Fall Tour 2005

Touring Kentucky Bluegrass, West Virginia, and the Blue Ridge Mountains

The Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina, are a special place for southern boys, indeed for all Eastern Riders.  We have a unique love and appreciation for this gem of a mountain range in the Appalachians.

Each year I end my fall tour in the Blue Ridge, gathering with old and new friends, and in 2005 I had a especially good time.

It is a place of timeless beauty, of mountain hamlets, tight twisty roads, and lush green.  It is our time for one last ride before winter, for good friends to gather and share our love for the 2 wheel lifestyle.  Riding great roads all day, eating good food, and enjoying a warm fire on a cool night with interesting conversation is something everyone can relate to.   It is a time to forget the real world for a few days, as each rider looses himself in the beauty of the hills and valleys with like minded individuals.  While in the Blue Ridge I hardly know what day of the week it is.  For a short time, a few lucky men get to feel 12 years old again, and that is what keeps us coming back here each year.
Clouds gather in the Blue Ridge Mountains near at the Mt. Balsam Overlook.
This year's fall tour was an abbreviated version from years past.  Having just returned from New England a month prior, I was going to ride to Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Southern New York to peep leaves, remaining on the west side of the Hudson River.  That plan was thwarted when a stubborn low pressure system stalled over the region and Northeast, dumping rain almost everyday for 2 weeks.  Day of departure weather reports advised the system was not moving for at least another week; and it didn't.  My friends in the region advised not to come, because they were battling flooding, and other damage.

In light of that information I delayed my departure for 3 days, and decided to visit the Blue Grass areas of Kentucky, before slipping into Parkersburg, West Virginia to meet friends.  A few of us thought it a good idea to meet there for the ride south to the Blue Ridge.  

The ride from Parkersburg was a lot of fun, and the riding terrific on the roads the state is famous for.  We stopped off in Mount Airy to sample "Mayberry," and mingled with a few locals. 
BamaRider on the Cherohala Skyway.
Folks, I leaned so much on this tour I thought I had a case of vertigo.  It was sport riding almost all day, everyday.  Through the Kentucky Hills, into West Virginia coal country, across the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia, before camping out for 3 nights and 2 days in the Blue Ridge, and home through the Smokies.

I've been on the Blue Ridge Parkway, and the Cherohala Skyway a number of times, but never have I seen them more beautiful.  I'm sure the weather was a factor, but all the stars seemed to align just right.  It was unforgettable.

The tour confirmed what I already knew.  The area is the best riding in the east.  The concentration of twisty roads in the West Virginia, Western North Carolina, and Eastern Tennessee makes the region the Mecca for Eastern Long Riders.  Nowhere else in the East can match the sheer numbers of vast, smooth, twisty roads the region offers up for slicing and dicing.

Leaf color was not the same of years past.  Our gathering is timed with Columbus Day, and this year the day fell a few days earlier on the calendar.  My guess is we were a week ahead of peak.  We had good color in a few areas, but green ruled the tour.  The trade off for that  was the warm sun and glow of a few Indian Summer days, the last 3 were perfect.

So follow me down a hundred country roads, and if you love motorcycles, to a place we all belong.