Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock, you know that we’ve been reaching out for guest bloggers to share your adventures with our fans. Well Bub from North Carolina wanted to share the details about his chilly winter ride to one of his favorite destinations. If you’d like to join our team of guest bloggers and want to share some of your adventures, contact us at [email protected].
Black Ice with Bub
It’s a cold Feb. morning, but Christy Henderson [meteorologist for Channel 7 Spartanburg] promises the sun’s gonna shine and it’ll be warmer in the afternoon. We’re counting on you Christy. Mickey shows up at 9 am on his Yamaha FZ1, I tell Margie “later”, plug in my heated jacket and gloves, fire up my FZ1 and we’re off. The plan is to get on NC 80 where it begins at Marion, NC and ride to NC 226 near Bakersville, NC where it ends. We’ll then go south on 226 to US 19E at Spruce Pine, NC and connect to NC 194 then over to NC 181 and be at Christa's Country Corner for lunch. Christa’s is a general store/restaurant in Pineola, NC that’s popular with cycle riders of all kinds. It’s located where NC 181 crosses the Blue Ridge just south of Linville, NC and I’m sure many of you reading this have been there.
The temp gage on my bike says its 32° and my heated gear is just keeping up as we leave my home between Gaffney, SC and Boiling Springs, NC. We head up SC 150 to Boiling Springs and keep going straight where 150 turns toward Shelby, crosses US 74 and ride into Lattimore, NC where we consider many of our rides to begin and end. We head out of Lattimore on New House Rd and hang a left on Jack Moore Mountain Rd then turn right onto Duncan’s Creek Rd, which is an excellent motorcycle road full of curves and very little traffic. Duncan’s Creek dead ends into Bostic Sunshine Highway and we turn right for a short run to 226 where we turn left toward Marion. 226 is a super road for bikes, but beware---keep your radar detector on as the local LEOs know this also. My temp gage shows it is now 40° and the heated gear is doing a fine job. We turn on NC 70 at Marion and run the few miles to the start of 80. Mickey says on our bike-to-bike intercom that we should probably be a little careful as it’s still early and there may be some patches of black ice on the road. I agree and slow down going around the corners that are out of the sunshine with a much more leisurely pace than we generally ride as we proceed up the mountain.
Riding heavily shaded roads in the winter can get tricky when there's a lot of moisture. Black ice can catch you off guard and ruin a perfectly good day.
After a little while I’m thinking this isn’t so bad---I’m seeing things I never had time to look at before. That little stream I’d glanced at before is really quite nice as it winds among the rocks and trees. And that rock wall that’s generally a blur has really got some character. With the trees bare, it’s possible to see into the woods and all that is normally hidden by foliage. Huge boulders and gullies cut into the hillsides make for some gorgeous scenery. We top out at the Blue Ridge Parkway and see that it’s closed over to Mt. Mitchell, but no matter as we plan to continue on 80. As the road winds north down the mountain, it’s got some nice curves but aren’t nearly as tight as the previous section from Marion to the Blue Ridge. A word of caution: be careful as several miles past the golf course the road curves gently to the right around a rock wall and then!!!--- The radius sharply increases almost 90 degrees. Even at our modest speed I have a hard time keeping the bike on the right side of the mustard [yellow center stripes]. This curve has gotten to me several times and I’ve been lucky that there was no oncoming traffic.
In warmer conditions we ride at higher speeds and don't notice the character of the rock walls along the road. The sheets of hanging ice gave it a look like nothing we've ever seen.-Bub
Now we’re in the valley and the road is clear and dry so we can wick it up a little. 80 T’s into 19E, where it turns right to run with 19E for a little bit and then turns left to head up to NC 226. If you think the stretch of 80 from Marion to the Blue Ridge is tight, you ain’t seen nothin yet! This time of year and especially after the region has had several snow falls, you better go slow. We run across lots of wet places from snow melt and you never know if it’s water or black ice. Once Mickey hit a black ice patch and slid a little and then a couple of miles further on, I hit a patch. Talk about your pucker factor!! But you know, as I mentioned earlier, it was kinda nice running slow and taking in all the scenery. Even in the bareness of winter the mountains are beautiful and the quaint communities we ride through are interesting, like BoonFord, Bandana and my favorite—Loafer’s Glory. We reach 226 and the end of 80, turn right and head east to Bakersville where 226 turns south toward Spruce Pine. After riding in the rural mountain areas as we’ve been, coming into Spruce Pine is like the outskirts of Charlotte! Turn east on 19E to Ingalls and NC 194 which joins up with US 221. Stay on 221/194 and go through Crossnore and we turn right on NC 181 and a few miles later we’re at Christa’s where the temp is 36. What a nice ride we’ve had so far and now we can enjoy some of Christa’s barbeque and for dessert have a “made right there” cinnamon bun topped with creamy butter. Christa tells us that we are the first bike riders of 2013.
Christa's desserts seem to be what people rave about and Bub highly recommends giving their cinnamon rolls (left) a try. We don't know about you, but we're ready to hit the road to give them a try!
Photo Courtesy: Blue Ridge NC Guide
After our long lunch break, we hop on our trusty steeds-----well maybe not hop on after all that food-----and ride down the mountain on 181 toward Morganton, and for most of you I don’t have to tell you about 181! Near the bottom we turn onto Fish Hatchery Rd, which is very curvy and fun. At this time, the temp has risen to 52° so we’re able to turn down the heat on our jackets. Fish Hatchery ends at NC 126 where we go left to Power Dam Rd. We stopped at the intersection of 126 and Power Dam for fuel at the convince store since this is the only gas station in the area and I knew our FZ1’s couldn’t make it home without a stop. Power Dam Rd. besides being twisty has some outstanding views as it follows the shore line of Lake James and dead ends at NC 70. This is where we turn east for a short run and then right onto Dysartsville road which runs into NC 226 for our final stretch home. Once home, I look at the odometer and it shows that we’ve logged just over 200 miles for the day and we’re feeling great about our Feb. ice run. Normally we really enjoy the fast runs on the mountain roads, but once in a while it’s nice to ride slower, relax and really look at the scenery we’re riding through because we’re very lucky to be where we are as bike riders.
What did you think about Bub’s ride? We want to see what you have to say in the comments section and if you have any questions for the man himself, feel free to reach out to him at [email protected].