DAY RIDE 6/6/2015

To Surprise And Honor An Old Friend

June 6, 2015
  What possesses a feller to get up at 2 AM in the morning so he can ride 340+ miles to eat a BBQ sandwich, then turn around and ride 340+ miles back home? I guess it's all about friendship and appreciation for someone that's been a real blessing to me. Lanny has always been a friend and a great supporter of the Blue Ridge Gathering for the many years that I have held it. One year when I couldn't ride because of my knee replacement surgery, he led the rides for me as I ran 'sweep' in my pickup truck. He usually rides sweep when I need him and he gave me a killer safety vest that I am still using. He is a constant source of encouragement and information as to what the roads are like in the area and such. And he is an incredibly skilled and careful rider - one of the best I've seen. Unfortunately, back in November, he had a very serious get off that resulted in him almost losing one of his arms due to the bone damage. Fortunately, they could do a reverse shoulder replacement and he is slowly getting back to normal. But due to the severe nature of the injury, a slight fall could result in the loss of the arm. So he has been forced to give up something he really loves - riding motorcycles as even a simple tipover could destroy his arm. He normally holds a RTE (Ride To Eat) at Hawg Wild BBQ near Brevard NC and this appears to be his last one. I haven't told him I am coming, since I usually go to John's RTE that is scheduled the same day. I've got Frost ready roll the night before, knowing I face an early departure.
  I'm on the road by 3 AM because you never know what can jump up on a trip like this. I should have plenty of time but I don't want to be late for this one. It will be mostly slab, with a little 'fun' at the end. The highway is pretty much mine as I make my way across Nashville proper.
  On a ride like this, I just put on some good tunes, set the cruise control, and enjoy the wind in my face. It also gives me some time to sort through the events of the last six months, especially the loss of my mother in January and the resulting efforts of dealing with her estate. I've not really been able to ride much this year because of that, so it feels really good to get out on the road, even for one day. Nashville is way behind me when the sun finally starts to peek above the horizon.
  Being a breakfast sort of feller and having had none, I start looking for options. I don't want to do a full 'sit down' as it could take up too much time. And when I'm on the move like this, I prefer to coordinate a fuel stop with my food stop. Fortunately, I see fuel and a sign for BoJangles up ahead. I'm not much on their chicken, but they have some of the best breakfast biscuits going.
  When I get gas, I pick up up some moo juice to drink. I snag a bacon and egg biscuit and a sausage and egg biscuit and I'm good. My motorcycle seat is just fine for my table and it gives me a chance to stretch my legs a little bit.
  With the beast filled and the ST filled, I'm back on the slab and sail through Knoxville. Soon I'm getting up into the mountains.
  As I ride the asphalt carpet into North Carolina, it seems I am headed up into the clouds.
  And in this section, there is always a tunnel or two to whiz into ...
  and then out of.
  I see the fog getting lower and lower, so I kick back on the throttle just to be safe.
  Not soon enough, I'm off the slab and on to some of my favorite roads to ride in this area of North Carolina - highway 276.
  I prefer to stay on the backroads, but sometimes you just have to cover the distance and today is one of those days. But at least I do get some twisties in here at the last through Cruso and down to Brevard.  
  It's up and under the Blue Ridge Parkway and down the other side to get where I need to be.  
  And the 'going down' is just as good as the 'coming up'! They've recently chipped and sealed it so you have to really watch the loose stuff in the corners though.  
  Fortunately today I have the whole road to myself which is rare on this particular stretch of highway. I even have a chance to get shot of Looking Glass Waterfalls, which is usually 'heavily occupied'.  
  I'm way early by an hour and a half, but that's all right by me. I go ahead and gas up for the return ride and find me a nice shade tree to light under and check my eyelids for holes. I am happy to report that no holes were found during my checking.  
  Soon other riders show up one by one, then Lanny and his lovely wife Karen pull in.
  He can't believe that I came all the way, since he thought I would be going to John's RTE. I had let John know what I was doing and he kept the secret good. I give them both a big gentle hug and we catch up how things are going. Soon more riders come wheeling in and we make our grand entrance into Hawg Wild. They've got us put in a back room so the motorcycle trash doesn't affect their good customers ....  
  but some things just can't be helped ...  
  even though we try to behave ourselves as much as possible.  
  I order up some western style BBQ (tomato based) since I don't care much for the eastern style (vinegar based). And yes it is as tasty as it looks.  
  It's a tradition to ride back up to the Blue Ridge Parkway and get a group shot at one of the larger overlooks. So when we all get settled up with the restaurant, those that have time get saddled up and ride.  
  Fortunately all the cameras seem to survive the stress they are subjected to. The long term effects, however, are yet to be determined.  

I check with 'Dave' - my new GPS - just to verify which is the quickest way back to the slab from here. He says that I need to go down the Parkway to highway 151 to get there, which happens to be one of my favorite roads up here. I tell Lanny with a big grin -

"Well, my GPS tells me I have to take 151 to get back - and who would want to disobey their GPS?"

He is in complete agreement, since he knows 151 quite well. So I give hugs around and then I'm off like a dirty shirt toward the Holler. There's a few tunnels on the way ...

  but pretty soon I'm at the turn off for 151.  
  It is a delightful series of twists and turns as the road makes its way down to the valley from the Parkway. My favorite 151 story is the day I was leading a group ride down it and a full size tour bus is coming up it. That certainly made for some rather 'interesting' curve transitions for us all.  
  You have to really be paying attention or you might find yourself meeting yourself on some of the hairpins.  
  Far too soon I'm back on the slab and the traffic headed for Nashville with all the other folks.  
  I figure if I can get far enough along, I will only have to make one gas stop on the way home. When I get to Crossville, I know I've got it in the bag.  
  Thankfully, the rest of the ride is uneventful - just droning along the interstate. I'm glad when I pull into the cool shade of the Holler, for it has been a long day - but a good day spent with my friends.