My hub and I had planned a Retirement Test Ride (RTR) for September of this year, but that didn’t work out due to changes we encountered with my mother, so we decided to wait until October, when Mom had gotten settled, and take a bike trip to celebrate our 17th wedding anniversary.
We got an early start in the dark, but I had a new Klim Latitude jacket, so I didn’t think I’d need heat. After the first turn, we hit 48 degrees. Burr. We got to the gas stop where we met our friend J who was riding with us to Virginia. I put my heated liner on, hooked it up, we continued on our way, and…no heat. We rode through Cleveland and Clarkesville, then up Historic Highway 441 and stopped at an abandoned gas station. We removed the passenger seat bag, then the seat, checked the wiring; YES, it worked! Put the seat back on, two miles down the road, again no heat. We made it to Clayton, for a scheduled breakfast stop at the Rusty Bike Cafe. The cafe is very biker friendly and serves a great breakfast. After eating, we removed everything again and this time checked all the fuses; everything looked ok, and the heat came on.
Not five miles up the road, again no heat. My temper was heating up now, but not my gear! Our route took us up to 3000 or so feet, and although ‘heated up’ with frustration, I was very cold. We decided we would try the motorcycle shop in Waynesville, to see if they had heated gear accessories, since it was on our route. If they didn’t, we would call Eurosport BMW in Asheville to see if they did. The shop at Waynesville did not have heated gear or accessories, but we removed everything one more time and this time, Hub noticed that the bar which allows seat height adjustment was out of its bracket, and fixed that. Problem solved – Finally! My hero. ❤
Our plan was to take highways to a certain point, then follow the squiggly roads. We dropped off I-40 at Old Fort, NC and took US 70 to NC 80 north. Whew, squiggly we got! In addition to technical curves, the asphalt provided entertainment with frost heaves and cracks, and we rode through beautiful valleys, and along icy looking streams. The autumn color increased as we rose in elevation and approached the Blue Ridge Parkway (BRP). We took a break just before the BRP, and joined several other motorcyclists in stretching our legs and catching our breath following that roller coaster ride!
Hwy 80 was a bit gentler on the north side of the BRP, but we continued to enjoy rolling curves, hillsides covered with Christmas tree farms, and shades of gold, red and purple decorating the landscape. At one point, a doe ran across the road, probably 25 feet in front of my bike. Hub was right behind me, and it was a heart stopping moment for both of us! At the end of 80, we took a quick jaunt on US 19E, then headed up 261 in Tennessee to Roan Mountain. 261 was narrow, just barely wide enough for two cars to pass, but so covered in leaf debris as to appear almost abandoned. We only saw one other vehicle on the road, which added to the eerie feel of being in the middle of nowhere, and we created great flurries of leaves as we passed. Approaching Roan Mountain the massive expanse was aflame in fall colors! Unfortunately, the road was tight, and the shoulders were steep, so those images will have to be retained in our memories rather than on film. We paused for a photo op atop Roan Mountain, at the NC-TN state line and elevation 5512 feet, where it was a brisk and windy 36 degrees! I could see my breath as I posed for my first photo! At this point, we were worried about our friend J who had to be freezing, since he had a heated gear wiring issue that couldn’t be solved at roadside.
We took a well-deserved break in Elizabethton before heading north on TN 91. This amazing two-lane starts out mild and then tightens into corkscrew curves, before descending back down into Shady Valley. Shady Valley is best known as the home of ‘The Snake’, a lesser-known sibling to the infamous Tail of the Dragon. But more about that in a future post. We headed north on US 421, past Holston Lake, and were treated to a gorgeous autumn display of color. We bobbed and weaved with the cracked pavement, then turned east on TN 44, which turned into VA 75 toward our destination of Abingdon, Virginia. As we marveled over the lavish farms and homesteads on the rolling hills, we saw a gray fox trot across a small bridge toward one of these mansions. Soon we arrived at our home for the next three days, The Martha. This town and hotel deserve their own post, coming soon.
PS: Blogging on the road, with a net-book, is not for sissies. I have massive new respect for my blogging friends who manage to bang out a post every evening, while making long mileage days.
You can read the next installment, our thoughts on Abingdon and The Martha, here.