Frustrating Fun

We woke up at 7am, ate a quick hotel breakfast, and headed out around 8:15. It was 64 degrees, but overcast, so I made use of my heated grips because my hands are forever freezing.

We started off on 221 again this morning, which I think was even more fun traveling West than it was yesterday traveling East. We passed a couple groups of sport touring bikes a few miles in, which always makes me smile, knowing they are having just as much fun as we are. Luckily, there was no traffic, so we were able to choose our own pace, and it was a fantastic ride.

We took 194 over to 19E and stopped at a gas station to top off the bikes before going on to hit 80 North. On our way to 80, we got behind a truck with a bunch of junk in the back, going slow and losing stuff out of the back of his truck. He turned at the road right before 80, which was a relief. I realized at this point that I had forgotten to fasten the strap on my helmet, so we decided we would find somewhere to stop once we were on 80 so I could fasten it, but before we could stop, we ran into the truck again, as he had apparently taken a shortcut. Luckily he wasn’t quick enough and ended up behind us, though. I did not want to stop and let him in front of us again, so we went a couple of miles before stopping, and I fastened it in a hurry with one glove off, and we pulled back onto the road just as he came around the bend behind us. Whew!

This stretch of 80 would have been just as fun as the stretch we rode yesterday, though not quite as pretty, except for the fact that there was literally gravel in every single corner (not an exaggeration). We were having to go 1/3 of the speed we would normally go, because gravel was so thick we couldn’t avoid it at all in most of the curves. We were both extremely frustrated by this, because not only was it nerve wracking, but it was ruining a wonderfully curvy road that would have otherwise been a joy to ride.

About 2/3 of the way through the road, we were gingerly going around a curve when I heard the sound of brakes and an engine downshifting behind me and I looked in my mirror to see a Mazda Miata about two feet off my back tire. Furious, and extremely startled, I told Dwayne to pull over the next place he could to let the guy go around to get him off my tail, which is when I noticed that there was a whole line of Miata’s, not just one, and they were essentially road racing. I quickly realized where all of the gravel had come from on the roadway, which made me want to strangle the Miata drivers, because not only had they nearly killed me, they were the root cause of all of our frustration. After the line passed, we started to take off again, when another Miata came flying around the corner behind us, and we both had to swerve back out of the way so he could pass.

Once we got passed where they apparently turned off to circle back around, the road was free of gravel, but we were almost to the end of it by that point. From there we took 226 to 261, which we took up Roan Mountain and on into Tennessee, where it turned into 143. That was a beautiful road, with really nice curves, and was one of my favorites for the day.

Once we got to the end of 143, it ran back into 19E, which is an odd road that essentially makes a semicircle around the mountains. We took 19E over to 173, which is when we got behind an idiot pulling a trailer fully loaded with pallets. I know he was an idiot, because he kept going around curves in both lanes and nearly hit multiple vehicles head-on. Eventually we were able to get around him right before we hit 107, which was good, because he came the same way we did.

We took 107 to 395, which became 197 at the state line. This was another of my favorite roads for the day. It had beautiful scenery and more fantastic curves. We eventually got behind an old man driving slow about 5 miles before we ran back into 19E, but it was otherwise a nice, relaxing ride.

19E out of Burnsville toward Spruce Pine is a pain in the butt right now due to tons of construction, and also tons of traffic lights, but we had to take it back to 194 again. Right before we got to 194, we got behind an extremely stinky garbage truck, which turned onto the shortcut road to 194. We thought we might be able to beat him if we went the long way, but unfortunately he pulled out in front of us right as we came onto the straight stretch where the shortcut road connects, so we had to follow him and smell him the entire way. We were not happy campers at this point. To make matters worse, the skies ahead of us were starting to look a bit dark, and the threat of rain was starting to look like a possibility.

When we finally got to 221, we took it a short distance to get onto the Blue Ridge Parkway so we wouldn’t have to follow the garbage truck any further. We decided to stop at a picnic area by a creek right after we got on the parkway to relax and destress a bit and enjoy the beautiful scenery. There was no one else around, so it was nice and quiet, and we took turns walking out into the creek across some rocks.

Once we were calm and relaxed again, we headed back out onto the parkway and didn’t make it very far before we hit a misty fog, but it wasn’t thick, and it wasn’t actually raining, so we didn’t mind much. Unfortunately we did get behind some slow vehicles that didn’t want to let us pass, so that wasn’t as fun as it could have been.

We exited the Parkway at Mile Post 305 again as we had yesterday, and once again enjoyed a trip back across 221 to Blowing Rock. We didn’t hit traffic until we were most of the way to Blowing Rock, so it was a great way to end our ride for the day.

Before going back to the hotel, we rode down to the actual “Blowing Rock”, which I can’t really say was worth $14 combined for us to both see it, but the views were very pretty, so I guess it wasn’t a total bust. Honestly though, the views from Mount Mitchell were better and they were free, so unless you want to pay to see some rocks sticking up out of a mountain at an angle, just save your money and go up Mount Mitchell instead.

We ended up having dinner at Foggy Rock again, simply because it was convenient and I didn’t think my feet could handle the 3/4 mile walk one way in flip flops to the main street where the other restaurants are. Plus the food is just excellent there, so we knew we wouldn’t be dissapointed.

Tomorrow we plan to get up at 6am and have a quick hotel breakfast again and hit the road. We intend to hit some fun roads up to the Interstate while it is nice in the morning, then take the interstate the rest of the way home to try to get home as quick as possible since it will be 90 degrees the second half of the day.

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