Completed in 2014:
New River Gorge Bridge
In 2014 I took a long weekend out to West Virginia with several of my riding buddies. Having rafted on the New River the year prior, I wanted to cross the New River Gorge Bridge on a motorcycle. I don’t know what it is about bridges, but I have a few iconic bridges on my Pinterest Moto Bucket list. The roads to most of these bridges are probably flat, but for whatever reason I’m still drawn to the bridge destinations.
Tail of the Dragon (US-129)
The moment I heard the legend, I was hooked; 318 curves in 11 miles, what motorcyclist doesn’t want to at least try that? At any rate, the 2014 Triumph Dragon Raid offered me the opportunity to finally traverse the Dragon on two wheels. Mind you, my first trip across was like 6 PM, soaking wet from a 5 hour ride in the rain, but it at least got better the next day. The Dragon has become a major motorcycle tourist destination, but it’s hard to find a more challenging road east of the Mississippi.
While I wouldn’t consider myself a “High pointer” just yet, but I do admit that I have several “Highest Point” destinations on my moto bucket list. Again, last year at the Dragon Raid, the weather was not exactly cooperating, so we stuck close to the lodge in attempt to stay somewhat dry. As a result, one of the best rides we got in that year was up to Clingman’s Dome. The access road is relatively less traveled, yet well paved, with big sweepers and steady incline. The ride itself is excellent, but the view from the observation tower was stunning. Visitor beware, it’s a steep…. steep half-mile walk to the observation tower.
Completed in 2015:
Blue Ridge Parkway
Over 450 miles running from Virginia to North Carolina, the Blue Ridge Parkway is frequently listed as one of the top 10 motorcycle destinations in the U.S. At the 2015 Dragon Raid, I finally got a chance to ride some absolutely stunning sections of the BRP. While I am marking this destination “complete”, it’s still a personal goal to ride the BRP in its entirety the top in Rockfish Gap, VA, all the way down to Cherokee, NC.
At the 2015 Dragon Raid I also tackled the Cherohala, which is in very close proximity to the Iron Horse Lodge where the event is held. For folks unfamiliar, the Skyway is 43 miles starting around Tellico Plains, TN, and ending in Robbinsville, NC. Most riders familiar with “the Dragon” may find that they prefer the big sweepers and less traffic up on the Skyway vs. the hustle and bustle of US-129 and NC-28.
Completed in 2017:
The Big Muskie Bucket
Formerly the largest drag line in the world, all that remains of “Big Muskie” is the excavation bucket parked in Miners’ Memorial Park near McConnelsville, Ohio. “Big Muskie” was a Bucyrus-Erie dragline; with a 220-cubic-yard bucket, it was the largest single-bucket digging machine ever created and one of the world’s largest mobile earth-moving machines, excavating 39 million pounds of material an hour. Parked in the Miners’ Memorial Park, the “Big Muskie Bucket” could hold two Greyhound buses side by side; but these days it’s relegated to tourist photos and “Moto Tag”. I finally followed up on a standing promise to my cousin and swung out to Zanesville to see Big Muskie Bucket and get a piece of the Triple Nickel.
Ohio State Route 555
The “Triple Nickel”, as it is commonly called, is what I consider to be one of the most popular motorcycle roads in Ohio. Starting near Zanesville, Route 555 twists along 60 miles of southern Ohio backcountry as it heads southeast down to the Ohio river near Little Hocking, Ohio. Unlike US-129, OH-555 is not located inside a reserve of any kind, nearly the entire stretch is dotted with gravel wash-outs, residential driveways, blind curves, among other rural hazards. The 555 proved to be a challenging ride, along with the rest of the local roads!
“Iron Butt” Motorcycle Challenge
In June of this year I finally finished an Iron Butt ride; specifically a Saddle Sore 1000. It took 3 years for all the right pieces to fall into place but I finally finished the ride and receieved my certification from the Iron Butt Association (IBA). While the challenge of riding 1,000 miles in 24 hours should never be underestimated, I found that I was well prepared for the overall time in the saddle considering my obsession with riding long days through the Bluegrass State on a regular basis. That realization has only sparked further interest in doing more difficult long distance challenges; I suspect more IBA challenges will find their way onto the Moto Bucket List.