Taking Christie Joy for a Ride - March 22nd, 2009

Christea Joy Jacobs
Looks like she's having a good time, huh?

In the middle part of March Julie's sister Chris (Aunt Christie) came to North Carolina for a visit.  Julie says that Chris was a biker chick before she was, however it had been a while since Chris had been riding, so naturally we had to take her for a ride.  March 22nd, 2009 marks Aunt Christies official return as a rider.

Now Julie and Chris did more than just go on this ride, including going to the Biltmore House in Asheville, North Carolina and a trip to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.  But since this blog is about motorcycles and riding this will be a ride report on our trip.

Initially we wanted to take her over into Tennessee and run US 421, aka "The Snake", but by the time we made it to Yadkinville, North Carolina it was determined that it was simply still too cold to make a trip of that length.  At that point we made the decision to go north towards Fancy Gap, Virginia and the Blue Ridge Parkway.  It had only been a couple of weeks since our last ride to the same area and the BRP which thrilled Julie no end, so it was decided that this time we would go south on the Parkway and play it by ear from there.

We rode up US 601 into Mount Airy, North Carolina and then headed up US 52 and the top of the mountain stopping just outside Cana, Virginia to set up our Go Pro video cameras and to allow Julie and Chris to swap bikes.  Up to this point Julie had only ridden with Bryan on his bike a couple of times and then only for short distances.  Based on that she felt Chris might get tired of the seating position on Bryan's FZ6 and figured that the best thing to do would be to let them take turns on each bike.  Julie had started the trip on the Nomad so now it was her turn on what we loving refer to as the baby sport tourer.  Bryan was thrilled, momma would be getting on right as we started climbing the mountain on the twisty section of old US 52!  Heh heh heh...  He had every intention of scaring his momma half to death, but I told him not to do it and to take it easy.  Then I winked at him when Julie wasn't looking.

Up until this point Julie and I had been leading Bryan and Chris, but as we pulled out I told Bryan on the CB to take the point.  The FZ6 is much better suited for that type of road and riding so I didn't want to endanger he and his momma by messing up his flow on the road.  Yeah that's it, I didn't want to mess up his flow. *snicker*

It was a few miles from where we stopped to where the road gets...interesting so Chris and I just be-bopped along behind them as we all flowed with traffic through the still congested area.  As the traffic thinned and the road started looking more like a mountain road I noticed that Bryan started weaving in his lane, which meant he was warming up his tires.  Momma was fixin' to go for a ride!

At first he really just eased along and Chris and I had no trouble keeping up, in fact I had to brake a couple of times in mid turn because I ran up on him, which meant I was going deeper into the turns than he was.  Then... whoosh!  He checked out.  I told Chris over the intercom "Wave bye to them, we won't see them again until we get to the top of the mountain!"  Actually, I was able to keep them in sight, although it was at a distance, which was a good indication that he was taking it easy on his mom.  But Julie was used to riding the Nomad and with Chris being a good sport about it all I've got to say that I was getting all the Nomad had to give and they were still pulling away.  Damn, my boy can ride!

True to my words, the next time we got a good look at them was at the Chevron station on the top of the mountain.  Bryan had slowed down near the top so we caught up to them just as they were pulling up to a gas pump.  Chris and I circled around to face them, remember the video cameras?  I had to get some video of Julie getting off the bike!

It was classic!  It was hilarious!  I won't say anymore and instead will provide a link to a video that Bryan did using his footage of the ride and then adding mine pulling up to the pumps at the end.  You've gotta watch it!  Click here:


Wasn't that a hoot?

We topped off the tanks and then went to the Mountain Top restaurant right next door and had what turned out to be a wonderful lunch.  In all the times we've stopped there we'd never tried out the restaurant.  We'll be back.  After lunch we saddled up and continued on.  Amazingly enough, Julie got back on the bike with Bryan...

The ride down the Parkway was relaxed and easy.  I wanted Chris to be able to take it all in and I'm not sure if Bryan wanted to take it easy on his momma or if Julie threatened to beat him if he didn't.  We rode for several miles then found an overlook to stop and do the tourist thing.  It was beautiful, as usual.  We talked, laughed, had a great time and took tons of photos, some of which are posted below.

While we were there a father and his six or seven year oldish daughter pulled up and were doing as we were.  At one point he asked me to use his camera and take a photo of the two of them, which I gladly did.  As they rode off I said to Bryan, "You know, the world would be a much better place if more people rode motorcycles."

When we got ready to go Chris and Julie swapped bikes again and honestly I don't remember whose idea it was.  Whatever and anyway, we headed off down the BRP once again.  We rode for several miles, enjoying the day, the ride, the sights and each others company.  It wasn't long before we came to the intersection of NC Hwy 18 where we had decided to turn off the BRP and start heading home.  The reason for that decision was two fold.  Coming off the mountain on Hwy 18 is a hoot, it's a typical mountain access road full of twists, turns and elevation changes and there is a really cool 'biker joint' called the "Stations Inn" there and we thought Chris might enjoy seeing it.  Here's a link to their web site: http://stationsinn.com/index-a.html .

There wasn't a lot going on there that day so we only stopped briefly, then continued on, Bryan and I looking forward to the ride down 18.  Unfortunately, or fortunately, I'm not sure which, just as we got to where the road gets interesting we caught up to some really slow moving traffic and were forced to crawl down the road, smelling the over used brakes of a car with Florida tags on it.  Go figure, huh?

The ride home from that point was good and more or less uneventful.  It was getting late so we didn't have much time to mess around or take any detours.  Still it was all new to Chris and she seemed to enjoy every minute of it.

Here's to hoping you make it back in 2010 Aunt Christie!


Maybry's Mill Day Trip - First Ride of the Year! - March 8th, 2009

We stood it as long as we could.   It was the first week-end in March and the temperatures were still a bit brisk, especially in the wind and after the sun set, but otherwise tolerable.  Bryan and Josh took a ride up to Tryon, NC earlier in the week then Bryan came home to make this ride with dear ol' Mom and Dad.

He's such a good kid...

It was still a bit brisk out, but not unbearable at the house.  However, we knew from experience that as a rule we could expect it to be 10~20 cooler in the mountains so we dressed and packed accordingly.  The first leg of the trip took us up US 52 through Winston Salem and Mount Airy, from there it was one of our favorite stretches of roads, old US 52 up the mountain to Fancy Gap, Virginia.  As usual, it was a hoot climbing up the twisty mountain road and as usual Bryan ran off and hid from his mom and I.  The ol' Nomad just can't seem to hang with the lighter, more powerful and nimble FZ6 on these types of roads.

Our first fuel stop was at the Chevron where the Blue Ridge Parkway and US 52 intersect at the top of the mountain.  This is a popular place for riders to stop due to it's location and amenities and as is usually the case, there were several bikes fueling as well as in the parking lot.  We topped off our tanks, drank some water and put on another layer of clothes under our jackets, then headed out for the Parkway.

Going northbound on the parkway it wasn't long before we saw a somewhat surprising sight.  Snow!  Fortunately it wasn't falling or on the road.  There were several patches and piles on either side of the Parkway mostly in shady spots and also where we assumed it had been piles when a plow must have came through.  Still, seeing snow on the ground while riding a motorcycle always causes me to raise my level of awareness up another notch.  If it can still be laying around then there could be runoff on the road from it melting and that runoff could be slick or even frozen in the right spots.

For us the BRP is a lesson in compassion and understanding.  See, Bryan and I love it.  Absolutely love it.  Julie on the other hand has gotten to where she would rather stay off of it.  The 35 mph speed limit is very low for a motorcycle and more often than not we always seem to run up on a vehicle that isn't even going that fast.  Except is a very few areas passing is not permitted,  if you decide to risk it and pass on the double yellow and get caught the fines are outrageous.  That being said we usually end up going very slow for long periods of time while on it.  But the scenery is world class and even at the slower speeds the road seems to flow very well so Bryan and I deal with it.  Julie has lost her patience for it.  So we all have to make compromises when we get to the mountains.  If we can avoid the BRP for long stretches, we do.  If we can use it to connect other roads of interest, we do.  If I just want to get on it and cruise, Julie just has to put up with it.  ;) 

This was one of those times when she just had to put up with it.  Partially to ease her suffering and partially because it is so much fun I was keeping a fairly brisk pace up running 55~60 mph most of the time, only slowing when we met on coming cars and trucks in case one might be an unmarked Sheriff or Park Ranger.  After we had been riding a bit we met a line of bikes that began flashing their lights and making the universal "ease up" sign with their arms and hands so we knew there was something going on ahead of us.  Sure enough at the next clearing we saw a Ranger sitting behind some bushes running radar.  That was enough to make me slow up for a bit.

As an interesting side note, Bryan was filming this part of the ride with his Go Pro video camera.  He later posted it on You Tube and shortly after that got an email from the Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation.  They had seen it, enjoyed it and added it their web page!  follow the link below, then click on favorites, using the slide bar go about a quarter way down the list and look for "Blue Ridge Parkway (Mile Marker 200-190)" from "jbmccrar" to view it.

The old trucker in me made me start looking for a mile post so that if need be I could tell someone on the CB radio where the "bear" was sitting and when I found one I realized that soon we would come up on one that would have a number that Bryan and I are both fond of, 178.  At one time or another we have both raced off road with that number and because of that we have started making a point to take photographs of us and the bikes with the sign posts, mile markers or whatever else just for giggles.  I mentioned to Bryan on the CB that we would be at mile post 178 soon and if it was safe to do so we should stop and get some pictures.  He agreed and when there we found that it would be easy and a good photo op.

The bikes at mile post 178 on the BRP

Bryan trying for a 'unique' camera angle

The results

After getting the shots we wanted we headed north again, heading for Maybry Mill.  For those not familiar with it, here is a link that will give more details;

There is a restaurant on the location that gets rave revues and as it was nearing lunch time Bryan and I had hoped to check it out.  Unfortunately it was still too early in the season and it wasn't open yet.

The parking lot at Maybry Mill with the restaurant in the background

A rather unique hand made truck that was parked next to us

Julie showing how much she loves riding the BRP

*sigh* I can't do anything with those two

After this was taken Julie said she "whooped the boys ass again"
You decide

We walked around taking in the sights and taking photos for more than an hour.  But by now Bryan's internal food supply device was getting rather obnoxious so we decided to head out in search of some grub.   On another trip Julie and I had found a neat little mom and pop place just off Hwy 58 in Meadows of Dan, Virginia and since it was only a mile or so behind us we decided to go there.

The food was as good as we remembered, which was good but not great, it served the purpose though as we got our bellies full and Bryan's stomach wasn't growling anymore.  Ever in search of twisty mountain roads Bryan and I wanted to continue north on the Parkway to Hwy 8 at Tuggles Gap, Virginia.  Julie loves Hwy 8, but was less than thrilled to be going further north on the BRP.  She sucked it up though and took it like the trooper she is.

The section of Hwy 8 that goes south immediately off the BRP is one of those great motorcycle roads.  It twists and turns sharply as it drops in elevation and at any kind of pace at all you quickly find the leaning limit of the motorcycle.  Bryan of course checked out on Julie and I as we ground metal off the floorboards of the Nomad.  He was kind enough to wait on us at the bottom of the mountain where we rejoined and continued on. 

It was still fairly early so on the CB we discussed taking another familiar curvy road that intersects Hwy 8, Virginia route 40 which runs from Woolwine, Virginia over to Rocky Mount, Virginia.  The part we enjoy is roughly 20 miles long, is extremely tight and can be a handful.  But since it isn't a highly traveled road it can be a bit sketchy at times.  This was one of those times.

Bryan took off and I did my best to stay with him but it wasn't long before we encountered debris in the road.  There were many places where gravel had been washed into the turns as well as what we figured were places where snow plows had either broken up the road surface or drug rocks and gravel into it.  At one point Bryan felt the back end of his bike step out in the middle of a turn and wisely backed off his pace.  Keeping in mind that neither of us were pretending to be road racers, on this road if you can maintain the speed limit of 45 mph you are seriously getting the job done!  We carefully eased in to Ferrum, Virginia and stopped for fuel.

Spooked by the road, and with it getting later in the day we decided not to take 40 back to Hwy 8 or even continue on it and headed out on Virginia Route 605 out of Ferrum.  Julie and I had ridden this road once before a few years ago, and while not a twisty, curvy one it did wind it's way through some beautiful Virgina farm land and would take us back in the direction we wanted to go.

From there we ambled our way back home on roads that at this point I don't recall and made it home before dark and just in time for momma to feed the boy again.  I didn't record the actual mileage of the trip this time, but it seems like it was a little over 300 for the day and a great time was had by all.