An excellent rule, which I plan to live by… no sooner than I said that, fate called my bluff.
Several of my riding comrades were down in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, at a rally. After significant mechanical issues during the trip down, one of the bikes finally gave up the ghost about 20 minutes away from the hotel. I had already been flirting with the idea of riding down Friday, but the past weeks weather was crap, and I didn’t feel like being punished by Zeus the whole way down, especially riding solo. The phone rang late Friday evening, by midnight my bike was strapped to a trailer ready to head due south Saturday morning.
Needless to say a trip to Pigeon Forge via freeway is nothing to write home about, say for the significant construction south of Lexington, but we’ll touch on that later. I did however arrive with some daylight remaining, just enough to test out the new GoPro.
While I was itching to get a short trip down US 129 while I was down there (which is why the rally was held there), we knew time was limited so we settled for a trip up to Clingman’s Dome and back. Last year at the annual Triumph Dragon Raid, we finally caught a break from the soggy weather just long enough to shoot some fantastic photos and finally catch some dry twisties, so this short adventure was a nice spring warm up through the curves. There are a myriad of great riding roads through Tennessee and North Carolina; several of them are listed on my Moto Bucket List, others I hope to cover in length when I head back south on a longer trip this year, for now I’ll just leave you with these teasers.
Sunday proved to be a completely different story. Our journey back to Dayton started by taking US 25E north back to the freeway. While 25E is not a “destination road” it’s a very viable alternative to the freeway when visiting Gatlinburg, Deals Gap, and the other Smoky Mountain destinations on the Tennessee – North Carolina border. US 25E isn’t particularly twisty, but the elevation changes quite a bit through the mountains, there are several good views, and you can also take the Cumberland Gap Tunnel back into Kentucky if you’re into that kind of thing.
Once off 25E, taking a short break in Corbin, KY, the plan was to take a short jaunt up I-75 to US-68 in Lexington, then more country roads back to Dayton. As luck would have it, construction traffic south of Lexington was every bit as bad on Sunday as it was the day prior. At a stop just south of construction, we decided to bolt off the freeway in attempt to bypass the madness by getting on US 25 (Dixie Highway). Naturally, half of the freeway goers were also attempting to circumvent the backup and had jammed up US 25 heading into Lexington. Jumping back on I-75, it was more of the same, after probably half an hour of hand numbing clutch work in stop and go traffic, we took the first exit east and followed the GPS.
My same buddy with the rule about trailers says: “Are you on a motorcycle? Do you have gas? Yes? Then you’re not lost!”
While I agree with that statement, it belongs in context. If you HAVE a destination, and cannot get there on your current route, you’re lost. That being said, some of the best times with friends is spent overcoming an obstacle, and in this case, makes for good photos and video.
Things to think about when venturing through rural America:
- You will lose GPS signal
- You will lose Cellular signal
- Google maps does not keep up with rural construction
- Roads on Google may “look continuous”; they’re not!
- It’s not an “adventure” without challenge and adversity!
Long story short, we encountered a few road hazards (and the lack of road), had a few laughs, and now have a great story about Kentucky back country. In fact, the out of the way detour through eastern Kentucky is helping me plan my route down to the Dragon Raid this year, so it was worth the extra time!
My family is from Eastern Kentucky, so needless to say I’m familiar with the typical one-and-a-half lane through the rural counties. If my plans hold, I’ll be sharing more photos and video of my favorite locations around Red River Gorge this summer. Per my previous comments, I plan on making a slow journey through the one stop light towns down Kentucky Route 11 in the hopes of taking photos and grazing the local food as I go, stay tuned!