Fun ride. Hope to do it again soon. Thanks for the planning.
Blue Ridge Motorcycle Campground in Cruso being washed-out meant the August 20/21/22 planned club weekend was cancelled, but my motivation for a mountains weekend was not. So, I decided to make it a pretend I’m at Blue Ridge but actually camp at Iron Horse weekend. Meant riding up Friday on a route to Iron Horse that was further east and north than I’d normally take with Saturday a trip to Hot Springs - a familiar day trip destination when camping in Cruso - looping around to Gatlinburg on the way back. I did cheat Sunday and headed home on a relatively direct route via Mineral Bluff and I575.
Maps attached show Friday and Saturday routes. If anyone wants clean GPX routes/tracks, just let me know via email.
Friday was a slightly unconventional route once past Gainesville to Toccoa, Walhalla and a lunch and gas stop at West Union. Hit rain shortly after lunch while on SC107. Pulled over for a few minutes to check radar and when worst had past donned rain gear and headed on to US64 at Sapphire then picked-up Parkway Road/NC215 north just before Rosman. Rain had been on and off, and as “on” as it could be as I turned onto NC215, so progress was slowed. Planned route was to ride the Blue Ridge Parkway from NC215 to Cherokee, but I decided instead to take a shorter route via Tanasee Gap Road and NC281 to Tuckasegee and NC107 to Sylva. Rain stopped completely just as I made it to NC281, so a brisker pace and warm sunny weather thereafter meant I soon dried off. Gassed up at Robinson Gap on US74 ready for the next day’s ride. Arrived at a very quiet Iron Horse, which meant I had my pick of any site to pitch my tent. 239 miles total. 5 hours 25 minutes ride time plus lunch and gas stops.
Joe B joined me at Iron Horse Saturday morning, and we rode to Cardinal Coffee on US74 near its junction with NC28 to meet with Ian F. From there we rode US74 past Bryson City to pick up US19 into Cherokee. Then Blue Ridge Parkway to pick up US19 again through Maggie Valley, US276 towards I40 but sneaking underneath the Interstate to pick up Rabbit Skin Road and Riverside Road (river sand across the road was evidence that the river had breached its banks along parts of the section in recent days) as a twisty route to join NC209 and on to a comfort stop at Ferguson’s Supply at the end of “The Rattler.” Continued to Hot Springs (did check-up behind what seems the predictable slower moving traffic on this road, but this time it was largely due to one pickup truck towing another) for a lunch stop at the “new” (opened 2019) Vaste Riviere Provisions next door to the more common snack stop at Bluff Mountain Outfitters on Bridge Street. We were able to open up a little heading northwest out of Hot Spring on US25 until turning off on a six-mile short cut, on roads that were passable but not really that enjoyable, to pick up TN73. Short blast to I40 and an even shorter leg on it to join the often neglected six-mile detached Northeast section of the Foothills Parkway between I40 and US321. Then a leisurely route along the northern edge of the Smoky Mountain National Park into Gatlinburg. Until then weather had been warm and sunny, but the light rain we started to experience as we rode into the city turned heavy just as we became stuck in the inevitable slow-moving traffic through the commercial district. On to US441 in light traffic with light rain staying with us on and off until we crested Newfound Gap. Gas stop in Cherokee. We split shortly thereafter with Ian heading back to the Atlanta area via US441 and Joe B and me taking the slow route through Bryson City to pick up US74 at Robinson’s Gap and on. Joe stopped to check out the Kickstand Lodge on NC28 on his way to his lodging at the Two Wheel Inn, Robbinsville, while I continued on for 0.5 mile or so to the Lower Stecoah Road turn towards and onto Iron Horse. 223 miles total. 5 hours 50 minutes ride time plus lunch and gas stops. Joe retuned to IH later which gave us the opportunity to right a few of the worlds wrong over dinner.
Lazy Sunday as overnight showers continued over breakfast time, clearing in time to pack up in the dry and get on the road at 10:00 a.m. Run home was straightforward via Robbinsville, Topton, Mineral Bluff, Blue Ridge, Ellijay (snack stop), etc. onto I575/I285 and home. Dry until just past Ellijay then a mix of showers and heavy rain until the Marietta area. 164 miles total. 3 hours 5 minutes ride time plus the snack stop in Ellijay.
Weekend totaled 626 miles and 14 hours 20 minutes ride time of fun.
Gear notes. I broke the zipper pull on the boot flare on one leg of my riding pants as I geared-up Friday morning, but it was not worth switching pants. Rain gear worked. Starting off Saturday the gear indictor on my R1150GS became erratic but was fine Sunday morning. I put this down to water ingress inhibiting the action of the spring and pin contacts in the gear position switch that’s mounted to the rear of the gearbox. It’s not an urgent matter, so I’ll pop the bike on my lift and check it out when I next have a free few moments. During Friday’s rain dirt from road spray jammed the mechanism of my helmet’s internal sun visor which took a little work to clear at the end of the day. Was dry inside my tent despite rain Saturday night/Sunday morning (always reassuring). Used my new Helinox Cot One Convertible for the first time which worked at least as well as the Thermarest Ultralite I’ve been using. The Helinox is obviously more robust which adds a level of reassurance when getting on and off the cot but has the disadvantage of being heavier that the Thermorest and not packing down as small. Space limitations may preclude me using the Helinox if I’m riding something other than my R1150GS.