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Old 07-22-2014, 08:22 AM   #16
c1skout OP
Gnarly Adventurer
Joined: Sep 2009
Location: Western PA
Oddometer: 223
We wake up early and have our continental style breakfast. Tomorrow we need to be back to work, so our ambitious plan is to make it home tonight.

We were on the road before 8am, after we extracted the bikes from the crowded parking lot.

This type of parking turns the pre-flight checks into a morning workout! Our hotel provided us with a printed turn-by-turn direction sheet to the Blue Ridge parkway, so we fueled up and were northward bound.
D and I were hoping we could average at least 40mph on the parkway, if we couldn't we were going to have to take a different route. We had a lot of miles to cover today.

I'd been on the northern end of Skyline drive before and expected the BRP would be similar. It is, but I think that I prefer the BRP, if for no other reason than the higher speed limit. It seemed like the road was tailor made for my Enfield. If I had cruise control I could have just set it at 45 and leaned back and forth! It wasn't very long though until the fog started rolling in.

The fog was pretty when you could see it coming up through the hills, but not so much when it was thick enough to make spotting the bicyclists a chore. Oh well, that's rainy mornings for you. Although we were loving the road it was apparent we weren't making good enough time at barely 32mph average. Oh yeah, I wasn't expecting to see these either!

That's a tunnel entrance obscured by the fog.

We stopped at a visitor center to use the potty and check out the maps some more. We decided we'd jump off at NC80 and start towards Tennessee. We got some nice pictures from the lot at the visitor center, we were above some of the clouds from there, but it wasn't long and they rose up to meet us.

As we pulled off the BRP onto NC80 jack motioned for me to head across the road to a parking area. We stopped and he said he was hearing a funny noise from his brakes. We left his bike off and pushed it around the lot a bit listening to it, and all seemed well, nothing dragging or getting hot, so we didn't concern ourselves with it anymore. While we were there a biker gang started pulling in. We talked with them a bit, they were mostly from Ohio, but some were from Illinois and other Midwestern states. Nice group of guys. They asked D to take a group picture for them, so I got this shot of D taking their picture.

As we started down NC80 I noticed we were losing elevation pretty quickly, then the road started doubling back on itself and I saw a photo tent like what was on the Dragon. Blindkenny photos. I thought "we ain't gonna make any time like this". Turns out NC80 is called the Devil's Whip. Nice piece of road with a lot of bends and all downhill the way we were going. We caught up to a guy pulling a camper and followed him all the way to our turnoff.
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Old 07-23-2014, 10:39 AM   #17
c1skout OP
Gnarly Adventurer
Joined: Sep 2009
Location: Western PA
Oddometer: 223
Our BRP planning session had me looking to run US221 up to Blowing Rock, then us321 to get into Tennessee, but a wrong turn near Linville put us onto NC194 and some spectacular scenery with nice bendy roads. Great for looking at but not the best when trying to get home quickly. I was starting to get a bit stressed out thinking we're never getting out of North Carolina. When I finally saw the welcome to Tennessee sign I about threw a fit. For some reason I was thinking we were going to hit Virginia next, but after I thought about it for a mile or so I settled down. Looking at the maps later we didn't really have to travel any farther to get up near Bristol, but I do believe it ate into our time a good bit. We were blessed with another thunderstorm just south of Bristol, but we didn't have to stop to suit up because we still had them on from the last batch of rain we went through.

Road work detours had us pointing towards I81, so we reluctantly jumped on and hammered up to the Virginia welcome center. D was "raking the leaves" so I was most concerned for his safety on the high-speed interstate, since I was traveling up front at only 58mph or so. At the welcome center we looked at the maps again and made the decision to stay on I81 north only to Abingdon, then get back onto the better roads. We were pretty hungry by this time so we stopped for a quick early dinner.

2 Mcdoubles and 2 apple pies with fries and a coffee please. We had shucked out of our rain gear before heading in, and the skies looked less black to the north so we left them off when we pulled back out. Now we were back on the route we had taken coming down. We only hit the occasional sprinkle the rest of the way through Virginia, and soon the wilds of West Virginia were in sight. There was probably smoke coming out of my helmet as I was calculating how we were going to make it home tonight, but it must have only been whispy as Jack never mentioned it. At a fuel stop in southern West Virginia D mentioned that he won't be able to make it the whole way north on 1 tank of fuel, and none of the stations we had passed coming south looked like they would be open on a Sunday night! We decided to get fuel up the road again before it got too late. I had also decided that the earliest we'd get home was way too late for me to get a good night's sleep, so I borrowed D's phone to call home and have my wife call me off work.

We traveled a few hours then stopped in Lewisburg "the coolest little small town in America" (their claim, not mine)
and had another pow-wow. D didn't have to be at work until noon Monday, so he suggested "what if we try to make Petersburg tonight, we can get a room, get up at 6 to leave by 7 and I'll have plenty of time to make it to work." Sounds like a plan.

It was 9:30 when we stopped in White Sulpher Springs for our "last gas", then we headed north into the night.

c1skout screwed with this post 07-23-2014 at 10:47 AM
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Old 07-25-2014, 08:02 PM   #18
c1skout OP
Gnarly Adventurer
Joined: Sep 2009
Location: Western PA
Oddometer: 223
West Virginia taught me something. Where there are no lights at night there are no bugs! Our route ran mostly through the Monongehala National forest so there are not many houses or businesses, so no need for street lights. We had a couple of vehicles behind us when we left White Sulpher Springs, but they pulled off before long and we were all by ourselves. I didn't keep track exactly, but I know we traveled for over 2... possibly 3 hours without seeing another vehicle heading in either direction. That was pretty neat in and of itself. I counted 14 deer who were close enough for me to slow to avoid crossing paths, 6 raccoons, 1 grey fox, 1 house cat, a bunch of possums, and an owl that I believe may have been swooping in for my helmet before he altered his flight path. Nobody heard me scream so I can deny that.

We traveled this whole time at no more than 45mph, usually closer to 35. If I tried to up the pace at all I'd just run away from the other guys, so I wound up spending a good part of the night watching my mirrors. That's how I hit the alligator!

The tire part kind, not the green kind with lotsa teeth. I came out of a corner and was watching my mirrors for the light from the other bikes, when I saw their lights I looked ahead and there was the tire tread, coiled up like a snake exactly in front of me. I didn't even have time to think OH S&*%! and I was over top of it. I think it caught for a split second between my rear tire and the trailing edge of my rear fender, because I heard a funny noise that went away immediately. I slowed way down and gingerly checked my rear brake, then throttled on & off a bit to see if everything felt okay, cornered back & forth a bit, and it all was good, so I carried on. We stopped up the road a bit and I did a thorough inspection with my flashlight. I asked if they saw the tire and they said it was laid out in a straight line when they went past it, so I at least moved it around for them.

We stopped somewhere about halfway up the state and stretched our legs for a few minutes, and continued on our way to Petersburg. We finally arrived there without incident at about 1:45am, Jack and D both almost running on fumes. The clerk at the Hermitage put us in the same room that we were in on the first night of our trip, but I believe we'd have happily sat and slept on our bikes at that point. This was the longest day any of us had ever put in on a motorcycle.

Day 6 totals: Asheville, NC to Petersburg, WV 8am-2am, 525mi
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Old 07-25-2014, 09:41 PM   #19
c1skout OP
Gnarly Adventurer
Joined: Sep 2009
Location: Western PA
Oddometer: 223
Waking up after only 4 hours of sleep wasn't as bad as it might have been. I've felt worse. We hadn't bothered to unpack anything when we got here, so we got moving pretty quickly. We went up the road to a convenience store and fueled up. I ate a nondescript breakfast sandwich and bought a quart of oil for my bike as I had used up all I had with me when I last topped up. D had volunteered to lead home so I eagerly agreed, I don't often get to ride without worry for my turnoffs.

We all passed our West Virginia driving test! A state trooper followed us for nearly 40 miles as we headed north. We were running slightly under the limit and I had expected he would pass at some time, but he may have just been enjoying the staccato thump of the Enfield's pipe in the moist morning air, as he stayed right behind me until he got to wherever it was he was going, then he turned off and we were on our own.

A little south of Cumberland our silver mistress wraps us in another of her now familiar drizzles. The roiling black-bottomed clouds are as familiar to us as old friends, so instead of stopping to flail our way into our suits we embrace the rain as though we've missed it, sailing along unheeding of it's slippery sting. And D's got to get to work! We run out of the rain soon, and before we know it we're back in PA.

Up one more good hill, through a bunch of intersections and a few traffic lights, and we're home about 10:30am! D wanted to get some "victory" shots when we made it back, so we pulled up to Jack's garage and here we are.

D made it to work with time to spare. I went home and went to bed, I believe Jack did the same.

My calculations show 2,107mi total for our trip. (Jack came up with 2,104)
I used, leaked 1 whole quart of oil, and averaged well over 75 mpg. In case anyone missed it, here's another shot of us at the Alabama line.

Thanks for looking at my report. I hope it was interesting enough to read. It often felt like it was taking longer for me to write than it did to ride! This whole experience makes me look at other peoples' reports in a different way, I never realized the work that goes into one.

I wish I had bumped into RTW Doug while I was in his neck of the woods.

Hopefully I'll get to take another trip like this. I only need to figure out where I want to go, then it's a simple matter to make time to ride.

Day 7 totals: Petersburg, WV to South Fork, PA 7am-10:30am, 129mi

Trip totals: 2,107mi, 8 states, 2 Waffle House's, 1 lap on a racetrack

c1skout screwed with this post 07-25-2014 at 09:54 PM
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