Sunday, July 30, 2017

Curves in 5th gear

Had breakfast in Pigeon Forge at my favorite Apple Barn restaurant
One good ride this week.  I rode Wednesday to work and it was a GREAT day, but nothing special :)  I mean, it WAS special, but I didn't go "the long way" or anything like that.

GIANT moth

Awesome pic of Khaleesi and Cheyenne outside of Norris Lake

Saturday we rode 300ish miles up north close to the KY border.  The teenager had to stay behind due to having all 4 wisdom teeth removed the day before!  He's doing good, but definitely didn't need a helmet pressing against his chipmunk cheeks. The road on the map is called "The Copperhead", but it's made up of several state roads.  Hwys 31, 63, and 66.  The first leg of the road was actually a little bit scary.  Lots of sloppy patch work, open cracks (that my front tire caught a few times), tar snakes, and a crumbling shoulder.  We also had the good fortune (sarcasm) of navigating that stretch behind a tractor trailer.  Um, 15 mph switch backs behind a tractor trailer (cue the Tail of the Dragon pics of shame!).  There WAS road construction, so at least they're fixing it, but it was dodgey riding at first!

The mountain leveled out and opened up to 50/55 and we pushed the bikes to about 8 over.  It is flat out EXHILARATING to  sweep through curves at 60+.  A little counter steering goes a LONG way to smooth turns!  The cool air wrapped around our bodies as we leaned and rolled our way towards the next mountain.  I had to rig up a system for my very expensive piece of crap "made in China" Indian helmet.  (that NONE of my local dealers will help me with)  It has a visor that will NOT stay up.  When my speed gets up above 30 mph, the visor SLAMS back down.  I like to have the option of pulling it down while on the higher speed roads, but the rest of the time I like it up so I can feel like I can breathe.  So, I stuck a ... panty liner under the shield to keep it up.  I mean, it worked!  Only problem is then it's in the up position until I pull over and put it back down.  I am completely disappointed in that helmet and I will never purchase another Indian helmet again.  I like my HJC so much better, AND it was cheaper.  Live and learn!

Yep, that's a sanitary napkin!:o

At about the half way point, I had my first OH $HIT moment in a WHILE.  We'd approached an intersection, and I did as I always do and backed off.  It seemed as though David was going to keep going straight, so I rolled back on the throttle and THEN he decided to turn left.  I locked Khaleesi down so bad she fishtailed right then left then right again.  David saw me in his mirrors and rolled on down and pulled over.  I managed to keep it rubber side down and we pulled off to the side.  My heart was pounding and I sort of yelled at him a little bit and the look on his face made me back off.  HE wasn't locked down, so I'm not sure why I did.  I wonder if either my tires had something on them, or if I tried to apply the breaks in a sandy area or something.   Our angels were riding with us b/c we safely executed a U turn and continued on our way.

We found a cute little spot with actual motorcycle parking to eat a light lunch of fried pickles and potato skins, then pulled up and over the final mountain.  THIS mountain road was FRESHLY paved with nice bright white and yellow lines and not a single tar snake or pothole :)  We smoothly took the turns and hills and before we knew it it was back towards home.  The scariest part of the entire ride is the spaghetti junction like curves of the interstate system to twist around and through Knoxville towards home.  Traffic was BAD and David was flying through like he was driving the truck and not his bike.  In fact, he even had to give me the "speed up" motion but DANG.  Those ramps are concrete and I had You Tube videos of motorcycle crashes running through my head.  :o

We made it safely home.  Thanked God like always for a beautiful and great ride with more than perfect weather.  Today almost felt like an early Fall day instead of late summer.  Not sure what next weekend will bring, but I hope it involves 2 wheels!

Sunday, July 23, 2017

In which I step outside of my comfort zone

Part 2, continuing the journey.  The heat wave continued through the end of the week.  Friday I again fired up the bike and let her float her way to Seymour.  The morning ride is pleasant, it's the afternoon that's brutal.  I left the mesh jacket at home and instead threw on my ATV riding jersey over my scrub top.  Nice and cool on the way there.

As my work day progressed, an idea began to take shape.  I was contemplating the same route as Wednesday, but the thought of getting stuck behind a big rig discouraged me from going that way.  Unlike my human GPS husband, I have NO sense of direction.  I have to go known routes, or else I will get helplessly lost.  David and Kody were on their way down to GA which meant my entire afternoon was open.  I ran my idea past the hubs, and  he approved which TOTALLY made my day!  Changed OUT of my scrub top and into strictly my jersey which made for a LOT more air flow.  I joyfully made that treacherous left hand turn, and made my way out to 321.  This time, instead of making a right turn towards Maryville, I made a left turn towards Townsend.  The sign for Foothills Parkway beckoned to me, and Khaleesi pulled me over to that direction.  I joyfully leaned and flew through the curves of the Parkway.  It's a 45 mph speed limit where you can safely push through at around 50 with VERY little traffic.  It goes up into a mountain, and you can feel the cool air push away the heat and humidity of the valley.  It was my first time tackling it solo.  Solo is me, myself, and Khaleesi which to date was ONLY when going back and forth to work.  

Don't get me wrong.  I prefer all day long to ride with David.  But he DRIVES for a living.  He's out in his work truck 10 hours a day in the heat and often with no A/C. By the time he gets off, he doesn't FEEL like driving his bike for recreation.  I get that.  Me on the other hand, works in the A/C sitting on my arse all day long.  I'm DYING to get out and feel the freedom of the wind, but since I'm most definitely still a beginner rider, David doesn't want me off gallivanting on my own for long rides ... especially since I have that little problem of being directionally challenged.  But I'm SO thankful that he approved of this ride.  It's familiar, it's challenging without being dangerous, and it fulfills the yearning in my soul to leave behind the aggravations of work and lose it all in the wind.  My compromise is that I don't mind taking a familiar route over and over if it means I get to ride :)

Before I knew it, Foothills ended onto Hwy 129.  A left hand turn takes me to The Tail of the Dragon.  A right hand turn takes me home.  With no hesitation, I turned right heading back home.  I kept my speed at a comfortable one somewhere in the vicinity of the speed limit, and before I knew it, Khaleesi was safely snuggled back into the garage, and I'd clocked 80 miles solo on my experience meter.  It was a GREAT ride, ranking below every single ride David and I have taken together, but at the top of all my work commutes.

The following evening, Saturday, the boys and I made a beeline to the IMOK dealership to embark on our first group ride.  KSU was 5:30 pm; a welcome time since Saturday dawned again hot and humid.  We dressed as lightly as possible with our lightweight pullovers, and met up with our "mystery" group.  We conversed with other like minded people and soon headed out to Dead End BBQ a quick 15 or 20 minute ride across town.  We enjoyed the food and the conversation, and just an hour and a half later, we were once again left to our own devices.  David devised a bold plan that would test my beginner legs big time.  Our first honest to goodness night ride.  Yes, we headed out in the dark last week to stargaze, but Foothills Parkway is a mere 30 minutes or so up the road ... and we didn't even take it all the way out.  We went to the overlook and turned around and went back.  It was a recital, a precursor for last night.

7:30, we pulled out of the restaurant, and made our way yet again to Foothills.  We cruised through its curves and undulations, and found ourselves at it's end, once again facing 129.  This time, we turned left.  As our tires began the 11 miles and 316 curves, the time rolled over 9:15.  I could feel my arms try to tense up and the voice in my head attempt to scream at me as I coaxed Khaleesi through the dips and curves.  We were run up on by the most sport backs EVER; each time, I pulled into a pulloff and waved them by.  They honked in thanks and took off, tearing through the turns at break neck speed.  David and I pulled into the Killboy parking lot and stretched our tense limbs in thanks.  The ride felt smooth, but not my MOST smooth.  Like I said, I was fighting my own brain and my muscles at times, but I just shook my arms out, turned my head left and right, and let the machine do it's thing.  This ride was about machine vs. asphalt.  No photographers, no distractions, just  us.

After a brief stretch, we zigged over to Moonshiner 28 and cautiously rolled through the higher speed curves towards Cherokee, NC.  We hit the Smoky Mountain Expressway and I held Khaleesi firm against the crosswinds and the buffeting of cruising 70 mph through the mountains.  I kept my head down against bugs as I had my visor anchored in the up position for now.  My oh so expensive Indian helmet has a defect in the visor to where it wants to SLAM down on me.  I HATE that.  I like to ride with wind in my face, but sometimes you need the protection of the visor.  I had one GIANT bug smack my cheek, but other than that I was pretty safe.  I began to pray for stop signs so I could stand and stretch my legs, relieving the pressure off my rear.  We made it into Cherokee unscathed and stopped to top off our tanks and relieve ourselves.  I'm here to tell you.  at 11:00 at night, Cherokee NC is ROLLED UP.  The convenience store already had their bathrooms closed, so after a quick chocolate pick me up, we found another store to avail ourselves of the facilities.  BARELY!

As we buzzed out of town and into the National Park, our radars were continually sweeping for wildlife.  David rather abruptly turned into an overlook that was filled with cars, but no lights and no people around ... strange.  By this time it was about 11:45.  We swept around into a parking spot, cut the lights, and we were shrouded by complete and total darkness.  Pulled off our helmets, stretched out flat on our backs, and took in the utter amazingness of God's creation.  The stars were the deepest and brightest I'd EVER seen, including when we took off into the back woods of Oregon, over an hour outside of any city.  The lack of light pollution and the lack of a MOON allowed the twinkling stars to shine in all their glory, even the line of the Milky Way was visible.  We laid there for an indeterminate amount of time just taking it in, then mounted back up to make the final leg home.

We soldiered on through the National Park in the complete darkness, trying to combine our headlights to illuminate the road as best we could, and motored through Gatlinburg.  It was in stark contrast to Cherokee, with throes of people happily wandering the streets at just after midnight.  The stores were all closed, but people were walking as though it was noon.  The coolness of the mountains had waned and a moist heat settled over the city.  I'd added an extra jacket after our stargazing, and I decided to leave it be since as I get tired, I get cold more easy.  The connecting road between Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge invited us to urge the bikes faster and we rolled smoothly through the city to a McDonald's parking lot for a final rear end stretching.  I was almost too tired to appreciate the fact that I'd tackled my first REAL night ride incident free.  I'm NOT a night owl, so I was pretty shocked that 1:00 in the morning, my eyes were awake and my brain wasn't trying to shut down.  My body was exhausted, but mentally I felt fine.

Final stretch!  David gave me a scare pulling out of the parking lot; he wobbled so badly if it had been ME, I would have gone down.  We went through Wear's Valley across and down the mountain, back into Townsend and back to the house.  It was about 1:45 am as we thundered into the safety of the garage.  We went roughly 250 miles, STARTING at 5:30 pm.  It was a life changing experience!  Riding in the pitch black of the National Forests and the National Parks forces you to focus solely on the road, no distractions due to the landscape.  You feel SO small.  You can sense rather than see the vastness of the surrounding mountains and your headlights illuminate the road directly ahead of you with no hint as to which direction it will choose to twist.  It was much more a mental test than a physical one, but physically, I was exhausted!

I give all the glory to God for riding with us all night.  He gave us alertness, he gave us the glorious view of His vast universe, and he gave us both the endurance and the adrenaline to safely tackle tricky mountain roads at the wee hours of the morning when a typical LATE evening for us is 11:30.  We rarely see midnight roll around, lol.  It was an amazing experience that I'm glad I got to partake of, but probably won't happen very often. <3 nbsp="" p="">

A week of firsts

Has it really only been 4 months since this happened?

Me being a new rider, many things I experience will be "firsts".  That's what gains us experience, branching out and stepping out of our comfort zone to entice us to grow and learn.  This week was pivotal, growth wise, for me and I am SO grateful!

A mere 3 weeks later, hitting the road for the first time!  Indian Demo Truck

The week has brought hot, humid temperatures.  The rain has held off, but the throes of summer have definitely held us hostage!  With Kody working with me this summer, I've only had the opportunity to ride on Wednesdays and Fridays.  Wednesday, I braved the heat and I FINALLY got to take my long way home!  If I'm being completely honest ... it was probably 75% fun lol.  I usually wear jeans/boots and my scrub top under my mesh armored jacket.  My jacket is HEAVY and it's black.  I get a lot of air flow, but the 95 degree temps trump that airflow.

I thanked God as I successfully made the treacherous left hand turn out of my office, and down the road I flew.  Tackled a new route coming home; I've driven it in the car COMING to work, but never on the bike and never going in the direction of home.  I successfully negotiated the curves and the bright sun light and made it to the section of road with 2 stop signs; I've been unlucky enough to come down that road on the bike a few times where traffic as backed UP at those stop signs thanks to a big rig "training truck".  I don't know, I guess they make the newbies take that route to make sure they can handle uphill stop signs and a small road.  {Insert grimace face emoji here}

Khaleesi's fan kicked on and I could feel the hot air blowing onto my legs.  A bead of sweat rolled down my back under my backpack, and I weaved back and forth slightly to maintain my balance as I crept along at about 2 mph.  FINALLY the traffic opened up at the light, and I decided to stay on my track to take the Big Springs loop, which is the one David took me on a few weeks ago after Colton went to bed; it's about a 25 minute back road loop.  I felt smooth as I negotiated the curves and hills of the road, and before I knew it, I was at the end of it, facing Hwy 321.  Made the right hand turn and kicked her up through the gears to quickly accelerate to 60 MPH and cruised in the hot air until I saw the small blue sign pointing the way to Allison's Catfish Restaurant, which is the side road I turn on to cut back over to Big Springs and connect the loop back home.  Just my luck, I was waved to a stop right in front of the restaurant due to some construction.  I cocked my right foot up to try and relieve the heat as once again the fan kicked on and blew the searing heat towards my thigh.  Finally, they waved us on, and I motored steadily back home.  That was a baby step for me.  Wednesday was a precursor for my Friday ride, which hadn't even fully taken root yet.  Once safely home, after I stripped off my gear, I was sweaty and tired, but I felt happy because I'd finally taken the LONG way home.  Like I said, the loop added about 25 minutes to my ride, so I managed to turn a 30 minute ride into an hour one :)

Going to turn this into Part 1 for those that don't feel like reading a novel!  Stay tuned for part 2, released "Netflix" style! ;)

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Night riding and staying close to home

It's been a half way decent week.  Got to ride in to work both Wednesday and Friday.  I've been thinking that I tend to beat myself up over any mistakes I make ... and lately, I'm VERY pleased to say I haven't been making too many.  I've tried to keep my brain firmly planted in the present, always looking out for anything and everything.  I'm VERY interested in looking for continuing educational type classes where I can learn to master those tight cone courses, but I'm a little scared to try something like that with Khaleesi because for me, if I drop that bike it's going to be because I seriously pushed myself out of my comfort zone to learn a new skill.  She doesn't have any sort of highway bars on her, and I don't want to push the envelope too hard right now.  I want to go play in a parking lot just to really OWN and master tight parking lot maneuvers, but haven't yet because of the aforementioned excuses reasons.

I've tried not to bug David to take me for a ride; if it were up to me, I'd go EVERY night after putting Colton down for bed for about an hour or so.  I love it SOOOOOO much, and I miss it when Khaleesi just sits in the garage.  He suggested heading out on Friday night for a night ride.  We didn't even leave the house until 10:00.  Definitely a different experience for me!  We headed up 321 to Foothills Parkway, and headed up the mountain.  It was DARK, which was the entire purpose.  To stargaze a little.  Much to my surprise, there was quite a bit of traffic through Maryville for being 10:00 at night.  The pulloffs at FH were also much busier than I expected!  Lots of trucks doing the same thing we were, didn't see any more motorcycles at all.  It was awesome how LOUD the bugs were, the lights over the city were great, and I just WISH we could have snapped a pic of all the stars.  If it had been less overcast we probably would have seen even more, but as it was, the sky was just gorgeous.

This morning, we headed out to Pigeon Forge/Sevierville area.  We were a little bit limited time wise, but we made the most of it!  Did 110 miles, about 3 1/2 hours.  Great ride!  We headed out 321 and hit a backroad in Walland that we had done once before the OPPOSITE way.  It was a narrow little off camber road that was so tiny it was practically like a driveway.  Fun!  What I like about it is the fact that it is nice and curvy, but doesn't have any tight switch back turns.  Made our way out past Douglas Lake and stopped at the lovely Busch's Beans factory to take a few pics.  Took 411 from there and turned down the "long way home" road I take from work.  

Proud to say I had no issues.  Turns felt amazing, curves I took without laying off the throttle too much, nice smooth stops and starts ... Khaleesi and I are working together very well :D  There's a "mystery dinner" ride leaving out of the Indian dealership next week that I hope we can do.  Planning to ride to work Wednesday and Friday again, and hoping this time I can take the long LONG way home ;)

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Church, 'Vettes, and and no rain!

It has been raining ALL week.  David recommended I ride on Wednesday, and I did ... and lost to the rain on the way home!

On the bright side, I'm getting accustomed to the intricacies of handling a motorcycle in less than ideal conditions.  We don't ride in a bubble, have to learn to handle "real world" riding conditions.

We went to church today for the first time since moving to TN.  I can't believe we've let ALMOST a year escape without darkening the door of a church, but to be honest, there's SO MANY churches around here that it's overwhelming to try and randomly pick one.  Some personal circumstances in my life prompted me to somewhat throw down the gauntlet this week, and I said we ARE going to church this week.  Kody recommended the one we went to; come to find out, his good friend's dad is actually the pastor.  It was a great service; a much needed refueling for our soul and our spiritual wellness.

By the time service was over, the clouds had burned off and we decided to head out on a "short" loop.  Headed west out of the mountains for once.  Found us a nice little loop through the farmlands of Loudon and Monroe counties.

We did the "orange" loop into Kingston and back through Lenoir City.  It was awesome!  Did right at 105 miles.  Ran into a huge gathering of nothing but Corvettes.  David did the math, and figured we were surrounded by about 2.5 million dollars worth of vehicles!  We followed the group for a bit; I swear, David kept running off and leaving me, and I wanted to holler at him, "WE'RE NOT DRIVING A CORVETTE", lol.  

Fortunately, they pulled off into a large area where they could park and show off their purtiness, and we went on with our ride at a slightly less brisk clip.

Most challenging part of our ride was 1 or 2 turns where we were practically doing a U turn when making turns.  David managed to find a side road not far from the house that was so skinny, 2 motorcycles would barely fit passing head on.  It was a beautiful day, albeit a bit warm.  I have discovered that I have a dislike of riding in just a plain shirt, whether it's a T shirt or some other type.  I am most comfortable in my mesh jacket because it's long enough in the back that I don't "flash" my buttcrack, and it's heavy enough that it doesn't flap around in the breeze and irritate my skin.

We arrived home uneventfully with me sadly having no plans to ride during the week this week.  Kody has been going to work with me, which means I'm in the car.  I have to take him with me on Wed, which is normally a day he doesn't work, because he has a consult with the oral surgeon just down the street from my office.  David has shown me a short little loop that takes about half an hour that I can do once the baby goes to bed that allows me to stretch Khaleesi's legs a little bit.

I'm at 100 days worth of having my license, and almost 3500 miles logged.  I'd say that's pretty good!  No plans this year to do any epic, 1000+ mile road trips.  We'll have to save up for that and maybe plan something like that next year.  Our ride today was great.  No real elevation changes, just out in the middle of nowhere, country, curvy farm type roads.  There were a few 45/55 mph roads that weren't too inundated with traffic that had a few mild curves in it.  They weren't bad; soon enough, it was back to twists.  We had the 'caution, twisty' sign on many of the 45 mph roads with no slower speed posted on it, so we were able to take the curves at the recommended speed, which I find fun.  I don't mind having to downshift and slow down for some curvy sections, but after a while, that can become tiring because you have to concentrate so hard and be so focused on your lines the entire time.  

Grateful, and thankful to God that we had nice weather today, met some great people at what possibly may be our new church home, and got to enjoy our "wind church" as well ;)

Saturday, July 1, 2017

Dirt roads, wine, and rain showers

Cheyenne (David's bike) on the left and Khaleesi on the right!

So, thinking about posting my ride recaps on my horsey blog!  I no longer own a flesh and blood horse, but I do have a steel one!  In all honesty ... I'm not sure how long I will go without riding horses.  It's been over a year, and to be honest ... I'm not missing it.  If there's any blog readers that haven't toodled over to my more personal blog, since this last riding post, I have had a baby and moved to Tennessee!  We had the baby because we wanted to, and we moved to TN to be closer to family so Colton Maverick would have family around him like Kody did.  February, David got his first motorcycle and we rode together all over the place!  In March, I got my motorcycle license, and in April, I got my OWN motorcycle!  I can't even describe the joy I get out of riding my Indian Scout Sixty.  I've named her Khaleesi and riding her to work makes my whole week!

Putting on the boots means I won!  We get to go riding!

Today, I talked David into taking me for a ride.  I've always suffered from PVS.  Parked Vehicle Syndrome.  Now, I suffer from PMS!  Parked Motorcycle Syndrome!  I get seriously grumpy and irritable if it's a nice day and all we're doing is just sitting around on the couch.  We didn't buy TWO motorcycles for them to sit cold in the garage!  Our original plan this weekend was to sit and watch movies since the baby is at the grandparent's.  Rain was in the forecast both Sat and Sun.  After coming home early yesterday and sitting for most of the evening watching (boring) tv, when I checked the weather for today, the rain wasn't coming in until after 2.  I had to talk David into taking me for a ride!  I think David had already decided to be in this weekend, and I had to get his mindset in a different spot.

The spot I suggested we ride, David said no because it's a holiday weekend, and he was concerned about us spending most of the time sitting in traffic.  Then he suggested we ride Cade's Cove.  Um, talk about a tourist spot?  With stop and go traffic?  He said it shouldn't be too bad since a lot of people are only just now coming into town.  I shrugged my shoulders and said ok!  We've ridden to Cade's Cove together when we borrowed his Mom's bike for a week, but I've never had the chance to ride my own bike there.

We went all matchey-matchey in our Jimmie Johnson jerseys and our Marvel helmets.  I usually let Kody wear my Marvel helmet, and I wear my Indian helmet.  On this particular trip, however, we left Kody still asleep in his bed!  It was a nice, easy trip up into and through Townsend.  It was VERY cloudy, but the sun was determined to peek out and chase off the threat of rain.

Down came a blackbird?

Right at the beginning of the loop

The scrolling marquis sign along the side of the curvy mountain road leading into the Cove reminded us that the loop is closed to motorized vehicles until 10:00.  It was 9:45.  Fortunately (I guess) we were behind a super slow car, so by the time we reached the loop, it was 9:56.  They still waved us around the entrance!  Ugh.  We had to pull around and pull off, waiting for a few minutes.  There were about 100,000 bicycles that we could see all around the park, but it seemed like most of those were packing up.  We U turned to head back to the entrance of the loop, and got caught up in an apparent mama bear w/ her cubs sighting.  We couldn't see them, as they were up hiding in a tree, and the park ranger waved us along anyway.

The loop was great for about 3 miles, and then my hand had started to seriously cramp up from working the clutch.  Also, Khaleesi puts out a ton of heat, and my thighs were on fire!  Her cooling fan kept kicking on; stop and go traffic when it's hot out is the worst.  We pulled off twice to take some pics, the 2nd time at a church.  The church was roughly 5 miles in.  After snapping a selfie, we lamented over the fact that the traffic was SO bad (no "told you so's" are necessary here ).  We happened to look behind us and saw a road sign that said "Townsend 12 miles.  Primitive, Unimproved Road.  One Way".   The first thing I asked is, "Is it paved?"  David said yes, but as we looked down the road, it was indeed a gravel road.  He looked at me, I looked at him, we both shrugged our shoulders, and off we went!

Wanna?  Sure, why not!

I was honestly nervous at first; I've read all these gravel horror stories on my motorcycle facebook boards, so I was convinced that one tiny misstep could result in a crashing disaster.  Like many gravel roads, the tracks where most cars ride was pretty bare of rocks, and the center, crowned portion of the road was full of them.  For the most part, David stayed in the right tire, I stayed in the left, and all was fine!  The only time I ever felt my tires really lose traction was if I got too up on the looser gravel.  There were some obstacles to avoid, so I did have to cross the middle crown a few times, and I definitely felt my handlebars shake a few times.  We stayed seriously slow, usually in 1st gear, but it was not hard to do at all.  The road was so beautiful and peaceful that we kept stopping to take pics.  The entire time, we only encountered 2 other vehicles!  Eventually, the gravel road dumped into a small, paved road at the top of a mountain filled with cabins.  We kept it still only in 2nd gear for the most part as we rolled on down the mountain.

By the time we got to 321, the main road back to Maryville, it was time to eat.  We'd decided to stop at a local winery to do a tasting and to partake of the amazing smelling BBQ food truck.  The winery is small and adorable with all kinds of cute purses and glasses, etc.  They're having some sort of open house type deal, and they had a few vendors set up inside of the winery selling their wares.  Tried the 5 sweetest wines they have and actually ended up buying a bottle!  All of them were very good.  I had a container of mac and cheese topped with pulled pork as my meal.  Oh My Gosh, it was amazing!  Very good food, wish the truck was a brick and mortar store, but they're only mobile.  Packed the wine bottle and a souvenir glass into the saddlebags and decided to head up to Foothills Parkway.

If any of my riding friends are still in the nervous stage about curvy roads and live close to me, Foothills Parkway is a GREAT place to see some amazing views, and get some uphill/downhill practice with a curvy road that's well paved, well marked, and usually light traffic.  The speed limit is 45, and we normally keep it around 50, sweeping tightly through those curves!  It's a good place for me to push myself a little bit, because if left to my own devices, I'd ride like a granny for the most part.  I kept right up on David's tail, and then we turned again down the CRAZY back road that is off the Parkway.

The connecting road is Flatt road, and it is a gnarly downhill curvy snake with driveways, ditches, and blind hairpin curves.  That was the one we did a month or so ago, and to me, it was harder than the Tail of the Dragon.  This time, David zigged where last time he had zagged, and we ended up on still a small curvy road, but not as bad as the prior one!  The name of the road is called Happy Valley, and it ends just below the Tail of the Dragon on Hwy 129.  We stopped in at the Harley Davidson outpost store as it was finally open!  Neat little spot!

Tired of our selfies yet?

Raced home trying to avoid the inevitable rain, as it had reached the dreaded 2:00 time, when the percentage of rain increased dramatically, but we failed a little bit.  Big, fat rain drops poured down us badly enough that I had to pull down my visor, and once again, I could feel my thighs/knees start to get soaked.  Gee, the LAST time we came down this way, we were soaked to the bone!  The rain only lasted about 3 minutes or so, and we kept pushing to make it home.  Made it safe and sound, and we'd both tried out too!

DIRT!  Yep, my Scout went off roading today!

I can't say it enough.  I'm so grateful and blessed to have the desire and the ability to do this.  I KNOW that my horse riding skills have paved the way for me to learn to ride a motorcycle ALMOST effortlessly.  Just like everyone, I have my "bogey" moments that I struggle with, just like on a horse (um, seeing distances!), but I feel so at ease, so ONE with my bike.  I ride her one handed a LOT of the time, and all I have to do is look down the road and she just goes wherever I want,  it's incredible.  I try to be grateful for the time I get and not nag David too much, but I just want to ride EVERY DAY!  I'm SO grateful that I've found an activity that I love as much as riding horses that David and I can do TOGETHER.  There's none of the guilt for me that I've always had riding horses.  Can't wait to continue to expand my riding resume and to keep experiencing these awesome moments with David.  I always pray for our safety and for the safety of our fellow bikers.  Living is dangerous, educate yourself and make smart choices in everything that you do!  <3 nbsp="" p="">
My favorite riding buddy

Gee, another "Helmet hair, don't care!"

If you find yourself in Townsend, TN, check this place out!

B and B barbeque.  GREAT food and nice peeps:)

How is it we've passed by this place a dozen times and today was the first time we noticed the dragon on the sign?