Virginia to Alaska and back on an '86 Yamaha Radian

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by ruffntuff, Oct 2, 2012.

  1. Desert Silver

    Desert Silver Desert Rat

    Joined:
    Jul 27, 2007
    Oddometer:
    89
    Location:
    Ash Fork AZ
    So, your next trip is going to Teara Del Fuago?
    beys likes this.
  2. beys

    beys Adventurer

    Joined:
    Feb 12, 2011
    Oddometer:
    45
    Location:
    Upper Bavaria, Germany
    First of all I would like her to come home from Alaska :lol3
    Uke, Ken in Regina, Milosh and 2 others like this.
  3. Sal Pairadice

    Sal Pairadice Captain Obvious

    Joined:
    Feb 2, 2018
    Oddometer:
    1,403
    Location:
    New York
    I know... the title says ".....and back on an '86 Yamaha Radian"
    beys likes this.
  4. Uke

    Uke visualist Super Supporter

    Joined:
    Oct 9, 2013
    Oddometer:
    4,916
    Location:
    HouTex USA
    Anna, you go girl, Radian too! Many are still here, and following!

    2wingdoc05, mikegc and beys like this.
  5. glasshousebc

    glasshousebc Adventurer

    Joined:
    May 23, 2018
    Oddometer:
    97
    Location:
    British Columbia
    A truly remarkable read... stirring, inspirational, laugh out loud funny, the cause of a glazed eye every now and again... superb... a great few days worth of reading.

    stay well,

    Steve
  6. ruffntuff

    ruffntuff TUFRDR

    Joined:
    Feb 23, 2012
    Oddometer:
    132
    Location:
    Charlottesville, Virginia
    Part 3- Day 10

    Chattanooga, TN – Pisgah Campground, NC: 354 miles

    September 22, 2012


    I got up early to see Amy off to work before packing up the bike and planning my route to the Tail of the Dragon. The first time I heard of the Dragon was when I was hiking the AT.

    I hiked across Fontana Dam and stopped at a crusty gas station for treats and ice cream. There were some dusty T-shirts hanging behind the counter that said, “Ride the Dragon,” with a picture of route 129 mapped out. When I inquired about the T-shirt and learned this was a local legendary motorcycling route, I bought it and sent it home to Dan. If it wasn’t a thing he already knew about, I knew he would love it.

    I don’t know if Dan ever rode the Dragon, but I knew it would be a “must ride” section of my journey home. I left Chattanooga on highway 74, a beautiful road that winds along the Ocoee River in the Cherokee National Forest reminding me of many past backpacking adventures. Then, I followed a small quiet road up to Tellico Plains where I got on the Cherohala Skyway.

    Although the Dragon gets all the hype for being one of the twistiest motorcycle roads in the world, its sister road, the Cherohala Skyway, knocks it out of the park when it comes to scenic splendor. Cherohala may not have 318 turns in 11 miles, but this tarmac has more than enough entertainment for any motorcycle enthusiast in addition to spectacular views of the Blue Ridge. Unfortunately, like all things that are stunning and grand, both roads tend to attract mass numbers of tourists that clog every apex, every overlook, and every pit stop.

    It was a beautiful clear day which made the traffic that much heavier. Mostly, there were large herds of 20-30 Harley riders at a time farting along at 25 miles an hour to avoid scraping their flashy chrome on each turn. Passing was unthinkable.

    I slowed down and kept my distance trying to enjoy the gorgeous weather and gorgeous views. “Be in the moment,” I kept telling myself. But every opportunity to stop was cluttered with sunburns, tacky leather, cigarette smoke, bad tattoos, and loud classic rock. To say it was a distraction from the serenity of the environment would be an understatement.

    My energy started to build like a caged bird seeing the grandeur on the other side. Magnificence was just out of reach, untouchable and taunting. By the time Cherohala dumped me onto the Dragon, I was buzzing. I was crouched and ready to pounce looking to escape the crowds at first chance.

    But the Dragon would yield no such glory. I’d dart around one group stopping for their cigarette break only to be delayed moments later by another herd of riders farting in the wind. It was a recipe for disaster. The anxiety burned. White knuckled on the throttle I resisted temptation to make a bad decision.

    “Don’t be impatient Anna.” “Don’t try to pass them Anna.” “Enjoy the moment.” “Fuck this moment!”

    At least the Dragon was only 11 miles. So, before I was truly motivated to do something dumb it was over and I was headed towards Gatlinburg. But my contempt for traffic and crowds was not over. Somewhere after Townshend I took a wrong turn and ended up at Cades Cove, the one-way road from hell.

    I think my brain finally was “in the moment” when I had some peaceful quiet road to enjoy after the Dragon, hence the wrong turn. I didn’t even realize I had gone ten miles in the wrong direction until it was too late. Before I realized it, I was stuck bumper to bumper on a one-way 10 mile “scenic” drive. It took me two hours to get out.

    This may have been one of my lowest points on the entire journey. It was 80 degrees and the Radian was overheating rolling along at 5 miles an hour just so the mini-vans and RVs with children screaming ahead could stop and take a picture of the deer in the meadows.

    I thought the moments earlier were bad enough. But this one was the killer. The one that broke me. This moment fucked me right up the ass and before long I was crying and sweating and all emotions were dumping out of me. I was having a panic attack.

    I tried to convince myself there was a purpose for this moment stripping me from any joy.

    “What are you learning right now?” “What are you thankful for?” “Just breathe.” “This too shall pass.”

    If you’ve never had a panic attack, it’s one of the more exhausting emotional experiences you can go through. It sucks every bit of energy, uses up all your reserves left to fight, and leaves you feeling depleted as if you just ran from a hungry tiger for miles.

    By the time I got out of “Hells Cove,” I was a soggy mess, weak and limp like a half-drowned ship-wrecked survivor. Shattered and beaten I made it to Gatlinburg by late afternoon just as it started to drizzle and cool things off. I bought a couple tall boys, shoved them in my tank case, and kept moving toward the Blue Ridge Parkway.

    As I rode up Newfound Gap a light breeze hit me and I remembered when I hiked through on the AT.

    It was November and 24 inches of snow had fallen. It slowed me down so much I had to ration my food before getting to the gap. When I got there the parking lot was iced over and the road down the mountain was closed. The only way for me to resupply was to hike down the road. About halfway down I came across a cross-country skier whose truck was just another mile down. He took me into Gatlinburg and bought me a warm meal at a steak-house and hotel room for the night. He was one of those trail angels that keep the hikers going.

    When I got to the Parkway it was five PM and the traffic had disappeared. I finally felt alone and calm. The quiet forest smelled of pine and spruce and the light blue and purple mountains layered in the distance looked like home. I rode with a peaceful mind until the sun started to burn the horizon. I stopped at Pisgah Campground for the night. It was my last night on this journey and I was on the last road to take me home. I drank my tall boys and slept like a log.

    Attached Files:

  7. Davis53

    Davis53 Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Apr 29, 2005
    Oddometer:
    623
    Location:
    Northern California
    Thank you, ANNA

    Another great one.
  8. 230Rocket

    230Rocket Adventurer

    Joined:
    Jun 12, 2013
    Oddometer:
    83
    Location:
    NSW Australia to McKinney, Texas
    Always worth waiting for and the only Adv thread I've ever set a notification on. Sure gonna miss the journey episodes when the destination arrives.

    Cheers
    Dean
  9. Kray

    Kray Long timer

    Joined:
    Jul 13, 2013
    Oddometer:
    1,797
    Location:
    Knoxville, TN
    I remember when Parson's Branch was still open (it was at the time of your crossing here back in 2012). I used to rip up the wrong way onto the Cades Cove loop via local backroads and jump out the back via Parson's Branch to hit 129 on the dual sport. Then the park shutdown happened during the government coffee break...I loaned Bowman my CRF...you know the rest of that story.

    You thought it was bad back then. We dare not go anywhere near that area these days unless you just like masochism...
    frank wheelbarrow and ShiftHead like this.
  10. ShiftHead

    ShiftHead the f is silent.

    Joined:
    May 2, 2009
    Oddometer:
    442
    Location:
    Fort Mill, SC
    Excellent post. A few years ago a buddy and I naively rode there. They should probably put a sign at the entrance outlining why it's a bad idea on a bike.
  11. MizzouRider

    MizzouRider Long timer

    Joined:
    Jan 22, 2007
    Oddometer:
    2,892
    Location:
    Fly over zone
    Great read. I’ve been lucky on my trips through the Dragon. I go very early.
    I’d never heard of the Trail Angels. Pretty neat right there. I hope your final day of the trip was a bit more pleasant.
  12. Desert Silver

    Desert Silver Desert Rat

    Joined:
    Jul 27, 2007
    Oddometer:
    89
    Location:
    Ash Fork AZ
    Anna, I know it's been wrote many times before in this thread but you have an amazing talent for writing. I'm not sure if you've wrote any books yet but you really should. I for one of many would love to read any books you would write.
    Thank you for sharing your amazing journey with us. Let us know when you write a book in this thread and I'll bet you it will be a success.
    Uke likes this.
  13. Blader54

    Blader54 Long timer

    Joined:
    Jul 29, 2012
    Oddometer:
    1,907
    Thanks Anna. Continuing this story you started so many years ago (can it really be 8??) is a wonderful thing. A gift to the inmates, and, I hope a positive for you as well. Each life, I think, is made up of journeys of one kind or another. Thank you again for sharing this journey of yours with all of us.
    Uke, ShOqUePoT and Sunday Rider like this.
  14. Milosh

    Milosh Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Nov 19, 2008
    Oddometer:
    193
    Location:
    astride a river of ones and zeros
    I love that the story continues. This is easily my favorite active thread.

    Thank you Anna.
  15. doc4216

    doc4216 Chronic High Fiver

    Joined:
    Mar 1, 2009
    Oddometer:
    735
    Location:
    Alameda for now
    The last night?! No, I don't want your writing to end!
    Milosh likes this.
  16. Dm123

    Dm123 n00b

    Joined:
    Jul 11, 2020
    Oddometer:
    1
    Location:
    Mo
    The four hours I just spent reading this from start to pg 58 was exceptional. Keep it up Anna, you’re a gifted writer and adventurer.