29 May 2011

Trip Report: BRP Trip Day 2

Friday, 20 May 2011:  
Cheoah Point to Black Mountain.  
Distance:  About 280 miles.

Thanks to my new sleeping bag, I had my first good night's sleep while camping.  Cruzman and I were sharing a tent and he was already up and about the second time I woke up.  We'd gotten to bed late and had no fire so it goes without saying it took a little longer to get up and rolling than he would have liked.  Okay, it took me longer to get rolling!

But I did get it in gear.  As I was getting ready, Cruzman called out "There's a spider on my pants, Get the camera!"

No spiders were hurt at anytime during this trip.  Once we got the photo, Cruzman knocked him off and we went about the morning's events.  There takes some time to adjust to the new comm system.  It's no longer making sure I have the amplifier on and the plug connected.  Now I have to sync stuff!  My original objection to getting BT comms was price then the loss of the mixed audio I used.  Both of those were taken away so we got comms and this was the third time I used them.

It took a minute to remember the process:  turn on the comm, turn on the bt transmitter, turn on the amp, and music should come from helmet.  Sounds simple enough but when I checked to be sure I was still paired to Cruzman, I had no music when it switched back to that channel.  What the hell?  Was it broken already?  Should we have spent more money?  Cruzman was having trouble getting his music through paired too.  We decided to head out anyway and stop at CROT to decide on food or going on.

Just as I was about to pull out onto the main road, the main unit came loose from my helmet.  I guess I didn't pick the best spot to put my unit because I keep knocking it loose.  I took the time to secure it to the helmet properly while Cruzman disappeared down the road.  No big deal, he was waiting for me on a side street and we continued on to CROT.

At the dam, there was a backlog of cars and traffic.  There was a biker down!  Emergency workers were already on the scene and they were blocking traffic for the person who was still in the street.  It gave me the chance to pair my music but I still had the issue of losing it when switching over.  A few minutes later, they waved us through so the helicopter would have a place to land.  The fellow was being life flighted out of there.

It was the second time in as many days that we'd seen downed riders.  I was praying it wasn't an omen for the rest of the trip as we carefully made our way up to CROT.  I tried to solve the music/comm situation but it was still the same.  We decided to only contact each other if it were an emergency so no more interruptions for the general meanderings the mind might make.  We also decided not to eat at CROT and continued on to the Foothills Parkway then through the Smoky Mountain National Park into Gatlinburg where we had lunch.

We didn't speed across the Parkway like we had the first time we rode it.  The weather was cool but not uncomfortably so.  I didn't even have my heated grip on but I did have a sweater under the mesh jacket with the liner in.  Just listening to my music gave me time to think about what I'd done to have successful comms the day before.  The only thing I'd done differently was not pair my phone because it didn't have a signal and I didn't expect it to get one.  By the time we reached our lunch spot, I decided to pair my phone and see what happened.

It was the first time I'd been to Gatlinburg.  Cruzman told me the night before that since he picked where we had dinner, I was picking where we had lunch.  Great!  I had no idea what I wanted to eat but when he started to pull into a Texas Roadhouse, I nixed the idea, "I want to eat some place Local to Gatlinburg."  We ended up at a barbeque place around the corner called Bennett's.  Unfortunately, I was so concerned about the comms that it didn't occur to me to take a picture until we were on our way back to the National Park!
The Day's Route

We arrived right at noon and the food there is excellent and if I ever make it back to Gatlinburg and want barbeque, I'll definitely go back! After lunch I got the comm figured out!  I have to pair the phone first then everything will work like it should.  I would turn the phone off after a successful pairing because I knew we would be leaving it's coverage area.

We left Gatlinburg and continued on HWY 71 to the end of the Blue Ridge Parkway.  There was heavy traffic through the National Park once we left Gatlinburg and some delays due to construction.  When the traffic gets heavy, I get a little annoyed.  I'm not sure why but I like to pass the cars and be on my way at whatever pace I want to ride that day.  If I really thought about it, it's probably because I've gone out of my way to get away from traffic only to find traffic on the road that's supposed to provide an escape.

Either way, we fought our way through the masses and after a brief stop at the Information Center, we were finally on the BRP.  Fortunately, there wasn't much traffic on the BRP until we got near Asheville.  We were able to maintain the pace we wanted for the most part and even stop at the stuff we wanted to see.

It was a nice cruise up the BRP until my back started to annoy me.  Remember I said that I'd just put the memory foam on the OEM seat without any modification to the foam?  Well the reason to modify the foam is the angle of the seat pushes me (and others) toward the tank.  To compensate, I find myself arching my back. This doesn't get me any farther from the tank but I must think it does because I found myself doing it a lot!  I was ready for the gas stop when it came.

We had to get off of the BRP to get gas and as we went down in elevation, the temperatures rose.  It was downright hot in the town where we got gas!  I considered shedding layers but I knew we'd be going back to the cooler temps of the higher elevations.

Once back on the BRP, after we passed the Asheville area, I started noticing turkeys along the roadside.  They'd just stand there and watch us ride by!  It was pretty neat.  However, by the time I saw the last one, I started thinking about how he'd taste.  It was getting close to dinner time and I was getting hungry but we weren't anywhere near where we were camping for the night.  In fact, I felt like I'd been on the bike for months rather than a few hours.

One more stop,
They were closed by the time we got there.

But the smoke the Smoky Mountains are named for was rolling in.  We took several pictures trying to capture it.

Finally, I gave up and shot a little video.

It'd taken over three hours to get from Yellow Face to Craggy Gardens with a few stops for the restroom, gas, and to clean the bugs off of our shields.  When we passed Mt. Pisgah around 4, Cruzman mentioned that if he were doing the ride with his buddy, they'd probably stop there.  I was thinking it was a real good idea since my back was aching but I also wanted to see Mt Mitchell and had already ridden that part of the BRP so I didn't say anything.

Everything was so beautiful I wanted to see more, besides there was still plenty of daylight left.  Thinking back, if we'd left a little earlier, we could have made Pisgah the day before.  But the goal wasn't to cover distance it was to enjoy the distance we covered and I thoroughly did that.

From Craggy Gardens, we pressed on finally making it to the campground around 7:30.  By the time we set up camp and were seriously thinking about food, the sun had pretty much set.  We went back to Hwy 80 seeking a diner the camp hosts told us about only to find a convenience store with a pitiful selection of food.  We decided to go "all the way" to Burnsville where we hoped to find an open restaurant.  Problem was the camp gates closed at 10.  Whatever we got, we'd have to take it back to the campground and it'd likely be cold.

Since we planned on having a fire, I got the bright idea to cook so we went to Ingles and got some Brats and buns.  We made it back to camp with minutes to spare before the gates closed.  Cruzman got the fire going, I cooked the food,
and we ate by the fire.  Those were the best brats I've ever had!  The camp chairs I was carrying were welcomed after a long day in the saddle.  We took some time to decide what we'd do on Saturday then it was shower and bed.

thanks for reading,
patrice, theWolfTamer.

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