting back on 58 over to Abingdon and I-81.

Quote:
I have ridden in Iowa. You aren't used to these type of roads.
As a former Midwesterner, I give that a big ditto.

I had some reservation about The Dragon after looking a the "Tail .." site and killboy's page from the perspective that the road is being Disneyfied. I sneer at those pages now, thinking how glad I am that I did that road 5 years ago, before the area started to become frou-frou with B&Bs and resorts being built and tailored to the biker crowd. However, for out-of-staters like Bouskaelec, that's a good road to ride, then go home and say "I did The Dragon!" because a support system has been developed for the newbies not used to those kinds of curves. Flame out on a road like NC80 and some old dude will stop and say "you sure did crash, din't ya boy? D*mn!" and go off to find a phone to call police. Get bit on The Dragon (as the jargon goes) and other riders will stop, nudge each other ruefully and get the emergency services that seem to be on constant standby for that sort of thing to come in and airlift you to Maryville or Knoxville. Still, after doing The Dragon, I hope bouskaelec gets a chance to do the other roads mentioned as a way of experiencing the less touristy stretches of good riding routes here in NC and the next states over.
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Old 03-16-2007, 07:21 AM
 
18 posts, read 67,059 times
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silverwing & hapaleeretired, thanks so much for your descriptive input for my trip. As anyone who has taken a cycle trip knows, the road you're on and the food stops are the best memories. I've been on some bad roads that can ruin a trip. And I will certainly heed your advice on taking the curves seriously. Iowa roads were built using a laser beam. I've been on Scenic 7 going down to visit 'kin' in Russellville, Arkansas, but I'm sure these roads are about as extreme as you can get. I have an '02 Goldwing and I can't wait to see how it handles in these curves. My old 1200 wing I'm sure will pale in comparison. I've mapped the route and I'm now finding campgrounds. I'm the 'planner type' guy that drives some people crazy. But if there is a good catfish place on a river, I want to have plans on being there. Thanks again for all your help.
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Old 03-16-2007, 07:40 AM
 
Location: Indianapolis Indiana
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Did you give any thought to the route I gave you thru Indiana?
If you go that route make a slight change and go into Pittsboro for some Catfish at Frank and Mary's Tavern on Main street. Then go down to Gray's and have a piece of pie for desert.
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