It all started with trying to find a good place to eat. Side Street Pizza in Tryon was first on my list, but I ran into a big storm on Saturday as I rode down the mountain past Saluda. I had to turn back, chasing blue holes in the sky northwest to Brevard, where I ended up at Hawg Wild BBQ - 7 out of 10 on the grub and shelter scale. Great food, but tiny portions of the sides. No beer either
The weather outlook was dismal, but I wanted to ride. Scattered thunderstorms I can deal with, so long as I stay out in open country where I can see the clouds that are moving through. It takes some creative route planning, making it up on the fly, but I was able to put in over 150 miles of fun under the cloudy skies.
That's what the skies looked like for the first few hours of rambling here and there around Henderson and Transylvania Counties, with a short dash into Polk County, where I ran into the big storm. I got close enough to that one to see hail hitting the pavement a hundred feet in front of me. It probably helps that I'm a real storm freak - I love the energy that precedes a squall line as it roars through.
By the time I reached Fruitland, miles to the east of Brevard and Hawg Wild, it was starting to clear up. I rode up Sugarloaf Mtn. to watch the sun set across apple country, then busted a move for home to get ready for the ride with Jon on Sunday.
That one involved some calls back and forth as we pondered our chances of a dry ride. I had good luck on Saturday, so we met in Fletcher, planning to weave and bob around the storms of the day.
Jon and I cut across the mountains between Fletcher and Fruitland, heading into apple country over the same route that I followed yesterday. We hit a few sprinkles and some heavy fog for a mile or so as we crossed the high ridge separating the two valleys, but it looked like it would clear as we rode on through the apple country of Fruitland and Edneyville.
Puncheon Camp Creek in Edneyville - one of my favorite stops in apple country.
Don't be fooled by the passive display - if he stays awake, the wolf might come alive at any moment... or maybe not.
We wandered down from the plateau in Edneyville, leaving apple country behind as we headed for Chimney Rock. That was Jon's first trip to that area, so we took time to stop and get some photos on the way into the little town at the foot of the new Chimney Rock State Park.
Hickory Nut Falls was barely visible at times as the fog drifted in and out along the high cliffs of Hickory Nut Gorge, but they opened up enough for us to fire off a few shots. Down in the valley though, it was warming up fast. We rode on through Chimney Rock and Lake Lure, crossing over the dam to climb up towards Shumont Mtn. and Bills Creek on the Buffalo Shoals road, a real twisty delight.
The green sign behind Jon actually says, "Condominiums"
The bull was by the road near the Shumont Mountain resort.
We were seeing rain in the Bills Creek region, so we cut back to Hwy. 64 and then followed the back roads over to Mills Springs and then the Green River Cove. Caught a few sprinkles there as we climbed the sixteen switchbacks on the Pigtails, but not enough to even get damp. Still dodging clouds, we turned west out of Saluda and rode over through the Watershed, and then took the Bobs Creek/upper Green River valley route to Mt. Olive. We crossed over Mt. Olive on the Mountain Valley road, then dropped off the mountain by Camp Tonawandah. Jon had plans for the evening, so he headed on towards home after filling up with gas in Hendersonville, while I made a quick stop by home to lube the chain while it was good and hot.
I rounded off the evening with sizzling enchiladas and cold beer at Papas Beer, on Hwy. 25 north of Hendersonville. 8 out of 10 on that one, though it sometimes rates even higher. A lot of riders meet there from time to time. Frosty mugs of beer, excellent food, good looking waitresses and a big ol' salsa bar help out. It's sometimes crowded, but I had the patio pretty much to myself today. The guy that waited on my table seemed like he was lovestruck on one of the young waitresses - he forgot to open my Dos Equis, forgot to bring me silverware, and never did bring any napkins. I can forgive that though - the food and cold beer was great and there ain't nothing wrong with being young, in love, and foolish.
The enchiladas were really good. There were several varieties served on a smoking-hot cast iron skillet, just like with fajitas - man, that was tasty!
Considering the weekend forecast, we were lucky to stay dry. It was fun to head out without a specific destination in mind, letting the blue holes in the sky lead our way.
I have more pix and the full two-day report here:
Neil, I wish that you could have made this one. It was a great way to spend what was supposed to be a rainy day. When we started out, we really didn't expect to ride for much more than an hour or so, but the day just kept getting better and better. We just scratched the surface of some good rides today, so I'll need to head back sometime to show Jon the rest of the routes. I had hoped to cross over Skyuka Road on Tryon Peak, but a storm was roaring over that one as we rode up through Green River Cove. That's a wild one with incredible views of Green River Cove and the mountains further to the north.