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Old Yesterday, 12:30 PM   #1
mrmatson OP
Joined: Nov 2014
Location: Peoria, IL
Oddometer: 4
4th of July Down to Brevard NC

There was a moment 3 or 4 hours after getting on the road that my body and mind stopped fighting and just settled in for the ride. Even the lashing rain couldn’t perturb my focused calm. This being my first real mini adventure on my new-to-me 1200GS I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect. I’d taken overnight camping trips on my wee little Kawasaki EX500 while in college but haven’t been on a long haul motorcycle ride like this in years.

Packed up and ready to go!

Thursday morning before work I’d loaded up my bike with camping gear and my mountain bike and headed to work for a rather long arduous day in the office. At 3:30 sharp I changed into my riding gear and got going. My destination “The Bike Farm” near Brevard NC, one of the premier mountain biking destinations in the US (or at least east of the Rockies). My route was a long interstate slab ride taking me from Peoria IL, through Indianapolis, Louisville, Lexington and then Knoxville before taking the fantastic I-40 route along the Pigeon River toward Ashville NC.

All rain geared up

Twilight and rain hit at about the same time as I was cruising down I-65 toward Louisville. There was a superbly placed rest stop that gave me an opportunity to hop off the bike and zip the rain liners into my suit while indoors before striking off into the stormy night. This was the first time I can recall feeling genuinely vulnerable on my motorcycle, my insignificance in the pecking order of highway users struck me in the angry glare of brake lights through the rain. This insecurity brought with it a state of hyper focus and strangely a brief period of euphoria.

Sketchy camping spot at 12:45AM

X Marks the camping spot

As the night wore on I caught my focus slipping and at about 12:30AM I concluded I’d better stop for a couple hours sleep. At this point I was part way between Lexington KY and Knoxville TN where I-75 cuts through the middle of Daniel Boone National Forest. About 15 minutes later I found a freeway exit with a conveniently located abandoned looking dirt road, set up my tent and slept until 5:30 before getting up and back on the road once more. The morning ride was somewhat uneventful, after a bit more spitting rain, the sky cleared as I rode along the aforementioned fantastic Pigeon River.

Nailed it!

Arriving at the weekend’s campsite, after a fun rip up a steep, twisty gravel road, a little before 10am and utterly exhausted I promptly dropped my bike as I came to a stop, before I could get the side stand down. After shutting it off, laughing a bit and snapping a quick picture for posterities sake I hauled the beast back up before getting down to the business of setting up camp. Those crash bars and cases are fantastic.

This was the first time I’d been to Pisgah but my expectations were high based on how the mountain bike community talks about it. The trails did not disappoint. Even with continual on and off rain all weekend we were able to get some great riding in. Long steep leg burning climbs followed by fast rocky or rooty descents were some of the best trails I’ve been on in ages. Friday July 3rd we rode a few hours at Pisgah hitting up, Black Mountain trail and upper and lower Sycamore which was a great introduction to the area before going for a few beers and late lunch. Later with a moderate buzz a buddy and I rode the private trails at The Bike Farm which turned out to be a torturously steep hike-a-bike ascent followed by a fast downhill blast that left me completely drained and ready for more beers.

The mud didn't stick nearly as much as expected

FIRE! (An empty beer full of lighter fluid tossed in there helped a bit)

Saturday on the 4th of July proper we decided to head to nearby DuPont National Forest to check out a couple other trails, unfortunately after just a couple miles on the truly fantastic there one of our group had a pretty nasty wreck on a rough downhill section and dislocated his right shoulder. It was a re-injury from a previous snowboarding accident and popped back into place on our way to the ER. After some discussion he made the decision to just sling it up and wait until he was able to see his doctor rather than blow a couple grand on an ER visit. Once sitting him down with a beer and some pain killers and making sure he was more or less all right we made a quick return to the trails we’d ridden the previous day just to get a few more miles in before heading home. The conditions were sloppier than they had been but still a great time as we blasted down the fast, slippery path. Returning to camp muddy and satisfied we celebrated properly by building an enormous bonfire, drinking far too many beers and lighting off some (admittedly disappointing) fireworks.

The following morning I woke, somewhat groggy from the evening’s shenanigans and got to packing up for the long ride back to Peoria. I left at 9:14AM for what turned out to be one of the most grueling 12 hours I’ve ever experienced. Once more riding along the Pigeon River I was able to appreciate the beauty of the mountains I’d missed on the way in due to exhaustion. This truly is a beautiful area with some fantastic scenery. The rain began shortly before I reached Knoxville and continued for the next 4 hours. At certain points the roads were so wet and visibility so bad it was a challenge to see 100 yards. Traffic slowed to a crawl several times on I-75 between Knoxville and Lexington extending my trip by more than an hour and leaving me somewhat irate, disgruntled, damp and cold. I finally cleared the rain as I was passing Lexington but the traffic would plague me for another few hours until I reached Indianapolis. The final 3 hours from there to Peoria were a profound exercise in patience and resignation to the inevitable will of the road. I arrived home just before sunset almost exactly 12 hours after leaving dirty and exhausted but overall very satisfied with my adventure.

I learned a few important things along the way. 1) Adventures are rarely fun in the moment but always leave me with a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction that I haven’t wasted my life. 2) Never hold your arms above your haves in the rain because the water will just poor into your gloves and soak them from the inside out leaving your hands cold and wet for the next several hours. 3) I really really really need to fix the speed timing sensor on my bike that shorts out when it gets wet. And finally 4) I do not want to ever go 711miles in a single day on my motorcycle again… you iron butt folks are crazy.
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Old Yesterday, 05:44 PM   #2
Studly Adventurer
Joined: Oct 2008
Location: asheville, nc
Oddometer: 965
It's nice to be reminded that I live in a pretty great place. Thanks!
big girls need love too!
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Old Yesterday, 05:48 PM   #3
Living the life!
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Joined: Jan 2007
Location: Asheville, NC
Oddometer: 2,656
Originally Posted by 35xj View Post
it's nice to be reminded that i live in a pretty great place. Thanks!
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Old Yesterday, 06:57 PM   #4
Gnarly Adventurer
Joined: Mar 2006
Oddometer: 185
you were in my backyard, lots of great dualsport riding also.
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