I told him that I hadn't heard anything about it and didn't know if we were invited or not.
So you know a short time later Julie gets a phone call from the boy where he explained that he was wanting to go, but no plans had been made and of course we should go too.
That kid is such a smooove talker...
To be honest, I had been wanting to make a trip over that way so that we could try out some of the other roads in the area. It's like the sign says "Three mountains, one valley, 489 curves" and we'd only seen a small part of it. As the plans came together we invited Teddy and Tim along, thinking they'd enjoy it too.
Teddy, Tim, Julie and I met Josh and Bryan at what is now our meeting spot. The Waffle House at the intersection of I 77 and US 70 in Statesville. It's a good midway point from Charlotte and Lexington for going west towards the mountains.
Gotta love those Waffle House breakfast's and waitresses!
After getting our bellies full and deciding which way to go in order to get to the mountains we saddled up and headed for the hills.
Josh and Bryan getting ready to ride.
We had decided to take US 64/90 over to Lenoir and then take US 321 north into Blowing Rock. It had been a while since any of us had been that way and now seemed like a good time to see how the road construction was going on 321.
It was open. We'll leave it at that.
We stayed on 321 through Blowing Rock on into Boone and there picked up US 421 west and headed for the Tennessee border. It wasn't long before we were in Mountain City, Tennessee and the infamous "Snake", a roughly 10 mile stretch of US 421 that has over 130 turns in it.
Teddy and Tim were in front, Julie and I behind them, Bryan was next and then Josh (thanks to the obnoxious exhaust on his GSXR 600) was bringing up the rear. The plan was to let Bryan and Josh take the lead as we entered the curvy section, but we weren't able to let them get by as quickly as we'd wanted too, so they were forced to follow the old folks on the cruisers until we could get to a safe spot for them to pass. Until then, we decided to try and not hold the boys on their sport bikes up to much and a spirited ride ensued.
It wasn't long before a fairly long and flat section of road came up so I got on the radio and let Bryan know to come on around and bring Josh with him. Tim saw what was happening and swung wide so that they could come on around them as well.
The chase was on!
Now before we go to far here, we were NOT racing or even riding over our heads or recklessly. THP is patrolling the area very heavily, especially on the week-ends so while we technically were breaking the 35 mph speed limit in spots, we were mainly trying to maintain a constant speed through the turns.
The sport bikes have the edge in these situations so as valiantly as Tim tried the boys were soon out of sight, and Tim was soon out of my sight as well. But that's deceiving as none of us were ever more than three or four turns apart, we just couldn't see each other until we neared Shady Valley and the road began to straighten out a little.
We stopped at "The Country Store", because we always do, and to feed the boys. It was noon and had been three hours after all...
Julie has decided that this is her next lawn mower.
We left the store and continued west on US 421 towards Bristol, it was still early and Bristol was only 20 miles and a bunch more of those 489 curves ahead.
The road initially was fairly straight and level, then we got on the mountain again. At that point it became just as twisty as the section east of Shady Valley and was an absolute hoot to ride!
We were riding along at a good pace when we Julie made the comment that she smelled brakes and wondered if it was coming from the car ahead of us. Two turns later we saw the back end of a semi trailer and figured out where the smell was coming from.
The driver was doing all he could do to man handle his rig around those sharp turns, but even with his steering axle on one side of the road his trailer axles would be on or near the other shoulder effectively blocking the road.
Bryan and Josh were now directly in front of us and Bryan was trying to get the driver to talk to him on the CB, he was offering to be an escort to the bottom of the hill, but the driver wouldn't answer. I told Bryan that the poor fellow had his hands full and couldn't get to the microphone, then offered to work with Bryan and escort him down the mountain if he would simply let us by.
Just then, as the truck was trying to negotiate a SHARP left hand turn two bikes coming the other direction appeared and had to hit the shoulder of the road as to not hit the truck! The shoulder wasn't in very good shape with ruts and rocks littering the narrow piece of non paved road shoulder. Both riders did an excellent job of avoiding the truck and staying up right and thankfully got back on the asphalt on the other side of the truck totally unscathed.
Bryan and I both began calling out to the driver again to no avail. But within a few turns he found a shoulder wide enough to get his truck off the road, and by the time we got to where the tractor was the driver was out of the cab and looking like he was going to sit there for a few minutes. We slowed but passed on by figuring that another bike would be by soon enough and would escort him down the hill.
As we got to the bottom of the mountain the road smoothed and straightened out. A sign told us we were 8 miles out of Bristol when we decided to stop and let Tim fuel, and check the map.
We were right at Tennessee Route 44 and saw where we could follow it south to Tennessee Route 19E, which would lead us to US 321 which we could then take back to Boone, North Carolina. After a short break we were heading down 44.
It was nice winding country road that took us through the middle of some wonderful Tennessee farm and rural land. At one point we found ourselves in a small little town where no one seemed to be out. The road ran us close to a river that I never saw the name of, and where there was absolutely no boat traffic on or no one out swimming. Strange.
We intersected 19 E and got on it, heading for 321. Not long after we had been on 19 E we came to an intersection for Hwy 91 and Shady Valley! Hot Dog! Lets go that way and find some more of those 489 curves!
Where we got on 91 on the outskirts of Elizabethton, Tennessee and had to ride through the edge of town before finding ourselves out in the country and climbing the mountain again. Once again Tim and I let the boys get around us and we settled in behind them. At this point Teddy and Tim were behind Julie and I, and as I usually do I was trying to keep my eye on them in the mirror as often as I safely could.
All of a sudden they weren't there! I slowed down and told Bryan over the radio to hold up. We all pulled over and waited a few minutes but still no Teddy and Tim. In my mind I knew Tim should be right there unless he had stopped so we turned around in search of them.
Fortunately we didn't go far when we saw their headlights and them met them coming towards us. We turned around again and took off after them, Tim slowed and waited on us so that we could all gather up then once together we all took off.
We would find out later that Teddy somehow or another had a bee fly into her pants and sting her! She made Tim stop immediately, then jumped off the bike and dropped her britches trying to get the bee out! I miss all the fun!!
As I figured, 91 intersected 421 at The Country Store in Shady Valley. We decided to go straight across and get on 133, which we had ridden many times before, and head for 58 in Damascus, Virginia.
In Damascus we stopped for fuel and to take a break for a bit, then headed out on 58 east. Now 58 is a fun road. Twisty and hilly with a great road surface it is a bikers dream. Unfortunately it's also usually got some traffic on it. Usually someone either pulling a trailer, or someone that doesn't know that the pedal on the right makes the vehicle go, or someone that doesn't understand mountain road etiquette where you pull over and let faster traffic by.
We found all of the above.
At times it was clear road and smooth sailing. Other times it was all we could do to remain upright as we were going so slow following one of the types described earlier. Still, it was a good time, as it usually is. As usual we stayed on 58 until we got to 93, which took us to Sparta, North Carolina, then took 21 south into Cherry Lane where we stopped and got something to drink and sat around shooting the breeze.
We stayed on 21 until we got to Hwy 901, then we split off from the boys, they would be going back to Charlotte and we had to go to the house. Julie and I pulled the Nomad into the shop right around 8:00 pm, the trip meter reading 389 miles.
It was a great ride and a good time was had by all.
I've been playing with the suspension and tire pressure on the Nomad some lately and I'm getting real close to having it dialed in. On many, many occasions Julie and I heard and felt the floorboards scape against the pavement as we negotiated the turns in the mountains. Bryan commented one time that while he was behind us in a turn he saw sparks about a foot long flying out behind the bike!