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.