First Ride of the Year - Morrow Mountain State Park - February 21st, 2010

North Carolina, like so many other parts of the country, has seen an unusually long, cold and snowy winter. This, coupled with my being out of work contributed to a bad case of cabin fever for me. Julie was tired of the same old routine as well, so to say that we were both in need of a good ride would be an understatement. Our last ride was back in October when Teddy and Tim joined us for a week-end jaunt over to the western North Carolina and eastern Tennessee mountains and ending the riding season on such a high note only made us look forward to the new season even more. So when the weatherman predicted week-end temperatures near the 60 degree mark there was no question the FJR would be brought out of mothballs and put back into service!

There were some things around the house that needed our attention and with the warmer of the two days being Sunday we decided to get the chores done on Saturday, then spend Sunday on the bike. Although I must admit that for a brief period we did talk about heading to Myrtle Beach on Saturday and coming home on Sunday, alas the budget wouldn't allow for that and we really did need to get a few things done. But it was a great thought.

When Sunday morning rolled around I was still tinkering with some things. The bike was basically ready, still in need of servicing and a set of tires, but one more day trip wouldn't hurt. My tinkering centered around the Go-Pro camera and my desire to try out a large tank bag that came with the bike and we had yet to use. Julie called Teddy and Tim to see if they wanted to join us and set up a time and place to meet, meanwhile I wasn't quite done fiddling around. Julie managed to hurry me along though and we all met at the appointed time, with tank bag and camera mounted.

Teddy and Tim's tire situation being no better than ours, and knowing that when the temperatures did start to drop they would fall quickly, we all decided to stay fairly close by and not venture off far. It had been a couple of years since any of us had been to Morrow Mountain just outside of Albemarle so it was decided that we would meander our way through the country, grab some lunch, then meander our way back.

We headed out on NC Hwy 47 riding to the booming metropolis of Denton, then took a local route called Flat Swamp Road back toward Hwy 8. Man, it felt good to be back on the bike! At Hwy 8 we rode south a bit and turned onto Bringle Ferry Road which would lead us toward Salisbury. Bringle Ferry is a fun road to ride having a couple of tight turns along the way and crosses over the Yadkin River right at the Yadkin River Dam. With the weather we've had the river was as high as I've ever seen it!

Traffic was relatively light and with our new Kilimanjaro jackets and some other cold weather gear we were relatively warm and comfy so the ride was really enjoyable. We rode past the Dan Nicholas Park and made a turn onto Providence Church Road and followed it to Stokes Ferry Road where we turned and once more headed toward Albemarle. While none of these roads are the twisty mountain roads we crave, they are good roads that take you through some beautiful North Carolina farm land and country side.

Once at the end of Stokes Ferry we turned back onto Hwy 8 and followed it into New London where we picked up NC Hwy 740 and rode it through the countryside and into the town of Badin. A short ride down Falls and Biles roads took us to the entrance of the Morrow Mountain State Park. The road going up to the viewing area on top of the mountain is a skinny bitty thing requiring you to pay constant attention to not only it, but traffic and critters that could come out of the woods on either side of it. On the ride up we met to rescue vehicles coming down that didn't seem to be in any hurry, so we assumed and hoped there wasn't any trouble, maybe just a training exercise.

We circled the parking area and then parked, Julie and Teddy took off to find the little girls room while Tim and I stayed by the bikes and compared our worn tires and discussed what we would be replacing them with. After a bit though I grabbed the camera and we walked off in search of the girls. In all the times that we've been to Morrow Mountain I have never actually left the parking area, so this time I decided to walk up into the picnic area and look around. I'm glad I did too because I found a... structure, that was like a pavilion with picnic tables, a fire place and a deck that had a view I'd never taken in before that was spectacular.

We all wandered around a bit, talked and I took some photos, then headed back to the parking lot and the bikes. There were a lot more bikes parked than when we got there including a group of riders parked next to us that were obviously together. They were laughing and talking about bikes, where they'd bought theirs, where they had them serviced and just general bike talk. We walked behind ours and took a seat on the retaining wall and talked some more before we saddled up and headed out. Just for giggles we rode through the park and looked around before heading back out to the road and to Albemarle.

Tim needed fuel for the VTX and we decided it also time to eat, but soon discovered that Albemarle rolls up the sidewalks on Sundays. There were plenty of fast food places open, and some chain type restaurants but we were hoping to find something a little more unique and different. Unfortunately every place I knew of was closed and we soon found ourselves riding out of town on US 52 still searching.

We ended up in Richburg at a Subway... Not that there is anything wrong with that, in fact it was actually very good. It's just funny how things go sometimes. After lunch we got on NC Hwy 49 heading east, once again we found very little traffic and were just easing along enjoying ourselves. We jumped on NC Hwy 109 north and rode back into Denton, then took Denton road back out to Hwy 8, basically completing a loop. Once on Hwy 8 we rode north into Southmont and took Linwood-Southmont road back to Hwy 47, then got on New Jersey Church road where Teddy and Tim split off and went to their house while we went on to ours. It was a little after 4:00 pm and we had only ridden 140 miles, but man was that just what the doctor ordered!