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?

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