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Old February 1st, 2013, 01:20 PM   #1
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Name: Steve
Location: Brooklyn, NY
Join Date: Nov 2011

Motorcycle(s): 2010 Ninja 250 SE

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NYC to Smokey Mountains - A Friends Ride Report

From a riding buddy, Carlo–NYCSBR. Great guy! I'm planning my trip to the Dragon and East Coast Ninja Rally, and will extensively borrow from his routes Anyhow, for those that want to join me along the way to the East Coast Ninja Rally, let me know if you want to meet up with me. This is not the exact route I would be taking, but close enough to it. The report is from 2012, Enjoy!

Many of you have been there already, but the roads were so incredibly beautiful that I have to share my rides with you since everyone should go there at least once in her life.

Day 1 - Wednesday, June 27th: NYC to Waynesboro, VA; 390.5 miles

First things first, I transmogrified my CR into a mule and equipped her with a medium AirHawk and a GoCruise Throttle Control, the two best purchases I’ve ever made.

All decked out, I left at 3 pm just in time to get stuck in the Holland Tunnel traffic; I lost two pounds just sweating my way to New Jersey. Thereafter, it was a very speedy ride on I-78 through New Jersey and then on I-81 through Pennsylvania, Maryland, West Virginia and the northern part of Virginia.

I reached Waynesboro, VA well into the night. No preliminary reading on long-distance riding had prepared me to the sheer number of bugs that come out at night in the more rural parts of the United States. At some point I just had to stop at a gas station to clean the visor from what I can only define as dead bug gunk.

Day 2 - Thursday, June 28th: Waynesboro, VA to Fontana Dam, NC via Blue Ridge Parkway & Tail of the Dragon; 423.9 miles

I left Waynesboro at 7:30 am, reached the beginning of the Blue Ridge Parkway and rode it for about 30 miles. After a quick refuel in Vesuvius, VA, I got back on I-81 making my way south through Virginia until I eventually reached Tennessee.

Tellingly, the further south I got, the friendlier and chattier people became. Toward the southernmost part of Virginal and into Tennessee you don’t see that many New York license plates (in fact, I saw none), so the simple fact of seeing the bike with her cargo prompted people to come over and ask about the ride, New York, my destination etc. etc. Everyone was very friendly and complimentary. There must be an ancestral, genetic link between the throaty sound of a motorcycle engine and one’s pleasure receptors. Some people lose it as they age, others don’t. Once in Knoxville, I turned on Route 129 going toward Deals Gap; I worked my way through The Tail of the Dragon at a very conservative 35 mph (having been made totally paranoid by the stories about the strict enforcement of the speed limit). Alas, just as I got into the nice twisties, I met a patrol car with more speed monitoring equipment and antennas than the space shuttle, which further dampened my spirit.

I strutted my form in front of every photographer, although there’s not so much you can do when you take a turn at 20 mph because you’re looking at the speedometer instead of the road (see comment about this in my Day 3 summary) and reached the famous Deals Gap Motorcycle Resort at 4:00 pm.

Day 3 - Friday, June 29th: Moonshiner 28 custom loop, Cherohala Highway and Tail of the Dragon; 316.1 miles

After a quick breakfast, I left at 8:00 am for my Moonshiner 28 custom loop.

This is, by far, the best motorcycle ride I’ve ever had. The Tail of the Dragon my a**; there, the speed limit is 35 mph and it is strictly enforced. Try instead the twisties on Route 28, where the speed limit is 55 mph (it’s like you’re being taunted to prove your skills). Someone more skilled than I am could achieve that speed; I contented myself with working on my chicken strips.

The Franklin to Highland stretch has the best views. It runs along the river and passes by the beautiful Bridal Veil Falls.

The Highland to South Carolina stretch is just unbelievable; downhill on the way over; uphill on the way back. Nice constant radius turns, some wide, some tight, very grippy tarmac. I was just going and going with the flow and I stopped when I noticed that having left North Carolina and crossed into Georgia I somehow crossed into South Carolina. 3 states in less than 20 miles. I could have kept going, but I actually turned around and did the same road uphill. An incredible adrenaline rush.

Link to original page on YouTube.

Then I hit the twisties between Route 441 and Route 129. They are fantastic. However, the road is very desolate; I didn’t see a soul the whole time. It makes you very aware of the need for being self reliant and for being very careful. A wrong turn and you are in the woods and no one – and I mean no one – would likely find you. I arrived on 129 really low on gas, having failed to fill up the tank on 441. A very nice couple drove 3 miles out of their way to escort me to a gas station in Andrews making sure I was not left stranded. I was left speechless by such generosity.

The Cherohala Highway and another run through the Tail of the Dragon concluded the day.

Day 4 - Saturday, June 30th: Moonshiner 28 reloaded with BMWs; 194.2 miles (312.5 km)

I met two guys from Chicago with a BMW R1200R and a BMW S1000RR. If it wasn’t clear from what I said above, I am a big fan of the Moonshiner 28; it was thus with great pleasure that I acted as chaperone for my newfound friends and guided them through the various portions.

We spent some time going up and down a 3-mile stretch of Route 106 just where it intersects the North Carolina – Georgia border. Go on Street view and you’ll understand why: a steep, uphill twisty road with two dedicated lanes and excellent tarmac where one can straddle across the two lanes for the best line.

Day 5 - Sunday, July 1st: Fontana Dam to NYC via Blue Ridge Parkway; 833.6 miles

I left NC at 5:30 am and worked my way toward Cherokee and the BRP. Riding at night is kind of a rush and seeing the sun rise while driving is something else.

I took to the BRP at Cherokee, which I rode through Asheville. Really beautiful, but I could not do it all; after a while it gets a bit boring, particularly if you keep it to the 45 mph speed limit, which I did.

Link to original page on YouTube.

After gassing up in Asheville I started hauling it north on I-81 in 120 miles stretches.

As many of you know, July 1st was the day on which most of the Eastern seaboard was ravaged by storms. As the sky darkened and lightning started striking I decided to wait it out at a gas station in Abingdon, VA, still miles and miles from home. After the worst of the storm passed, I came to discover that because of the power outages a lot of gas stations could not pump gas. So, I had to ride in 50-mile increments all the way to Pennsylvania just to make sure I would not run out of gas while looking for a gas station with power. Notes to self: (1) bring an emergency, foldable gallon gas canister next time; (2) try to have more than $20 in cash in your pocket as ATMs do not work without current; and (3) maybe carry a battery booster for the phone, which cannot be charged without power.

Time kind of flew (or droned on) from Maryland until 120 miles to NY. When I started seeing the signs counting down to NYC, the miles actually did not pass fast enough.

This was a great ride. The roads in North Carolina have been designed b someone who truly loves motorcycles. I spent hours and hours on the bike without any issues or fatigue.

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Old February 1st, 2013, 03:29 PM   #2
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A few suggestions;

Take a bridge out of NY. The fumes in the tunnels can kill you if you're in traffic.

Before Harrisburg cut down and ride 283 then the PA pike to 15 and run 15 down by Gettysburg to Frederick then backroads to Front Royal. Stay in Front Royal if you have to stop. It's a beautiful town right at the beginning of Skyline Drive. Skyline turns into the Blue Ridge. The Blue Ridge runs through Ashville which is another great place to stop. From Ashville to the Dragon there are numerous gorgeous roads to ride.
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Old February 6th, 2013, 10:18 AM   #3
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if i can get some vacation time..!!
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