Appalachian Trail Dual Sport Tour

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by Gaston Gagne, Jul 15, 2009.

  1. Gaston Gagne

    Gaston Gagne Past Easy

    Joined:
    Jan 24, 2006
    Oddometer:
    2,594
    Location:
    Western Piedmont, NC
    Disclaimer: this aint the whole ME to GA shebang. I would love to do it if someone would work up the northern half.

    On many of my rides, I find myself seeing the white rectangle guiding hikers between Georgia and Maine, and it's always in some great location. That's the idea of the trail.

    Well, Layla was heading off to school, and the last business day before she left, she determined that she had a bad ball joint/control arm. Rut roh. We have a problem. Some quick thinking and I had a plan. This summarizes our relationship: she crawls under the car and figures out what needs to get done, and I figure out how to turn it into a motorcycle ride.

    So here's the plan: I take her and her DRZ 400 to UVA and drop her off. Oh yeah, I had my bike too, so I could stop on the way back and do some riding. Then I would drive her repaired car back to Charlottesville and ride the DRZ back home sticking as close to the footpath as possible.

    I spent so much time poring over Delorme's Atlas of Virginia that I was seeing red lines on a green background in my sleep.

    Let's git it started:

    Saturday we visited Monticello. As a public school teacher, I have always been a fan of Thomas Jefferson. TJ speaks to us through the mists of time. We spent 5 hours there. It's worth a visit.

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    Good flower sniffing there. TJ was down with plants.

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    Sunday, Layla implored me to find my own thing to do as she had a lot of studying to do. They are giving her a lot of physics to do.

    So I headed out to Rockfish Gap to do a little bit of reconnaissance.

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    My dad and I whiled away a few days in this area some years back. You can't really go wrong in Sherando. This brings up another point: do federal employees take some kind of oath of ignorance? The Parkway information center lady told me that the nearest gas is on Rte 56 near Wintergreen. Luckily, this fellow rider overheard the conversation and told me that I can buy gas, biscuits and guns in Sherando.

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    Big Levels. Nice road. I came across a gaggle of teenagers waaaay out in the middle of this run. No adults to be seen, no means of getting there. "Oh my God, it's like, a guy on a dirt bike." I also passed a DS group going the other way.

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    This dumps you out on the Parkway. I didn't do any of the side trails. Someday, maybe. So I rode the Parkway to 814 and on down to VA 56, one of the greatest stretches of pavement anywhere.

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    Crabtree Meadows

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    Shoe Creek rocks!

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    FR 63 is a smooth screamer road. Super fun and beautiful. At the pass, I made a right and chased down a bunch of roads that started to get sketchy. The erosion bar/tank trap dichotomy was a real question out here. I got to the top of the mountain with some towers. No real view, but it was a nice place to eat lunch.

    These are like little bombs.

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    The explosion. More claws, too.

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    It was getting pretty dark, so I hightailed it to the Parkway. I rode in the rain for about 2 minutes when the Montebello store appeared. :clap Timing is everything. I enjoyed to company of this fellow from Waynesboro who was rather vocal about the virtues of his 650 Burgman.

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    I wonder if there's a retail establishment where I can get some of these fine looking fruit.

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    Yes there is.

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    The idea of some peaches and ice cream was setting off all kinds of internal alarms, but I had a social engagement to attend.

    But first I need a shower. I'm scamming floor space and shower facilities in a women's dormitory, so when in Rome...

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    One of Layla's colleagues took it upon himself to throw down a fajita cookoff. We brought peaches.

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    Tomorrow morning, we hit the road and go cross country.

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    #1
  2. wachs

    wachs just passin' through

    Joined:
    May 24, 2005
    Oddometer:
    4,955
    Location:
    Tumalo, Oregon
    Nice - TJ truly does speak to us through time.
    #2
  3. Gaston Gagne

    Gaston Gagne Past Easy

    Joined:
    Jan 24, 2006
    Oddometer:
    2,594
    Location:
    Western Piedmont, NC
    I was on the way at 6:15. Layla saw me off.

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    Holy smokes, what a house. The barn is just as impressive.

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    After a brief stop at Harris Teeter, I made it to the Parkway by 7:15. I forewent the Big Levels run this morning as I had to get down the road. I wanted to get as far as Dual Sport Mountain.

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    The AT drops down into the Tye valley, so I will to.

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    One of those pesky white rectangles. Another disclaimer. I never set a wheel on the AT except where it runs on motoring roads.

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    From the pass on FR 63, I took FR 48 and wended my way down to US 60. There is a stop sign without much warning and the road is really steep. I nearly went through it. I ran 60 over to FR 39 for some more nice groomed gravel action, but keep your eye on the road! There are rock protrusions. :eek1 FR 311 takes you to Parkway but you can't get on right there. I made a chain adjustment here.

    Cruise the Parkway up to the Peaks of Otter.

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    Off the Parkway to head down to North Creek and Buchanan cause I need some gas.

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    Some dismiss these as ditch weeds.

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    I run down 43 to Buchanan proper and then up VA 43 to the Parkway. What a road! I'm hot on the trail.

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    You leap frog with the AT on the Parkway until US 460. Yuk, busy 4 lane, but you gotta go that way to get to Mountain Pass Road. I tried not to get any of it on me. Here is the intersection from Mountain Pass Road.

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    I'm in the Roanoke sphere of influence, and it is hot as blue blazes. Shade is in short supply. Mountain Pass drops you out in Daleville for another sip of I-81 gas.
    #3
  4. CatoctinDave

    CatoctinDave Long timer

    Joined:
    Dec 11, 2006
    Oddometer:
    7,509
    Location:
    Point of Rocks, MD
    Nice! Looking forward to the rest of this ride! Your flower pictures are wonderful, BTW.
    #4
  5. GB

    GB . Administrator Super Moderator Super Supporter

    Joined:
    Aug 16, 2002
    Oddometer:
    69,939
    Fantastic :thumb Looking forward to the rest of the adventure. :thumb
    #5
  6. Lucky Intervale

    Lucky Intervale Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Jan 18, 2007
    Oddometer:
    127
    Location:
    Forest Hill Country Club
    If you saw the DualSport Mtn post, you know Gaston is a wiz with the ride planning, so I decided to ride up from the Morg. to meet him at Cowboys. Now I should have taken some pics on the way, but little did I know about the chain issues he was having... plus it was only 50 degrees heading through Banner Elk... in July! I spent big time on the beads (Thanks KyBanjo!) so pics were lacking. The day turned out to be 290 miles, and we proved that a wee can indeed do the gravel. Here's Darth from last summer in Acadia... it's prettier there than my driveway.

    Attached Files:

    #6
  7. Lucky Intervale

    Lucky Intervale Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Jan 18, 2007
    Oddometer:
    127
    Location:
    Forest Hill Country Club
    Back in the South... I did the usual route up through Mountain City and Shady Valley... 133 is the heater, and my lack of pictures is just one more excuse to return! What a spectacular section of slab... Arrived in Damascus ahead of Gaston. What to do... what to do... OH, I can go for a RIDE! The loops between 58 and 91 are beyond excellent. Like Sussex County NJ 50 years ago... I highly recommend 717 and 803... When I got back, it was some Little Debbie's blackberry pies, then off to the races!

    Attached Files:

    #7
  8. Lucky Intervale

    Lucky Intervale Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Jan 18, 2007
    Oddometer:
    127
    Location:
    Forest Hill Country Club
    But not before an explanation of the chain situation, and some vivid descriptions of the parkway at dawn... complete with gesticulation and in between bites of bagel, of course!

    Attached Files:

    #8
  9. Lucky Intervale

    Lucky Intervale Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Jan 18, 2007
    Oddometer:
    127
    Location:
    Forest Hill Country Club
    We took a little break on yet more of VA's LEGAL gravel byways... "Messrs. Gagne and Intervale? Right this way please..."

    Attached Files:

    #9
  10. Lucky Intervale

    Lucky Intervale Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Jan 18, 2007
    Oddometer:
    127
    Location:
    Forest Hill Country Club
    Or this way if you're so inclined! I will say this... while I love the Givi windscreen for the road, it's a little high for off road as it cuts my line of sight... which is why the stock shorty awaits in the garage!

    Attached Files:

    #10
  11. Lucky Intervale

    Lucky Intervale Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Jan 18, 2007
    Oddometer:
    127
    Location:
    Forest Hill Country Club
    Panhandle is also a fantastic bit of gravel/dirt... and I rode it as far as I could before having to egress while Gaston took the black diamond route back to the slab. I'm sure someone could ride a Wee down that jeep road, but it ain't me, and it ain't gonna be my bike! Plus I need the practice on the dirt/gravel keeping some speed (Note to self: "look farther ahead... don't freak out, don't freak out..."). But before turning around, and with some encouragement from GG who sussed the line, we sallied up a tricky little spur that was well worth the effort... You can jusstttt see Grandfather on the horizon.

    Attached Files:

    #11
  12. Lucky Intervale

    Lucky Intervale Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Jan 18, 2007
    Oddometer:
    127
    Location:
    Forest Hill Country Club
    And into Tennessee if you angle down a bit.

    Attached Files:

    #12
  13. Lucky Intervale

    Lucky Intervale Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Jan 18, 2007
    Oddometer:
    127
    Location:
    Forest Hill Country Club
    The rest of the day was a mad mix of farm, forest, paved, and (gag) traffic as we headed over the Wautauga and back into NC. It was a lonnggg day but so so worth it. Plus it's not like I have to go to work 'til, umm, AUGUST! :dutch
    Stay tuned for our next installment of the SW Virginia Chronicles... coming to a blog near you as soon as next Wed.! Cheers y'all!
    #13
  14. PistonPants

    PistonPants Crankcase Scavenger

    Joined:
    Jun 11, 2008
    Oddometer:
    808
    Location:
    Cantwell, AK
    Very nice! But I'm a bit suspect of the pink bathrobe after all the flower pics. Where's the grease under fingernails and Budweiser? Huh? Give Layla a big squeeze from me when you get done borrowing her scoot!

    Peace

    Piston
    #14
  15. BlueBuell

    BlueBuell Banned

    Joined:
    Feb 19, 2008
    Oddometer:
    421
    Most excellent dude! I can't wait to get to North Carolina this fall.
    Cheers
    #15
  16. outpostbabu

    outpostbabu Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Feb 8, 2008
    Oddometer:
    202
    Location:
    Atlanta
    This is a great idea and a great place to ride! Subscribed for more! :clap
    #16
  17. Gaston Gagne

    Gaston Gagne Past Easy

    Joined:
    Jan 24, 2006
    Oddometer:
    2,594
    Location:
    Western Piedmont, NC
    After Daleville, I pulled 2 long, relatively straight runs up two valleys. The first is Catawba Road. The next is Craig Creek. I did a cool, little dogleg through this Miller Cove to connect the two.

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    I found a shady spot and did some map recon and had a snack. I'm getting close to Peters Mountain. I'd like to check out the raptor migration here someday.

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    The end of Craig Creek is US 460. I stopped for gas at this cool store.

    Nothing fancy, just the basics.

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    Oops, wrong turn, but I came out this way for a reason. Another one of these amazing homes.

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    Mountain Lake Hotel doesn't have air conditioning because they don't need it. There are basically two ways to cross this mountain. Actually there are probably a bunch of ways, but anyway, I chose the Rocky Mountain Road way, so I had to go back down the mountain a bit to pick it up. The map shows a lookout on Butt Mountain.

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    This water seemed like it would be tastier than that from the gas station down on 460.

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    I missed the lookout because I was having too much fun on this groomed gravel racetrack, I mean, forest service road. I dropped off of the mountain and was so close to the West Virginia state line with a twisty line leading to it, but I'll save that for another time. I tried finding a jeep road that is labeled on Delorme's, but I couldn't find it. The forest service guys that I met were no help either. I had another encounter with a forest service person earlier in the day in the North Creek area.

    Anyway, Road 635 is not that interesting, and it has our favorite, cement plants and the accompanying truck traffic. However, it does bring you down to Pearisburg. I got the deluxe burrito plate and headed down the road.

    The AT climbs Pearis mountain, but I had to suffer through this valley below.

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    The duties of motherhood are tough. This little critter was not running away but stayed in sight, giving me enough time to click a photo. I heard the rustling in the bushes on the side of the road and saw four or five of her brood.

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    Time for a Red Bull. After pulling a bunch of smooth miles, I'm going to wrap today up with some more rough stuff, so I need a shot of caffeine.

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    I keep finding myself at Wesendonck. I must be doing something right!

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    OK, I'm veering off of the AT just a bit here. I could have chased it down on Slide Mountain, but this run is much more fun.

    This puddle was a lot greener in person. There are 30 more where that came from. The buzzard from last week wasn't there.

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    I caught back up with it.

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    Bland, Virginia has interstate gas, Dairy Queen, and beer to go. I'm off to camp!

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    Not so fast, buddy. We got time to watch the sun set.

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    That was a sun up to sun down day of riding. I used every minute of daylight for its intended purpose.

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    I also find myself freezing my butt off in this campground, and this night was no exception.

    I'll pick this up later. Thanks for looking. I hope I'm not overburdening this picture business. The forum title says pics, pics, pics, right?
    #17
  18. izom

    izom Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Jun 9, 2006
    Oddometer:
    429
    Location:
    LandofArnoldS/Vienna
    ...verrrry NICE !!:D
    #18
  19. intothenew

    intothenew Briar Patch Navigator

    Joined:
    Jul 19, 2007
    Oddometer:
    2,141
    Location:
    Almost Heaven
    You just keep them pics a comim'. :thumb
    #19
  20. Gaston Gagne

    Gaston Gagne Past Easy

    Joined:
    Jan 24, 2006
    Oddometer:
    2,594
    Location:
    Western Piedmont, NC
    Camp in the morning.

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    I was out of there by 7 a. m. The plan was to go back to the trailhead marker in my last post and pick up the route through Burke's Garden and on through Marion.

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    "The Eiffel Tower built to smaller scale, the freshest oxygen I ever inhaled..." I had a lot of Death Cab for Cutie bouncing around in my head.

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    I also had a jingling sound coming through the mental music and earplugs. It turned out to be a chain roller cover. I tightened that up and was off again, but then I had another bad noise. This ride required more than the chain had left. The best laid plans...

    I had one more notch on the chain adjuster and then got a little more with some aluminum "shim stock."

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    Now these two know how good the Scenic Highway is.

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    I had to turn around. I have seen a good looking motorcycle shop on I 77 a million times. I eased on down the road to Wytheville, and they're open before 9. I just have to say that Mark IV (they have all 4 marks) RULES. The guys in the service department took out a link and installed a master link, and I was on the road again a little before 10.

    M.C. is the shop kitty.

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    Because I was meeting Lucky, I had a schedule to meet. Burke's Garden would have to wait for another day. This was an opportunity to try out some new roads to short cut to Marion.

    You just can't miss in these parts. Really.

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    Any moment now, Laura Ingalls and Mary Ellen Walton are going to come running over that horizon line.
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    Visualize Everlasting Peas

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    It was also on this leg that I lost my map, so I got a little lost, but I stopped at the ranger station on VA 16 and got oriented on how to get to Hurricane and FR 84.

    I was running a bit late, and my drivetrain was not in the best shape. Is this a good idea?

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    The trail will take you here:

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    and to places like this

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    No wonder knybanjo hates Virginia. They encourage you to ride your bike here! Be warned, this is sort of A riding. Lots of rocks.

    I caught up with Lucky who was soaking in the Damascus scene. We gassed up and hit Government Road.

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    I might be having some chain issues, but no one bashed my head in with a shovel.

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    Here is another place I keep finding myself.

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    The burger was too much for this blazing hot afternoon. I got some indigestion. We rolled up and down TN 91. I considered a walk down to Blue Hole, but the day was getting on.

    I have to keep looking for a better lookout point up here. Holston Mountain is really neat and offers a good perspective of the Appalachians. To your left, the beginning of the ridge and valley mountains that run through PA. Straight in front of you is the Watauga, and off to your right is the Unaka range with the Nolichucky and French Broad drainages. On the far right is where all of them come together to form the Tennessee River.

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    Lucky is beginning to find out why he bought a Wee Strom instead of a 1250 Bandit.

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    I finished the 202 loop while Lucky doubled back through Blue Hole. Panhandle rocks like Shoe Creek.

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    What happens at the Holston Hilton stays at the Holston Hilton.

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    Someday I want ride this loop backwards. :deal


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    On this day, however, going up would be an act of desperation. I lost a damn shoe. I know where it is, so I hope to get back and find it.

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    I was tired and hot and didn't feel like fumbling my way through Dogtown, so we did the slab through Elizabethton and on up into Dennis Cove for the final encounter with the AT for this trip. From there it was back to Rally HQ.

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    I had 578 miles for 2 days of riding. Now I'm working on the NC and GA part.


    Thanks for looking.
    #20