Day 3
October 13, 2006
Blue Ride Motorcycle Campground                                  
Cruso, North Carolina
In the Blue Ridge Mountains 


I was warm and content in my sleeping bag, and I didn't want to move.  I could hear guys talking nearby and walking around.  I knew it was cold outside my tent, and that caused me to linger.  "Man I don't wanna get out of this warm sleeping bag and face that cold air." I kept saying over and over.

But the bus was leaving at 8:30am and I wanted to ride with my friends, so I rolled out.  The worst part was slipping on my cold riding shorts and pants.  I have to lay down in my tent to get my pants on, and those few seconds  the cold was excruciating, and the exposure seemed unfathomably long.
After gearing up I warmed the 1300 and rode over to take my place in line.  Everyone looked ready to go, as we went over last minute checks.   We had over 10 bikes and riders making the ride.  We left the campground promptly at 8:30 heading for a great day of riding.

We took off on 276 towards the Parkway.  I was in the number 3 spot directly behind Sal Landa of Miami, Florida.  Uncle Phil as usual, was in the lead.

Gauge on the 1300 put the temp about 38 degrees, but there was little wind and the sun was bright through the trees.  A picture perfect day for a fall ride.  

The sun shines little in the shadows of Cold Mountain, and the air always a little cooler.  Our line of bikes sped through the trees working our way to the Parkway for a brief ride.  I'm not sure of the routes, I was just following Uncle Phil and a couple of guys with GPS, but I will do the best I can.

By the time we arrived in the twisty part of 276 my tires were sufficiently warmed up for leaning, but I wasn't.  I had my insulated liner and thick gloves on, with heated handgrips turned to full.  Those things helped, but I was still chilled.

I followed the lines of the 2 bikes in front of me, as we moved up the mountain to the Parkway.  The edge of the road was covered in thick leaves, and the bikes in front of me kicked them up for me to split when I followed.  The road is quite technical on the way to the Parkway, it is tight with, with many turns, and not much room for error.

Leave color was outstanding, one of the best years in the 6 years I've been coming here.  All day trees dropped leaves on us as we rode.  Our line kicked up leaves by the bushel.  It was very fall like, and I enjoyed it immensely.  I love fall but I don't have much of it in Central Alabama, and one of the reasons I enjoy fall rides so much.
On the Parkway we headed north in full view of the sun, but it did little good warming things up at this elevation.  Temps plummeted down into the low 30s.

Engine temp on the 1300 was only on 2 bars.  The cold air doing a better then good job at keeping things cool.
We left the Parkway for SR 151, another great ride.  The bikes ahead of me had dropped off to mark turns and I moved into the number 2 spot behind Uncle Phil, and together we chased leaves through the tight turns.  Left then right we tilted the Hondas.  Leaves kicked up and scattered everywhere as we separated ourselves from the pack.  It was a lot of fun.

We stayed on mountain back roads that I have no idea how to recall.  I take poor notes on group rides, choosing to socialize at stops in lieu of getting out my PDA.  The riding was good, with little traffic as our group pushed the curves.

After a series of mountain back roads we made it to Leicester, where we stopped at Corky's for a fine breakfast.  Our large group was accommodated by the staff, and soon we were treated to a huge breakfast with all the fixings.  I refrained from the worst of it, settling on just a carbo rich pancake.
I worked on getting in touch with Bank of America, but couldn't get past the phone tree.

We hung around and waited for the sun to warm things up, and after stepping back out into the parking lot things felt much better.

We took off on more roads that I don't know anything about.  I do remember stopping near the interstate to check the map books and the GPS.   We made it into Hot Springs where we sorted things out across the street from the appropriately named Hillbilly Market.
​Breakfast at Corky's.  Photo Mark Gordon
​Uncle Phil and Peter Menard (in red) checking the maps
Photo Paul Smith

The afternoon ride was very interesting.  After a lot of good leaning and back road chasing we found SR 197, a good but somewhat bizarre road.

I was mid pack, as the highway turned corkscrew twisty up the mountain.   Riders in front of me danced around various lines, it seemed no one could decide which line was best, and as a result they set out on their own.   One turn we were low, the next we moved high.   On many of the tight switchbacks I dropped into second gear.  We kept moving up in elevation into a clearing nearing the top.  I could see bikes above and I could look down at a line of STs behind me.  Peter Menard (riding sweeper) said it was one the neatest things. he had ever seen.  He said- "I could see a long line of bikes through the trees 3-4 steps high."  

At the top of the mountain the pavement ended and we found ourselves on a gravel, rutted out pig trail.  "What the hell?  Where are those boys up there takin us?"  My ST really doesn't like dirt roads, but I hung in there, fighting my way through the dust clouds.

We rode for several miles till we found ourselves on the other side, back on pavement.  A few took a wrong turn, and were wondering aimlessly in the hills.  We discovered something was wrong and doubled back a few miles to catch Uncle Phil. The leaders found a spot and we took to the side to sort things out.  I asked someone-
"So what's goin on?"

"I dunno, Uncle Phil and the GPS boys are sorting it out now."

I spent the time chatting and cutting up with the others, confident the leaders would get us out of these hills and back to campground.

We got back on the road and was leaning hard moving up in elevation on a road I can't name.  The surface was not the best, but at least it was paved, it was hard to hold the 1300 on a line, because the road bounced me all over.  "Dang, this road is gonna run outta pavement any minute."  My prophecy turned true, and soon we were high in the mountains on another "unimproved" road.  This one was worse than the first.  

The dirt was thankfully hard packed, but very dusty.  We met a boy in a pickup coming down the mountain.  I bet he was laughing his butt off when he saw this long line of sport touring bikes trying to get up the mountain.  "What the hell are THEY doin?" I could hear him ask.  The leaves on the road looked undisturbed.  "Nobody has been on this road in a loooooong time." I thought.

The 1300 has very good suspension, but the units on mine are set up semi hard, and I was taking a pretty good beating, but I had little problem keeping the ST upright.  

The old road seemed like it was going to go forever, but at last we made it to the Blue Ridge Parkway.  How I don't know, next thing I know we emerge out of the woods onto pavements.  Thankfully the gate was up, but if it had been down I don't think it was going to stop us from getting on that velvet pavement.  I wasn't going back down the hill.

We busted out on the Parkway out of the woods and headed south to US 276 and home.  The afternoon was waning, and I was ready to return.

We stopped at a turnout to reorganize.  "Ok whose the joker, that come up with THAT route??"  "Well it did save us about 50 miles."  I heard someone say.

It was a beautiful afternoon on the Parkway, and everyone had their cameras out.  Long shadows began to slip over the valleys below us.  I'm always amazed at the sights in this area of the Blue Ridge.  
Uncle Phil said-"We don't need to drop and sweep now, everyone knows the way back, just ride the Parkway and take 276 back to the campground.  Look for it just past Pisgah," and off we went.

Peter Menard hit the road first at a brisk pace.  He had been in the sweep position all day and wanted to break loose.  As for me the best I could do was 3-4.  We left a few guys still taking pictures and hit the road.

The pace back was the brisk.  I know the Parkway is 45 mph, but heck, I figured I was way ahead in the debit column so kept up.  The flowing, symmetric curves of the this road can be hypnotic.  A really tough afternoon sun in the Arai made things difficult.

The ride was fun, but it was late on a Friday afternoon and we were soon bogged down in a line of cars.  The weekend was coming and the leaves were peaking, bringing lackluster drivers from all over to Mt. Pisgah for the weekend.

After passing the resort things loosened up a bit and I zoomed down 276 with Sal Landa and 2 other riders in front of me.  Down the narrow, twisty road road I kept pace.  Still I stayed cautious.  The highway would turn and often cloak me in a bright sun, momentarily stunning my eyes, after riding in dark tree and mountains shadows, I was literally blinded for 2-3 seconds, which seems like an eternity on a twisty, downhill, mountain road.

Everyone made it back to the campground where we regrouped for supper.  We were going back to the Junction.  That was fine with me.

Mark Morris had made it in from Raleigh-Durham and was waiting for us.  It was good to see him again.  
I lead back to the Junction in a late afternoon dusk. A Nice ride.

At supper I spent too much time with Bank of America, but I finally connected with a person, who told me what I didn't want to hear.  "Mr. Boutin you won't have full access to that deposit, till Wednesday 5pm."  "Well that ain't NO good."  "Sorry but all non cash deposits on accounts less than 30 days old, take 7 working days to clear."  "Well how ya get that, that MONEY has long been gone out of my Regions checking account, so that money is just out there somewhere?"  It was obvious they had my money and just using it, but nothing I could do about it.  "Without that money, I'm gonna hafta to make a decision by Sunday.  I don't have enough money, to stay on the road till Wednesday if I can't access that account."  Going to my other account was no good.  The money had been pulled from it to Bank of America, and I had to keep what was still there because several bills on automatic were due in the next few days.   I had my Amex card, but I really don't like using it unless I just have to, and this wasn't going to be one of those cases.
Ron Epperly of Orlando, Florida, enjoying himself at the 
Jukebox Junction -a long time hangout of ours in the Blue

That bit of news kind of put a damper on the evening.  

We had a nice meal and gave the girls money for the jukebox.   Peter Menard said he was heading back to State College in the morning to get ready for the Penn State game, and Uncle Phil was returning back to Nashville.
After supper we topped off the gas tanks and headed back.  Another dark and cold ride.  A big cat started me when he darted across my path about a mile from the campground.  My first thought it was a deer.

I spent the evening around the clubhouse and campfire.  When the fire went out I took a shower and headed back to the tent.  I was one of the last to hit the sack.

It was going to be another cold night, and I slept with my sweats on.   I had one more day in the Blue Ridge and was looking forward to it.