My East Tennessee

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by Katoom119, Jul 19, 2008.

  1. Katoom119

    Katoom119 Mmmm....Orange Kool-aid

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    Here's the general idea: treat my local roads as if I were traveling through them for the first time. What would someone else take pictures of where normally I would pass by them? The idea is to update this thread as each successive ride occurs so in the future there will almost be a travel guide for someone riding in from another state to use as a reference. Think local knowledge without being a local.

    Anyway, every trip needs a starting point so last night I pulled up Mapquest and found the most northeastern road in Tennessee, Buckeye Hollow Road. So remote you have to ride through Mt. Rogers Park in VA just to get to it.

    That'll do just fine. :thumb

    The man's mailbox was in Virginia, his house and most of his barn in Tennessee, and I really think his back field was in North Carolina. My GPS screen showed all three state lines at once. I bet property taxes are a pain in the ass.
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    Right, nowhere else to go except South and West.

    As the crow flies the next closest "town" is Shady Valley, TN, 16.5 miles away. The crow, however, was lazy and hitched a ride with me. We wound up covering about 35-40 miles before we got there 45 minutes later.

    South on Hwy. 133 out of Damascus, VA (home of the VA Creeper Trail) is Backbone Rock, the world's shortest tunnel.

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    The tunnel was a result of the need to get the iron ore from the Iron Mountains in Shady Valley to a processing facility. You can climb up stairs that have been cut out of the rock and look down on the river surrounding it.

    Following the river most of the way into the valley proper brings you to the intersection of Hwy. 421, 133, and 91. 421 is also known as the Snake and is the other place that Gov. Bredeson has decided to crack down on like he's doing at Deal's Gap. Really laid back place where you know most of the bikes that pull into the store. Stopping for a Shady Dog is a must but if you're there between 3:30 and 7:30 on Fridays it's Fish night.

    Hey, it used to be an old cranberry bog. You make your excitement where you can. :freaky

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    After bench racing for a bit too long and telling most of the stories I have I rode around to try and find a good place to take a picture to show you what SV looks like. Sorry, you've just got to ride it, it's that pretty. There's a campground with facilities called Switchback Creek that's really nice. Windy rides an old Norton 750 Commando and puts a lot of the sportbikes to shame. Every year they put on a vintage bikes ride called (jokingly) the Road Oiler 200.

    Head south on 91 towards Elizabethton and on the left there's a spring where the water is safe to drink. I've seen RV's pull up to it and spend the better part of an hour filling the water tanks before a trip.

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    91 is an amazing road. You have a guardrail on one side and a mountain on the other the entire way. It's like the Isle of Man TT (I'd imagine): helluva lot of fun but you've got to be careful.

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    Right as you cross the Carter County line hook a left onto Cross Mountain Road. Takes you from 91 over to 67.

    The road looks like this...

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    And you can see this...

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    Hook a right onto 67 Southbound and eventually you pass through :huh

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    I kept an eye out for Lara Croft opening a weird looking box floating in a pool of black boiling acid inside of a cave where gravity was clearly out to lunch... :patch

    But found nothing. Probably for the best really.

    Keep on trucking south on 67 and you eventually come out on Watauga Lake. It's a big friggin' lake that borders Cherokee National Forest on pretty much every side. There's swimming, camping, even a shooting range.

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    A little bit further and there is this overlook...

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    And at the bottom of the hill there's a break in the guardrail and a road to the left. This is Little Stoney Creek Road. It's one lane and change of pavement for about 4 miles before it turns to gravel and runs over the mountains into Roan Mountain, TN. There is a T-intersection and straight takes you to Roan Mountain and right will take you back into Hampton right back onto 67.

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    That's pretty much it for today. I've got a long list of places to cover so I'll try to update this as regularly as I can. Other than that I think I've picked a helluva first ride report, huh? :D
    #1
  2. waterlilly

    waterlilly No Agenda World Tour

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    I think it was a fine first report. I think I went jetsking with a group there, is that near Lake Norris?
    #2
  3. foster

    foster Huh?

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    Nice area - thanks for the report and keep 'em coming!
    #3
  4. ThumperDRZ

    ThumperDRZ Bouncing off Rocks!

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    What a great photo......:clap I need to take more pictures when I ride....I think I drag my camera with me for ballast.



    #4
  5. FlySniper

    FlySniper Bleh...

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    Hey! I've been everywhere you posted pictures of... with the exception of the old man's farm....
    I was out towards Shady earlier today, just riding the roads.

    The neat thing about Shady Valley is, it can be 90 degrees, but when you get into the valley it gets cold. It was nice today though, felt like I had airconditioning on the bike!
    #5
  6. bullfrog

    bullfrog Dismember

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    Awesome idea and excellent job!!!

    :clap
    #6
  7. GB

    GB . Administrator

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    You've got some great roads in TN.. looking forward to riding through there at next year's MOA rally :thumb
    #7
  8. Fireman1000

    Fireman1000 Long timer

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    Thanks for sharing. I've been meaning to check out that area, and now you've given me more reason to.
    #8
  9. Katoom119

    Katoom119 Mmmm....Orange Kool-aid

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    Norris Lake is down closer to Knoxville. Watauga Lake is about 30 miles southeast of Johnson City.
    #9
  10. VStromWolf

    VStromWolf Adventurer

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    Northeast Indiana
    Great pictures and reports. That's an area I would really like to check out some day. I too have a black DL1000K5, what year is yours? Looks like an after market seat and windscreen. I'm thinking about a Corbin and I had my windscreen cut down by 6 inches for summer use. It looks about the same size as yours. Last question, what panniers do you have?

    Looking forward to you next installment.
    #10
  11. pookiebear

    pookiebear Soylent Mayhem

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    Ahh my old stomping grounds. Moved to IOWA Now. I rode 421 and 67 every weekend till the bredeson crackdown. I used to roll through at 7am and go home around 1. Shady country store has biscuits if you get there before 10. I think I almost bought some boots from you KATOOM.
    #11
  12. Katoom119

    Katoom119 Mmmm....Orange Kool-aid

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    Thanks. Pretty sure mine's a K7 with a Corbin, Madstad bracket, and cut the screen down 1.5". The panniers are Hepco & Becker on SW-Motech frames.

    Get the Corbin, you'll love it. 10x more comfortable now.
    #12
  13. Katoom119

    Katoom119 Mmmm....Orange Kool-aid

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    How could we forget the Frankentard? :D
    #13
  14. Staxrider

    Staxrider dirt dauber

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    I see you live in the pretty part of Tennessee. Nice report.
    #14
  15. iloco

    iloco Been here awhile

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    Chilhowie, Va
    I was in shady valley today but not many bikes at the cross roads because of the crack down by the Tennessee hwy state police on the bikes like at deels gap.
    Saw a couple adv riders on their way home to NC from trip to the west. :)
    Very pretty country in and around shady valley. :)
    #15
  16. HappyRiding

    HappyRiding Silly

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    Howdy neighbor!

    I enjoyed your ride report. I think I might need to slow down a bit and notice what is outside of the white lines more often. :thumb

    HappyRiding
    Sulphur Springs, TN
    #16
  17. Katoom119

    Katoom119 Mmmm....Orange Kool-aid

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    Allright, here we go. Class the words for the day are: Pavement Ends.

    :D

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    Got up this morning at about O' dark:30, saw the girlfriend as she went to her new job, bite to eat, and of course had to check ADVrider. Still hadn't figured out where to go. Wound up a person was asking questions about gravel roads in the area over in the Regional sections.

    Gravel? What's that you say? Why yes, I happen to have acquired the knowledge of which you seek. But since I couldn't tell him any mileages I thought of no better excuse than to go ride the roads again. And so I did.

    Coming down 19E out of Bluff City and after about 5 miles catch a left onto Holston Mountain Road. Stay on this road, eventually it'll turn into gravel, and gravel shall it remain for the next 28 miles. Except for a 2 mile stretch. Very odd, indeed.

    So I'm jamming down the gravel road at ~30 mph on a 500 lbs. wannabe dirtbike with luggage, powersliding through the turns (riding dirtbikes for 19 years and having a dad that is an ex-harescramble/enduro racer helps), all the while skirting around the northern edge of the Iron Mountains. There was too much foliage to take a good picture but when the leaves are gone it rivals parts of the BRP. All of a sudden......




    Bam!
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    WTF? Who lays down 2 miles of perfectly good blacktop 8 miles from the previous thing that could remotely be called pavement?

    This is Big Creek Road and the Forestry Service is widening the road. I'd seen the road construction signs but let's face it, road construction out here meant Jim Bob and a chainsaw, or so I thought. Riding around a corner I see a backhoe heading the same way I am with a driver and passenger hanging off the side. I follow them for about a mile until the driver sees me in his mirror and turns around with a shocked expression on his face.

    :eek1

    :wave

    Clearly he's never seen a motorcycle, least that's what his facial expression said. Though he could pop a mean wheelie with that backhoe.

    I pass and proceed to do my best to put about a mile between us just in case I want to stop and take pictures. Looking down the trail I see this:

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    Seeing as how there was a however-many ton backhoe headed his way I did the neighborly thing:

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    And continued upon my way...

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    Big Creek Road intersects with Flatwoods Road in a huge 4-way intersection. Every way takes you back to a highway of some kind. I turned right onto this and except for the odd pothole, my speed increased dramatically.

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    A few miles up the road and there's a triangle with a sign announcing the way to Little Creek Recreation area. Camping, RV dumpsites, the works are available here. The view was nice...

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    (Note: Those go from right to left. Don't have a stitch program on my Mac.)

    Yet the day was but young.

    Tearing down Flatwoods Road all of a sudden I catch the smell of water, as in river water. Sure enough I find this within about 20 yards.

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    Looking back the way I'd come.

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    Few more miles down the road and Oh look, another one.

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    Just about to the end of the road and find another turtle! He was pissed though.

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    Something about jumping his cousin last time I rode dirtbikes. Hey, least I managed to dodge him. He wasn't having any of it though and I placed him in the grass off the road.

    Get back to the intersection of Camp Tom Howard Road (Flatwoods changed into this when it turned to pavement again) and 421, trying to decide where to go, and realize I've never been down Denton Valley Road before. Needless to say that was the direction I went. After about a mile or two the road splits and upon hanging a left I find the remains of an old road bed. Really strange, ran straight into the water, and was built using stackstone turned on end. Looked like a giant tower had fallen but everything remained in place. Oh yeah, and it was pretty.

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    Head back to Denton Valley Road, turn north, riding along at a nice OH YOU'VE GOT TO BE KIDDING ME...

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    Aside: I've been riding up here for about 5 years now and have never seen a turtle in the road. Come to think of it I've got a degree in Biology and when my Ecology class went on hikes I never saw a turtle either. What are the odds of three turtles in an hour? But I digress...

    Needless to say, he too was placed safely on the edge of the road.

    Wound up at the sign in the first picture but not having researched it I decided to hold off for now. Plus I was hungry and the Shady Valley Country Store with their Shady Dogs was only a few miles of incredibly twisty tarmac away.

    Warp Factor 6, Mr. Sulu.
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    Replenished with the aforementioned hot dogs I headed over into Mountain City. Turned onto 167 and rode it for about 10 or so miles. The valley I was in was incredible as it was full of corn fields and was probably about 1000 yards wide at the widest. Hit Lakeview Drive off 167, then Dry Hill Road, Buntontown Road, then finally 321. This took me around Watauga Lake and the road was empty, essentially tar and chip.

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    From 321 I went back to Little Stoney Creek in the first post and ran it all the way across to Walnut Ridge Road near Roan Mountain, 23 miles total. Over on the Roan Mountain side you began to see more and more landscape that was common to the area, namely...

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    I swear there are more Christmas tree farms in this area than anywhere in the world. You could throw an ornament from one farm to another and it'd never land in anything but pine.

    Got to 19E, turned left to run up to the North Carolina border just to make sure they hadn't moved it on me (you never know about these things) then turned back and hooked a left on 143 towards Carver's Gap. This is where I took the group at the Eastern Rendezvous and while it was still May there weren't any leaves on the trees at that high of an elevation. There were plenty today.

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    (Panorama L to R)

    I FOUND PACMAN! GO PACMAN GO!!!

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    Carver's Gap is at 5512' a.s.l. and the Appalachian Trail runs on top of it. I hiked to the top once. It sucked. Damn thin air. I can run an 8 minute mile at will but no, a mile and change of elevation wants me to do it with half the oxygen. Anyway, have some landscape pictures from last time.

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    Yeah, those tiny things in the parking lot are cars about 600 vertical feet below me. Find the red car, follow the guardrail to the right, and that black thing before you get to the next car is my bike.

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    This time I rode up the other side to the Rhododendron Gardens. Each fall this puppies bloom each fall and people go nuts over them. Wikipedia says the honey makes you hallucinate. That and the thin air probably makes people really, really happy. :D

    It was about that time and the weather kept reminding me of it. I'd dodged it all day but now it was about to rain and I didn't feel like swimming home.

    Beat the rain home, uploaded the pictures, ate dinner, and now you have Day #2's report.

    Enjoy.


    Miles ridden: ~200
    Shady dogs eaten: 2
    Turtles rescued: 3
    #17
  18. Wheedle

    Wheedle I love inflatable fun!

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    Next time Im up in the area for a weekend youll have to show me around some more
    #18
  19. Greenflyfarmer

    Greenflyfarmer I'm better now.

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    I'm from Marion but live in Richmond and love all those areas. I can't wait to move back home!
    #19
  20. spaceman spiff

    spaceman spiff Adventurer

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    Location:
    left coast, land of the fruits and nuts
    I love that part of the country. as sort of an off topic aside, you having a biology degree and access to all that water around there---ever see any/many cottonmouths or rattlesnakes as you tramp down to check out "the smell of water"?? I hate snakes and that alone woul dkeep me in the middle of the gravel road, and it looks plenty wild enough to have a lot of them living there.
    #20