Friday, October 21, 2011

I haven't posted much of nothing up here lately, so I decided to simply grab this off of a Yamaha forum that I am on and repost it here:

I always mean to post more in this area, but lately I just have not been very good at taking pictures as I ride, nor about writing about it when I'm done. I read so many cool ride reports on various forums that most of the time I think it's sort of pointless to write up. This one is not much of an exception except that it was in an area I've wanted to ride for a while and a nice change after not riding for over a month (due to parts coming in).

Last week, my wife and I, and some good friends of ours loaded his and my bikes onto his trailer and headed for the mountains of Western North Carolina. We live in North Middle Tennessee and were only about 3.5-4 hours from home. Took the dogs, rented a couple of cabins and planned to ride, relax, and eat all weekend.

My wife and I got out of town a bit earlier than they did, and arrived in time to cook dinner and chill for the night. Matt (both of us share a name) and Leslie arrived around 3:00am on Friday morning. They were towing the bikes, and Leslie was teaching a Chemistry lab that night that ran late. They got in, texted us, and crashed out. I got up nice and early and lounged about until Matt texted me around 10:30. We definitely had a lazy morning and I arrived at their place (about 10 miles down the road) at around 11:15. By the time we got the bikes unloaded, geared up and ready to hit the road, it was nearly 1! Matt and Leslie were riding together the first day, so the three of us rode into Murphy, NC for a quick lunch at a dinner, and then hit the road. We had no definitive plan today, but Matt and I were planning on hitting the Tail of the Dragon and the Cherohala Skyway on Saturday.

We ended up taking 74 East for a couple of hours, stopping every so often to take in the views and watch the boats play. This area is very well known for it's Whitewater, and actually held a large number of events during the 1996 Olympics that were hosted in Atlanta.

We ended up tooling around for a bit, and found ourselves in Franklin, NC. Matt had mentioned that he wouldn't mind checking out Bridal Veil Falls and realized that we we only about 15 miles from it. So, we took off in that direction.

Bridal Veil Falls is unique, as a small side road has been cut to go underneath the falls, and you can ride/drive under it. The falls only hit the right side of the road, so we rode underneath them and grabbed a picture. The falls are fairly light, but the picture barely shows them. We had actually cleared most of the fall range, and the lighting looks bad from my cell phone picture.

Route 64 had this sign near the exit from Franklin that warning trucks of tight turns for the next 40 miles. Unfortunately, we only got to see about 10 miles of that as it was getting late in the day. We had to beat feet back to the cabin, and still got there slightly after dark. We do plan on going back next year and exploring some more though, lots of potential. We passed Dry Falls on the way back:

We got back and headed back to our place. My wife had smoked an AWESOME chicken in the Big Green Egg smoker that was at our rental house. I will very likely be investing in one of these soon! Had a fun night of overeating, great desert, and some fun board games. Matt and I planned to be up and out by around 10-11 the next morning.

After a good sleep that night, I was up around 7am. I very seriously considered going to go get my bike and exploring this 25-30 mile loop on the North side of Murphy that was all/mostly dirt and gravel, but it was a little chilly and I was really lazy that morning. Finally at around 10:30, I left the cabin and got ready to ride for the day. Met up with Matt again, and it was nearly 12 before we got on the road!

We rode toward the Tail of the Dragon today, and realized it was cooler than it looked. In the sun it was okay, but as soon as you got in the shadow of trees or a mountain, it was a little bit cool. I was actually wearing a tshirt and my mesh summer jacket, and had stupidly left my liner at the cabin. Yesterday, I didn't need the liner, and only put it in as the sun went down. I thought we would be back earlier tonight, and it seemed slightly warmer. Wrong choice!

We turned onto US129 North from Topton and found a road side BBQ truck. I again had smoked chicken and Matt had a pulled pork sandwich. I love pulled pork but I'm trying to limit my red meat intake and knew that we were going to have a smoked brisket that night for dinner. The chicken was excellent, and Matt said his pork was very tasty. The beans were really good too, in my opinion.

After a quick lunch and briefly talking with a guy on an older Moto Guzzi about the Dragon, we headed North to hit it up. Matt had ridden it last year, and I have driven it six years ago, but this was my attempt on a bike. I was not to be disappointed:

Pictures thanks to

We rode the Dragon North and stopped at the Harley "dealership" on the North side. Not sure what makes them a dealership, all they sell is HD Accessories that have the dragon printed on them. We were planning on riding around the lakes to Tellico Plains and then riding the Cherohala East back to Robbinsville, but it was getting later in the day. After briefly studying a map, we decided to turn around and and ride the dragon in the other direction, and then ride the Cherohala East to West. This would put us closer to the cabins, and probably save us 50-60 miles. Good call!

After a last glimpse of the rivers, we took off:

I have no more pictures from the Cherohala, unfortunately. It was very pretty, and I can't wait to ride it again, but I will do so in a warmer month. The Cherohala tops out at about 5400 feet, and while I know that's not very high for many people, my hometown is only at about 700 feet. It was markedly colder on this road that anywhere else we'd ridden all day. Fortunately, I had picked up a long sleeve tshirts from Deals Gap featuring the map of the Dragon, but it was still cold. We created the highest peak and began our descent into Tennessee, were it started to warm up.... for a while. The sun was headed over the horizon, and it was cooling off even more now.

We reached Tellico Plains about 6:45. I was sort of bummed as I had hoped to get there early enough to check out Tellico Motorcycle Outfitters, but realized that all of the missed opportunities were a good excuse to begin planning a return trip. US68 South was a great ride, but it was a bit dark to really seem a ton of stuff, plus 64 East of Franklin and the Cherohala are all going to be return trips, to be sure.

The only thing I really wish I had done was ride at least a little bit of dirt or gravel, but I did have a great ride, and a relaxing time when not on the bike. I got to ride with a good friend, some days I just wish I could talk him into getting a dual sport for his next bike. His wife rides with him a lot, so I think a BMW F800GS or even a Vstrom would be a good longer distance bike, but he is leaning more toward a sport touring. He recently told me that he was avoiding riding anything off pavement as he was afraid that he'd like it and want another bike!

Hope you enjoy this, and thought it would be cool to show of a semi-local area during prime fall riding season.