Going North on the Blue Ridge Parkway

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by Unwtrmy, Oct 12, 2021.

  1. Unwtrmy

    Unwtrmy Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Apr 9, 2011
    Oddometer:
    108
    Location:
    Hendersonville, NC
    First solo, multi-day bike trip. I am more nervous than excited. I need to make sure I still have roadside assistance before I leave, just in case.
    The Plan
    I live near Asheville, NC. I have ridden to the South end fo the Blue Ridge Parkway (BRP). The plan is to make it to the two northern ends, Mile 0 in Afton, VA, and then on to Skyline Drive from Afton to Front Royal. After that I will head to Harper's Ferry and then head south through WV. No details on that part of the plan.
    The Brat
    I made some updates to the bike in preparation for something like this - SWMotech crash bars, GIVI Dolomiti panniers, Arashimoto pegs, EDS blinkers (a beast to install), LED headlight, auxiliary lights, and some new tires. I hope it all stays together, I did the work myself. My primary skill is research [insert nerd emoji].
    IMG_20211012_224054_873.jpg IMG_20211012_224054_967.jpg
    End day 0.
    #1
    scudo, nutmagnet, B10Dave and 2 others like this.
  2. Unwtrmy

    Unwtrmy Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Apr 9, 2011
    Oddometer:
    108
    Location:
    Hendersonville, NC
    I woke up nervous/scared, still thinking, "let's don't and say we did something else." But, my wife is and has been very encouraging. She cares and/or she is looking forward to some peace and quiet :).
    I started out late then got stuck behind slowpokes. People can travel however they please, I accept it, but I do not like being stuck behind someone doing 30 in a 50 and struggling to stay in their lane. One illegal pass later, I was on my way but got stuck behind cyclists, which is fine - good for them, the Parkway gets steep. Oh, one time while stuck behind cyclists, I stalled the bike. We were going way too slow and I was looking about until my bike did a shiver, a shake, and a clunk! :jackOverall, it was a really good riding day. Brilliant weather, cold and hot. Leaf colors are shocking, some spots look like summer, and others look like proper fall.
    No issues with the bike at all. My auxiliary lights need to cast light further in front of the wheel, I will sort that out after I make it to my outlaw parents (the thing about outlaws is that they are wanted).
    I hoped to stop at Grandfather mountain. The first time I went up there it was cold and rainy, unfortunately when the weather is nice and the leaves turn one needs an appointment to get in. After a long road work delay in Blowing Rock, I decided to stop and the attraction. It was okay. The highlight was sitting at the end of a desolate trail, away from all the people. Since I would not make my original destination, I had to find accommodation. While I was riding back and forth to and from a closed motor inn, a full b&b, I found a brilliant sunset. I really wanted to join the folks who were there gawking and taking pictures. Either I am a bad photographer, or a camera cannot recreate a sunset. I tried anyway. I started calling around, trying to support businesses on the BRP app. In no time I found a bed and a steak dinner. Not sure why, but my only meal for the day. I know why - I do not like to stop for long once I get going; "we shall starve Precious!!"

    Progress: Mile marker 411 to 229 in 8 hrs.
    Quote of the day: "You will have fun. Tell your inner demons to bugger off. You deserve a break, you deserve to do something you enjoy." My sweet, sweet little Ramona.

    20211013_125356.jpg 20211013_144519.jpg 20211013_183432.jpg :eek2
    End Day 1.

    Attached Files:

    #2
  3. BoJack7_47

    BoJack7_47 n00b

    Joined:
    Aug 30, 2021
    Oddometer:
    1
    Location:
    Jacksonville
    Nice man, me and a buddy of mine were there this past weekend. Did 800 miles all through NC and TN. Many miles on the parkway. The weather is beautiful and the leaves are getting in peak season. Enjoy! Looking forward to the updates.
    #3
    Unwtrmy likes this.
  4. longslowdistance

    longslowdistance Long timer Supporter

    Joined:
    Oct 12, 2010
    Oddometer:
    1,951
    Location:
    Virginia
    Enjoy! In case you're not aware, a Parkway segment just south of Roanoke is still closed due to a slide and road failure. The official detour onto 221 is great until Cave Spring, then it kinda isn't . A more easterly detour route that puts you on 220 near the BRP is a bit nicer. Either route will test your patience.
    #4
  5. Unwtrmy

    Unwtrmy Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Apr 9, 2011
    Oddometer:
    108
    Location:
    Hendersonville, NC
    Thanks for the heads up, mate. I was going to follow the orange signs. I will scan a map. Thanks again.
    #5
  6. BlueRidgeTiger

    BlueRidgeTiger Adventurer

    Joined:
    Jan 20, 2021
    Oddometer:
    62
    Location:
    Upstate, South Carolina
    I did this back in June, awesome ride. I did to MABDR to just past Brandywine, then shot over to Shenandoah and took Skyline Drive southbound until it turned into the Parkway, then took the Parkway all the way back to Brevard.

    I live in Greenville, SC, hit me up if you want to ride some time.
    #6
    Unwtrmy likes this.
  7. Unwtrmy

    Unwtrmy Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Apr 9, 2011
    Oddometer:
    108
    Location:
    Hendersonville, NC
    I woke up quite startled, an HD fired up around 0800. That was it for me. I had planned to sleep until 0900. Breakfast was a protein bar and weak 50s motel coffee. FYI - 1 sachet for a tiny (British) cup if you want any strength to your morning brew. I got ready fairly quickly, I was on the BRP just before 0900. The prime goal was to stop at Mabry Mill and then after that, make it to the Outlaws'. I stopped at the midwife's cabin. I am quite impressed by these families who lived in one-room cabins, here we thought "open floor plans" were a new thing.
    In the first section of the BRP you spend most of your time riding between rocks and air. In this section, I was between trees for the most part. There were a few magical sections when I rode with nothing on either side of me, 'on top of the world' in a manner of speaking. I made it to the Mill and took some nice pictures. It was difficult to keep tone without 'overexposing' the sun-bleached cedar shingle roof. Took off from there and rode until the Roanoke detour. That is when I realized (again) a lesson when riding such long distances - it is tough to keep track of how many miles you have done, how many until you need gas, how many to the next turn, etc. GPS helps, but I want that to be a total luxury. Besides, I do not enjoy the lady's voice in my ear when I take a detour. I am glad she does not sigh or sound exasperated. I had half a mind to stop at one of my wife's favorite vineyards, but I was not sure a bottle would easily survive the trip back home. I also overshot the turn and did not want to turn around. I am only an okay husband. Riding down the mountain on 221 was mad fun! @longslowdistance was right, riding through Roanoke after the tranquil BRP was ratched, but I survived. Only one almost traffic incident when a minivan turning right decided to stop part of the way and not turn right, grrr. Oh well, it is her road too.
    I stopped for a disappointing lunch after this. Waved as, fellow inmate, @rockinrog passed me for the second or third time. After lunch, I continued to follow the orange signs and made it back to the BRP. One thing Ewan and Charlie did not discuss is that when you ride all day, sleep, and repeat, your sitting bits and uprighting bobs are not going to be happy! My back and butt were sore. This led me to keep 60 mph instead of 50 mph. It helped that this section has much less traffic than the Asheville to Grandfather Mtn. section. I stopped and met @Rockingrog and a hiker who made today's quote of the day. We had a nice chat about motorcycling. I powered through the sore and my goal was to get to Afton. There were much fewer stops and pictures.
    I enjoyed the change in geography, the increase in leaf color, the fact that there was more color on the western side of the BRP than the eastern side, what is that about. I thoroughly enjoyed my chat with @Rockingrog. Sooner BBQ brisket with Stupid sauce (it is so hot it is a stupid idea for most people) for dinner and nice hang with various Outlaws. All around, a good day (as long as I am not sitting). Some yoga will go a long way. I am hoping for no seat time tomorrow, but that is unlikely.

    Progress: Mile marker 229 to 0 in 7 hrs, went further than yesterday,
    Quote of the day: "You guys picked a much better way to travel." AT Hiker whose name I sadly forgot.

    End day 2


    Attached Files:

    #7
  8. r60man

    r60man Long timer

    Joined:
    Mar 14, 2013
    Oddometer:
    2,763
    Location:
    Centralish PA
    I rode the Skyline to the BRP this summer. Overnighted in Roanoke, then rode the BRP to Maggie Valley. On the way home I took 81 the entire way. I needed to get home in one day. Kept looking to my right and see the ridge and sigh. "I could be up there, instead of here." Those are great roads, if you live close to them, awesome!
    #8
    nutmagnet and Unwtrmy like this.
  9. Unwtrmy

    Unwtrmy Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Apr 9, 2011
    Oddometer:
    108
    Location:
    Hendersonville, NC
    I have been resting my backside at my outlaws' place. My mother-outlaw had a bit of a tumble and is in a nursing facility. Unfortunately, I cannot see her, so I am keeping father-outlaw company as best I can. He is a tough guy who does not need help, so it is not easy. But, he tells good stories, so that is fun.

    I did a daytrip with my nephew and his dad (brother-outlaw). I forgot how lovely riding in VA can be. It has been 5 years since we moved from here. Apparently, in that short time, I resolved that only NC has good biking roads - my apologies. It is lovely to ride in a leaf shower (when the wind blows and you ride under a tree as the leaves fall) or to ride in someone's leaf wake (when the fallen leaves ride the air disturbed by a passing vehicle). We also rode through rain showers that dampened the fun a bit, but it was still a great ride. As much as I enjoy the silence when I am riding, it was nice to talk to my nephew on the road. We talked about riding, we talked about life, and we talked about his dad who left his comm device at work. After 106 mi in Nelson and Albermarle county, I am back at my outlaws' and trying to warm up with a slightly sad cup of decaf, but I am happy to be here. Props to Calimoto for sending us on a ride we never could have planned, an entirely surprising ride with loads of twisties and some fun gravel (nephew is on ZX-14, props to him for keeping it upright in pebbles).

    I get back on the trip tomorrow. I will do the last leg of the Parkway then head west. I am still deciding on which route. I have three options:
    1. South from Moorefield on S. Fork Rd (SR 614) to Rte 250, Rte 220 then eventually west until Rte 19, or
    2. The U - Rte 48 to Rte 33 to Rte 250, and back to Rte 48 until Rte 19, or
    3. Follow 48 all the way to 19.
    Plan 1 has more backcountry routes, but 48 and 33 have been described by other riders as great roads. We shall see how adventurous I feel when I set out on Monday.

    Progress: I sat on the bike for 100 miles and did not hate it.
    Quote of the day: "Umm, I think that is gravel up ahead...which brakes do I use for gravel...I do not like what my front wheel is doing." My nephew, so much good material.
    Screenshot_20211016-162416_Fuelio.jpg 20211016_121333.jpg
    End day 2.5.
    #9
    scudo, Salth2ofish, Steve H. and 5 others like this.
  10. B10Dave

    B10Dave Long timer

    Joined:
    Jan 11, 2012
    Oddometer:
    2,843
    Location:
    Kingsmill Corner Ont.
    Nice ride and great pics. Please post as full size. Thumbnails are a pain to have to open. Thnks....Dave
    #10
  11. steved57

    steved57 Long timer Supporter

    Joined:
    Dec 31, 2007
    Oddometer:
    1,181
    Location:
    East Texas
    Enjoying your report and pics - thanks for posting - have fun and keep em coming
    #11
    Unwtrmy likes this.
  12. Unwtrmy

    Unwtrmy Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Apr 9, 2011
    Oddometer:
    108
    Location:
    Hendersonville, NC
    Quote of the day: It is not adventuring unless something goes wrong, right?

    I woke up and went to church. I said farewell to my outlaw dad, rushed home to pack, and wore my feisty green shirt. I fired it up and I headed to a gas station. I filled up and started my bike for the second time today. I rode a mile and thought I would take one last picture in the valley before I headed up to Skyline Drive.
    20211017_140258.jpg

    I went to start my bike for the third time today and it did nothing. I made sure the key was on, the kickstand was up, the clutch was in, and nothing. Then I saw smoke coming out of the switch cluster. I turned it off, pulled the key out, tried again; altogether over two dozen times, yes, I know the definition of insanity! I called my outlaw brother and while I waited for him to get in touch with some folks, Steven rode up to me and stopped.
    20211017_131631.jpg
    He said he lives ten minutes away, he has a truck, ramps, and will be happy to help me. This was around noon. While I waited I whined, I fussed, I prayed, I talked to my wife, I researched starter switches, I admired a bird playing on air currents. Of maybe a hundred cars, only three stopped. I want to be one of the people who stops when someone has hazards on. I am, but not enough. Steven returned over an hour later and we loaded my bike up. 350 pounds never felt so heavy! We went and ran an errand for his wife and then he dropped me off at my outlaws' place. I had the pleasure of meeting his wife and two daughters all of who wear helmets with cool cozies on them. He is a Jack-O-lantern or Elmo, she is a blue shark, oldest daughter is a devil, and youngest one, Skyler is a pink unicorn. He says they are so much more visible to motorists, and they get a laugh. "You can't run over what you are laughing at!" Skyler rode with us and she asked, "Who is that, daddy?"
    "That is Ivan. I stopped to help him because his bike is not working."
    "Why, daddy?"
    "Because it's right and that's what we do; we help people in need, 'specially if they are riding a motorcycle. It's how we win the day, understand?"
    "Yes, daddy."'

    That is the quote of the day.

    I pulled the switch apart, started a new thread in The Garage, emailed some folks on Ebay about overnighting parts, tried a few things, but, as has led me to need mototherapy - I got overwhelmed and I shut down for a bit. I whined, fussed, and prayed. Now I am sitting here thinking - if this ends my adventure, it was really good! I am disappointed that I did not go further than I have ever gone before. I would like to figure this switch out, fix it and go further. I really want to keep going. All the while, my inner demons are saying, "You do not deserve a nice trip!" But, I am so grateful for the kindness of strangers. So grateful for my wife and her family. So grateful for my first multi-day solo bike trip (attempt?) and the people I met on it. I stepped, nay, rode out of my comfort zone, and did something I had never done before. I was afraid, but I did it anyway. I am grateful for #mototherapy.
    20211017_123355.jpg 20211017_143111.jpg 20211017_164047.jpg
    End of day 3.
    #12
  13. fastring

    fastring Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Aug 5, 2012
    Oddometer:
    803
    Location:
    Monroe, GA
    Good thoughts your way, I like your attitude! Cheers!
    #13
    Unwtrmy likes this.
  14. Vrode

    Vrode Still half-fast... Supporter

    Joined:
    Jan 21, 2014
    Oddometer:
    7,310
    Location:
    Northern Vermont
    Stuff happens. Things don't always go according to plan, but you had an adventure that you won't soon forget. Good luck and I hope the switch gets fixed soonest!
    #14
  15. Mark in F-burg

    Mark in F-burg Adventurer

    Joined:
    Jan 28, 2018
    Oddometer:
    41
    Location:
    Fredericksburg VA
    The f650 is a great bike, I've been riding one for 19 years with few problems. Hope you can sort it out quickly and get back on the road. Western Virginia and West Virginia have great roads. Give me a shout when you're back in the Afton area and I can show you some awesome backroads.
    #15
    Unwtrmy likes this.
  16. Sal Pairadice

    Sal Pairadice Captain Obvious Supporter

    Joined:
    Feb 2, 2018
    Oddometer:
    2,323
    Location:
    Vermont
    Well at least it happened where you had help. Sorry man. This sounds like the end but I will stay tuned.....


    * edit: I see on your garage thread things may be turning around. Nice!
    #16
  17. Unwtrmy

    Unwtrmy Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Apr 9, 2011
    Oddometer:
    108
    Location:
    Hendersonville, NC
    I woke up early on day 4 and used a piece of electrical wire I packed to short the starter switch. The bike sputtered. I then went to a parts store and bought a two-pole toggle switch. I wired it up, tried it out and everything worked. Around the time I would have left on Day 3, I resumed my trip. I bought a GoPro, but decided I was not an "action camera person". I do not regret that decision entirely, but the last few days of riding have been ones with scenes I would have loved to capture. Here's hoping my brain holds on to much of it. I left my outlaw dad and got on my way. Three miles from his house it became evident that I had not tightened the oil reservoir cap, :doh I sorted that out on the move while exiting the interstate, I hope never to try that again. I got my smelly, smoky, mess onto Skyline drive. It was gorgeous. Much slower than the BRP section. Looked more like the bits of the BRP around Mt. Mitchell in that there were rock many rock walls. The trees were like the rest of the VA section. Nice colour change, still mostly green so the reds and yellows almost look out of place. They were also laying down a new road, it is nice to ride on a new road, so smooth. It was cold and windy though. It was so cold and so windy. At one point the wind blew me a few degrees off vertical while I was parked! I texted my mate, Paul and we met at his house in Front Royal. We shall not miss this moment: I have ridden the entirety of the Blue Ridge Parkway!! Gift stores had no stickers - rude! Paul and I hung out and talked until bedtime. The first and last time we met, he visited a church I was pastoring. We went out for lunch after, but it is as if we have known one another for yonks. It was great. After bedtime, I remembered I did not ask for WiFi details hence no post.
    Quote of the day: I hope you have a good trip with a different kind of interesting. My outlaw mother. :raabia
    20211018_111539.jpg

    20211018_150301.jpg 20211018_160040.jpg
    End Day 4
    #17
    joenuclear, Vrode, scudo and 5 others like this.
  18. Unwtrmy

    Unwtrmy Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Apr 9, 2011
    Oddometer:
    108
    Location:
    Hendersonville, NC
    Tomorrow will be a week since I left home. I have been in the saddle for 4 days, slacker!

    Paul is an early riser, I did not see him this morning. His wife, Brenda made breakfast, so I ate and chatted with her instead of going to be disappointed by Dunkin' Donuts (I need to quit that mess!) I dressed for the cold and got on the road around 9. The goal was to get to Weston, WV via Seneca Rocks. Uneventful start. My first stop was for gas in Strausburg, the town with a, get this, annual Grilled Cheese and Tomato Soup festival. The gas station had pumps from my youth. I think I surprised the guy when I knew how to use it. I asked some old-timers about the thing and all I got was that it had been happening for a couple of years. They were not very chatty guys. I saddled up and headed on some beautiful VA roads surrounded by VA mountains and foothills. More of the same colour - mostly green with a smattering of yellow and red, just enough to keep it interesting. It would have been a good GoPro day too, there were some lovely spots. I crossed over into WV and I was quite cold. I stopped to cinch up my gear. I was going much faster too - 60s and 70s instead of 30s and 50s. I rode through Smokey Hole and was gobsmacked by the rock formations. After seeing that, I was underwhelmed by Seneca from the road. There was a "that is it?" moment. I gathered some stickers and headed to the Discovery Center, which was closed. I inquired about horse rides, but the stables were closed - Seneca Rocks is generally closed until Wed and Thurs! I decided to hike the SR trail. That was a bit of toil with cold-weather inserts in my pants and my jacket slung over my shoulder. Panniers are full and I cannot bear to leave my gear on the bike unattended. I made it up in 41 mins, no one was counting. I took some nice pictures and then trudged down. I took a detour to the bottom of the cliffs. That was vertigo-inducing. I realized my Smeagol skill was lacking, so I headed down. I geared up and the bike would not start - blast! I started to undress to check my switch, and like the insane person I am, I tried it one more time and it fired up. I did not turn it off until I got to a gas station a few feet from the motel. I had to, I only have one key, I cannot open the gas tank without the key that is in the ignition. It fired up on the first try after that, so I rolled to the motel and shut her down. I decided to go and get some dinner, that is when she would not start. I pulled the switch apart, some of the insulation had been nicked by pressure and vibration I guess. I pulled the McGyvered switch off and struck the wires, nothing but spark and smoke. Does this mean the relay is dead?

    The plan is to call a bike shop tomorrow, see if they can take it in, and figure it out. If they cannot, I will rent a truck and drive it home. I am okay to go home now that I have ridden the entire Parkway. It is either the starter system, or I messed something up with my frame grounds for the blinkers and the auxiliary lights. One of my grounds is iffy, I tested all of them, but this was my first foray into vehicles electrics.
    Quote of the day, "Did you run up here?" A young person asking after my heavy breathing at the Seneca Rocks observation platform. I cannot believe I only took two pictures up there!
    20211019_091736.jpg
    20211019_095458.jpg 20211019_121219.jpg
    20211019_130024.jpg
    20211019_135600.jpg End of day 5
    #18
  19. Haven't Ben There

    Haven't Ben There Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Feb 6, 2012
    Oddometer:
    230
    Location:
    North Carolina
    I have enjoyed reading about your adventure and your sense of humor is a breath of fresh air. Hopefully you can get your bike sorted out quickly and inexpensively.
    #19
    Unwtrmy likes this.
  20. Mark in F-burg

    Mark in F-burg Adventurer

    Joined:
    Jan 28, 2018
    Oddometer:
    41
    Location:
    Fredericksburg VA
    Moto camped in smoke hole a few weeks ago. Miles of great dirt roads all around there.
    #20
    Unwtrmy likes this.