That's Jonathan (aka lgajohnymac) walking away from his green Vee by the French Broad River, downstream from Hot Springs, NC, on the Paint Rock Road.
We met earlier that morning in Asheville by the same river. It was a lot cooler then - I had on so many layers when I left home and rode north to Asheville that morning that it was difficult to bend my legs enough to get on and off the bike. It warmed up fast though, and Saturday may have been the best day so far this year for riding the mountains of western NC.
OK, I've gotta share this one. This fellow saw me waiting for Jon at the intersection of the old Leicester Hwy. and Hwy. 251 and stopped to talk about the biking life. His scoot was a real trip! The guy had put a lot of work into it and it was loaded with farkles. Sissy bar, luggage, upswept exhaust, hidden luggage compartment - no effort was spared for that adventure rider. Check out the Flying Lady on his front fender. Does that make it a luxury ride?
Fear This!!! What a character! I'm glad that he stopped by. As they say, you've gotta ride your own ride. As we crossed the bridge over the French Broad later, the fellow was parked by the road, giving us a big thumbs up as we rode by. Rock on!
Oh yeah - the ride! We left Asheville on the old Leicester Hwy. (Pronounced Lester) and rode over to Hwy. 63 and Leicester. I'm not sure what the main industry in Leicester is, but on Saturday morning, I think that it might have been yard sales. They were everywhere. If I hadn't had plans for a long day's ride, I probably would have hit a few. I like looking for fishing gear and talking to the locals.
From Leicester, we followed Hwy 63 across Doggett Mtn. Doggett is a steep, twisty route well supplied with hairpin turns and steep dropoffs. It's a fun ride, but watch for gravel on the pavement! I got to know the route years ago while training for bike races and biathlons. There are some great views from the top of the hill of the western mountains. We dropped on down into the valley of Spring Creek, grabbing breakfast at Grits. I often ride that way, but never seemed to get around to stopping in at the old school turned diner. It's a cool place, though I think that I like the little diner at the store up the road in Trust a bit better.
Grits is decorated with memorabilia from the 50s and 60s school days.
After riding through Hot Springs, we turned off after crossing the river and headed down the Road #1304 to Paint Rock. Paint Rock is named for some markings on the cliffs in the area that resemble pictographs. The road starts out as a lazy paved lane by the river, but soon turns to dirt. At Paint Rock, it turns north, away from the river, splits and climbs the ridges along the TN/NC border as it heads over to Hwy. 107 in Tennessee. At the split, take the left fork up the Paint Mountain Road. It's a cool road, with a narrow, grass-centered strip of sandy surface that winds and dips high above the French Broad drainage.
An old barn by Paint Mountain Road on the Tennessee side of the mountain. From there, we followed Hwy. 107 for a short distance before turning left (south) on the Brush Creek Road. Brush Creek is a short, narrow paved connector that passes through a narrow limestone canyon, with lots of impressive cliff faces and busy cascades. It's a short connector, but worth the ride to see.
KawasiMoto parked by the side of Brush Creek Road.
Brush Creek road intersects with the dirt Weaver Bend road that travels west through the mountains to meet up with Hwy. 25 east of Del Rio. The mountains along the NC/TN border are laced with a web of great little dirt forest service roads that provide miles and miles of mountain riding. Trail riding is prohibited, but that's not a problem for me. The Vee isn't a trail bike at any rate, and I prefer dirt road riding.
Jon follows me down Hwy. 25 east of Del Rio. 25 along this section has very light traffic and great rural scenery as it leaves the mountains and enters the foothills of east Tennessee.
Del Rio is the chosen site for the upcoming ADV riders rally in May. It's a great choice - the area offers miles and miles of great rides of all stripes. Jon and I decided to follow Hwy. 107 through Del Rio and back up into the mountains towards Lemon Gap and Max Patch. It's another steep, narrow climb on a seldom-traveled dirt road that crosses through the high country along the TN/NC border.
Along the road to Max Patch, west of Lemon Gap. This is Highway 107 still, aka Round Mtn. Road. I think that on the next ride, it should be Jon's turn to lead - I'd sometimes forget and start racking up the speed, leaving a thick cloud of dust for Jon to plow through. So long as we kept the speed down though (not a bad idea, considering the risk of meeting a 4x4 on the wrong side of a sharp turn) the dust wasn't bad at all.
After stopping for a while at Max Patch to check out the views and talk to a tired AT through hiker, we rode off the mountain and back down to Hot Springs. There, we checked out the new Iron Horse Station, an eatery that sits by the railroad tracks on the north end of town.
Iron Horse Station - maybe an 8 out of 10. Great food, friendly hostess
, great atmosphere, but not-so-cold beer
and what seemed to be a unhappy waiter that wanted to somewhere else
. I'll be back...
That might be the best hot wings that I've had. Really, really good - just wish that I could have had a really frosty beer to go with 'em.
Lessee... I put in about 200 miles Saturday, about 50 more than Jon since I had to ride from points south to hook up. About 40 miles or so of the ride, maybe a bit more, was on dirt, excellent dirt, I'd say.
I'd like to put together a good group ride for some of us that would tie together a web of dirt mountain roads along the border, ending with chow and suds at one of the better eateries. We could make a weekend trip out of it, camping somewhere along the way.
I have quite a few more pix from the ride here: