Two Dads Behind Bars - The Blue Ridge and BMW's Off Road School Epic Adventure

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by Motopumps, Jul 22, 2019.

  1. JustPlainDave

    JustPlainDave ...just a monkey with features Supporter

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    I live in Florida so, I will second the concept about the intense gravitational field sand seems to emit.
    Maybe that also explains why all the nuts and yah-hoo's are attracted to Fla.

    Looked like a great time at BMW. The staff does a great job and it's an equally great facility.
    #21
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  2. Iron Cross Junction

    Iron Cross Junction Been here awhile

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    Great report.

    OTOH, the course skeered me just reading the text and seeing the pix. I'd be found out as the poseur I am and drummed out in the first hour. :fpalm

    But, ah, yes; Landrum. BTDT. Will do it again.

    It's one of my “usual suspect" stops in my frequent two-day runs from the top of Virginia to Atlanta and back.

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    Bill
    #22
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  3. Motopumps

    Motopumps Long timer Super Supporter

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    We headed up to Saluda NC with Doug's family for some BBQ at the Green River BBQ. Seth and I are trying to see if there is such a thing as too much BBQ. So far, not.

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    Great menu with lots of selections. Before ordering, I went outside to listen to the Note Ropers.


    Good stuff!

    Local beer and great BBQ

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    Everything was excellent, from the ribs to the onion strings to the hushpuppies and slaw.

    A fine way to relax and celebrate the course, the trip and the turn-around point of the journey.
    #23
  4. Motopumps

    Motopumps Long timer Super Supporter

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    Monday morning we were up dark and early to enjoy a delicious breakfast provided by Doug's MIL. Coffee, eggs, bacon, sausage, toast/bagels/english muffins, etc. A very nice send-off after a lovely stay in the guest house.

    Seth and I turned our fine European ADV bikes to the north and west, headed for Cherokee NC and the southern terminus of the Blue Ridge Parkway. We had skipped that portion on the way down and needed to tie up that loose end.

    It was another beautiful day for riding and we made the most of it. We topped off in Cherokee and climbed on to the BRP. My favorite part is the Cherokee to Asheville portion, so this was a treat.
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    The perfect road food!

    Lots of wild life sightings, including a very healthy looking black bear who bounded out of our way as we passed. A few close calls with deer, both young and old and more big bird near misses. Kept us on our toes.

    It was a treat to carve corners in the cool air at altitude. Dropping down to lower elevations reminded us each time that we preferred upper 60s or 70s to the 90s down low.
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    We finished off the portion of the BRP that we had skipped and rolled into Asheville for some lunch. BBQ sounds good! Lets find some.

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    The line at 12 Bones was not bad, only about 15 minutes wait. The are open from 11-4, M-F and often sell out before 4. No nights, no weekends. Nice to be able to operate that way.

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    Brown Sugar ribs, greens, slaw, corn pudding, sparkling lemonade. Really great BBQ. If you are in Asheville, between Moes Original and 12 Bones, you can't go wrong.

    We hopped back on the bikes and headed for Banner Elk and then Valle Crucis NC. Both Seth and I love old general stores, and the original Mast General Store in Valle Crucis is my favorite.
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    The floors creak with every step, the local post office is inside the store, they have bulk candy, old time sodas and everything else you could imagine from knives, to fishing poles to smart wool socks to furniture to camping gear...
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    We headed out from Valle Crucis and up 421 and 221 north through Boone, Sparta and Galax on our way to Hillsville for the evening.
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    We checked into a Comfort Inn and put the bikes to bed for the evening.
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    We walked to the local Shoney's and enjoyed their all you can eat buffet. Seth made a valiant try at getting his money's worth. It was better than I expected!

    We noted some subliminal advertising they were doing on the fruit display.
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    #24
  5. Motopumps

    Motopumps Long timer Super Supporter

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    We had the best night of sleep on the trip in the Hillsville Comfort Inn. Thank you! Nice room, comfy bed. Mmmmm.

    We headed out, climbed back on the BRP and played mostly on side roads for the first half of the day. If you have not done so, next time you are in the BRP, take some East/West side roads and go down and back on each side. That is some of the best riding out there. The roads are generally pretty lightly traveled and are twisty as heck.

    Late morning we stopped in Meadows of Dan at the Concord Corner Store. Delightful.
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    We did some front porch sitting for a bit then remounted. Played more on side roads, then continued on toward the end of the Parkway.
    A few views before we said goodbye to the BRP
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    We motored on and took 250 West down into Waynesboro at the end of the BRP. Goodness it is hot down on the flatland! We fueled the bikes and ourselves and booked a room in Stephens City, VA, just south of Winchester.

    As we headed for Rt 81 N, we saw lightning off in the distance and twisted the throttles a bit harder. Looked like we were going to get wet for the first time on the trip. Timing is everything, and we mis-timed it a bit. Not bad at all, but we rode in light rain and pretty heavy truck spray for a bit and realized that if we had delayed about 15-20 minutes we would have stayed dry. No big deal, but it did ruin our perfect weather streak!

    We checked in to the Quality Inn in Stephens City and cleaned up, hung our gear to dry and walked across the parking lot to the KFC. Meh. I don't mind KFC one bit, but this was a bit below my previous KFC experiences.

    We went back to the room, did some gear maintenance, device charging, reading etc. Time to get some sleep for the final push home. Weather looks ok tomorrow if we time it right.
    #25
  6. Motopumps

    Motopumps Long timer Super Supporter

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    Some thoughts on the KTM 1290 Super Adventure vs the BMW R1250GS...
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    The KTM is more hard edged and sportbike-like in its handling, ride, engine response, transmission and controls. While it is still very comfortable, it is not as plush as the GS.

    The GS feels more like a high-end luxury sports sedan when you are using it as a touring bike. The controls all have a touch more weight to them, including the shifter, and the ride is plush, smooth and stable. The shift-cam engine is a game changer IMHO. I have not been a fan of previous boxers or their transmissions. The transmissions have been comparably stiff and clunky, the engines a bit boring with harmonics and sweet spots, vibes, sweet spots, vibes. Not a fan. This new engine and trans changes that. There are only sweet spots with a slick and positive transmission and a quick-shifter that mostly gets it right. The variable valve timing really makes a difference. Tons of torque down low, an excellent mid-range and smooth rip on top. No vibes to speak of and a real rever of a motor. It even got excellent fuel mileage at a spirited pace. We calculated at every re-fuel and I got 45.5 to 48.2 and Seth got 52.5 to 56.2. The engine is also very tractable, pulling smoothly from 2500 rpm in 6th gear with no drama, chuddering or fuss. It was so easy to just put it in 5th on the BRP and never need to shift unless you felt like it. Very impressive.

    The 1290 still makes more HP and the trans is about as good as anything I have ever owned, but the GS took less effort to ride all day. The wind protection was good and the air off the nose and windshield was smoother. That ultra plush but still controlled suspension is a treat. The brakes are great and ergos fit us well and the stock seat was amazingly comfortable. A really lovely touring bike.

    After spending about 12 hours of off-road riding time on a 1250 at the BMW performance center as well, I am very impressed with what BMW has done. The 1290 SA is not in danger, but the Africa Twin should be worried about finding a new home.

    If I pull the trigger, I think it will probably be a GSA model, as I really like the larger fuel capacity and wider front end for added wind protection, etc. It would primarily be a tarmac touring machine for me, with the ability to go many more places off road than I previously believed. That 2 day Off Road Course is well worth it. The difference in feel off road between the GS and GSA is not all that big. Visually, it looks massive, but it rides much smaller.

    So, take it from an orange bleeding KTM guy, the new Shift Cam motors really add some excitement, good character, extra torque and power, comfort and fuel economy. Wow.
    #26
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  7. tmark1301cc

    tmark1301cc Been here awhile Supporter

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    Love your report Rob! I am envious and appreciative that you are able to convey these experiences first hand. Good for you. All the best to you, my 1290SA; love it and probably the latest and bestest in my stable?? Maybe...
    #27
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  8. enduro0125

    enduro0125 Sticks and Stones™..

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    Looks like a great trip!

    Thanks for the good read.
    #28
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  9. Motopumps

    Motopumps Long timer Super Supporter

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    Cardo Packtalk Bold vs Sena 30k

    I have had Cardo headsets for more than a decade. They have steadily gotten better, but always have some frustration in the way I use them, combining a Garmin GPS as the hub, managing phone calls from there. I have always had an iPhone in the mix and the system seems to struggle to juggle the connections between the intercom, the iPhone and the GPS.
    The current Packtalk Bold is quite good, but still struggles with the above issues and seems to randomly drop the GPS or phone bluetooth connection. The intercom portion, especially with the new Mesh technology is a huge step forward in how it seamlessly reconnects to riders in the mesh if they get disconnected.
    Audio quality is good, and I have upgraded to the larger speakers as well as the new JBL speakers. Didn't really hear much of a difference with the JBL speakers. My overall complaint is that I still can't make it loud enough for some situations. I am very focused on the position of the speakers, and that is key, but they need more volume. I ride with ear plugs, and can actually hear better with them as they remove white noise (wind noise) and make things clearer. Sounds counter intuitive, but that is what is actually going on.

    We all used Cardo Packtalk Bolds and Slims on the BDR trip last year and had issues. One Packtalk Slim died on the trip. It was repalced by Cardo, and I had a spare with us, but that sucked. It felt like there were issues with battery life on the longer days, but the Cardo warns you with 25% battery life left, which can equal up the 3 hours more talk time. Too early a warning that caused concern. The Cardo also doesn't audio multi-task when the GPS grabs the communicator. I was leading and navigating and it would make it so I could not talk to the rest of the group at times when I needed to tell them I blew a turn or there was a hazard in the road. Raised my BP a few times.

    Seth had previous experience with Sena 30k communicators when riding with Zach Courts, Ari Henning, Jeff Allen, Don Canet and others at Cycle World and Motorcyclist and had a much better overall experience. He was good enough to procure a new in the box 30k for me for this trip, and I was pretty psyched to be able to do a personal apples to apples comparison for a week + of riding, using the iPhone, GPS, etc., just like last time.

    I installed the 30k in my Arai XD4 and got the speakers in the right spot. The speakers are quite thick and sharp edged, so I had to position them carefully to avoid pressure points. They have audio boost and other features that promised to get me the extra volume I was looking for.

    Here is a rundown of which one I thought won in various categories and feature sets:

    Overall volume - Sena
    Speaker Clarity - Cardo The Sena was louder, but I still had trouble deciphering actual content at times.
    Digital Dropouts and interference - Cardo The Sena had a fair amount of digital static at random times while talking.
    Battery Life - Tie Cardo warns of low battery too early, Sena too late. Easier to check battery level with the Cardo
    Slim profile - Cardo The Sena sticks out a fair amount.
    Ease of gloved control - Sena The buttons and jog wheel are easier to manage and it responds quicker to startup and shutdown button pushes
    Management Software - Cardo I like the iPhone app for the Cardo better, but the Sena software is not bad. Easier to pair and create a mesh group on the Cardo.
    Range - Tie Both brands claim more than a mile of range, for both it is more like half a mile. Must be line of sight for max range.
    Audio Multi-Tasking and dealing with a phone and GPS - Sena This is where the Cardo fails. Intercom and GPS commands can be heard simultaneously on the Sena. Bonus.
    Customer Service - Undetermined, but I hear Sena is much better. I know Cardo sucks at customer service.

    Overall, both of these intercoms work well and both have been game changers over the years for teaching, touring and riding enjoyment. They are wonderful to have.
    #29
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  10. Frenchman83

    Frenchman83 Adventurer

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    Awesome RR and reviews. Thank you for taking us along. As a person who will be heading N to South from WV to NC in a few weeks it was great to have a couple suggestions of stops to make along the way. were you on the 1250s or the 850s for the off road course?
    #30
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  11. Motopumps

    Motopumps Long timer Super Supporter

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    We were on the 1250s during the Two Day Off Road course. Watching the couple of folks on 850s made me happy to be on a 1250. They are not much lighter than the R bikes, but seem a bit top heavy, low on torque and harder to pick up, relatively speaking.
    #31
  12. Motopumps

    Motopumps Long timer Super Supporter

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    Final push home.

    We left Stephens City at about 7:45 having had the less than fabulous in-hotel breakfast. Meh. We motored up 81 for a few miles, then hopped on 522 and into WV, Maryland and PA in quick succession. Fun to change states so rapidly. The rest of the route is 522 to 15 to 180 to 405 to 220...

    We made good time and the weather was decent, mostly sunny, not too hot. Stopped for food and fuel in Mt Union again and enjoyed the last bits of 220 heading for the NY border. Not too much traffic until we actually go into Ithaca NY.

    We said our goodbyes at the last traffic light and Seth headed northeast to his home and I headed north to mine. Always nice to return home after a week+ of being away. Seth sent me a cute as heck photo holding Sol. They both looked pretty pleased to be back together!

    I did a bike wash, getting a few layers of grime off the SA.
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    Nice to play with the dogs, have a cold beer and get some laundry started. Good to be home.

    We had near perfect weather, no mechanicals, no real close calls, no significant bodily damage from the 2 Day Off Road Course and 2100+ miles of delightful touring on two fantastic ADV bikes. What a great week!
    #32
  13. Motopumps

    Motopumps Long timer Super Supporter

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