At 5Am on 5 November 2008, Mark and I again pulled out from his driveway in his truck towing our bikes heading for the mountains of South Carolina, North Carolina, and Tennessee. We had originally intended to make this ride the week prior, but it was very cold (with snow even) and we decided to wait for some warmer weather. When the weather report showed a bounce back to upper 60s and low 70s, we jumped at the chance to play hooky from work and have some fun.
For Mapquest page of route, see http://www.mapquest.com/mq/8-1dfOlBdGsJ6e
This year, we wanted to ride the Tail of the Dragon again to hopefully get some action pictures of us riding our bikes by the photographers of Killboy.com. It turns out that there was also a photographer from US129photos.com also. The pictures from both turned out pretty good and some of them are below. Mark rode his Ducati and I rode the Road King. We started out the same way. We left Walhalla (A on map above), heading north on Rt 28 toward Highlands (B). We continued to Franklin, NC, then to Robbinsville, NC (C) where we got gas. At this point, we had been on the bikes for almost exactly 100 miles and it took about 3 hours. The seeming slow speed was because of the curvy roads and the absolutely stunning scenery. The leaves were in peak color and there were times where the view was definitely a distraction from riding.
From Robbinsville, we decided to ride out the Cherohala Skyway. What a beautiful road! The road was very smooth and the curves were predictable. But what sets this road apart were the gorgeous views. The skyway climbed to over 5,500 feet in altitude. At this height, the leaves were gone from the trees. In fact, in a few shady areas, there was still a little snow from the week before. We rode about 38 miles of the road (D), then turned back. Our original plan was to ride to the end, head north, then cut over to catch the northern end of the Tail of the Dragon. We felt that we were going to run out of time so we cut it short. When we got back in Robbinsville (E), we ate lunch, then headed north on US 129 to Deals Gap, where we bought another t-shirt at the Deals Gap Motorcycle Resort. We then rode the Tail, passing the two photographers. We turned around a little short of the end (F) and returned to the Resort where we filled up with gas.
The bikes at the toward the beginning of the Cherohala Skyway
The bikes at about 5,000 feet on the Cherohala Skyway
We then began our return trip of just over 100 miles to the truck. We pushed pretty hard, arriving in Highlands (G) about a half-hour before dark. We took a short break where we had a snack and put on some additional gear since it was cooling down. We got back to Walhalla (H) in good time and had the bikes back on the trailer at about 7PM. Our ride from kickstands up to back on the trailer took about 11 hours and lasted 330 miles. We set off on the long ride back to the Augusta region, arriving at Mark's house by 9:30.
Maybe next year we will make this a two day trip to make the trip a little more relaxing. Maybe there will be more than one mountain ride too!
I purchased some of the shots that the Killboy photographer took on the ride. I also purchased some from the US129Photos website, but they have not arrived yet. I especially wanted the Killboy pictures because he was still there when we came back up the mountain. I left my modular helmet open to show off my moustache, hoping the pictures would come out good. I think they did. Now, I can shave it off ... when I get around to it. Actually, it looks pretty good in the pics, so I might keep it a little longer.
I also played around with cropping the photos (to catch the stache of course), straightening up the trees and adding some text.
Here is Mark. I added Killboy's moniker (hope he doesn't mind since the photos were purchased from him) after I cropped it some to straighten up the trees. I can resave these without the Killboy if requested. First with a curve to the left ....
and then with a curve to the right.
Here's one with text
and a zoom in on a cropped picture