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Motorcycle Touring in the Blue Ridge

Best Motorcycle Rides along the Blue Ridge Parkway and around Great Smoky Mountains National Park. 

How many times have you suffered through a GoPro video online that's overwhelmed with loud and distracting wind noise? They are really hard to watch.

You can turn off the audio on your GoPro when recording or mute the audio from the captured video, but you really lose the feel for the experience, the sounds of the bike engine, the sense of movement, the atmosphere that makes for a good video. You've probably also enjoyed videos narrated from the bike while riding. Again, you can dub in narration later but you lose the spontaneity of the experience, the live response to what's happening, and it sounds artificial.

 

Basic Vlogging Components
Basic Vlogging Components

 

The answer to these problems is a Vlogging setup. You need three main components - the camera, a microphone, a microphone adapter for the camera, and of course a variety of mounts to position the camera correctly on your helmet (how to do that will be covered in another article). The video quality of the newer GoPro cameras is quite an improvement over the earlier ones, I'm using a GoPro 7. You will need to remove the little door over the microphone / power sockets on the camera, it can be reinstalled later if the camera is needed for other uses. You don't need a high quality microphone. I use very inexpensive Chinese flexible boom mics that come in packs of 3, 10, etc. It's no big deal when I lose one or it succumbs to the environment, I carry spares and just pop on another. The rub is the microphone adapter for later model GoPros - you can't plug a microphone directly into the camera. The adapter is big and unwieldy, they cost $50 or more, you don't want one of those going missing.

 

Using Rubber Bands to Mount the Microphone Adapter
Using Rubber Bands to Mount the Microphone Adapter

 

The crux of this article is how to deal with that bulky microphone adapter. Until recently the simplest solution I found was to use rubber bands to strap it to the back of the camera. While it works, it's an awkward remedy.

 

Adapter mounted with rubber bands covers the screen
Adapter mounted with rubber bands covers the screen

 

Mounted with rubber bands the adapter covers the view screen on the rear of the camera, you can't see it. That makes it tough to insure the camera angle is correct or access the touchscreen camera functions. You can't see if the camera is turned on. The rubber bands don't last long out in the weather, they are prone to fail, hence I use two and replace them frequently. Rubber bands also look ugly and cheap.

 

Ulanzi V2 Vlogging Case for Gopro Cameras
Ulanzi V2 Vlogging Case for Gopro Cameras
Ulanzi V2 Vlogging Case for Gopro Cameras
Ulanzi V2 Vlogging Case for Gopro Cameras

 

The Ulanzi V2 Vlogging case for Gopro cameras solves this problem. 

 

Standard GoPro case / Ulanzi Case
Standard GoPro case / Ulanzi Case

The Ulanzi case replaces your standard GoPro housing. There is a slot under the case for the microphone adapter, it slides in snug and secure. Pass the cable through and it is easy to plug it into the camera port. The other end of the slot is open so the microphone plugs right in.

 

Ulanzi case on the helmet
Ulanzi case on the helmet

 

The Ulanzi case is taller due to the added adapter slot. In my case it raised the camera case away from the helmet which gives more more flexibility and range of movement for positioning the camera. This is a much cleaner, more secure, professional look. 

 

Ulanzi Gopro Case rear view
Ulanzi Gopro Case rear view

 

The new case also brings the rear camera screen more into my line of sight which is helpful. There is a removable shoe atop the case for mounting a microphone or other accessories, I leave that home. The rear door of the Ulanzi case slides on with a simple click lock instead of the hinged door of the standard case.

I'm pretty happy with this Ulanzi V2 Gopro Case. I found it online from Walmart for about $15 though the link below has it listed on Amazon for $9.95. Ulanzi also makes the V3 housing which is aluminum and has more features for about $45. https://www.ulanzi.com/products/v2-protective-housing-case-ulanzi 


Wayne Busch
Wayne Busch

Posted by Wayne Busch, America Rides Maps
See examples of Vlogging at http://Youtube.com/americaridesmaps 

Find America Rides Maps motorcycle ride maps at AmericaRidesMaps.com         

Easy-to-see Bible Covered Bridge near Greeneville is a good stop on your motorcycle ride in East Tennessee.
 

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When your motorcycle finds Warrensburg Road (TN 349) in East Tennessee you're in for an enjoyable ride. The road is big and in good shape, a little hilly, and has some nice twisty sections along the creek.  It's a pleasant way to pass through the are near Greeneville avoiding the traffic on the more prominent roads.

 

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Along the way you'll pass the easy-to-spot Bible Covered Bridge where Bible Branch Road turns off from TN 349. Once you cross the creek a gravel parking lot connects to that road. The covered bridge spans the creek.

 

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The Bible Covered Bridge straddles Little Chuckey Creek connecting the Bible farm with Warrensburg Road. In 1923, the E.A. Bible family hired A.A. McLean to build this bridge to improve access to the main road from their farm. At the time, it had no side windows. In 1940, Greene County purchased it for $750. The Greene County Heritage Trust rehabilitated it, including a new exterior covering with three pedimented windows on each side, also roof bracings and a shingle roof. in 1975 it became a historical structure.  Restoration of the bridge was completed in the fall of 2004 by the Greene County Highway Department with the help of a grant from the Tennessee Department of Transportation. The bridge retains the original wooden and steel truss members from 1923, the original concrete substructure, the original floor. Sources: https://bridgehunter.com/tn/greene/bible-covered/ , https://www.tnvacation.com/local/greeneville-bible-covered-bridge

 

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This area of East Tennessee is 15 minutes north of the mountains found along the border with North Carolina. It's not a highly scenic area, there are not a lot of reasons to stop your motorcycle ride. The Bible Covered Bridge is one of them. You can't ride across the bridge, but it is an easy place to visit, close to parking, perfect for a short break and some photos of a historic sight.

 

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Article by Wayne Busch, America Rides Maps

We produce detailed maps of the best roads to enjoy on your motorcycle travels in the Blue Ridge and Allegheny Mountains. Get the maps at America Rides Maps.com

The road narrows to cut through this historic farm in Dial, Georgia.

 

Roadside Farm in Dial, GA
Roadside Farm in Dial, GA


Hearing a car approaching I'd stepped to the grass to let it pass. Though I'd been through several times before, something today made me appreciate this spot along the Toccoa River where the road narrowed to thread through the old wooden buildings of the homestead. The approaching car slowed then stopped, the window down.

"Beautiful, isn't it?" came a voice from the driver.

 

Roadside Farm in Dial, GA
Roadside Farm in Dial, GA



"I used to manage this farm" the woman in the car said to me. Her broad smile conveyed her pride. 
 

Roadside Farm in Dial, GA
Roadside Farm in Dial, GA



"Yes, it is beautiful, I just had to stop and take a few shots" I said, resisting the urge to snap a candid photo of her. It just didn't seem polite.

She nodded acceptingly then added - "Watch out, there's some crazy folks on this road"

I smiled and added "I'm probably one of them"

 

Roadside Farm in Dial, GA
Roadside Farm in Dial, GA

 

She laughed then continued on her way.  


One of the most enjoyable things about cruising the backroads on your motorcycle are the wonderful sights and beautiful views you come across. The hundreds of roads that weave through the southern Blue Ridge Mountains hold many secrets. There are little spots here and there that touch us in special ways, appeal to things deep within us, reward us with emotions of appreciation and admiration. Don't let them all pass by, savor the good ones.

 

America.Rides.Maps
2 months ago
Map (74685)
Dial Road

Dial Road

A curvy run along the Toccoa River then north to GA 60. Farms, riverside fishing spots, a few good turns.


   

 

Article by Wayne Busch, America Rides Maps

We produce detailed maps of the best roads to enjoy on your motorcycle travels in the Blue Ridge and Allegheny Mountains. Get the maps at America Rides Maps.com

Located at the corner of Wayah Road and Old Murphy Road just west of Franklin, Loafer's Glory is back.

 

Loafer's Glory
Loafer's Glory

 
In an area with such notable motorcycle rides as the The Dragon and the Cherohala Skyway, Wayah Road ranks highly as another curvy cruise. It climbs from the upstream end of scenic Nantahala Gorge along the whitewater river to reach alpine Nantahala Lake which feeds the flow. The ride then crosses Wayah Bald for several miles before it plunges down the east side of the mountain through a series of winding switchbacks. When the 30 mile ride ends, Loafer's Glory sits on the corner, a convenient spot for a break.

 

Loafer's Glory
Loafer's Glory


Loafer's Glory was once a popular stop for the kayakers, rafters, hikers, and of course the riders that enjoy this beautiful area of the Nantahala National Forest. It closed for a while, then reopened only to close again. Now, it gets another start. The gas pumps remain idle but the store provides cold drinks, ice cream, and snacks. Riders can get a T-shirt or a sticker as a souvenir of their Wayah ride.

 

Loafer's Glory
Loafer's Glory

 
While there's not much to it, Loafer's Glory makes a good rest stop, a place to savor the ride and make strategy for the next. Glad to see it back. 

 

 

Loafer's Glory
Loafer's Glory

 

 

America.Rides.Maps
2 months ago
Map (74551)
Wayah Rd

Wayah Rd

A classic ride out of Nantahala Gorge, Wayah Road climbs over the mountains to near Franklin, NC.

  

   

 


Photo (73859))

Article by Wayne Busch, America Rides Maps

We produce detailed maps of the best roads to enjoy on your motorcycle travels in the Blue Ridge and Allegheny Mountains. Get the maps at America Rides Maps.com

An easily overlooked spot in Highlands, NC - The Will Henry Stevens Covered Bridge at the Bascom Art Center makes a great stop on your motorcycle ride to see the waterfalls.

Will Henry Stevens Covered Bridge at the Bascom Art Center
Will Henry Stevens Covered Bridge at the Bascom Art Center

 

 

We've ridden past this roadside attraction for years yet it never registered as a place to stop on our motorcycle rides to see the fabulous waterfalls in the Cullasaja River Gorge. I suppose it's because I'm so eager to get out of the congestion in Highlands, NC. The roads surrounding the upscale town are outstanding but traffic crawls through the popular picturesque community. Reaching the edge of town the twists and turns ahead are so tempting yet a stop at the Bascom is time well spent and adds to the ride.

 

Will Henry Stevens Covered Bridge - Highlands, NC
Will Henry Stevens Covered Bridge - Highlands, NC

 

Will Henry Stevens Covered Bridge - the lattice
Will Henry Stevens Covered Bridge - the lattice

 

Will Henry Stevens Covered Bridge - History
Will Henry Stevens Covered Bridge - History



As you head west from Highlands towards the Cullasja Gorge to see the 4 big roadside waterfalls on NC 28 / US 64 you'll find the Will Henry Stevens Covered Bridge on the right. The road it covers leads to the Bascom Art Center, a collection of historic restored horse farm buildings which house the art and museum. It's a one-way ride entering through the bridge, a short paved road loops you back to US 64 from the parking area at the museum.

 

Will Henry Stevens Covered Bridge - from the road
Will Henry Stevens Covered Bridge - from the road


 

Bascom Art Center - Highlands, NC
Bascom Art Center - Highlands, NC

 

Bascom Art Center
Bascom Art Center

 

Bascom Art Center
Bascom Art Center

 

Bascom Art Center
Bascom Art Center

 

The covered bridge is exquisite, worth the stop to see. It's not original, the timbers were brought from New Hampshire then reconstructed at the site from a bridge dating from 1807. The beams are secured with hammered wooden pegs, it's truly a work of lost craftsmanship. You'll find an appreciation for historic preservation throughout the Bascom Art Center in the barns and stables now hosting the artists and their work.

 

Bascom Art Center - Pottery
Bascom Art Center - Pottery


 

Bascom Art Center - Taking some home
Bascom Art Center - Taking some home


 

Bascom Art Center - Gallery
Bascom Art Center - Gallery

 

Bascom Art Center - Gallery
Bascom Art Center - Gallery

 

The Bascom Art Center is worth the time for a visit. You'll find artists in residence producing  beautiful pottery and crafts and a gift shop if any catch your eye. The three story museum in the largest building features collections from historic South Carolina, Japanese calligraphy, woodworks, and other eclectic exhibits. A short walking trail loops from the gallery through the grounds.

 

Bascom Art Center - exhibits
Bascom Art Center - exhibits

 

Bascom Art Center - exhibits
Bascom Art Center - exhibits

 

Bascom Art Center - Exhibits
Bascom Art Center - Exhibits

 

Bascom Art Center - Exhibits
Bascom Art Center - Exhibits

 

Bascom Art Center - Exhibits
Bascom Art Center - Exhibits

    

The Will Henry Stevens Covered Bridge & Bascom Art Center make a nice addition to your waterfall ride passing through Highlands, NC. Be it a quick stop to snap some photos or a more extended visit to the art center, this is a nice scenic addition to your motorcycle adventures. Explore the map below to discover more and download a GPS track of the loop ride.

Map (52025)
The Easy Waterfall Ride

The Easy Waterfall Ride

This is a nice 165 mile loop ride that will take you to a dozen roadside waterfalls in a day. I suggest you run it counter-clockwise as the section between Franklin and Highlands can get busy later in the day and you'll get the 4 lane riding out of the way early. You'll ride some very curvy roads, hit some nice scenery, and take in one section of the Blue Ridge Parkway. Bring the camera!

 


Photo (73859))

Article by Wayne Busch, America Rides Maps

We produce detailed maps of the best roads to enjoy on your motorcycle travels in the Blue Ridge and Allegheny Mountains. Get the maps at America Rides Maps.com

Our motorcycle trip to West Virginia to explore the mountain back roads. The focus was on the south tip of the state - Coal Country.

Who: Jackie Busch, Wayne Busch, Yermo Lamers
What: Motorcycle Trip
When: October 20 - 23, 2018
Where: Glade Springs, WV, Blowing Rock, NC, Waynesville, NC
Why: Explore Roads in Southern West Virginia

 

Yermo and Jackie
Yermo and Jackie

 


Saturday, October 20 - started with cold showers in the NC mountains. 

 

Jackie on I-26
Jackie on I-26

Morning found Jackie and I droning along I-40 under grey skies and a pelting of rain that came and went in soft waves. Warm and dry with our heated gear, we had a lot of miles to cover. Tonight and tomorrow night we'll be staying at the The Resort at Glade Springs south of Beckly, WV.  We started on the highways, hoping for better conditions later in the day. First to Asheville, NC, then north on I-77 to Johnson City, TN, then northeast on I-81 to Bristol, VA. We stopped north of Bristol to top up the tanks and get some hot coffee at a Dunkin' Doughnuts then peeled off the Interstate through Marion, VA to start our ride north on the mountain back roads.

 

Tazwell, VA
Tazwell, VA

   

VA 16 is familiar turf, "The Back of the Dragon". The well promoted road winds through rocky cuts and long stretches of tight curves north to Tazwell, VA. We've done it before, it's a fun motorcycle ride, one of the classics. The rain tapered off as we entered the hills and it was a decent ride at a wet-road pace.

 

VA 16 - The Back of the Dragon
VA 16 - The Back of the Dragon

  

Reaching Tazwell, VA, we needed to arc north to Beckley, WV. VA 16  becomes WV 16  and leads to Beckley - it was the obvious route. We enjoyed nearly every mile of it. While the southern portion in VA gets all the attention, this extensive section north is better. WV 16 winds its way through long wooded valleys and twisty passes between roadside coal towns. It's mostly a wide two lane road with good pavement, generously curvy. The mountains and valleys are seriously rugged, the scenery stunning, especially with the bright fall color that was now lighting up as the sun burned off the clouds. Passing lanes on grades are common letting you leapfrog the industrial traffic this road was built for.

 

WV 16
WV 16

 

WV 16 is one of the best rides in southern WV. It's a major road, you can make good time on it and it's is a good introduction to the area with coal mines, small mining towns, and miles and miles of dramatic rugged mountains. Near the middle of our ride, we dodge off WV 16 onto WV 97 for a while before returning to WV 16 again, a really sweet long stretch of curves we liked. It's common to find the road on one side of a river with railroad tracks running on the parallel shore, long trains of gray rail cars topped in black gold slinking along. Rows of aging roadside company houses cluster near mines and at cross roads. The are few amenities like fast food, motels, stores and shops. Small roadside businesses take care of local needs. Larger towns host the vacant buildings of past industrial prosperity. Traffic is as likely commercial as not, trucks and trailers of equipment moving between sites. You my hit the occasional snag but the chance to pass is usually coming up soon. The interstate highway will take you from Marion to Beckley in less time than WV 16 but it's a longer distance on the main roads. This ride is so good the extra time it takes is worth it to get off the four lane highway and frolic in the turns.

 

Coal Mine
Coal Mine

 

While the coal industry chugs along, one new business is surprisingly widespread - ATV rentals, tours, and facilities. We started seeing signs for the extensive Hatfield-McCoy Trail Systems and passing through ATV friendly towns where unlicensed vehicles roam the public roads unhindered. We passed businesses with fleets of the 4 wheeled toys, trucks with trailer loads of them, and witnessed several large groups of riders gathered at trailheads or emerging covered in gray muck. The bulk of the motorcycles I saw were light weight trail bikes, the machines you want for the more extreme trails, but they were vastly outnumbered by the 4 wheeled crowds. What little I saw of the trails was impressive - steep, wet, rocky climbs up from the road, or winding muddy roads full of big puddles. It looks like serious territory.

 

The Resort at Glade Springs
The Resort at Glade Springs

 

The sun grew low as we cut across a web of GPS generated roads to The Resort at Glade Springs. The golf resort south of Beckley also caters to the public with a restaurant and events on the grounds. Currently, there was a Halloween attraction that was drawing visitors. We got the required passes at the gate then rode a mile or so to check in at the main lodge. It was not quite what I'd expected.

 

Our executive suite
Our executive suite

 

I was expecting an all-in-one-place, a room with a walk to dining and a bar. Instead, facilities were spread across the large property. The layout resembled a college campus. Breakfast was in the lodge. Our rooms were in a group of small 4 room buildings a short drive away. The bar and restaurant were a half-mile walk and it was getting cold. We got our exercise staying here. Yermo arrived not long after we did and we walked to the pub to top the evening.


Sunday, October 21 - Snow.

 

A strong front moved through overnight. We later learned 60,00 in the area lost power. Breakfast dragged on deciding how to play this day we'd been dealt. Even with heated gear it was pretty darned cold and there was concern for ice. Ultimately we chose to make a visit to a demonstration coal mine in Beckley and take a tour underground.

 

In a coal mine
In a coal mine

 

It took a frustrating hour to get a ramshackle cab then another half hour to get to the mine. Then, it was a great experience. The tour starts at the museum and gift shop. We piled into ore cars fitted with seats and the engine drove us into the mine 1500 ft under ground. The train stopped periodically as our tour guide explained the equipment, history, and life of a coal miner along the way. We all enjoyed the experience and came away with a deeper appreciation of the area we were riding through.

 

Mountview Rd, WV
Mountview Rd, WV

 

Returning to the resort with a couple hours of daylight left we suited up and plugged in. Heading south I first led the crew out a road our driver had mentioned as pretty, Mountview Road. It was OK, not a bad way to traverse between larger roads, but not exceptional. We got on VA 3 continuing south. Mountview Road had taken us a dozen or so miles east, I was looking for a way to loop us back west.

 

Ellison Ridge Road - tree on power lines
Ellison Ridge Road - tree on power lines

 

Coming into Nimitz I spied a small side road and I instinctively I cut right. Chances were high Ellison Ridge Road would be a waste of time, a long run to a dead end, but I went on and so did the single lane country road. It was paved though there were times it was hard to tell. Mile after mile we rode deeper into the hills passing farms and forest always expecting the end of the pavement around the next blind curve. The road was littered with blowdown from the night before, wash from the roadside, and wet areas. We passed under a fallen tree held aloft only by power lines. Crossing a small river the road climbed an endless steep and dirty grade, then coasted gradually down to meet the main road we sought. Ellison Ridge Road was 27 miles of adventure, what a ride!

 

Ellison Ridge Rd, WV
Ellison Ridge Rd, WV

 

Heading back, we made a short detour to see the local "ski slopes". Nothing but a muddy mess today, then returned to haunt the pub another night.

Yermo, Jackie, and Wayne
Yermo, Jackie, and Wayne

 

Monday, October 22 - Destination Blowing Rock, NC

We packed up, bundled up, and plugged in on another chilly morning. Our rooms are waiting tonight at the Chetola Resort in Blowing Rock, NC a few hours south. The bulk of our day is for exploring more of WV, then a run to Blowing Rock passing through Damascus, VA. We turned south for several miles to reach our first new WV back road - Odd Road.

 

Odd Rd, WV
Odd Rd, WV

 

Odd Road was a great start. It quickly turned into a tight and twisty romp passing through the town of Odd then rolled on to meet WV 16. It was a lot of fun. We then followed WV 16 to WV 10 diving south to Matoaka. WV 10 is a larger two lane road with generally easy curves. There is a 6 mile section in the middle that is just wonderful, a beautiful section of tight curves and exposed rock walls. Needing gas, we continued on WV 10 for quite a stretch to reach a station. The gas break turned into an entertaining coffee break as 3 locals stopped to talk bikes with us. All had fondly owned BMWs at some point. The sun was out and the day warming.

 

WV 10 Gas stop near Lake Shawnee
WV 10 Gas stop near Lake Shawnee

 

Tanks topped, I led the way back to Matoaka then veered west onto WV 71 - Lorton Lick Road. A small tight winding two lane road, WV 71 was beautiful and an adventure. We passed through a small settlement of close houses then rolled high on a bluff above a small river before we entered a long wooded stretch. The sunshine ignited the fall leaves and they blazed in color above us. We emerged onto US 52.

Video (64828)

WV 71 Clips From A Motorcycle Visit

We recently spent several days scouting nice motorcycle roads in West Virginia. Here are clips from one back road we enjoyed.

US 52 is a major road and not especially scenic overall. We used it to jump to WV 161.  A broad road with no centerline, two white lines mark the edges. It started with nice hairpins, then got slick and wet from the coal trucks from a couple mines along this route. We managed to skirt around one truck but not a second. It wasn't long before it turned off and the rest of the ride was good. WV 161 is a useful road and a decent rides taking the coal trucks into account. One coal road leads to another, WV 161 intersected WV 103 and we turned north again. A bigger road, WV 103 - Riverside Drive carries more traffic.  It traces one side of a river with the railroad on the other passing a couple mines on the way to Welch.

 

WV - US 52
WV - US 52

 

US 52 came in handy again taking us west to meet WV 80. This section of the main road is more wooded with nice flowing curves. It was well into the afternoon when we turned south on WV 80 for the twisty run flowing into WV 83. When 83 turned west I hopped onto WV 635 to continue due south to WV 638.  WV 638 was a nice road for a while then veered off as a smaller unmarked road. It seemed to be petering out. We passed ATV trails and signs ATV's used these roads. Sure enough, miles out in the boondocks the pavement ended. Consulting the GPS I found a possible alternate route and we started backtracking to reach it.

 

WV 638 - Dismal River Rd
WV 638 - Dismal River Rd

 

WV 636 didn't look much better than WV 635 but it did point in the right direction so off we went. Tiny, twisty, technical and fun, the pavement continued on a true adventure road. WV 636 flowed into slightly larger WV 67 and as we reached Virginia it was time to head for the rooms.

 

Video (64826)

An Evening Motorcycle Ride on The Snake

US 421, a.k.a. "The Snake" is a wonderful mountain ride. We passed through one evening this week. What a fun road!

We worked our way south crossing the interstate then on to Damascus, Virginia. Shadows were getting long now and it was time to plug the heated gear in again as we whipped south into Tennessee on TN 133. At Shady Valley we turned east on US 421 to enjoy an evening ride on The Snake. It was a nice run, the golden sunlight of the evening making the trees glow. The road was nearly empty this late in the day. Leaving the Snake we passed through Mountain City then entered North Carolina. The congested main roads took us around Boone and on to Blowing Rock.

 

Chetola Lodge, Blowing Rock, NC
Chetola Lodge, Blowing Rock, NC

 

Rolling up to the Chetola Resort I was pleased to find just what I was looking for. It was a beautiful setting, the buildings posh, the warm glow from the pub windows beckoned as we checked in. Just what I wanted after a good day on the road.


Tuesday, October 23 - The Parkway of course!

You could tell early on it was going to be a nice day and we got off to a good start riding US 221 from Boone to Grandfather Mountain. This section of US 221 clings to the slopes below the Blue Ridge Parkway. It's a fun and technical ride freshly paved in places. We paused for the photo below the Linn Cove Viaduct then enjoyed the rest of US 221 into Linville for fuel.

 

US 221 - below the Linn Cove Viaduct
US 221 - below the Linn Cove Viaduct

 

I handed Yermo my keys and we switched bikes. It was quite a transition getting on his BMW R1100s  after spending the last few days on my new BMW 1200 GSA. Linking to the Blue Ridge Parkway via tricky little Roseboro Road was a challenge on the unfamiliar ride, but after 20 minutes on the parkway I'd started to get more comfortable with the bike. The fall color was gorgeous as the day warmed. We flicked our way south through the bends enjoying the light mid-week traffic. After an hour or so we stopped and switched bikes again - I stayed on the 1100, Jackie got on my GSA 1200 and Yermo hopped on her 2017 BMW 1200 RT.

 

Jackie shows Yermo the controls
Jackie shows Yermo the controls

 

The day just got better and better. The fall leaves were at peak in places. The air was so clear, you could see forever. We passed up early chances to head for home to keep enjoying the high road and hit all the classic stops.

 

Blue Ridge Parkway near Linville, NC
Blue Ridge Parkway near Linville, NC

 

We left the parkway at US 19. It took us through Maggie Valley and home to Waynesville.


Impressions from this trip:

Our previous explorations in West Virginia have been in the hills and valleys west of the Shenandoah area. This southern tip of the state is more rugged and mountainous. The northern areas are more agricultural and pastoral, this region is both more industrial and and more rural. Coal mining dominates, there is little else. I'd expected to see vast extractive wastelands, and while there are roadside mines, most are out of sight. Instead, the mountains and valleys are ruggedly beautiful, winding rivers link gritty towns, forests dominate.

 

WV 103
WV 103

 

What a variety of roads! The riding here is outstanding. You'll find few sections of four lane, two lane roads of various sizes dominate. The bulk of the roads are in excellent shape, seemingly built to accommodate the commercial traffic to and from the mines. There are many good single lane roads and we strayed on to a few "adventure roads" - paved, but just barely. Off road adventure looks to be the growing industry.

 

Ellison Ridge Rd, WV
Ellison Ridge Rd, WV

 

The challenge here is the lack of amenities. Towns are small and there is little in them. Next task is to look for the good spots, food, gas stations, and lodging, then explore the roads that link them.

  


 

Wayne Busch searches out the most entertaining roads in the Blue Ridge Mountains then records them on a series of maps which span the region.

There are more great motorcycle roads in the Blue Ridge and Smoky Mountains than anywhere else. I highlight the best roads then show you the best ways to connect them together into rides. More than a decade of searching has discovered more than 1000 good roads to enjoy. We continue to search so you may enjoy. 

Review the maps, order online here - AmericaRidesMaps.com

   

Looking for a more permanent mount for my phone on my new motorcycle I came across the RAM Finger Grip mount. It's a simple clamp to install on the bars and holds the phone securely on all 4 sides. The RAM ball mounts make it easy to reposition it just right.

RAM Finger Mount
RAM Finger Mount

The trickiest part is custom fitting the phone to the mount, made a little more difficult as there were no instructions in the kit. It was easy to find a diagram online. 

 

Phone in Ram Finger Mount
Phone in Ram Finger Mount

The kit comes with two sizes of top / bottom mounts, and 3 sizes of side clips so you can custom fit it to your device. It's a matter of trial and error to find the correct location so the clips do not fall on buttons on the side of the phone. For my iPhone 8S in an Otter case it took the larger top / bottom clamps and the middle sized side clips.

 

Ram Mount on bike
Ram Mount on bike

The mount seems very secure, the spring clips are quite robust and have vinyl covers to protect the device. It's solid when clamped in. There are no screw clamps to deal with so it's easy to pop the phone in and out of the mount to take photos.

 

Phone on bike
Phone on bike

 

As this mount moved the phone closer in I was able to use existing wire harness clamps to run the accessory USB port so not zip ties were needed - nice and clean. A 6 inch phone cord makes the link to power. 

 

Link (64822)

Amazon.com: RAM MOUNTS (RAM-B-174-UN4U Combination Brake/Clutch Reservoir U-Bolt Mount with Universal Finger-Grip Holder: Automotive

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Wayne Busch searches out the most entertaining roads in the Blue Ridge Mountains then records them on a series of maps which span the Blue Ridge Mountains.

There are more great motorcycle roads in the Blue Ridge and Smoky Mountains than anywhere else. I highlight the best roads then show you the best ways to connect them together into rides. More than a decade of searching has discovered more than 1000 good roads to enjoy. We continue to search so you may enjoy. 

Review the maps, order online here - AmericaRidesMaps.com

   

The Art of Riding Smooth
The Art of Riding Smooth

The Art of Riding Smooth
by Jim Ford


Get this new book! The Art of Riding Smooth by Jim Ford is simply the best work on the techniques of riding in the mountains well. It’s an easy and fun read with simple to understand methods you can learn to become a safer and more confident rider. For more than a decade Jim has been teaching riders the advanced and unique techniques needed to master the challenges Appalachian mountain riding throws at you. He enthusiastically shares some of his best hidden roads and a wealth of info on historic sights, restaurants, favorite places to stay, and little known attractions. This is a great book, you should have it!

Get the book here -

https://www.amazon.com/Art-Riding-Smooth-Best-Miles-ebook/dp/B073D251MC

Jim Ford has been teaching mountain riding through The Riders Workshop for more than a decade. Learn more here -

 

http://ridersworkshop.com 

I am beginning to think Georgia does not want to be mapped. For more than a year now I have been trying to complete the most comprehensive and detailed map of the northeast corner of Georgia's unpaved roads and trails. Things could have gone better at times.

Rear wheel is in the shop for new tire
Rear wheel is in the shop for new tire

 

I've made tremendous progress, I can see the light at the end of the tunnel, but it's been a costly process. It takes about 2 hours for me to get to heart of the map(s) from my home in western NC. I've both stayed locally in GA and strategically commuted to knock out sections of it. I'm so bored with the ride down and worse yet, the ride back. I think this will be the 5th rear tire on this project. I've had GPS fails requiring replacement and re-riding of the areas, lost a 1 month old iPhone with all my notes and photos, replaced brake pads, sprockets, chain, and had to expand my carrying capacity for all the tools and spare parts I'm coming to need. 

Today was yet another costly learning experience. I made a judgement error.

I'd just replaced my rear tire on the trail bike, a BMW G650 XChallenge with another aggressive off-road tire. It was exactly what I wanted for the job. A week or so after the hurricane followed by a week long rainy spell I expected sloppy and muddy conditions at best. I dropped my rear tire pressure from 29 PSI to 20 PSI, checked the front was holding steady at 16 PSI, I'd had good performance with these settings many times prior. I was ready.

XChallenge New Tire
XChallenge New Tire

 

I needed an epic day to complete the map, essentially edge-to-edge across both sides of the map. Most of it was expected to be easy forest roads, though I had some difficult parts on the list. I set out early, as soon as there was enough light to see for the long drone south on the highways.

This new tire felt odd, but that's not unusual with these knobby tires. Each feels different. They take a bit to scrub in and square off on the road before things settle down to a predictable performance. I reached my 120 mile tank range and stopped for gas.

My rear tire overheated from the long run on the highways.

120 miles on this tire
120 miles on this tire

  

The tire was coming apart, melting. It was so hot I could smell it. Half the center knobs were gone, others peeling away from the carcass in shreds. While I'd had no issues running other brands of tires at off-road pressures this one did not tolerate it at all.

I stopped, called home to let my wife know to watch my progress on her tracker program as limped home. I aired the tire up and hit the highway with fingers crossed her help would not be needed. 
I kept to just below the speed limits and made stops to let the tire cool down periodically. 

I made it home with not much of that tire left. Sadly I pulled the wheel and headed for the dealer to get the tire replaced. Another day lost, another adventure added to the list.

Tire at the end of the ride
Tire at the end of the ride

        

Perhaps it is "the hand of providence" telling me to take my time, look harder, there's more to be found, don't rush too early for the finish line. I do keep finding new roads, new trails, places I'd missed earlier or discovered through research. 

 


 

 

Wayne Busch searches out the most entertaining roads in the Blue Ridge Mountains then records them on a series of maps which span the Blue Ridge Mountains.

There are more great motorcycle roads in the Blue Ridge and Smoky Mountains than anywhere else. I highlight the best roads then show you the best ways to connect them together into rides. More than a decade of searching has discovered more than 1000 good roads to enjoy. We continue to search so you may enjoy. 

Review the maps, order online here - AmericaRidesMaps.com

Project Ridemore is sponsored by Smoky Mountain Harley Davidson in Maryville, TN on the north side of Great Smoky Mountains National Park. It's goal is to get folks riding through guided weekly rides. I've seen many of these rides on the Project Ridemore Page on Facebook, they are well promoted, and now that I've met a group riding I can say they are well run.

I got an early morning Facebook message from Tom Ronn who leads these fun rides in the Smoky Mountains. The Wednesday group was stopping for lunch at Caffe' Rel in Franklin, NC. Let's meet.

Caffe Rel, Franklin, NC
Caffe Rel, Franklin, NC

Caffe Rel is a unique experience. It's built into the side of a big modern gas station, an unusual place to find great food. They do not take reservations. There is no waiting area save a few benches outside. There's usually a line. It's that good.

Tom rolls up at Caffe Rel
Tom rolls up at Caffe Rel



The group rolled in on time and I met Tim. There were about a dozen riders enjoying this nice day. I didn't get to meet but a few of them as we were spread amongst several small tables. Two of the riders at our table were down from St. Louis, I believe the remainder were more local. It looked like everyone was having a good time.

Bridal Veil Falls
Bridal Veil Falls



After lunch, the group was headed to see the nearby waterfalls on NC 28. I ran ahead to get photos of them. They came up on me quicker than expected and I botched the job.

The group stopped at Dry Falls, then rode on to get the classic photo of the bikes under Bridal Veil Falls. Here they started back west while I headed east for home.

Bridal Veil Falls
Bridal Veil Falls

I've been watching Project Ridemore on Facebook. They have numerous well attended rides. They pick unique destinations to visit. My impression is they are well run.

Contact Smoky Mountain Harley via their website -  Smoky Mountain Harley Davidson in Maryville, TN 

Follow Project Ridemore online -  Project Ridemore Page on Facebook


Wayne Busch searches out the most entertaining roads in the Blue Ridge Mountains then records them on a series of maps which span the Blue Ridge Mountains.

There are more great motorcycle roads in the Blue Ridge and Smoky Mountains than anywhere else. I highlight the best roads then show you the best ways to connect them together into rides. More than a decade of searching has discovered more than 1000 good roads to enjoy. We continue to search so you may enjoy. 

Review the maps, order online here - AmericaRidesMaps.com

"There are more Great Motorcycle Rides in the Blue Ridge and Smoky Mountains than Anywhere Else!


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Bundles and Sets

Best seller -

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All current pocket maps - paved and unpaved roads. If you're looking for adventure, you'll find it here.

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100 Rides in the Southern Blue Ridge | America Rides Maps

A comprehensive map of all the great motorcycle rides at the south end of the Blue Ridge mountains.


Unpaved Road Maps

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3 Map Smoky Park Unpaved Set | America Rides Maps

The unpaved roads in and surrounding Great Smoky Mountains National Park

 


Pocket Maps

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Great Rides Near the Start of the Blue Ridge Parkway | America Rides Maps

Motorcycle rides in Virginia, Virginia Ride Maps, Ride the Blue Ridge Parkway, Virginia Motorcycle roads, Motorcycle tour Virginia

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The Best Roads near Roanoke, Virginia

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All the best roads where the mountains really get big in North Carolina

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#5 The Best Rides North and South of Asheville, NC | America Rides Maps

Home to the highest mountains in the east and some of the best rides

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#6 The Best Motorcycle Rides Near Smoky Mountains Park - EAST | America Rides Maps

East and south of the Smoky Mountains, the land of the Waterfalls.

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South and west of the Smoky Mountains, Waterfalls, The Dragon, and some of the best riding.

Link 52092
Best Rides NORTH of Smoky Park | America Rides Maps

Rides on the North side of the Smoky Mountains around Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge, an the surroundings.

 

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