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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
This trip was basically on a whim, planned everything in a couple of weeks and took off rain or shine. Unfortunately a lot of it was rain but it was still better than a day at work.

To start, while at the auto parts store sourcing electrical bits to hook up my buddy's Zumo and phone cradle he noticed these small hula girls. When I was in college I had a little Honda Civic hatchback which all my friends used. When a good friend went to Hawaii for break to visit his brother, he brought me back a hula girl which I promptly placed on the dash of the Civic (The car was stolen and stripped for parts shortly thereafter, they even took the hula girl). Not really thinking too much of it, we installed these hula girls on our bikes and hit the road. Not even 100 miles away I decided to stop to investigate a shimmy in my handlebars and my buddy's BMW overheats and starts pissing coolant everywhere. Almost three hours later a tow truck showed up and brought his bike back to the closest BMW dealer, 20 miles in the wrong direction. I must give props to Max BMW in Portsmouth, NH as they agreed to get his bike right in the shop despite an overload of work, the place was FILLED with bikes getting worked on. By that time he had been told he needed a new radiator fan, a thermostat, waterpump and radiator cap. We got a room in a little motel right down the street and had a good dinner and a few beers. At this point we had determined that our trip was cancelled and started making alternative plans to just do a camping trip to Vermont for a week and ride the region.

The cursed hula girl


The offending BMW (AKA piece o junk)


The next day I woke up early and upon looking out the window at my Sprint noticed something on the ground next to it. I went outside and someone had ripped the hula girl off my brake reservoir and smashed her on the ground. I decided that they did me a favor and told my friend I thought the hula girls were cursed considering all the bad luck associated with them and he later decided to rip his off when he got back to Max BMW. I called around to see if anyone could get me in to check the balance on my newly installed Bridgestone T30s and was thrilled that National Powersports Triumph agreed to squeeze me in. Big thanks to Jamie in the service department for helping me out. Turns out that my tires were not properly balanced and despite putting some miles on the backroads where I live I didn't notice it until we hit the highway. Jamie said they were severly out of balance and got me in and out of the shop pretty quickly despite their shop also being flooded with work. As I was leaving the shop I called my friend to see how his bike was doing, amazingly he was also leaving with a pretty confident recommendation that his bike would still make the 3k mile trip. By this time it was already 2pm on day 2 but we said eff it and decided to meet up and do the trip anyway. That day we rode 460 miles through torrential downpours and lightning to Harrisburg, PA arriving there at 11pm and getting a hotel. Next morning we were up at 6am and eating breakfast so we could get back on the road. I called our campsites and asked if we could push the days back and all but one agreed.

My buddy finally ready to go, a couple of pounds lighter.



We hit the road with plans to have lunch in Front Royal, VA and then hit Skyline Drive. After meeting a nice couple in Front Royal from Canada (One riding a Triumph, the other riding a BMW) we hit Skyline Drive and it immediately went from sunny skies to pouring rain. Was this trip cursed? We got rid of the damn hula girls! Actually, we were elated to be off the highway and riding great roads even if it was raining. About 2/3rds the way through Skyline Drive it stopped raining and the sun came out. We were supposed to stay in Afton at a campground but this was the one campsite that couldn't change our reservation so we stayed in a hotel. My riding buddy wanted to eat at Outback Steakhouse for some Australian beer they supposedly had on tap and since he was paying for the hotel and dinner I shrugged off the awful chain food.

Just as the rain cleared towards the end of Skyline Drive, beautiful scenery!
 

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Discussion Starter · #2 · (Edited)
The next morning we both woke up really well rested given the hotel stay. The awesome woman working the front desk let us keep our bikes out of the overnight rain in the covered luggage unloading waiting area. We were very grateful. Our bikes were filthy from skyline drive so we decided to head over to a nearby self service carwash and give them a good spray down. $1.50 later and they were ready for the ball.

Not sure why he was playing the air guitar in the bay, he said he was just wiping his hand


At this point we thought the Northern portion of the Blue Ridge Parkway was great. It was a lot of rolling hills, beautiful farms and long extremely moderate curves. The sun was shining down on us and we literally had the whole thing to ourselves, I don't think we ever got stuck behind any vehicles and we may or may not have significantly exceeded the speed limit. This was a very relaxing day, we both had a lot of fun and the easy riding made for interesting and funny conversations over our Sena 10R comm systems. At one point the BRP was closed for whatever reason and we had to take a detour through Roanoke, VA. I knew nothing about Roanoke and we had considered it for a place to stop on the way back so we thought why not check it out. After trying to get our bearings back to the BRP, we stopped at a gas station to just reorient and my buddy insisted on using the bathroom. The two dudes sitting nearby told me it was a poor decision and normally when he leaves his comm on I would say funny things or make interesting noises while he's in the bathroom but all I said was "dude, a purple donk just drove by with a legit bullet hole in the side, not one of those stickers" to which he whispered back not to say a damn thing. He scurried out of there, hopped on his bike and said we need to get out of here right now to which I followed and he ended up driving right into the ghetto. Nothing like two dudes on european motorcycles wearing all hi viz yellow in the ghetto, sure we belong! We found our way back onto the BRP and enjoyed the rest of the ride.

The sun was definitely shining down on us today!


More stunning scenery


Amazing!


North Carolina!


We made our way to Boone, NC for the night and since we got there pretty late decided to just grab dinner at a local BBQ spot. Our server talked to us about motorcycles and seemed to light up. Food was good, off to grab some beers and sit by the campfire.



 

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Discussion Starter · #3 · (Edited)
After camping in Boone we were heading out to do the Southern portion of the Blue Ridge Parkway. I didn't really do too much research until that morning and found out that most people preferred the riding from Boone, NC to Cherokee, NC and they were right. The elevation gains and scenery were the best so far. There were so many cool yet eerily dark tunnels to ride through, we were like two little kids riding bicycles down a really fast hill. About 45 minutes into our trip we ran into some sort of cycling race and while I do respect bicyclists, I must admit that some of them are just a-holes when it comes to sharing the road. No need for you to be on a bicycle and riding in the middle of the lane knowing that there are motor vehicles behind you. Fortunately that didn't last too long and we were back to the amazing roadway and scenery. We stopped for lunch in Asheville which seemed like such a cool little city and decided we had to stop there on the way back for a night. Back to the BRP after lunch and more amazing riding, I wish that was my commute every day!

These folks came over to talk to us, super friendly. She offered to take a photo of us with my phone, she said she did but when I checked there was nothing. Oh well, it's the thought that counts!




It's them dang cyclists taking up the road! Kidding, most of them were respectful!


Cool tree on one of the overlooks!


Top-o-the BRP!


End of the line, 469 beautiful riding miles!


After 8 hours in the saddle we got to Robbinsville, NC and found a grocery store to get some dinner supplies. We were both eager to have a few brews by a campfire only to find out that we were in a dry county! Trip research failure!!!!! There was a guy in the site across from us riding around the country on his BMW GS. I kind of poked fun at him for the thing looking like it came right off the showroom floor but he was really interesting and saved the day with part of a duralog when the firewood we bought was soaked. I'm terrible with names but I do remember him saying his name rhymed with "jerk". Quite the opposite.......

 

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Discussion Starter · #4 · (Edited)
Woke up in Robbinsville, NC and checked out the weather and sure enough there was a huge blob of green, red and yellow headed our way. Before we could even get our tents and gear loaded up it started pouring rain down on us. Perfect weather for the tail of the dragon. We decided to try and kill time and stopped at a cool restaurant in town called "The Hub". We had the whole place to ourselves and our waitress was super nice. Food was great, coffee was even better and we were on our way to the dragon, despite torrential downpours.

The Hub, cool spot for eats in Robbinsville, NC, I highly recommend it!


Inside of The Hub and my buddy showing off his weird O face for some reason


My phone refused to take a clear picture of the wreckage tree at the Deal's Gap Motorcycle Resort. I also tried not to get too close to it!






Tail of the Dragon in the rain, I survived and had fun at least!


To be completely honest, the tail of the dragon was a let down. Maybe it was because of all the hype or the fact that we had to turn it down a lot because of the rain. We both had waaaaaaaaayyyyy more fun on the Southern portion of the Blue Ridge Parkway. After the tail we headed back North through The Great Smokey Mountain National Park which was beautiful, towards Asheville, the day's destination. Most of the day was done in the rain, it stopped around 1pm and we arrived in Asheville around 4pm to blue skies and 80 degree weather. We decided to splurge for a pretty nice hotel and promptly got ourselves a couple of beers as soon as we got to our room.



As we would learn, Asheville has some really great breweries, I'm a big fan of Green Man Brewery and Catawba. Green Man Brewery's Porter was excellent. We checked out a few other places and I got lost in thought about living down there some day. I'll be back Asheville!

From here on out was our two day journey home. We were racing back so my friend could make his Friday morning closings and we also wanted to check out the horrible movie "A Story Worth Living" on Thursday night. What an awful way to end such a great trip.

All in all I'm so impressed by the performance of my Sprint. 3,000 miles in 7 days is a lot of riding and it never skipped a beat and kept my 6'0" 210 pound frame comfortable for the duration. With some chain maintenance mixed in here and there I never had to do anything for it. Smooth, powerful and way more nimble than a 590+ pound sport tourer should be. I purchased this bike last July with less than 3500 miles on it and in ten months with a long unridable Northern New England winter have put over 7,000 miles enjoyable miles on it. We're already planning a cross country Pacific coast trip for 2017 and then 2018 I think I'm going to pick up a Tiger 800XC for a trip to Alaska.

Thanks for reading through this and checking out my photos!
 

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I enjoyed reading your story, but unfortunately none of the photos show up. I tried Tapatalk, mobile browser, and a full browser. Just FYI.

I agree with you that the parkway is a more enjoyable ride than the dragon. My buddy and I (and our wives) enjoyed doing the tail on sporty sport tourers (vfr and a bmw k1200s), but it is really more of a pure adrenaline rush, and you can't enjoy the scenery!

Heading back towards Pisgah National Forest, Little Switzerland, and Mt. Mitchell (on the other side of Asheville) is one of our favorite places to go (and closer to us). I end up going to Asheville quite a bit for work. One of these times I need to ride the bike over :)

I do love Cades Cove, however! That is worth the trip to jump into Tennessee for.

Sent from my HTC6525LVW using Tapatalk
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
I enjoyed reading your story, but unfortunately none of the photos show up. I tried Tapatalk, mobile browser, and a full browser. Just FYI.

I agree with you that the parkway is a more enjoyable ride than the dragon. My buddy and I (and our wives) enjoyed doing the tail on sporty sport tourers (vfr and a bmw k1200s), but it is really more of a pure adrenaline rush, and you can't enjoy the scenery!

Heading back towards Pisgah National Forest, Little Switzerland, and Mt. Mitchell (on the other side of Asheville) is one of our favorite places to go (and closer to us). I end up going to Asheville quite a bit for work. One of these times I need to ride the bike over :)

I do love Cades Cove, however! That is worth the trip to jump into Tennessee for.

Sent from my HTC6525LVW using Tapatalk

Yeah, I noticed that this morning, I use Google Photos to host my pictures and from what I understand their HTML links are way too long and cause issues with forum photo insertion. I tried redoing the links but I might have to upload them to a better hosting service like Flickr or Picasa.

Thank you for the suggestion of Cade's Cove, the trip was planned so quickly that I didn't get to research too much. I think we might make this an annual outing though since even despite the rain it was so enjoyable. I'd love to check that area out next time.

You're lucky indeed that you get to travel to Asheville for work, I'm seriously looking for job transfers there since I work for Uncle Sam.
 

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Haha, yeah, our first trip up there was when we still lived in Florida. That motorcycle trip through the Smokies was one of the reasons we looked to move to North Carolina. We are over in Raleigh, so about 4 hours from Asheville, but it makes it great for the occasional long weekend trip.

I like imgur for picture hosting. Free, and reliable.

Sent from my HTC6525LVW using Tapatalk
 

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This trip report was a very enjoyable read, your photographs are great, and you have good taste in beer (I'll be looking for that Green Man Porter).

Now I hate my cubicle even more.
 

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My wife and I take a motorcycle trip every year on BRP and surrounding roads. We usually start around Blowing Rock, NC and head south. We've done the VA leg and Skyline Drive, but it's really not as scenic and fun as the NC part.
We have the lay of the land pretty good. My suggestions for food if you like BBQ and are in Blowing Rock is Woodlands BBQ on 321. If not Canyons has a good selection and a great view. Right off the BRP at Rt. 226A definitely stop and eat at the Little Switzerland Cafe. Might as well run the Diamond Back while there Rt 226A.
In Asheville, we like to eat at either 12 Bones or Tupelo Honey.
 

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Looks like a great trip. Hoping to cover the entirety of the blue ridge parkway sometime this year or the next.

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