Beemer Beemer chicken deener!

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by JMo (& piglet), Apr 16, 2018.

  1. JMo (& piglet)

    JMo (& piglet) Unicorn breeder

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    cont.

    Day 4: Wednesday 25th April 2018: Chantilly VA to Roanoke VA

    256 miles

    Having just passed the 600 mile mark on my arrival in Chantilly the day before, I was able to change the oil in Carl's garage after our photo session on Tuesday (see photos and description on the Vendor thread - and yes, you can change the oil and filter without completely removing the Rally Raid engine guard - result!) - and felt the bike was as run-in as well as it was likely to be now, so I could press on south at full pelt and try and outrun this rain...

    Fortunately, as I approached Charlottesville, the rain receded, and I even felt confident enough to jet-wash the road-grime and general filth off the bike in preparation for my attendance at the Horizons meeting the following day, and the subsequent show-and-tell about the new bike and Rally Raid kit...

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    I then elected to ride the whole length of the Blue Ridge Parkway from Waynesborough to Roanoke (110 miles) in the emerging afternoon sun:

    [​IMG]

    What a way to end the day!

    Jx
    #41
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  2. JMo (& piglet)

    JMo (& piglet) Unicorn breeder

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    Day 5: Thursday 26th April 2018: Roanoke VA to Appomattox VA

    109 miles

    "Showtime"

    I won't bore you with the details about the Horizons weekend, but suffice to say it was a wonderful social event, with plenty of interesting presentations and attendees from all over North America and much further beyond (including Europe, the Philippines and even Australia).

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    photo. that is my tiny little tent on the far left, next to a useful bench seat.

    We all awoke to a rather damp morning on the Friday (well, those of us camping, and who had not had the forethought to set up under the canopy of one of the pavilion buildings... while other attendees had seen the forecast and booked a cabin or bunkhouse), but none-the-less, the G310GS show-and-tell went down a storm with a lot of interested people in both the bike itself and of course what Rally Raid had done with it.

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    photo. this made me laugh - an etch-a-sketch, perfect for when you're stuck in traffic presumably?

    I have to admit I thoroughly enjoyed the women's meet-and-greet seminar later that afternoon, which culminated in us all being inaugurated into the exclusive club known as the "Tequila Swilling Whores", complete with shots and a silly dance to earn ourselves a badge and sticker - priceless!

    With zero miles ridden the Friday (due to a combination of a morning presentation, and afternoon of drinking, and rain that didn't really lift all day), I decided that I would head back west towards the point at which I left the TAT earlier in the week on Saturday afternoon, after my final two presentations (Packing Light, and the US debut of Northern eXposure) this morning.


    [riding] Day 6: 28th April 2018: Appomattox VA to Roanoke VA

    96.7 miles

    It seems I really can't escape this town, well, not until tomorrow at least when I will do my best of course!

    I decided to only ride as far as a familiar hotel (yes, a Motel 6 if you were wondering Neil ;o) and get an early night tonight - plus the opportunity to hook up to some wifi and update you all, which as you see I have done - despite absorbing a huge bucket of Margarita in the local Mexican restaurant earlier this evening ;o) hic.

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    photo. this made me smile/happy... on my way back from Appomattox this afternoon, I noticed I'd marked a waypoint in my GPS during the Trans-Am500 ride as I thought this was a particularly twisty and fun road to ride. This alternative route back to Roanoke was a perfect opportunity for the GS to be in it's element, and I was delighted that my marker sticker (on the back of the aluminium sign) was still here three years later!

    With my gear now all nice and dry, and everything repacked and ready to hit the trail tomorrow, it is my intention to roll out of here in good time, and see how far along the rest of the Virginia TAT (and who knows, even as far as North Carolina) by tomorrow evening - in a vain attempt to try and ride it all the way to the previous start in Andrews NC, near to the southern end of the Tail of the Dragon at Deals Gap (hwy 129 - ie. 318 curves in 11 miles, just in case you were in any doubt what I was talking about!) and therefore will have ridden all of the new TAT sections to connect up with those have ridden previously.

    From there I'd like to ride the first few sectors of the Tennessee TAT, just for old times' sake, but by then I will really have to make a bee-line for Arizona if I'm to make it there by this coming Friday evening...

    Wish me luck!

    And much more to come of course, just as soon as I can get online again...

    Jenny x
    #42
  3. Neil_The_Wheel

    Neil_The_Wheel Long timer

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    What is there to wonder about?!

    Hope that you slept well in your favorite hotel and wishing you success and safe travels on the rest of your journey.

    Enjoying this thread and the mini GS Project.

    Happy Trails.
    #43
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  4. shinyribs

    shinyribs Thumpers for life

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    Well,dang...you were in my stomping grounds...

    Nice work on everything, as always (loved your XR4 thread). Good luck and be safe!
    #44
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  5. davidp14

    davidp14 Been here awhile

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    I love Virginia this time of year. Even when it's alternating rain and sun. You weren't 15 miles from me on Wednesday.

    Good luck and safe travels
    #45
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  6. Ginger Beard

    Ginger Beard Instagram @motopossum Super Moderator

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    I always enjoy your threads and so far this one has been no exception. Really looking forward to following along.

    Have a safe and enjoyable journey,

    Dave :freaky
    #46
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  7. JungleDeath

    JungleDeath Been here awhile

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    Great reports Jenny!
    2 things:
    1) How is the fuel economy so far in your trip? Is it at least 55mpg...?
    2) Are you really coming to Tahoe later on? I would love to meet you (and Juan).
    #47
  8. JMo (& piglet)

    JMo (& piglet) Unicorn breeder

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    Just checking in... the little GS is flying, and really came into its own yesterday on the back roads and terraced trails that make up the Virginia TAT - so much so that I've nailed it all now, and am currently in Damascus about to start on the North Carolina sections this morning...

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    photo. The TAT loops down into Tazewell, and initally I wondered why (other than for food and fuel of course) - but not only is the trail up the mountain and following twisty paved section down again a doozy, but it also sets you up perfectly to ride this local highway - #16 - aka The Back of the Dragon.

    note. Unlike it's infamous cousin a little further west between Tennessee and North Carolina, the Back still has a regular 55mph limit, and was also mercifully traffic-free on this sunny Sunday afternoon - result!


    More soon...

    Jx
    #48
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  9. JMo (& piglet)

    JMo (& piglet) Unicorn breeder

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    Hi Jungle' - yes, according to the dash display, I was getting 62mpg while running in (even on those TKC80s), and that has dropped to a steady 58mph while ragging it more yesterday.

    I/we certainly will aim to be up in the Tahoe area later this summer, there is a little trail up there which I fancy subjecting the GS to - although I think I've already proved you don't actually need a 21" front wheel to ride the Rubicon ;o)

    Jx
    #49
  10. JungleDeath

    JungleDeath Been here awhile

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    Thanks! That's good info. Loaded touring gets me 45 at best when dual sporting. Ugh. Sounds like I need a little GS in my life.

    Keep up the great reporting!
    #50
  11. JMo (& piglet)

    JMo (& piglet) Unicorn breeder

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    Right, I'm booking into a motel in good time this evening - with decent wifi, laundry (I need that after the weekend at Horizons!), and looking forward to my inclusive 'hot breakfast' tomorrow - so nope, not a Motel 6 tonight Wind' ;o)


    Day 7: Sunday 29th April 2018: Roanoke VA to Damascus VA

    273.3 miles (inc. 190.4 miles new TAT)

    "Gotta get gone!"


    I'd set my alarm for 6.45am with the intention of heading out early to try and nail as much of the remaining Virginia TAT as I could today... however, the after-effects of a bucket of Margarita the night before in the adjacent Mexican restaurant meant I was nursing a new kind of migraine/hangover hybrid, which only began to be alleviated after a waffle and crispy bacon at the local diner.

    I hit the road just after 8am, and stopped off to top up on fuel and cash on my way out of town:


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    photo. I still get a kick out of these drive through ATM machines... we have nothing like this in the UK you see...

    It was about 45 miles to the point where I'd left of the TAT last Monday, and I was soon back into the swing of things on the minor [mainly paved] roads that wound their way up and down over the mountain ridges that make up the Appalachians in this area.

    [​IMG]

    Fortunately, just when you think "I could do with a bit of dirt now" Sam dishes up the goods, in this instance about 30 miles in with the entertaining Sugar Run Road (note that the bottom half of the Virginia TAT appears to share a lot of the [exact] same routing as the new Mid Atlantic BDR does - I guess there are very few through dirt-roads in the region).

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    As I was razzing along Sugar Run', followed by an entertaining uphill climb on Flat Top Mountain Tower Rd (I could imagine this being a special stage sprint in a rally ;o), I thought I might confirm the ABS functioning on the bike - sure enough, if you've disengaged the ABS using the bar switch, it remains off if you stall the engine and/or use the kill switch. It only defaults back to ABS on if you switch the bike off and on again with the key. Nice.

    Looking at the bigger picture on the GPS screen, I did wonder why Sam had seen to divert north towards Tazewell, rather than continue diagonally south west at Ceres... I should have known really - a corking climb over another ridge on dirt, followed by a wonderful sweeping decent into town where you can get gas and food, and accommodation should you require.

    Best of all, the TAT route then starts up (or is that down - heading south) highway 16, aka. the BF Buchanan Highway, aka. the Back of the Dragon - a fabulous 19 miles (each way) of twisty country road that doesn’t have an absurdly low speed limit, nor is blighted by Sunday drivers on this sunny afternoon - result!

    Of course all this tyre shredding put me a little behind on the TAT schedule, but then I hadn’t come all this way [not least flying across the county to buy this bike in the first place] to miss out on an opportunity like this!

    [​IMG]

    The TAT actually turns off highway 16 precious few miles in, so I’d definitely recommend passing by and riding the whole thing to Hungry Mother Lake and back, before getting off onto the dirt again.


    The next section had me feeling a little uneasy. Poor Valley Road lived up to its name exactly - a twisting dirt road though a valley, that passed through some very poor communities indeed. Ramshackle and abandoned houses, and amongst this shabby property and junk, those that were occupied were populated by some pretty scary looking people too - the kind you imagine spend what little money they do have on ammo and booze, and certainly not repairing the heaps of broken vehicles that littered their yards.

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    Only once before (in Africa) have I been this embarrassed that my motorcycle was worth more than someone's house...


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    photo. Southern Virginia is littered with abandoned property - you wonder what happened to make someone leave a house like this to ruin (it had been completely gutted of internal fittings)…


    Time was pressing on now, however, once I refuelled at Atkins I factored I still had enough daylight to probably make it to Damascus VA - the technical end of the Virginia leg, and start of the North Carolina sections… and where I should be able to find a comfortable bed for the night.

    The Virginia TAT ends on a metaphorical and literal high - climbing to over 4200ft on a cracking rough road though the woods (plenty of camping opportunities here, which I would have considered myself were it not so damn cold today!), while the final paved section into Damascus another epic twisty river road: the Jeb Stuart Highway.

    So that’s the Virginia TAT - done!

    Jenny x
    #51
  12. whatsupdoc

    whatsupdoc Been here awhile

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    Just did some binge reading at 4 in the morning. Family trip and I ended up sharing the room with my 11 year old son and he moves like crazy so i can't sleep.

    Your remarks about poverty are familiar. My godfather, a retired german army engineer has this passion of going on weeklong bicycle trips. E.g he took a flight to Istanbul and came back to Frankfurt, germany, by bike. Did the same thing with Moscow and coming back through ukraine and poland and last year he crossed part of the states east to west ending up in LA with some time to spare. Or that was the plan...
    He cut his trip short for several reasons but he said that the poverty he saw in the states exceeds just about everything he saw on his previous trips.
    He felt pretty uneasy at times biking through some communities and being watched by some guys hitting the booze way to hard knowing they might be armed to the brim so he stopped short and hauled ass. He said he felt like a sitting duck on his bike. A feeling he hardly ever had before...
    #52
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  13. JMo (& piglet)

    JMo (& piglet) Unicorn breeder

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    Day 8: Monday 30th April 2018: Damascus VA to Mars Hill NC

    224 miles (all new TAT, other than slight detour due to a locked gate)


    I’d rolled into Damascus pretty late the previous evening, and there seemed to be a dearth of traditional hotel/motels, only odd B&Bs that either looked really fancy/expensive, or closed.

    I was getting desperate now, when I spied this joint set back from the main road:

    [​IMG]

    The sign on the door said to call the number (the owner lived a few blocks away) to make a booking - although my phone seemed to be on the wrong network for this town, so I ended up using the landline from a local gas station… ah, remember the days when there used to be pay-phones?!

    Anyway, to cut a long story short - the Appalachian Trail Town Inn is a delightful property, very much like a home stay (I was sharing with a couple of hikers who were walking the whole length of the Trail - hardcore!), very clean and newly decorated, and with excellent wifi, and the kitchen at your disposal. It would be great for a group (three double bedrooms plus a nook with two further single beds), and especially as a jumping off spot for mountain biking - ah, duh, turns out I was in the epicentre of southern Virginian cycling country!

    Anyway, despite some confusion about how to pay my bill, it was a very nice place to stay, and plan the next stage of my attack on the TAT...


    Having not left until after 9am, I felt there would be no point in rushing now, so dipped into the local coffee house on the way out of town - excellent coffee and great food too!

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    photo. I’d certainly got mine back this morning with a quad shot espresso and warm sticky cinnamon roll!


    Again, the North Carolina section/s started out on minor paved roads - and the crisp morning sun picked out every crest of white water in the rushing rivers and creeks that I was riding alongside first thing…

    Some observations of the new TAT sections so far: First of all, having ridden the TAT twice now in its entirety, and certain sections more times than that - if you are looking for a primarily dirt [road] challenge while crossing the country, I would have to concede that you’re really better off starting out in Colorado (or at least Arkansas) and heading west from there… That is not to say that further east does not have it’s own kind of charm - but the ‘trail’ is very patchy with regard to unsurfaced roads, and offers very little of what you might consider an actual ‘Jeep trail’.

    However, if you want to ride some absolutely epic twisty minor highways and paved backroads, plus glimpse at a life that much of the modern world has passed by, then the Virginia and North Carolina sections are an excellent way to warm up for your complete cross-country ride… you’ll just have to allow the corresponding extra time for this indulgence, particularly if you want to say you “did it all”.

    And I have to say, the G310GS seems to be absolutely perfect for this kind of sub-60mph backroad riding. The engine is peppy (especially when you’re rolling on and off the throttle in 4th gear), and the bike feels perfectly at home pointing and squirting between corner after sweeping corner, and flick-flacking from side to side as you carve through even the tightest turns - I do love the TKC80s in that regard.

    You do get a great glimpse of rural life here in North Carolina too, although much of it is also very poor and run-down, such as it is in Virginia (and similarly in the Tennessee and Mississippi sections too) with abandoned and tumbledown properties.


    [​IMG]
    photo. This barn was surprised (and perhaps even a little disappointed) to see I wasn’t on my Honda!

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    [​IMG]

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    Personally speaking, I can’t help but think that there is a more obvious and direct route towards the dirt proper sections, ie. those that become far more regular as the TAT progresses west… but at the same time, I think what Sam [Correro] is trying to offer here now is not simply a ‘straight line’ from coast to coast, but rather the opportunity to explore a little more of each State as you pass through - which is increasingly important perhaps for those choosing (or only able time-wise) to ride the TAT a few sections at a time, rather than end to end in one hit - something that is increasingly going to the be the case for more and more riders I imagine, the longer and more elaborate the route becomes?


    The TAT almost touches the Blue Ridge Parkway (you actually ride along side it for a short distance) just outside Blowing Rock, and it turns out that here is where all the [property] money resides in North Carolina. The town itself is full of restaurants and boutique shops, although not one traditional coffee shop/cafe that I could see, so I had to make do with a huge ice cream for lunch instead!

    [​IMG]
    photo. I thought this sign was cute - one little guy is even trying to fly!


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    photo. Very fancy!


    The trail sections south of here (and the Blue Ridge Parkway) are finally what I’d been waiting for... still well groomed for the most part, but more a traditional ‘trail’ than simply a gravel road, that even now you could still drive a car or SUV along with no bother.

    [​IMG]

    I realised I was starting to run rather low on fuel (for info. I finally filled up after 173 miles this afternoon, with 21 still showing on the range display), on the second dirt section, so took it easy and popped out at the top of highway 181 (aka Jonas Ridge - another infamous and epic motorcycle road in the region) to finally refuel.

    Interestingly, I must have came this way in 2015 on the CB500X as I’d actually marked a waypoint in my GPS along highway 181 as “Hoontown” - having clearly already enjoyed it on that bike too!


    The TAT route once again flirts with the Blue Ridge Parkway, and detours along highway 226A, and Little Switzerland, before finally joining the BRP for some of the best (and highest so far - 5500+ft) sections as you head south west towards Asheville.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Sam does send you off and downhill on some dirt roads, then back up to rejoin the Parkway (personally, unless you’re looking to camp round about now, I’d just stick on the main BRP, it is an utter delight and the views are wonderful over either side here), but when he finally decides you’ve had enough, the trail down from the ridge turned out to have a locked gate:

    [​IMG]
    photo. Yes I know I could have ridden around the gate, but I was worried that there would be a more substantial/official obstruction at the bottom of the hill, and I didn’t fancy riding down just in case…

    Instead I continued on the Parkway a few more miles, briefly debated about heading for the familiarity of the Motel 6 on the outskirts of Asheville (just off the BRP btw), but then elected to try and get back onto the TAT as soon as possible, and aim for the stop that Sam had noted (complete with a hotel) at Mars Hill, a few miles further north of Asheville, and right on the TAT route.

    Despite feeling I’ve broken the back of North Carolina today, there is still a long way to go before I reach the previous start point in Andrews, and can consider the current route joined up.

    I also fancy having a quick blast down and back up highway 129 (The Tail of the Dragon at Deals Gap) before I absolutely have to head due west for Arizona later this week - especially as the weather forecast is good for the next few days, and being a weekday, is likely to be less busy with traffic and police.


    Wish me luck!

    Jenny x
    #53
  14. Proud Highway

    Proud Highway one hand waving free

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    Great photos and report. One of the things I enjoy about backcountry motorcycle travel is the strange backwater places you get to see up close. So much of the developed world that we come into contact with is becoming aesthetically and culturally homogenized.

    This may not serve as any consolation, but violent crime in rural America is quite rare [perhaps paradoxically] for reasons you alluded to.
    #54
  15. KayDubbya

    KayDubbya Been here awhile

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    Really enjoying your report Jenny and looking forward to meeting you and having a look at your beemer at O/X. Are you getting consistently close to 195 miles of range from the stock fuel tank?
    #55
  16. skibum69

    skibum69 slave to gravity Super Supporter

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    I'm late to the party again, glad you posted a link on that FB page that I saw this morning. Now that I'm caught up a couple of things: I see you've stolen some poor git's KTM bottle opener from their tool kit. I'll be sure to keep mine under lock and key in Des Moines:lol3

    I've been to Covington a few times working in that massive pulp & paper mill. I can tell you it's pretty much as ugly inside as it looks like from the outside. I was toddling around the area on a borrowed KLR last fall between jobs.

    Looking forward to tagging along until I see you in July. Safe travels.:thumb

    Edit: I was looking at a wee GS on the floor of a dealer in Onterrible in March, it was pretty decent looking machine to my eye at the time.
    #56
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  17. squonker

    squonker Stupid is the new norm

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    :lurk
    #57
  18. crashkorolyk

    crashkorolyk just happy to ride

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    Another brilliant R.R. Jenny,really looking forward to see how your adventure unfolds,taking a baby GS out this weekend to see how she feels after seeing the Rally Raid video.Even my mid sized GS is getting to be a handful as I progress in age,nice to check out your perspective on the wee one!
    #58
  19. ThirtyOne

    ThirtyOne I got my wings back. Supporter

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    Glad I caught up with you and your ride report here. Safe travels Jenny!
    #59
  20. JMo (& piglet)

    JMo (& piglet) Unicorn breeder

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    Just to let you all know Piglet and I nailed the last of the new North Carolina TAT sections earlier this evening, to join with the previous official start point here in Andrews NC.

    [​IMG]
    photo. I have a very similar photo* of the Trans-Am CB500X here from June 2015, as we were about to start on the whole TAT.

    I also found out there is a hotel in Andrews after all, and it is indeed right on the TAT route too!

    Full report of this epic day to follow... right now I need to sleep, and plan how to get to Arizona by the weekend.

    Jenny x

    *edit. ...and here it is:

    [​IMG]
    #60