The Long Way Home. Huntsville to Cleveland on a 250.
Huntsville, Al to Cleveland, Oh. Take a look at a road atlas. 660 miles of interstate highway and you're there. Doesn't sound like much of an adventure does it?
No one says you have to take the direct route.
I certainly didn't.
It's been quite a few years since I took a long trip on a bike. I have spent most of my limited vacation time riding but since I live pretty close to some of the best riding east of the Rockies, I have been just heading to the Smokies and getting a room in towns like Maggie Valley and just doing day rides from one location. While these have been fun, I miss getting on a bike and just going somewhere far away. I have also wanted to try doing a long trip on a small bike. Also, mostly because of this forum, I have wanted to try camping along the way. Except for one overnighter last fall, all of my camping experience has been with taking my gear and bike in my truck. Then a couple of months ago my Mom called and said they were throwing a big party for their 50th wedding anniversary and wondered if I could make it. I had already scheduled vacation but was able to change it to the week leading up to the party.
Now it was time to plan the trip. My wife already made plans for that week so this would be a solo trip and she would fly up to Cleveland. I asked for route suggestions on a couple of regional forums and bought a new lightweight sleeping bag and a few other minor items.
Although I did come up with a rough plan, I figured I would mostly end up winging it and making up a route as I went along. My plan was to use 5-6 days getting to Cleveland and head up through the mountains of TN, NC, VA, and WVA while taking mostly back roads. Then after a few days in Cleveland, I would have to make the return trip in a day and a half.
I could have hit the road Friday around noon after getting off work but decided to relax and get up early on Saturday morning. I didn't set my alarm and ended up on the road by 4:30 AM. It had been a tough decision between wearing a mesh jacket or well vented textile jacket. I decided on the Mesh but soon regretted it as I quickly got cold. I could have stopped and put on my rain jacket but I hate doing that so I stayed cold. Eventually I did put it on as it took a long time to warm up.
My route was I565 through Huntsville to 72 East. As I approached I24 I decided to try to avoid the interstate as much as possible. I had seen this bridge before and decided that this would be the time to cross it and see where it went.
156 east turned out to be a very nice ride with some nice curves and scenery. It ran along a lake for a while. You can just see the lake over the railroad tracks.
Then I crossed I 24 and took another road that ran parallel to it. It was another nice ride.
Eventually I got on the interstate and took I24 to I75 through Chattanooga. I got off before Cleveland,TN and worked my way to 64 east to the Ocoee river.
In case you are wondering, my bike is a 2009 Aprilia Sport City 250. I got it a little over a year ago and put just under 9,000 miles on it before starting this trip. My camping gear is in the bag on the seat. The rest of my gear is in the saddle bags and some under the seat. I prefer to keep the tail trunk mostly empty and use it to store my helmet and jacket when I stop.
That's pretty cool that you made the trip with the 250.
I love trips on small bikes. So many now days seem to think you must have 1000+ ccs to go anywhere. I have ridden over 25,000 miles on my 350 with only a couple of minor problems, both of which got fixed on the road and the ride continued. Good for you for keeping it simple and just going.
Shortly after reaching the Ocoee river on 64, I took a left on 30. This is a nice twisty back road and today I didn't have any slow moving cages impeding me from having a little fun:ricky
At reliance I took a right on 315 but turned right again as soon as I crossed the Hiawassee river. This led me down some nice and twisty back roads. Most riders use 68 to get to Tellico plains from the south and some use 30 to 315 to 39. These are both great ride but I doubt that many even realize there are a bunch of back roads in between these two. These roads are not even shown on most maps. Although I was introduced to this area on a KLR rally recently, I really didn't know where I was going so I just winged it. I ended up on Some dirt/gravel roads for about 20 minutes or so but eventually came out on 68 which I followed to Tellico Plains. Of course no real adventure rider can pass through Tellico Plains without stopping here:
I barely removed my helmet when someone came up and said "you're klaviator and are on a trip" It was an inmate who had read my post asking for route suggestions. I have a bad case of CRS so I don't remember his name but hopefully it will come to me. Anyway, it goes to show that if you spend enough time on this forum, anyone can become famous:lol3. We had both bought bikes from Rider's Hill in Dahlonega, Ga. I bought my Sport City there and he had gone there looking for a sport city but ended up on a Scarabeo 500. Shortly afterwards he decided to go bigger and got a Mana 850 which he was riding to day.
The owner of TMO, Minimike is a member of this forum and does a lot to support off road riding in this area. I like to support his business but there was nothing I needed from him today so I did the next best thing by going across the street and having lunch at the creamery which is owned by his wife.
My original plan was to make it to Deal's Gap and camp there. I wasn't really interested in riding through Deal's Gap on a busy summer Saturday but it is a nice place to camp. However, it looked like I would get there before 2 and that was too early to stop so I cahnged my plan and decided to go to Blue Ridge Cycle camp
Then I headed over the Cherohalla Skyway. Here's my bike at one of the many places to pull off:
After the Skyway I took 143 to Robbinsville then 129 to 19 to Wayah Rd where I stopped for a break at the Natonal Forest parking lot for rafters at the intersection of 19 and Wahay rd.
These people looked like the were having fun:
Then it was down Wayah Rd which was a blast as always despite some gravel in some of the corners.
I've seen this before but this time I took the time to stop and get a picture:
When I got to Franklin I noticed something was missing:
This used to be the Franklin Motel. Now it's just a grass lot. It was popular with bikers but I reserved a room there last year but ended up staying elsewhere becuase the room was unnaceptable.
then I decided to take the shortest way to Blue ridge Cycle camp. There are some fantastic twisties in this area but I was getting tired so I just took the quickest route.....I guess I'm getting old. I pulled in to Blue ridge Cycle camp around 5 PM having ridden 356 miles.
Good choice on 156. Looking forward to the rest of the trip.
I have camped at a few other motorcycle campgrounds but this was my first time camping a Blue Ridge Cycle Camp. I checked in and wasted no time setting up my tent. It's an el cheapo $25 Wally World special but I didn't want to spend a lot of money until I knew for sure that this motorcycle camping was for me. It's 7 x 7 and packs up pretty small.
My neighbors were a father and son who rode in from Bowling Green, Ky and Niceville, Fl. It was their first time here also. I enjoyed talking to them.
the campground is very scenic and has small cabins for rent also.
They serve breakfast and dinner at this pavillion and it provides a nice place to hang out if it's raining.
Starting to plan a trip on my SYM RV 250 to Florida, it would be about 1200 mile road trip. I would start out in St Paul,Mn and head down to our condo in Seacrest Beach, FL. I have been encourage by ADV riders taking their smaller cc bikes on these rides.
Waiting for the "rest of the story". Looks like our frugal taste in tents is also similar. My wally world tent is around 10 years old and I also just kinda picked it up till I got a better one. We have a larger dome coleman for when we both go and I also have a tiny pup style tent.
Hats off to you for doing it on a small bike too !
The "rest of the story" is coming but I'm a slow writer so it may take a while.
When reading your ride report I was struck by how many nearly identical pictures we took.
I have stayed at a number of motorcycle campgrounds. By far my favorite was TWO ( Two Wheels Only ). Unfortunately it is no longer open. Of the remaining Campgrounds I have camped at, this may just be my new favorite. It is very scenic, peaceful, and most importantly, surrounded by great riding. It is also at an elevation of 3200 feet. This can be good or bad depending on the time of year. In the heat of summer it's good and I doubt it ever gets too hot to camp here but cold may be an issue in the spring or fall.
Back to my experience here. After talking a bit with my "neighbors" I wandered around. I ran into an old regular from Two Wheels Only and even remembered his name......quite an accomplishment for me:D. Then I saw trash can, another inmate. He was here with a large group who come here fairly regularly. We had exchange PM's so i knew he would be here. If you read this Jerry, :wave, it was good talking to you.
After some BSing, I ate dinner at the pavilion. It was good, reasonably price, but nothing memorable. After some more BSing I called it a night. My sleeping pad was on of those 1 inch thick foam and air mattresses. I had a light weight sleeping bag designed for warm weather. I didn't sleep that well due to the thin pad and the fact the it got a little too cold for my sleeping bag. When I got up the next morning it was cool and gloomy. Still, I was out on an adventure with some great riding ahead. I guess I would have been more comfortable with a setup like this:
but the sacrifice to the ride is not something I would be willing to make.
Breakfast was good. I don't remember if I packed up my gear before or after breakfast but as soon as I did it started to rain. I didn't remember seeing this in the forecast. After about an hour it stopped and I hit the road.
Here's a handy alternative to setting up a tent if the weather is good. Takes up no more room as it can be used as a ground cover when you do want to take the time to set up a tent. Simply a tarp and some bungees and stakes. Nice when you want to get up and moving quickly in the morning.
Cheers and good travels,
Mike, PS If you get by Wheels Through Time Museum in Maggie Valley, tell Dale and Matt hi from me (just tell them the guy with the CB350 on the Kickstart Ride)
Blue Ridge Cycle Camp sit just off of route 276. 276 is one of those great roads that cross the BRP. IMO, those roads are often better than the BRP itself. 276 is one of those roads but I restrained myself this morning since it was wet from the rain. Then I got on the BRP and headed North. It was cold and gloomy so I was wearing my rain suit to stay warm and dry. I was really second guessing myself on my decision to wear my mesh riding gear. I also decided that not bring much in the way of warm clothes was dumb as I could have used a sweat shirt last night. I decided to stop in Asheville and find a Wally World and try to pick up a cheap sweatshirt and something to wear under my mesh pants.
The BRP was a pleasant ride with the weather alternating between sunny and cloudy with occasional light rain. I exited the BRP near Asheville and stopped for gas. Although my Aprilia normally gets around 75 MPG, it only has a 2.4 gallon tank so I have to get gas more often than I would like. Additionally, the gas tank filler is under the seat so I have to remove the bag on the seat to get to it. What a PITA.
After filling up with a whopping 2 gallons or less, I got directions to the nearest Wally World which was only a few miles away. Is it possible to be more than 10 miles from a Wally World in in city in the USA???
Anyway, I found some nylon wind pants and a nice long sleeve shirt on the clearance rack and only spent $10 for both. When it was time to get back to the BRP I didn't feel like retracing my route so I pointed my scooter in what looked like a good direction and rode off. At time I have done this and ended up lost and going way out of way. This time it worked out and took me through an interesting part of town before getting me back on the road I originally exited the BRP on. Here's a couple of pics I took of Asheville:
Then it was back to the BRP.
An interesting tree:
Before this trip i had visions of just riding peacefully along the Parkway, enjoying the scenery. not worrying about the speed like I would on a bigger faster bike. The Aprilia is perfectly happy putting along a low speeds but I still prefer going fast enough to lean a little in the curves. I have found that 45-50 MPH seems to be a good speed for me on the parkway. It's fast enough to enjoy the curves but not fast enough to attract the attention of the rangers. Unfortunately, most of the cages prefer to go 40 and then slow down for the curves. Some go even slower and I got stuck behind on cage pulling a trailer just poking along at 30. There was a lot of traffic on the BRP today and I soon got bored. When I got to route 80, I exited and headed south. I stopped to take one pic and then had a blast riding the curves. There was a lot of traffic coming the other way but i had a clean run most of the way down:ricky:rayof:ricky
One of the curves near the top:
I didn't want to deal with all the traffic going back so I took a couple of lefts and ended up on 226a which goes back to the BRP at Little Switzerland. 226a is a great road and I encountered no traffic:ricky:wings
Looking back on the trip, it may have been the most fun stretch of road on the trip.
I stopped for lunch in little Switzerland.
I have always thought this was a cool place.
I had a chef's salad for lunch. It was good but I had to wait forever to get it.
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