Thursday, April 15, 2010

Roads of Discovery

Getting up at 5:30 AM this morning sucked,but we gotta do what we gotta do. If I waited for the hour I really wanted to get up, I would have to choose between working out at the gym and going riding. The gym would have suffered in that choice. So I was up at 5:30 and at the gym by 5:50 AM, and home by 7AM. My time at the gym did suffer. You can't make your gym time good by pushing what you don't like to do at an hour you're normally in bed. It just don't work that way. I got my hour of cardio in, but the 2nd hour of sculpting took a hit. Oh well. Next time Charley.

Gettin home, I didn't feel any better than before I left. How odd. I always feel rejuvenated after the gym. Only goes to reinforce my idea: Never do the gym when your body tells ya it's not having any fun. Always take your body's advice and go when your mind and body are one and ready for the crap your gonna put it through. My body says that is between 8AM and 1PM. PERIOD.

My road bag is packed, I feed and walk my puppy dog. Load my stuff on the bike haul my butt into the's still too chilly in the morning to set out without em. I stop by my MR.'s place of employment and tell him I'm off and about for a day of adventure, then I set my wheel south. I still don't have a plan of where I'm going, except I want to explore the roads east of Asheville, NC.

I took the entire day by the seat of my pants guys, I've never been on most of these roads before. I just followed the signs to places I've seen on the map. My wheel just kept in what ever direction the time of day told me I needed to be heading in. What a great adventure I had today! Here's my route:

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I came across abandoned buildings that sure had some mystery as to how they were used during their hay-day. Here's one that confounds me...but it's a cool looking building, great for photo ops.

This building can be found on TN SR-212. Which is a great road by it's self. It's not a well traveled road, nor does it have big twist's or grand sweepers. It's a gentle road leading south west towards Hurricane NC. Nothing of any note to say about it, except it's true worth is in the peace you'll feel from it's gentle rollers, the tree lined hillsides, the small patches of land snatched away from the forest by a local for his garden and the family road side stand of fresh local veggies.

Leaving Hurricane, NC you'll find yourself on US 70/25. Another nice scenic 2 lane road leading south into the the North Carolina town of Marshall. Instead of going into the town of Marshall, turn right after the Citgo Station and get yourself on SR-251 South. The locals call it River Road. It runs next to the French Broad River for many miles. This river is full of rock shelves causing whitewater rapids. It's great for the camera, huh...why didn't I take any pictures of this. I guess I thought I had too many pictures of water? Who knows. There are several county parks along the road to stop at, one has restroom facilities. Real nice facilities. You'll know it when you see the park. It has picnic tables and a walking trail. You'll find this a good place to pull over and relieve your cramping muscles. Stretch your legs or empty the bladder. It's a good rest stop for this leg of the journey. All along this route, you will find abandoned homes, businesses and great photo opportunities for wild life and river life.  This is a wonderful river route to follow!

At the end of River Road, you will find yourself in Woodfin. It's a suburb of Asheville NC.  You'll have to take US-70 south to I-40 east exit.  It's also US-70 exit.  Staying on US 70 until you see the Blue Ridge Highway exit.  Get off 70 and get on the Blue Ridge.  If you've never been on the Blue Ridge, you'll enjoy the fact you're on a great scenic road running along the ridge lines of the Appalachain Mountains. If you have been here before, it's the same old thing, over and over again.  I want to get off as soon as I come across a road that appears promising.  It wasn't long before I came across an exit marked for Ox Creek Road.  Promising name, the signage also promised a landmark area known as "Vance Birth Place".  I didn't know who Vance was, but what the heck. Let's learn some history.  Ox Creek Road is a nice little road snaking up hill for about five miles before you connect (T) with Rheems Creek Road.  More hilly roads leading north.  It's here you will find Vance Birth Place.  Turns out Vance was an early Governor of North Carolina.  I didn't do anything more than make a circle in the parking lot and leave.  The grounds appeared beautiful, with a large covered picnic area.  Up the little rise a bit is a log cabin with a few out-buildings surrounding it.  It all appeared too contrived, been there, done that.  I wanted to continue to ride.  But it's a really nice place for a respite. The information building has bathrooms and cold soda.  You can stop here for a soaking of NC history, a bathroom break, and a cold drink.

Rolling north, still on Rheems Creek Road, you'll come finally to the town of Beech.  It's here I see SR-197. I know of this road.  I've been on it a couple of weeks ago a bit further north.  It's a great curvy, scenic ride as you cross into North Carolina from Tennessee.  I figured it would be just as good south of US-19E.  It was too...with a bit of a twist. There was the usual signage warning truckers to find another route due to hairpin turns.  Wait! There's more to the warning! This road has sections of steep gravel grades! HUH?  OK, I figure it won't last long, I can do this as long as this as long as the road isn't "soft".   I ride this road for about five miles, no gravel...I'm thinking the sign was wrong. That's what I get for  thinking.  I come on the warning sign for gravel road.  Shessh...ok here we go! It's not that bad, it starts out hard pan graded road. I can do this easy.  Shit, here come the washboard, damn...I should have pee'd back in Beech. Now I'm on a road with washboard ripples, my kidneys are giving me a lot of shit.  So what do ya do? Quit yer whining...and ride.

After about a mile, I pull off the road.  There is a car behind me, and I can tell she wants to get around me.  She stops, rolls down her window and tells me I only have about two miles left off the gravel.  I smile and thank her.  I'm sitting at 66 miles on the odometer, and I'm starting to fret about gas stations.  Although, withthe slow speed, I know I will get about 100 miles on the tank; without  a gauge, YOU NEVER KNOW!
I smile and thank her for the information.  I allow her to get a bit ahead of me.  She's leaving a dust trail behind her and I'm not willing to choke for no one on this ride.

I don't get but about an 1/8 mile when I come across this waterfall.  Yeah, this is what it's all about for me!

After almost three miles of gravel road (with sections of huge rock the size of a child's fist,) I finally arrive at tarmac.  It's at the top of the mountain, and I'm heading down mountain! I soon realize this part of the road is like looking at how a bootlace winds it's way up the eyelets. This road is a serpentine road. You can look down over the edge of the road and see it wind it's way down the mountain side: right angle turn, left angle turn a hundred feet later...twist and shout...Chubby Checker was singing about this road! 

What a fun ride so far! Great scenery, wonderful skills testing from the road! Great people met along the way! Now this! About six miles of serpentine roads. At the bottom of the mountain is a little general store and a derelict  building.

Still heading north on SR 197 I found this old barn/antique store/derelict abandoned building. I am so pleased for these shots here at this barn! For the photography end of this trip, well this made up for all the rest I had either missed or passed up due to no shoulder to pull off on.

There was so much more to the ride...but I'm leaving ya here .... be sure to follow SR 197 to SR 226, where it will later turn into TN 107 into Erwin and Johnson City TN.