Archive for May, 2014
So I’ve done it. 7 days on the bike covering roughly 3800 Km. I made it to the Tail of the Dragon, rode it several times and enjoyed myself every step of the way. Here’s my trip, day by day.
Day 1: Started off a bit later than I had originally planned but I figured the extra sleep was needed and after looking at the temperature outside I wasn’t keen on leaving when it was only 3 degrees out. Burrr. I eventually hopped on my bike around 10:30 and rolled out. A few back roads later I was waiting in line to cross the border. Normally a quick crossing at Ogdensburg NY, was much slower because of the Easter traffic backing up halfway across the bridge. Another hour or so to get through and I was on my way.
I decided to take back roads as much as I could and headed to the shores of Lake Ontario where I could inspect the first few of the potential campsites I had pre-scouted from Google maps. I was impressed at how good they would have been but it was way to early to stop for the day so I hopped back on the road.
This is where I had my first small routing glitch, instead of cruising down among the finger lakes my GPS (Garmin Monterra) decided to route me as quickly as possible back to the interstate. Oh no! I looked but it was going to be very out of my way to get back to the route I wanted so interstate it was. This probably worked out for the best because of my late start and delays at the border I needed to put in some distance before I looked for a place to camp. Also, the further south I made it the warmer my night would be.
As luck would have it, about 45 minutes before sunset I passed under some powe rlines with what looked like a nice service road just as I was about to get to an exit. I hopped off the interstate and scouted the surrounding area before I jumped the ditch. 30 seconds later I was up over a rise and out of site of any roads, houses or businesses. My Hennessey Hammock was setup up, dinner was cooked, and I settled in for a somewhat chilly night in my hammock.
Day 2: I awoke with the sun but it was way too cold to get out of my sleeping bag so I rolled over and as the sun warmed my hammock I got an extra hour or two of sleep. Around 9am I finally decided it was warm enough out to ride a bike so I packed up and readied myself for another day. Leaving the campsite you could not even tell that someone had slept the night and I popped back out on the road without anyone seeing me. I then hopped back on the interstate for a quick blast before I could see the sights for the day. Day 2 took me to Hershey Pennsylvania’s Chocolate World. If I had had the time, money and a place to lock my stuff I would have been tempted to ride the roller coasters for a day but instead I snapped some photos and kept moving. From there I rode a bit of Skyline drive before getting off to make some distance on the Interstate for the day. I tried to stop by some motorcycle stores but everything closed at 2pm on Saturday. As the sun started to set I went looking for a place to sleep. I was a bit behind schedule and the sun set as I was heading back into the mountains to get near the Blue Ridge Parkway. I had a few placed picked out via Google maps but had to drive the most insane switchback road up there in the dark. A tad spooky. Unfortunately one place I had picked was too close to the road and the other was gated. Defeated I headed back towards the BRP and town but just as I was about to get to the parkway ramp I saw a small dirt trail heading up a hill. What did I have to loose? So I zipped up this road, through a few switchbacks, until I came to a downed tree. Perfect! No one would be coming down if this tree was down and probably no one coming up either. The road looked like it hadn’t been used in ages. Probably the only downside was it was steep but that is no issue in a hammock! Trying as best as I could to not use my flashlight I strung up my hammock and called it a night.
Day 3: The night wasn’t as cold as the previous night but it wasn’t as warm as it could have been seeing as I was camping over 3000 ft. I took my time getting ready and packed up the bike for another day. I couldn’t see the BRP through the trees but I could hear cars as they used it. I got my bike turned around and headed out. After an hour of riding on the parkway I pulled over at a stop with a picnic table and boiled some water for a breakfast of freeze dried bacon and eggs. The view was spectacular but while I was eating another inmate from the ADVrider.com website stopped by and introduced himself (ADVRidgeRunner) and we chatted about bikes, local riding and my trip. He wished me luck and was on his way. I also enjoyed the fact that I was basically sitting on the Appalachian trail, a trail that I will hopefully be able to hike one day. From there I enjoyed the BRP until I exited in search of the Appalachian trail museum and half way point. Taking a break I browsed their displays, chatted with the staff and signed the register before heading back to the road. Some of these back twisty roads where amazing, lined with old cabins that really define the area. I finally had a chance to hit up my first motorcycling road “The Snake”. This road isn’t as popular as the Dragon but a good warm up none the less. It was fairly quiet and I really worked my loaded bike in the corners before I eventually caught up to a car. I took a small break and let them get ahead before finishing up and stopping in at the gift shop. There were several bikes in the parking lot and I enjoyed the atmosphere and shopped for a souvenir before moving on. Eventually I hopped back on the interstate for a quick blast before the end of the day. I was slightly behind my original schedule of making it to the Tail of the Dragon this night but I would end up only 200km short. Not having anywhere nearby to camp and with the sun quickly setting I slipped into a Holiday Inn Express but was shocked at their price ($100+tax) for a room and decided to look elsewhere. Just behind the hotel were some large advertising signs along the interstate and they had a service road. A bit of exploring later I ended up down a dirt road with a clearing on the side and setup for the night, my hammock stretched across the trail. I took a hobo shower, spraying myself with bottles of water and soaping up before heading to bed. At least this far south the nights were warm enough and slept really well.
Stay tuned for part 2!