I had hoped to be on the road by 7. I didn't do too bad though, kick stand was up by 7:30 and I was off. A long day was ahead, at least 120 miles more than yesterday. My brother, the VDOT engineer, tells me that I81 has the highest percentage of truck traffic in Virginia, BY FAR. Well if that doesn't make me a bit more nervous, I don't know what will.
Knowing that I had a lot of miles to chew, I should get on the Interstate and start munching, right? Well, I couldn't pass by the start of the Blue Ridge Parkway without a taste. So a slight diversion.
Day 2 and the first pic. Shameful
I got on the BRP and headed south. Very nice! I decided right then and there, that I have to come back with my wife and ride the whole thing. Its just a shame that in the back of my mind, I knew I had to get moving. I stopped at a few over looks and even took some pictures!
I continued on the BRP until I got to route 60, where I headed west to get on the dreaded I81. Route 60 west off the BRP is a great twisty road down off the mountain. I wonder if this is what I have to look forward to in NC and Tennessee.
I get on to I81 and hit it. Cruise control set.
Its warming up, so at the first rest area, I lose the outer layer on my jacket, riding for much of the day with the mesh base jacket. I settle into a routine. Ride on, my right knee starts to hurt, use the highway pegs, now my butt starts to hurt, back to the regular pegs, now my thigh is cramping. Good thing there is another rest area coming up! Stop, drink, stretch, walk around, talk to people I don't know. This is a cool thing about motorcycle travel I find out. If you are on a bike by yourself, people gotta talk to you! Other bikers for sure, but everyone seems drawn to the moto traveler. One hour seems the limit, so the rest areas end up well spaced for me, all about 70 miles apart it seems.
Normal highway travel modes kick in. Next goal Roanoke, my butt hurts again, another rest area coming up, sweet!, then Tennessee, then I40, where I81 ends! For some reason this seems important. This is where I turn on I40 and head southeast to the Smokey Mountains!
The ride up into the mountains is as enjoyable as I imagine slab can be. The scenery sometimes makes it difficult to pay attention to the important things like all these curves that are connected one after another. The sun is getting real low in the sky and making it impossible to see sometimes, but the road continues to curve back and forth, making the blind times short and mostly behind me since the sun is surely sinking out west. The trip seems to have transitioned back to a motorcycle ride and less of a mile munching task. It gives me a second wind.
I made to North Carolina! Almost there! Well maybe not!
That feeling lasts until I get over the mountains and get off the slab on 276. Its a stop for gas and a big bottle of water at a local gas station, car repair, restaurant and store. Multitasking for sure. I reach 19 and head back west. This stretch of 19 has some very entertaining twisties, but also enough traffic that enjoyment of them is not guaranteed. I pass by the southern end of the Blue Ridge Parkway, the northern end of which I was on this morning. It now seems a long time ago. I get to Cherokee and pass through this Native American mini Las Vegas and it happens. Its dark now, I really have not ridden at night much and I have the feeling wash over me that I just want to be at the campground. I what this travel day done.
Its not though, so I must continue on. Shortly after Cherokee, I get on a 4 lane highway. This is unexpected, but I trust the Garmin. It might not get you there the best way or the way you want to go, but it will get you there. Famous last words! The Honda engineers gave the ST good lights and the slab in the dark isn't too bad. I am eating up miles and closer to being off this bike! The 4 lane ends and I am on 28, which means I am almost there. Garmin tells me to take a right on a very dark, very small road. I head down the road and It seems to me that this can't be a real road, its too narrow. I carry on, because Garmin tells me another right turn is coming up. Down that road and my destination is just ahead.
Arrive at Iron Horse Motorcycle Resort
I stop. Look around.
Crap, if this isn't the middle of nowhere, I am sure you could see it from here! So I am trying to find my maps on this dark road, in the middle of the woods and I hear dogs barking in the woods. I am tired, but I decide this isn't a good place to stop. I get turned around and head back to the last intersection. I am stopped, looking at my maps, with a flashlight in my mouth when a couple motorcycles turn in and head up the road I just came back from. It would have been nice if they had stopped, but I guess guys on motorcycles with flashlights in their mouths are common in these parts!
I decide that I should go where the bikers were heading.
Past where Garmin said the Iron Horse was and up the road a ways, there it is! Cool, made it.
I got my tent setup and in rolls in my buddy from Charlotte. We spend the night at the campfire, with a large bottle of Knobs Creek, waiting for the guy from Philly, who's gonna get in late.
Today 487 miles