Preliminary Riding report: Ad hoc Smoky Mountain Trip

MotoaADVRspeedmasterTrailerI have a buddy with a standing rule: “If you see my motorcycle on a trailer… call the police –because it’s stolen!”

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 niceMotoADVRclingmansDome 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.

MotoADVRus25ESunday 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:

  1. You will lose GPS signal
  2. You will lose Cellular signal
  3. Google maps does not keep up with rural construction
  4. Roads on Google may “look continuous”; they’re not!
  5. 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!

MotoADVRus68bridgeMy 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 andMotoADVRsunsetUS68 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!

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8 Responses to Preliminary Riding report: Ad hoc Smoky Mountain Trip

  1. rishere63 says:

    GoPro is the best. I know the trailer feeling, when my doctors ordered me to trailer out to Sturgis one year my wife says I pouted like a little kid… By the way I am going up to Sandusky in June from Indianapolis any preferred routes or recommendation for good ride..

    Liked by 1 person

    • Fortunately it was a short 5 hour “drive” with the trailer. Generally I go south when riding; Ohio gets pretty flat as you go north (coming from Indy I have no doubt you understand that). I will preface this response with A) I’ve never made this trip before; and B) there are three types of rides 1. Fast and direct (typically freeway), 2. Nearly Fast direct (off the freeway), and my favorite 3. Indirect, scenic, all day rides. I find most people don’t have time for option 3, but that’s typically what I prefer, provided I have the time (as of late… I haven’t). So, having never made that trip before, I would probably go this way: 52 to Rushville, 44 to Connersville, 44 to the Ohio Border where it becomes Ohio 725, 725 to the Dixie highway, 725 to Ohio Route 4, then probably route 4 the whole way there. That route is “semi” direct, while stopping in some neat towns on the way. Connersville is cool, can’t wait to go back there to look around, 735 sweeps through western Ohio farms with a few gentle curves and rolling hills (nothing special), there are several towns on that route I’ve already covered this spring. I imagine Route 4 straightens out considerably once a little north of I-70. Rt. 4 will be fast enough you’ll make decent time, but still relaxed enough to take in the sights of barns and silos. There are undoubtedly better routes, I just don’t know anything north of Troy (Ohio) very well.

      Liked by 1 person

      • rishere63 says:

        Yes the preferred direction of travel for me is south or west but going to meet some friends in Sandusky . No hurry doing it on a Friday…thanks for the input, any Amish restaurants would be good along the way..

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Great pics. Loved taking the ride with you. Thanks for sharing. I gotta get me a GoPro. Not shaky footage like my handheld camera footage taking as pillion passenger on my last ride. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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