Here in the southeast we have barely had a day without rain this summer. For those of us that like to ride it has been pretty annoying to get a couple of sunny days during the week and have the weekend start raining again. When we finally got a good looking weekend, my buddy Jeff and I decided to get a good long ride in. We tossed a couple of ideas around and settled on a loop to Hot Springs, NC and back.
We have done a similar ride before, but it wasn't a loop so this time we worked in a few more roads and went this way:
I recently bought a Yamaha FJR1300 to get a comfortable ride for my wife when she goes with me. Jeff was actually the one that mentioned it to me originally and he has considered one for himself, but he didn't know if he would find it comfortable. Well, this Hot Springs loop was the perfect time for Jeff to give it a ride so he met at my house and saddled up on the FJR! It was a very different ride than the cruiser he is used to, but he took to it quickly and we kept a brisk pace for the whole ride. Traffic was lite so keeping our pace was pretty easy!
We headed up a very familiar stretch of road to make it to
Caesar’s Head State Park.
The road twisting up the mountain to the park is not in great shape. It was
rough before all the rain and now you can actually see small springs of water
coming up from the pavement. We have ridden this road many times so we just
take care to miss the big pot holes and Jeff got his first taste of the twisties
on the FJR.
After a brief break at the park we saddled back up to head
to Brevard, NC for some barbecue at Hawg Wild.
We have been known to make the nearly two hour ride just for lunch. Of course,
we don’t need much of an excuse to go ride. After lunch we backtracked up 64
and connected with 215. The ride up 215 towards Canton, NC is one of my
favorite sections of road. The pavement is smooth and there are a variety of
curves. Everything from switchbacks to sweepers. After we passed through Canton
the route leads us to the top of another mountain where you have a great view
of the valley where the town of Canton is located. We stopped here for a break
and a few pictures. The hill was so steep it was hard to keep the bikes from
After Canton the next notable stretch of road is dubbed “The
It has 234 curves between Lake Junaluska and Hot Springs, NC. The road is in
great condition and the curves are great fun to blast through. Shortly after we
got into the twisties I had a close call. We were coming around a right hand
turn and there was a black SUV over half way into my lane and still coming
over. To top things off there was also a guy on a bicycle and that SUV was
headed straight for both of us! I had already decided that the guy on the bike
was coming with me if that car kept going. I could see a small hole I just
might be able to blast through between the SUV and the bicycle. Just as I was
getting ready twist the throttle and try my fate the SUV jerked back in the other
lane and we were able to get out of a bad situation unscathed. This was the closest
I have ever come to being in an accident on a motorcycle and it definitely caused
a bit of a pucker. My heart was pounding and even more adrenaline was coursing
my veins. It may have been a close call, but it makes you feel so ALIVE!
We followed the Rattler all the way to Hot Springs. We
pulled over to take a break and grab a drink. We went to Iron Horse Station and sat out on the patio. The service was good, but the people watching was
fantastic. It seems that there were plenty of other riders that decided to ride
to Hot Springs today. Many of them were “pirates”. For those of you that may
not know what a “pirate” rider is, allow me to explain. There is a certain
genre’ of rider that is a lifestyle rider. They will typically wear bandannas,
sport skull and crossbones, plenty of black leather vests and chaps. It’s a motorcycle
stereotype most people would be familiar with. Well, Hot Springs was full of
Pirates. I mentioned to Jeff that I didn't realize we were going to pass
It took him a minute, but he got it!
While we were taking a break we heard an ambulance and a few
minutes later a helicopter was flying in. We still aren't sure exactly what
happened, but it was definitely a life flight. After the helicopter flew away
we paid our bill and walked back to the bikes to gear up. Judging by what we
overheard there was at least two people that were injured. One in the ambulance
and one in the helicopter. I hope whoever it was is OK.
We fired up the bikes and started riding the curves of the Appalachian
Mountains once again. We went up into Tennessee and then headed back down
south. We had some great roads to get through and one of my favorites was 226A.
They call it “Diamondback”.
It has 190 curves in 12 miles and it is a challenging road to ride. We knew
that road had been tar snaked, but that was a long time ago and we were hoping
it would be paved again. Our hopes were dashed when we got there. This road has
more tar snakes than any road I have ever seen. The day was cool and it had not
been raining so we decided to go down it anyway. We kept our speed down and it
wasn't too bad. I did experience a slip and wobbles in a couple of turns, but
nothing that got me too worried. This was the last of the super twisty roads we
would hit on our loop.
It was starting to get late so Jeff and I buckled down and
pushed through until we got home. It was a long ride and a lot of saddle time.
In fact, there was so much saddle time that my Under Armour was starting to
feel like burlap, and you know how soft that stuff is! We had a blast and we
would do it again in a heartbeat. When we got back to the house Jeff swapped
out bikes to get back on his cruiser, but I think the FJR is still on his short
What I learned:
- The brain can assess a situation and react surprisingly fast. After my close call I was thinking back at how much reasoning happened automatically. The escape route was planned out before I even consciously thought about it!
- I learned how long it takes for Under Armour to start feeling uncomfortable.
Hebrews 4:16 NIV Let us approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.
The close call I experienced got me a little shook up. Especially several minutes later when I started thinking about how close it was and what could have happened. As I continued to reflect on the situation I said a little prayer and thanked God for protecting me. I thanked him for getting me out of that situation unharmed and I know God will take care of me going forward. Obviously, that doesn't mean I will never get hurt, but I trust God to handle it. Have you ever been in a dangerous situation where you were glad God was there to help you?