Blue Ridge Parkway and Dragon by an Aspiring ADV Rider
I've been lurking ever since I've started riding 2 years ago, and I finally have something remotely interesting to share with everyone! So, with a new ADV account, plenty of pictures, and some good experiences to share, here is my first RR!
Hometown: Richmond, VA
Destination: The Dragon- Deals Gap, NC
How to get there: Blue Ridge Parkway - End to End
The Group: Two Riders and a Cager
-2007 Honda 919(myself)
-2012 Kawasaki ZX6R
-1994 Nissan 300ZX Twin Turbo
This might not be your typical Adventure Rider group, but I wasn't about to turn down some good company! We had 4.5 days to make this trip, starting Friday after work and returning the following Tuesday. The goal being to ride the entire Blue Ridge Parkway, ride the Dragon, and return with enough time to recover for work on Wednesday.
Day 1: Richmond, VA(RVA) to Montebello, VA ~120 miles
Needless to say, the day at work Friday was quite restless in anticipation of our departure. We geared up, packed up, and set off for the start of the Blue Ridge Parkway in Waynesboro, VA. Unfortunately it was dark by the time we reached the parkway but I insisted we stop for a picture anyways :D . We rode about 20 miles down the parkway to a wonderful Bed and Breakfast called the Dutch Haus. The crew highly recommends the Dutch Haus as a cheap but very home-like place to spend the night; truly a home away from home with your typical B&B amenities. Could not wait to get going Saturday morning!
Day 2: Montebello, VA to Hillsville VA ~ 200 miles
Saturday morning we suited up, braved the brisk morning air, and set off down the BRP. My cold weather gear consists of FirstGear Kilimanjaro Jacket(highly recommended), some generic windproof overpants, Venture Heated Gloves(battery power), and plenty of underarmour. I forgot my balaclava somehow, but thankfully the rest of my gear kept me plenty warm. With only a hint of clouds the first day, we were blessed to see nothing but blue skies and sunshine! It even got warm enough to shed the outer layers and trade out gloves in the afternoon.
Anywho, the real reason we're here, the ride. We could not have asked for more beautiful weather this entire trip. The Parkway really is a beautiful ride, with nothing but gorgeous vistas mile after mile. We were immediately impressed at how fun the parkway is to ride while keeping an indicated 55 or below. The parkway is not a racetrack of course(that's what the Dragon is for!) but it's nice to have some good curves to keep your mind busy(if the views weren't entertaining enough!). 469 miles of parkway riding and not once did I worry about uneven tire wear!
One fun stop for anyone heading down the parkway is ‘Tuggle’s Gap’ near Roanoke VA. Mile Marker 165 on the Parkway. An awesome curvy road I discovered while attending VA Tech that I like to call the “Mini Dragon.” There’s also a motel, some decent eats, and gas while you’re there.
We made sure to stop at the scenic overlooks and be typical tourists(minus the leaf peeping). We made the obligatory stop at Mabry Mill. We snapped an amazing picture, bet you’ve never seen anything like it!! The number of cagers on the road increased as the day went on, but was never enough to detract from the experience. I would LOVE to make this trip on the weekdays when there is no traffic, but alas I can only take a few days off. We made our way to Hillsville VA where we indulged in delivery pizza and relaxed with our good friend Jim(…Beam that is). There was not enough room for 3 males and motorcycles, so the bikes had to stay outside!
Day 3: Hillsville, VA to Asheville, NC ~200 miles
Sunday began with some more gorgeous weather as we headed further south beyond the NC border. As much as I love my home state and its mountains, I must say I was very impressed with the sights to be seen in NC! Each section of the trip brought new geography to marvel at.
In the trip’s planning stages, I worried that the Parkway might become monotonous. However, this worry disappeared as our second big day brought us to some of NC’s most beautiful views. I quickly determined that there is no such thing as too much time-away-from-work-vacation-riding, especially in such a beautiful locale. The mountains surrounding Asheville were stunning as we neared sunset and made our descent down to Asheville to stay with some family friends. A few good burgers, some good company, and a few good beers and we were ready to retire for the night.
Day 4: Asheville, NC to Deals Gap, NC, and back to Asheville, NC ~275 miles
Day 4 was to be our longest day of riding so far. This was of no concern because we were determined to make it to the Dragon, and there were awesome sights to be seen along the way. The final leg of the parkway proved to be some of the most beautiful sights as others have said. We stopped for a short break in Cherokee, NC and set off for the Dragon. Route 28 was quite the fun road en route to Deals Gap.
As cliché as the Dragon might be, we all had to admit that we had a lot of fun. Our first run was obnoxiously slow with traffic, but the subsequent 3 runs were good clean fun! Being from Richmond VA I rarely experience such elevation change and hairpin turns. Any hint of chicken strips on this back tire is gone, and I had a blast working on them. I have not given into Killboy's pics of me yet, but if I do I'll be sure to share.
~20 miles of fun Rt. 28 + ~100 miles of superslab, and we were back in Asheville resting up for the journey home. Maggie the English Lab will be sad to see us leave, and the feelings will be mutual.
Day 5: Asheville, NC to Richmond, VA ~ 375 miles
The trip home was a long one, by far the most miles I’ve done in a day @375. I realize this only one of many long days as my trips will only get longer from here out! I was thankful I chose the 919(over my other bike, the 600RR) as my buddy on his ZX6R was feeling the fatigue. Our friend in his 300ZX was definitely enjoying being able to relax in the car.
After 1274 miles round trip, we agreed it was a blast but over too short. The trip, while not nearly as epic as many folks’ RR’s here, was proof that ADV riding is for me. I can’t wait for longer more adventurous rides in the future.
Nice RR. I'd love to be able to drive a Z through some nice twisty roads, but I think I'd get jealous if my friends were on bikes!
Thanks guys. We had a blast, and I'm glad to get a small taste of the ADV world. I definitely want to do longer trips in the future. California keeps coming to mind when contemplating destinations...but I'll take whatever I can get :D
@Josh - Funny thing about that is that he went out and bought a Honda 919 no more than a week after the trip. I offered him the 919 for the trip, and I'd suffer through riding the 600RR, but not having as many miles under the belt he wanted to take the Z. I was happy to have his company, so no complaints here!
**Does anyone have any suggestions for trips of similar length/excitement from VA? It is much easier to take 2-3 days off work than ask for a week at a time. That would leave me 5 to 5 1/2 days round trip for traveling. Let me know!
Nice RR! It reminds me of my trip to TN / NC to ride the dragon on my Honda 919 a few years back. The 919 is a great bike for that area...It is fast, light, smooth (enough), and handles great. The only problem is the seat (which must have been originally design as a torture device and later modified into a motorcycle seat :D). My arse hurt for days after that ride!
Thanks for sharing.
Dutch Haus & Montebello
The Dutch Haus is a good place with good folks. It's a hostel mostly for AT thru hikers, but it's just a cool place. Stayed there on my BRP run several years ago. Montebello has some good roads around it too!
Glad you enjoyed the ride!
Nice report. Some of that scenery looks very familiar since I live in the Greensboro NC area and often ride up to Hanging Rock State Park and then up to the Blue Ridge Parkway through Tuggle's Gap stopping at Mabry Mill. How do you like your 919? I see it as sort of a successor to my bike (2002 CB750) and often think about picking one up.
We definitely enjoyed the Dutch Haus. It was like a home away from home, and fun in its own way. The hosts were very accommodating and even had wood planks for the kickstands ready when we got there. I enjoyed the very personal experience a B & B offers. And yes, it seemed as though there were a lot of fun roads around Montebello. Had to stay alert on those tight roads first thing in the morning!
As for the 919, I have not had an issue with the seat yet. On the trip we did 200-375 mile days, stopping every 120 miles for gas, and I was not in pain. I can see how it's not luxury motorcycle seating, but by no means as bad as a 120 mile stint on a Ninja 250 I used to own. I agree that it's the perfect bike for this kind of trip. I hardly had to change gears on the parkway because of the down low torque. It is relaxed enough not to fatigue you, but was able to be ridden sporty on the dragon.
I really like the 919. I've put 6300 miles on it thus far. As I've heard it said, it's a bike that can do it all but is a master of nothing. Many on the Wrist Twisters forum have their bikes close to and over 100,000 miles with no major maintenance. It's a rock solid commuter and an all around fun bike. You really can't go wrong if you're interested in one. Some mention an 'exhaust stink', but I have never noticed anything in 6000 miles of riding. I haven't ridden a Nighthawk 750, but I think it's safe to say that the 919 is a more sport oriented bike. It has more outright power and the riding position is much sportier. I park next to a Nighthawk 750 often, so naturally I compare the two.
I live just down the road frm you. Hanging Rock to Tuggles Gap and down the BRP to Meadows of Dan, Squirrel Spur road and loafing my way back towards home/Greensboro is one of my favorite rides to take. Let me know the next time you head that way and don't mind someone following along.
West Virginia has unlimited opportunities for adventure with far less traffic than western NC.
Thanks for sharing!
Good trip; thanks for sharing. I had the BRP and Skyline Drive on the agenda on my "Civil War" trip back there a few weeks ago, but bad weather got in the way.
Looks like you guys had some excellent weather. Thanks again.
Shhh! I like to keep that secret. Seriously, every time I come back from the "Mountains" and people here it was WV they look at me like i'm stupid.
If you went to VT you might be familiar the area around Narrows and Perisburg. There are great roads around there 42, 100. 311 etc. Go through the Jefferson forest down into Bland, to Bluefield, then in to WV. I like to go 52 down into the coal fields and get lost.
Nice ride. :clap:clap:clap
Thanks for the report.
I did the top end of Skyline Drive
a month ago.
Before the leaf thing.
Just a day ride though.
Nice RR and photos. Glad you had fun. I have ridden the BRP many times and it is one of my all time favorite motorcycle roads. I've ridden my friend's 919 and it is a very nice bike, plenty of power and handling.
Like another poster said, West Virginia is just ferking AWESOME. If you head west from Richmond, get off the slab ASAP (maybe take the Skyline Drive north a ways, but there's a fee and DO NOT SPEED on that stretch), otherwise work your way over the Blue Ridge to Harrisonburg, then head out on Hwy 33 past Seneca Rocks, etc. and end up in Elkins, WV. Coming back you could head south on Hwy 219, then east on Hwy 250 to Staunton, back over the Blue Ridge to Richmond. If you've got an extra day head a little further south from Elkins, maybe detour up to Snowshoe Mountain (near Marlinton, WV), curl back down to Hot Springs, VA, then head for Lexington on Hwy 39. At Lex you can connect with Highway 60, over the Blue Ridge to Amherst, and home. There are a zillion miles of excellent roads just in that small area and if you slab it to Harrisonburg you can make some great time and save the daylight for the fun smaller roads. We found one road, I think it was Hwy 66 (Cass Highway?) in WV one day that was ferking incredible, high banked curves like a roller coaster! I asked my wife if she minded if I dialed it up a bit, SURE! she said, so we were rocking through there like idiots; I was a little concerned that she might be a bit scared, so I peeked in the mirror and she had her arms out to the sides like she was flying (I love that lady!).
Just look at a map - the roads that go generally east-west over the mountains will be twistier than the roads that parallel the mountains NE to SW, although those roads are a hoot too (Hwy 220 north of I-64 in western Virginia is awesome!). There's tons of camping too, in the national forest, Douthat State Park, Lake Moomaw, etc. all over the Alleghany and Blue Ridge mountains. The BRP is fun, but it's the cross roads that are the seriously exciting places to ride. If you see a sign like this, you know it's good :D:
There are also big yellow signs that say something like "Not Recommended for GPS Routing" or such, you know those are great too!
I lived in Wyoming for many years, so when I heard that there is a Wyoming town and County in West Virginia I looked it up. I've heard that Hwy 10 in that area is phenomenal (Princeton, WV to Wyoming and beyond), but so far I haven't had time to go check it out. From here I'd probably take I-64 to Beckley, WV then head SW on 16 and catch Hwy 10 that way. Check out the map, lots of delicious twisties out there! All I need is more time and money....
Great report, let me know if you guys are headed this way sometime and maybe I can sneak away and ride a bit with you!
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