Six days of dual sport riding in the southern Smokies

Discussion in 'Epic Rides' started by klaviator, Oct 4, 2009.

  1. klaviator

    klaviator Long timer

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    The title of this RR describes what we're planning to do. My primary riding partner for the last 6 years, Steve, and I are going to get together and ride for six days. We've ridden in this area many times before so it won't be the most epic of adventures. What makes this trip different is I finally learned how to use my digital camera and I plan to use it. This will also be my first attempt to do a ride report. Here it is:

    We started planning this trip several months back. I need to put in my vacation request way in advance. Although I seriously considered going somewhere new, I knew that this area had great riding so I did the safe thing and planned the trip to an area I knew. The fact that we could fit the Oktoberfest DSR into the trip was a bonus. This organized DSR ended up be cancelled but we have old route sheets so we can still ride the route.

    On to the trip:

    Day 1 Sunday October 4, 2009

    I load my KLR650 and XT350 into my Avalanche

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    Then I add a trailer[​IMG]

    And make the long 10 minute drive to Steve's house where we load his DR650 and DRZ250
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    Notice that I'm wearing shorts and a T shirt. After getting to Maggie Valley, I don't know if I'll be wearing that for awhile...It's cold up here!

    After loading up we drove up to Maggie Valley. Nothing exciting about the drive. We stopped at Subway for lunch but I decided against taking any food pics.

    Originally we had planned to ride out of Andrews, NC for three days and then go to Maggie Valley for three more. At the last minute we changed plans due to a less than desirable weather forecast. We also started the trip a day early. This was a challenge for Steve who had just returned from 90 days in Alaska.

    We arrived at our home for the next three days, the AHoliday Motel in Maggie Valley. I would post a pic of the motel but forgot to take one. I'll try to get one tomorrow. We unloaded the bikes and headed out for a ride:clap :rofl :clap
    Pics of day one ride to follow.
    #1
  2. klaviator

    klaviator Long timer

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    Day one ride:

    Since we were starting this ride pretty late it wasn't going to be real long. On the ride up Steve mentioned he would like to ride the long one way gravel road in SMNP which we had done before. I basically planned out a route in my head during the drive up. We were both pretty rusty. Steve just got back from Alaska on the 1st. He hadn't ridden his bikes in three month's although while in Alaska he was forced to rent several bikes and do some riding. Yea I know, it's a tough job, but he was just the man to do it.
    I also haven't been doing a lot of riding.

    We needed a warmup. I have no GPS and no map. For those who know the area our route was: 19 south to Hyatt cove road to some some forest service roads.

    This on took us under the BRP
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    Then it was some twisty pavement to this

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    Nothing challenging. Just a nice curvy one way 14 mile gravel road with some nice scenery like this

    Steve posing by his DRZ


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    Me and my trusty 2000 XT350. This is the bike that got me into off road and dual sport riding. It may not be the latest and greatest but it's still a lot of fun.

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    Steve in action

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    At the end of this road we took a left on Big Cove RD to Cherokee. Then North on 19, Left on Jenkins creek, over some FS roads and back to 19 near the BRP. At this point it started raining so we headed back to the motel. Total distance: 68 miles. Total time about 3 hours. Nothing spectacular but it was a good warmup.

    The plan for tomorrow is approximately 130 miles including Hurricane Creek and Buzzards Roost. The weather forecast is cold and wet.
    #2
  3. klaviator

    klaviator Long timer

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    Day 2 - Monday October 5th

    We woke up this morning to this
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    It's been raining last night. Drizzle and 48 right now. Hurricane Creek is going to be interesting
    #3
  4. knybanjo

    knybanjo kinda slow

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    It looks like things are clearing out nicely for you guys.... :nod

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    Have a great ride.....:ricky

    I'm looking forward to more pics.

    :lurk
    #4
  5. GB

    GB . Administrator

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    You've got some great riding in the Smokies! :thumb

    :lurk
    #5
  6. klaviator

    klaviator Long timer

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    It looked pretty ugly this morning. After a late start it cleared up and we ended up with a great ride. Now comes the hard part, downloading the pics and posting the RR for today.
    #6
  7. shojac

    shojac Adventurer

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    If you are doing hwy. 215, look for Charlies Creek, south of the pky. comes out on 107.
    #7
  8. klaviator

    klaviator Long timer

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    It's part of our plan for tomorrow, as well as some stuff recommended by knybanjo.
    #8
  9. klaviator

    klaviator Long timer

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    Before we go, let me introduce the third member going on out ride:

    Raptor Duck - he should have a great view from the DRZs front fender.

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    For todays ride we'll be following the route from last year's Octoberfest DSR. No GPS and no MAP. I've got all the high tech gadgets mounted on my XT. A roll chart holder and a case for my camera.
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    We finally get on the road sometime after 10, ride about 5 miles and....:doh ...I realized had forgot to put my tools and tube in the bikes tailbag. No better way to ensure a flat than to not be prepared so I turned around and and went back to the motel.

    FINALLY, we're on the road again. Some nice curvy and scenic back roads. This one passes under I40

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    A little later it starts climbing and gets seriously twisty. Dual sport bikes are great for these roads. You're not likely to see a sport bike here because the road turns to gravel.

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    Both Steve and I love riding twisty pavement. Even with Knobby tires, these bike perform great, traction is not an issue, and at under 300 pounds, they are effortless to ride.

    Eventually the pavement becomes gravel and after several miles of great gravel road we get to this:

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    This is the start of Hurricane creek "road" off of Max Patch road. It doesn't look to impressive but it's muddy and rutted. And as you go down it, it gets worse. I've seen people ride this road on large adventure bikes. They're better riders than me. This is why we brought the small bikes. After today we'll be riding the six fifties.
    #9
  10. klaviator

    klaviator Long timer

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    Hurricane Creek Road. We took a lot of pictures on this 6.2 mile long road. Steve took many of the pics on his camera but it doesn't use an SD card and we have no way to download to my laptop at this time. We'll do that after we get home. I have a new respect for those who have put together the great ride reports I have enjoyed reading. This is very time consuming. I suspect that my inexperience and cheap computer don't help matters. This is my second attempt to post Hurricane Creek. Here goes:

    Only 6.2 miles but I lost count of the number of creek crossings. Here's one:

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    There were also plenty of mud puddles:

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    We knew we were getting near the end when we saw the first of two cabins:

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    This is the end of the road. Hurricane Creek road ends right at Interstate 40. Notice the Hurrican creek road sign.
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    Unfortunately we also discovered that we had suffered our first casualty. Raptor Duck was MIA. We think he probably bailed out during one of the creek crossings. Anyone going through Hurricane creek in the near future keep you eyes open for a little duck. He made it safely all the way from Alaska but Hurricane creek was to much for him.
    #10
  11. SSG650

    SSG650 n00b

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    Pictures turned out good,guess you have photobucket figured out...Looks like you guys are having a good time.I will show Tim the pics tonight at the airport.See you next week,Steve.
    #11
  12. klaviator

    klaviator Long timer

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    I'm not sure I have photobucket figured out. I'm getting the pictures to post but the process is taking way too long.
    #12
  13. klaviator

    klaviator Long timer

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    I've been having problems getting a reliable WiFi signal so I'll post this fast before I lose it again. We had a good ride today. Tomorrow morning we'll load up and move to Andrews, NC. The weather looks good tomorrow and Thursday. Friday may be OK too. I don't expect to have internet access in Andrews so I'll be finishing this RR after I get home on Saturday.
    I'll try to get a little more of yesterdays ride done tonight.

    knybanjo, thanks for info you sent, we put it to good use.
    #13
  14. klaviator

    klaviator Long timer

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    After Hurricane Creek we took a break and took some pics. I was soaked with sweat. We were dressed too warm for Hurricane Creek but just right for most of the rest of the ride.

    After the break we jumped on I-40

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    The Harmon's Den exit was less than a mile. We exited, crossed under I-40 and rode 4.8 miles to Buzzards Roost.

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    There is nothing marking this spot except a rope handhold tied around some trees.

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    The view at the bottom of this path is impressive. It's about 1000 ft almost straight down to I-40

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    After taking in the view and a bunch of pics, we continued the ride.
    #14
  15. klaviator

    klaviator Long timer

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    Loaded up and drove to Andrews. The motel recently got WiFi but I need to sit outside in front of the office to get a reliable signal. Here's a brief update. Sorry no pics till later.

    Wednesday: Beautifull weather. The theme of my ride: "where does that road go" The theme of Steve's ride: "where did my keys go?"

    Thursday: Sunny and cold to start the day. Theme for todays ride: "curves, curves and more curves!!!"
    #15
  16. klaviator

    klaviator Long timer

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    We made it back home so it's time to work on this RR.

    After Buzzards Roost we continued on for a couple of miles of easy gravel road and then turned on to another technical section. It was similar to Hurricane Creek except more muddy. I thought it was tougher than Hurricane Creek, Steve didn't. I prefer rocks to mud. Sorry I didn't get any pics of this section but Steve took at least one. Once I get the pics from his camera, I'll post the good ones.

    We then did a few miles of gravel roads and eventually end up on this:

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    This is one of many curves on TN 32. This road is similar to the Deals Gap except that there are fewer straights and the curves are tighter. It's a great road but today it had too many wet leaves. Our route took us down about 2 miles of TN 32 and then back to gravel. Normally we ride all seven miles of curves and turn around but passed due to the wet leaves and the fact that it was after two and we were getting hungry.

    A little later we saw this:
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    I'm guessing that due to the FEDS closing all the riding areas, at least one local has resorted to riding his ATV on his roof.

    We then rode in to Hartford, TN. knybanjo had recommended the BBQ place in Hartford so that's where we ate.
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    Good food and motorcycle only parking right out front.

    Here's my lunch
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    #16
  17. klaviator

    klaviator Long timer

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    By the time we finished lunch it was about three. I had a burned out low beam so we wanted to get back before dark. We ended up riding with almost no breaks. Actually, Steve had plenty of breaks. He's much faster than I am off road so he he took plenty of breaks waiting for me. This was especially true true when we got into the Martha Sundquist State Forest.

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    The roads had been graded and graveled since last year but still had plenty of whoops and a few puddles. Steve really got into the groove on this section and lit the afterburners on his DRZ.

    After Martha Sundquist, we made our way back past Buzzards Roost and into Smoky Mountain National Park. I really love these roads. Hard pack dirt and rocks and endless curves. I got into the groove on this section and even kept up with Steve for awhile.

    It was getting late so we bypassed going into Cataloochee Valley so no Elk pics today. We then rode down one of my favorite sections, Cove Creek Rd. A bunch of downhill curves and hairpins.

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    After Cove Creek road it was back to the Motel and the end of Day 2.

    We've done this route several times before and we'll probably do it again. It has virtually no boring "transit" sections. Most of time is spent off the pavement and the paved sections are mostly twisty and scenic roads with little traffic.

    Total Miles: 123 for Steve and 135 for me.
    #17
  18. klaviator

    klaviator Long timer

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    Steve took almost as many pics as I did however the memory card in his camera went bad so we lost most of them. Here's a few from day 2:

    Hurricane Creek was pretty rocky. It's hard to capture on film. Here I am going down hill

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    Here's me crossing Hurricane Creek

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    This next one was not in Hurricane Creek but was probably the most challenging of the day. It had a fairly steep and rocky approach and was probably the deepest water crossing of the day.

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    Actually, nothing we have ridden is really challenging for an experienced off road rider. I have a lot of experience riding on the pavement but didn't really get into off road until the young age of 43. I think that to become a really good off road rider you have learn when you're still young, indestructable and fearless. For me, this was fun on my lightweight 350, but would be a real challenge on a larger bike. Steve on the other hand, has much more off road experience and has done this ride on his 650. He still prefers doing it on his lighter bike.
    #18
  19. klaviator

    klaviator Long timer

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    Day 3, Tuesday October 6th

    The weather for today looked much better than it did yesterday.

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    The Motel we were staying at in Maggie Valley was the Aholiday Motel. It's pretty old, but the rates were lower than most of the other motels, it was clean, and the owners were friendly. They welcomed motorcyclists and encouraged us to park our bikes under the roof in front of the rooms. During the three days we were there the only other guests were on motorcycles. The bikes in the pic above were Harleys from Michigan.

    After two days of mostly dirt, the plan for today was mostly pavement so we put on our street helmets, street gear and mounted up the six fifties.

    Climbing out of Maggie Valley, going south on 19, this is one of the sights:

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    I don't know if this is really the most photographed view in the Smokies but I doubt it. I think they're just trying to get people to pay the 50 cents charge to climb up the tower. I took a picture from the platform right of my bike. You be the judge, is this really the best picture spot in the Smokies?

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    After taking this dramatic pic, it's up to the BRP and north on the BRP. Within a few miles we were in the fog.

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    The fog ruined the view but was not so thick that we couldn't see where we were going.

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    We exited the BRP on to 215, one of my favorite roads, and headed north. Here's a few pics along 215.

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    From 215 we took 276 south back to the BRP and the north to the Pisgah Inn for lunch. The restaurant there has large picture windows with a great view of the .....FOG. The place was full but Steve and I were probably the youngest people in there. I decided to get something light and healthy for lunch.

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    The chef's salad was good, probably healthy, but not light. I think I was going to need a nap before long.
    #19
  20. klaviator

    klaviator Long timer

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    After lunch it was back south on the BRP. It was foggy or awhile then we broke out of the fog just in time to catch this view:

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    The leaves were starting to change but were still not at their peak. They were probably better at higher elevations but we couldn't tell because of the fog. We then took 215 south to Charleys Creek road. A few miles of Charleys Creek and then time for some dirt.

    When Steve and I ride together, I usuelly lead on the pavement and then he leads off the pavement. When we first started riding together I was much faster on twisty pavement and he was much faster off road. Over the years his twisty road skills have improved dramatically, especially when he's on his DR650. During the same time, my off road skills have......well, I'm not as slow as I used to be. At least I'm having fun.

    As soon as we turned off Charleys Creek, I waved Steve by. Ten seconds later:doh I realized I should have told Steve about the great viewpoint coming up ahead. Too late now. No way was I going to be able to catch him on this road.

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    Nothing challenging, mostly hardpack with some rocks and mud puddles, lots of curves and hills. Luckily, Steve saw the view point and had stopped by the time I got there.

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    Besides a great view

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    This was also a great place for a nap.

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    I joined him in taking a nap. I woke up before him and started exploring. This was an adventure ride so I needed to find something new and noteworthy. It didn't take long. I'm sure many of you have heard of the famous crop circles which many believe were made by aliens in UFOs. Not so well known are the rock circles which may have been made by the same aliens.

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    Remember, you saw it here first.
    #20