Chris Skor (Skorlinski)
I was very excited to be joining Dave Selvig and gang for another Spring Training Ride to Iron Horse Lodge. Maybe it was meet-up at IHOP, maybe it was the 6 hour ride on twisty back roads to Iron Horse, or maybe 1st chance to use my ne camping gear. I knew it would be a great few days hanging out with the guys riding the NC Appalachian mountains.
No trip blog would be complete without at least 50 pictures of my bike at various locations. Here is one at the start of the trip, all loaded and ready to ride.
The left pannier has “bike stuff”, tools, Roc Straps, warm gloves, summer gloves, heated vest, tire patch kit, tinted shield. While the right has my clothes and personal items like wash kit.
The blue bag on the back has my new REI Hoodoo 2 tent $120, North Face Dolomite 3S sleeping bag $120, and extra long, extra wide, extra thick pad. I had a few extra goodies like extension cord and heating pad. And yes, I’m glad I had the heating pad, it packs small and when the temp dropped to 35 degrees it kept me comfy warm all night.
The black bag on passenger seat was mostly empty. I used to as a backrest cruising down the highway. Thought I would get used to it on the bike as I’m planning on taking it with my on 3 week cross-country trip to the BMW rally in OR. It worked out great. Plenty of storage, nice lower back support.
I’ll write up another blog post listing camping “should have taken” later this week.
On Our Way
Taking back road, Dave let us to Blue Ridge Parway and Pisgah Inn for lunch. This picture doesn’t do the views from Blue Ridge justice as the overcast softened the picture.
We were joined by fellow riders at the Inn for lunch. Mr. Orange Vest is Dave Selvig, our leader for this adventure.
Off the Parkway we took Hwy 215 off the Parkway was a blast. What you don’t see here is the steep elevation change. These corners where in 1st or 2nd gear, engine braking all the way down for about 15 miles. Just when you think its over, down and around you go again. I think it was one of my most favorite roads of the trip.
Ride to Iron Horse took us over popular roads like US 64 to Highlands, NC then Franklin picking up US 23. Along the way I wanted to stop at local coffee shops for afternoon Latté, but riding with Dave, you don’t stop for Latté, actually, you don’t really stop. Dave’s philosophy is don’t drink and you don’t need to stop and pee. Got to say with me on the ride, Dave offered just enough water breaks, thanks Dave!
Speaking of water breaks, here are by one of 100s of waterfalls in the area. This one goes over a little pull-off road. I’m sure this is a popular place in the summer. See all the Harley riders in the back, they had to cool over their engines after ride up the mountain. That’s a lot of IRON to pull up hill for a small engine. BMWs, never even blinked at the curves or elevation change.
Later that afternoon we arrived at Iron Horse Lodge where we signed in, paid for our breakfast and dinner, (lunch on your own while out riding), then setup camp. They even have covered parking. Yes, another my bike picture.
Yes, I paid extra $10 for electricity, like I said, forecast was for 30s at night and I’m not much on cold after spending 30 years in Wisconsin\Minnesota winters. If you don’t like tenting, you can stay in the Bunk House or one of the many cabins. Check out http://www.ironhorsenc.com/
If I turn around, here is the view from my campsite. I listened to the water all night long, kinds of sings you to sleep.
That’s the lodge in the background, here is picture from inside the TV room, looking back at my tent. Just out of view is a large flat screen TV, this week, showing coverage of the tragic Boston Marathon bombing.
Up stairs in the Theatre Room, did I mention they have a Theatre Room, not some old couches and a TV, but an A-1 class act showing Dish Network, playing “bring your own” DVDs, or, as we did during a down poor, sharing tips on Garmin Basecamp.
Nighttime dinner was served, choice of meet and potatoes, I think it was bring your own Salad night, then hanging out at the fire watching stars come out. In about 5 minutes of lighting that fire we had a nice crown sharing ride stories, bike maintenance tips, and occasionally a little politics would sneak in the conversation.
Friday turned out to be days of rest as down poor kept most, except our Mr. Dave, off the mountain roads. When rain cleared a bit, Don and I took a walk up the valley and short this picture back at the lodge. Don’s GS was itching to climb the gravel road and I was looking forward to capturing YouTube video of Don’s first spill on his new GS. But for complicated reasons, neither happened. Lets just say the road was so sleep, wet and rocky we lost our footing walking down.
Saturday was ride home day for Don and I. I’d planned a 1 hour loop ride around Fontana Dam to Deals Gap, then back to Iron Horse, then over to Cherokee where we’d pick up the start of the Blue Ridge Parkway. While only 45mph, for me the Parkway is an opportunity to work on my riding skills. I know 95% of the corners can be taken at 45mph and oncoming traffic is mostly under control, no yahoos sliding over the double yellow. Slow approach, look through curve, lean and roll on the throttle through curve, upright, engine brake as needed, repeat again, this time smoother. Once in a while I would shift into lower gear, learning how the bike responds at higher RPMs.
I think Don was just bored riding at Chris’ sightseeing pace. At my speed you can look around and enjoy the view. We even stop to pee.
Our ride on the Blue Ridge was cut short. Turns out couple on a Harley had a bad spill exiting one of the tunnels. We counted 4 rescue vehicles. Hope they’ll be back up and riding again. Next time we’ll ride a weekday and have parkway to ourselves. If your in the western NC mountain, Blue Ridge from Cherokee to I-77 needs to be on your “Gota Ride Once” list.
GA Mountain Rally, May 3-5
Looking to get out riding, then join us on GA Mountain Rally, May 3-5, Hiawassee, GA.
The BMW Motorcycle Club of Georgia returns to the highly acclaimed Georgia Mountain Fairgrounds site in Hiawassee (N34 57.919 W83 46.346) over the weekend of Friday, May 3rd to Sunday May 5th, 2013.
I’ll be riding over Thursday then back on Saturday, Sunday is work day for me.