Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Christmas Blessings

It is that time of year when we think of cool weather, gift giving, family time, and a few days off from the workaday world.  For those of us who live in warmer climates, it could be that we can sneak out for a few miles on the roads or in the woods on our scooters. 

All good, these things. 

There is one more thing about this season, though that is paramount.  The reason for our celebrating in the first place.  It is the birth of Jesus Christ around 2000 years ago.  Christ is God's son and his teachings are fundamental to our lives now, and into eternity. 

It is at this special time of year, that we would do well to hear the Christmas story once again.

The prophet Isaiah wrote about the coming of Jesus to earth about seven hundred years beforehand:
For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given: and The Government shall be upon His Shoulder: and His Name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, The Mighty GOD, The Everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.
Of the increase of His Government and peace there shall be no end, upon the Throne of David, and upon His Kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of the LORD of Hosts will perform this. 

Luke wrote of the birth about thirty years after Jesus' death:
And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus, that all the world should be taxed. (And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.) And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city. And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:) To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with Child. And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered.

And she brought forth her firstborn Son, and wrapped Him in swaddling clothes, and laid Him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.

And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the LORD came upon them, and the glory of the LORD shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the LORD. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the Babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men. And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into Heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the LORD hath made known unto us. And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the Babe lying in a manger. And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this Child. And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds. But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart. And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told unto them. And when eight days were accomplished for the circumcising of the Child, His Name was called JESUS, which was so named of the angel before He was conceived in the womb.

Around thirty-three years after Jesus' birth, he was killed by crucifixion, laid in a borrowed tomb for three days, then arose from death.  He was seen by multitudes here on earth after that. 

If you don't know Jesus Christ as your living savior, then find a church that preaches from the Bible, and where they believe that it is the inerrant word recorded by writers inspired by God.

They can explain the wonder of the birth of Jesus Christ and what it means to you and me. All you have to do to go to heaven after you die is to believe what happened to Him, and to ask Jesus to be your savior. 

Merry Christmas to all, and happy riding in the new year.

Here is a bit of inspiration for you, by a group of ordinary people.  

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

40,000 Milestone

....News Flash!....

I made motorcycle history a couple of weekends ago.  You won't see it in the papers or elsewhere online.  Only right here on Bucky's Ride Blog, can you find out the whole story.

Here's the scoop: I've ridden the motorcycle 40,000 miles since I bought it.  [Wow, what a story, Bucky.] 

You may recall that back in May of 2011, I wrote about having ridden it 25,000 miles, and before that, in April of 2009, I wrote about another milestone, 10,000 miles, at that time.

This 40,000 mile mark has come sooner than I ever imagined it would.   In fact, there have been times that I wondered whether it would happen at all.  Well, it has, I am pleased to say.  When I got the bug, my friends and family certainly were shocked to know that I was interested in riding, but one fellow at work, Jeff, a former rider, encouraged me.  Then, some others like Ryan helped me further. 

Thank you, sirs, for that assistance and encouragement. 

Remember that this is my first real motorcycle, not counting the old minibike I had when I was a teenager, so I have ridden only this motorcycle all that way.  And there have been very few long-mileage days in there, the longest being a trek into northern Georgia with an accomplished rider, Stretch, on a cool day in February of 2007.  That was all of 259 miles, some of which was at elevations high enough that there was ice on the rock outcroppings beside the road.  

Stretch was kind enough to ask me to tag along with a small group, and was also patient with my slow pace.   He was on an FZ1 at the time, but is riding a dualsport bike now, exploring gravel roads and trails within a few hundred miles of here.  And I hear he toys with the sportbike riders on the twisty roads when he is out riding this bike.  (By the way, he gets his name because he is a very tall guy.  Stretch -- get it?) 

My 25,000 mile mark was passed in a pastoral setting not far from home; one of those old country roads where the trees occasionally meet overhead, forming a canopy. 

Right here:

The 40,000 mile mark occurred at a place that was not so picturesque, I'm afraid.  It happened in front of the local landfill, close to where I had the encounter with Big Bird a while back. 

This present occasion was commemorated with the following pictures. 

The countryside nearby: 

The landfill sign as proof of location:
Beautiful spot, isn't it?  ...Well, the sign is nice, anyway. 

The time in the afternoon of the auspicious event:

I bought my bike in September of 2007, so I have owned it about seventy-four months. That is around 540 miles per month on the average, but during this last year I have logged about 75 miles per month less than the average.  Real life intrudes more into motorcycle life lately, I guess. 

I have never ridden another bike, though I have sat on a few at motorcycle shows and in dealers, and I spent an hour on a dirt bike once.  Some of my friends encourage me to look at a cruiser next, since I am getting so "up in age," according to them.  (Funny, I didn't notice that.)  Maybe, but I seem to have become accustomed to the riding position on this bike, and it would be hard to change.  I think a dualsport might be a nice addition, since it would better handle the gravel roads I have sometimes traveled on the 650R. 

I ride year around, thanks to the mild weather here in South Carolina, and that helps maintain what riding skills I have.  If I had to abandon the bike all winter, I would need to relearn much more every spring, I am sure. 

The bike has performed well over its life in my stable thus far, but I do note that a motorcycle is not an inexpensive thing to own.

Tires are high, even though I get very good mileage from most of them. I have spent $1200 (about $0.03/mile), including mounting with wheels off the bike, for 3 front and 4 rear tires so far.  One rear tire was punctured on my trek on the gravel Musterground Road.  So for the fronts that is a range of 9-12,000 miles for each tire, and for the rears, 12-14,000 miles each.  You more aggressive riders use up tires much faster than I do. Frugal, I am, and not very aggressive in riding. 

Maintenance and repair expenses have not been cheap either, amounting to some $670 ($0.016/mile) over the life of the bike; And, I have performed all of the labor myself.  Farkle and accessories have been $400 ($0.01/mile).

All together, that is about $0.056/mile, not including gas or insurance. 


By the way, while I was out making motorcycle history, my wife was at a church craft fair (didn't they used to call them bazaars?), selling some knitted items she had made.  There were dish cloths, and fuzzy ladies' scarves [fuzzy ladies??], and some of those pillows for the ring bearer at a wedding so he doesn't lose the precious symbols of the union, ...
Lucia Paul Design
...and a couple of Christmas wreaths made from all sorts of stuff bought at the local Hobby Lobby.  She has been working on these things for weeks ahead of time to have enough to sell. 

Here are her display tables:
Quite the artisan, she.

Some views of the other ladies' work, and some shoppers:

I think I'll keep my bride; she's a good 'un. 


Back to the day's ride for a second.  On my way to the record, I rode from home up SC-28 and SC-107 (on a route similar to this ride) to the Wigington Byway going toward Whitewater Falls, and stopped at the overlook on the Byway. 

The view was breathtakingly..................................absent!

The fog was so heavy I could not see a thing.

It usually looks like this over there beyond the concrete:
February 2012
I then rode with four-way flashers on for several miles until I got to a slightly lower elevation again. 

SC-130 from the falls down to SC-11 was an enjoyable series of sweepers, as usual. 

So, lets plan to meet again when I reach, say, 50,000 miles.  At the current rate, that will be on August 30, 2015.  Mark your calendar. 

I'll meet you at the landfill with fly swatter in hand. 

...I still wonder how far I rode that little minibike.


farkle -- accessory; generally accepted to mean a combination of "function" and "sparkle"
bazaar -- a sale in aid of charity, esp. of miscellaneous secondhand or handmade articles


Thursday, November 28, 2013

Give Thanks

From The Bikers' Den

That couple on the bike may be having some difficulty carrying home the leftovers from a grand Thanksgiving spread.  

Did you ever stop to think how fortunate we are to have the meal, let alone the extras? 

This is the time of year for us to be thankful for the bounty of blessings we have in these United States.  God has blessed us richly.

Freedom from Want
Norman Rockwell, 1943
Give Him your thanks today for all you have, for all our country has, and for all it was established to stand for. 

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Old Folks, Pianos, and Bucky

On occasion, I like to have a little fun with my appearance as a typical motorcycle rider when I am around "normal" people. 

Now, "typical" is probably not a good way of putting it.

The usual stereotype of a bad biker is one of black chaps and a slant-zip jacket over a sleeveless shirt, with maybe a bandanna, a colors vest, a few chains, and some tattoos in conspicuous places. 

Or, it could be a kid on a too-high-powered sportbike wearing cargo shorts and a tee shirt, perhaps with a back protector over the tee (for safety). 

How about that Gold Wing rider with his drink holders and space enough to carry a complete closet full of clothes and a mechanic's tool chest just in case? 

Well, I have to admit that we bikers, especially the ones dressed for the road, look a little odd when we are not riding, but still in our getup around non-biker people.  On occasion, I have stopped at a take-out restaurant or other retail establishment and had folks give me the eye for the way I am dressed.  Not very many make a comment, surprisingly, and even if they do, the comments are often flippant: "'fraid of fallin' off that thing?" or "Ya' look like ya' just stepped off the Starship Enterprise."  

And, when I buy gas, I don't like to waste time taking off my gloves so I can unbuckle my helmet to go in and pay for my purchase.  So, I go in with the full regalia, credit card in hand, and fork it over to the clerk who no-doubt is wondering if I am about to rob him and take off at high speed with his money. 

There is one other situation where I have a little more fun.  You know that I play the piano, and that I tickle the ivories with mostly old popular tunes -- from the early twentieth century into the sixties.  They come from sheet music I have collected over the years, and from my mimicking some of the songs on my hoard of player piano rolls. 

I also play a lot of old-favorite hymns. 

There are several nursing and assisted living homes that periodically ask me to come and play for their residents.  After all, I may be one of the only people still playing tunes that their parents grew up with or that they, themselves enjoyed when they were young. 

I sometimes ride the bike on the days I play for them, a pack on my back filled with music books.  When I get there, it is easier to leave everything -- helmet, gloves, backpack, etc. -- on rather than try to carry it all in my arms separately.  I've done it both ways, and I usually drop something along the way if I take everything off first.

And that is where my fun begins. 

As I walk in the door and to the room with the piano, which is sometimes quite a ways away from the entrance, the residents look agape, wondering whether they are seeing things that don't really exist. 

And some are ready to defend themselves against the likes of me.

The staff of the home thinks an alien has invaded from outer space for sure, and place their hand on the phone in case they need to call in the Men in Black -- or more. 

Little kids visiting grandmas and grandpas often ask me if I am a Power Ranger. 
I am, I tell them -- the Silver one.

I think I see in the eyes of some of the men a glimmer of memories of days gone by, maybe when they rode a now-ancient motorcycle cross country on a shoestring.  Or they remember trying to impress the young ladies with their style and daring. They might be reliving that time in their past through me today. 
Students of Scott Sr. High School
Westwood, PA
I get a kick out of giving them something to talk about the next day over lunch or supper, too.  "...you know, Mabel, that young man with the odd clothes, who came and played the piano for us last night?  Well, I've never seen anything like it...." 
SuperStock photo
Often times, I banter with the audience.  I kid, and tease, or explain something interesting about the numbers I play.  I bring up the importance of God, country, and family, and the very real potential of our losing our freedoms of religion and speech if we don't pass down our values to young people. 

Sometimes I jokingly tell them that there will be rides on the back of my motorcycle after I am through playing. 

One summer evening, a spry lady actually followed me out to the bike, expecting to get her ride right then and there.  I had to explain that I could not give her a ride that night, but maybe the next time I came around.  Well, the next time I came around, about six weeks later, she asked first thing if I were going to give her the ride she missed last time!  I had to decline again, but she remembers to this day that I owe her one. 

There is something else. 

A few of the people in these places are in pretty bad shape.  Life has become less full for them.  Some are no longer the people they once were, and they might not realize as much about what is going on around them any more.  Their eyes have become dim, and their bodies frail. 

I sometimes wonder to myself whether they will really get anything out of some guy pounding on a piano. 

And I would be wrong if I thought they didn't. 

Getty Collection
It is amazing to me.  Some who appear to be quite unresponsive seem to be moved by the music.  The hymns, especially, are still familiar to them, learned long ago.  They may remember the words of every verse, and they sing along with my playing.  Despite their foggy memories of things that happened just yesterday, they still remember the old things. 

I was at first surprised by this.  Then I became moved.  I am encouraged by them.  I play my heart out for them.

And I know that I should never forget that my meager God-given talents are to be shared freely.

I hope someone comes to see me and play for me when I am long past my prime.  It might bring back a misty distant memory or two I have made. 

Do something for someone else today. You will get more out of it than you might think. 

Monday, November 4, 2013

New Skid Lid

When I started riding a motorcycle back in 2007, I was in my 5th decade of life.  I wished to prolong that as best I could, so I made sure I had the proper protective gear.  I never ride without a full leather suit, motorcycle-specific gloves and boots, and a full-face helmet.

I even wore one to the MSF beginner class I took: 

I wore this used helmet for a few weeks until I bought the new one.  It is now relegated to being a photo frame in my office.

Since my noggin a very important part of me, I looked over the reviews carefully when I bought my first helmet and found that the Scorpion EXO-700 was highly rated and reasonably priced.  I went to the local dealer and tried one on for fit.  I wore it for about 20 minutes n the store to make sure there were no pressure points.  I got some odd looks from other customers, but that is the penalty you pay to make sure you are not buying something that won't fit properly.  I decided that it was fine, so I made the purchase.

I bought light silver color because it matches well the silver on the bike, and blends with my usual riding suit colors.  

That lid now has almost 40,000 miles on it, over a little more than six years and some 536 rides.

By the way, that Fieldsheer suit was an early purchase in the quest to learn to ride a motorcycle.  I actually bought it at a pawn shop more than ten (!) years before I got a motorcycle.

What can I say?  It was a really good deal.  It was just luck that the motorcycle I bought was silver to match it. 

[How do you know all those statistics you quoted above, Bucky?]

I'm afraid I am compulsive about keeping track of when and where I ride and how far.  In fact, I can also tell you that the average ride length is 74 miles, and I have put in about 6500 miles per year, since the beginning.  That includes a lot of short jaunts to work and back, and usually just one longer ride on the weekends.  An advantage of keeping track of all this data is that I can look back and refresh my feeble memory on whether a route was a good one, what there is to see there, and whether I wrote (or might write) about it on these pages. It also helps when I am out riding to remember where any future tag game pictures were taken. 

Practical, eh? 

Now, back to the gear discussion.

They say that a helmet should be replaced when it is between five and seven years old.  Certainly the soft foam comfort padding inside deteriorates, so that is one reason to chuck it.  And it can get kind of nasty from all the sweat, even though you can remove and wash it in the Scorpion.  Indeed, my helmet had a new set of foam installed under warranty when it was three years old.  The covering over the foam had become cracked and was peeling off.  The denser protective foam is also said to deteriorate.  I don't want to find out whether it has done so by putting it to a test, so I sally forth to find a replacement helmet.

The old:

These days, my shopping is in large part on the Internet, though I almost always look locally too. 

There are so many helmet manufacturers and models to pick from, and the prices range from bargain-basement $59.95 to hundreds of dollars.  I think my head is worth more than 60 bucks, so I look a little higher. 

So, what did I pick for the replacement?  See for yourself.  Here is a picture of the new helmet in its box: 

Scorpion EXO-700! 

They give you this pretty bag to protect it:

[OK, Bucky, don't tell me...]

And here is a side-by-side photo of my old and new helmets.

[C'mon, let's see it!]

OK.  Here it is:

Yes, I admit it.  I bought the identical helmet.  Bike Bandit had them on sale for $102, so I decided to buy another one before they phase them out.  

That eye staring out of half of the face shield is intended to demonstrate its fog-proof coating.

It doesn't really work when it is cold outside.  The only thing I have found that really works to keep the shield and your glasses from fogging is the Foggy Respro neoprene insert that covers your nose and mouth.  It attaches to the inside of the helmet with Velcro.

I put my new helmet on my head to test the fit, and immediately notice the difference between it and my old helmet.  This one is TIGHT.  Has my head swelled up in just six years?

No, my original was tight too when I first got it.  In fact, if you watch your face and scalp through the face shield opening while you move the helmet, the skin should follow the helmet.  Like this.  If it doesn't, then the helmet may be too big.  You don't want it moving around. 

I hope this one gives me another 40,000 miles of safe use, and so I can continue to look snazzy with my color-coordinated look.

 [Makes us all goose bumps, Bucky.  ...NOT.]

Ride safe and wear ATGATT.


Saturday, October 26, 2013

Cold Already!

Here in South Carolina, it seems that there are only two seasons, summer and winter.  Spring and fall are all too short.

Just a couple of weeks ago, we were running the air conditioning, but now we have the heat on.

Just a couple of weeks ago, I was sweltering in my riding gear, but now I need to bundle up.  It was 33 degrees when I was getting ready for my ride this morning.


Did that stop me?  No.

I dress for it.  And I have heated grips.  My set of Hippo Hands is not yet on for the winter, however.  On the road, I watch for any places where there might be frost, or, say, fallen leaves that could be slippery. 

I only rode about 130 miles today up to Saluda North Carolina on the Greenville Watershed Road and over to Dupont Forest, then back down the Blue Ridge Escarpment on US-276 past Caesars Head.  Like this:

View Larger Map

I didn't see many bikes out today, but lots of leaf peepers, though the colors don't seem at peak as yet.  Maybe in a week or so, they will be better. 

  • Dressing for Cold Weather Riding, Take One
  • Dressing for Cold Weather Riding, Take Two
  • Dressing for Cold Weather Riding, Take Three


Wednesday, October 16, 2013

The Parkway, Some Knobs and Rocks, and a New Twisty Road

I have ridden the Blue Ridge Parkway from its closest point, where it intersects NC-215 toward the north many times.  The furthest north I have been on the bike, near milepost 292 outside Blowing Rock, NC was when I went to the Rally to Ridgecrest in 2011.  Other posts about the Parkway include this one and this one.  The scenery along this section of the Parkway is nicest, the road is in good condition, and it makes for an enjoyable time out. 

I have not ridden to the south on the Parkway (the direction is actually more northwest than south on this part of the road) as often, so I set out to change that by notching up a trip.  A look at the map reminded me of a place I have been a couple of times before, and I opened my scope a little to see if there were other places to go that I haven't been to.  I was successful on the latter, so come with me on this slightly longer-than-usual-for-me ride. 

I start out on familiar roads, US-178 from Pickens South Carolina to Rosman North Carolina.  This includes that sweeping-curve stretch, from Pushpin A on the map below to about 1/3 of the way to Pushpin B, that is fun to ride with little difficulty.  Today, there is not much traffic, as I have begun my ride early -- about 8:00 in the morning -- so it is clear sailing.

View Larger Map

This road, north of SC-11 at Rocky Bottom, has been closed for several months while they were fixing a slide that took out part of the road.  That work is complete now, so I go right through.  At this early hour, the sun is low and it is hard for the eyes to adjust as you go from light to shady spots, especially when looking to the rising sun in the east.  The trees have also begun to shed their leaves in places, and they lay on the pavement disguising any gravel and other nasty road features.  As a result, I am not too speedy through here.

I get into some fog at Rosman, and it raises fears that the day will not be clear after all, though the weather guessers said that is not to be the case.  A few miles north of Rosman, the fog dissipates, and is not a problem all the rest of the day.  In fact, by its end, the entire day will have been clear with occasional clouds.  In short, a beautiful time to be out. 

NC-215 from Rosman north was repaved a couple of years ago, so it makes for a smooth ride.  (If it weren't for those fallen leaves all over the place.) There is a scattering of gravel on the road in places including, as usual, on the right-hander just after this bridge, here

View Larger Map

As I proceed to the higher elevations it gets a little cooler, so I am glad I wore some long underwear and a fleece shirt under my riding suit.  And the heated grips take the chill off of my hands.  In a few short weeks, it will be time to put on the Hippo Hands again.  Boo.  But here is my method of keeping warm despite the weather.  You can ride almost year around in these parts, so I just gear up as necessary.  In fact, there is an on-line forum for the intrepid motorcycle rider who endures the heat and/or the cold

The closest entrance point to the Blue Ridge Parkway is a little over 50 miles from home, so it takes just an hour or so to get there.  The entrance is typical of many, with a stone-faced overpass and a nearby entrance ramp.

The Parkway south is smooth and there is little traffic.  I pull over onto some of the overlooks along the way, and find great panoramas unfolding at almost every turn.  There is the slight change of color in the leaves already, and there are clouds in some of the valleys in the distance.  I traveled through one of those clouds at Rosman (it is called fog when you are in it, by the way -- a little science lesson). 

One of those panoramas is at the Courthouse Valley overlook at milepost 423.5: 

Click to see a larger view.
Not much further, there is the Cowee Mountains overlook at the 430.7 mark:

I stay a while at each one to drink in the scenery. God must have used a mighty fine paintbrush to give me these views today. 

Next up is the highest point on the Parkway, at the 431 milepost.  The elevation here is 6,053 feet above sea level.  Home is at 1,079 feet, so I have climbed about 5000 feet, not counting the ups and downs along the way.  I don't snap the usual photo in front of the sign because there are some other riders doing it.  This older photo will have to do, taken on a trip to the Wheels Through Time motorcycle museum in Waynesville North Carolina: 

I reach the second of my titular points, sooner than I thought I would.  I glance at my trip odometer, and see that it is only 85 miles from home, at the 451.2 milepost.  "Why haven't I come here more often if it is that close?" I ask myself. 

What is this place that I should have been visiting more often?  Waterrock Knob.  You can find it at Pushpin B on the map at the top of the posting. Click on the link below the map to move around and enlarge it so you can see the details better. 

It is uphill from the unusual divided lanes at this point on the Parkway, and just before the main parking lot is a little overlook for Browning Knob.  It is named for R. Gerry Browning, a Location and Claims Engineer and Parkway consultant who secured its right of way through here.  There is a good view of the road I came in on from here as well, in the background. 

The parking lot for Waterrock has only a few cars, and a couple of bikes.  I park, and make my way to the comfort station -- a block outhouse, basically.  It is locked, thanks to Obama's government shutdown caused by his stubbornness in not cutting the budget permanently.  I am not certain that locking an outhouse is going to save much money.  Instead, it raises my anger toward this man who is bent on destroying the American economy, and, indeed, our way of life. 

So I prepare to make other arrangements. 

I note that about half of the people I see have pained expressions on their faces as though they desperately need a solution to a pressing problem, and the other half have looks of blissful relief on their faces having found an alternate arrangement already.  

After that, I can view the scenery with a little less stress.  ...and, boy, there is plenty of scenery visible here. 

This is the panorama toward the west: 

It is only another 18 miles from here to the southern terminus of the Parkway, near Cherokee, NC.   Surprisingly, I have not ridden there yet.  Maybe next time. 

And here is the view to the east: 

Beautiful, both.

If you climb to the top of Waterrock Knob, you can see even further.  Here is a picture taken a couple of years ago from the top: 

You can see the parking lot in the center, and the Parkway winding from the left from whence I came today, and wrapping around the right, heading toward the camera, and on to Cherokee. 

I mount up and wander back about seven miles the way I came, to the exit from the Parkway at the Great Smokey Mountain Expressway, US-23 and US-74.  This four-lane road is an expedient way to get where you are going, but not very interesting to ride.  I run down about 9-1/2 miles toward Sylva, then cut over onto NC-107. 

Now take a look at the map of my return trip, so you can follow along: 

View Larger Map

Right near Sylva is the start of a few roads I have not ridden before.

As I motor along, I spot a sign for Judaculla Rock, at Pushpin C, a place I have had in my database of  places to visit in future.  [Bucky, keeps a database of stuff like that?  ...Must be an engineer, or something.]

Why, yes, I am an engineer by training, now that you mention it. 

I didn't know I was going to pass near this rock today.  I turn off on Caney Fork Road, and go about three miles to the end of a side road that veers to the left.  There, I find a flat soapstone rock maybe sixteen feet across upon which Indians carved various features between around 500 and 1200 A.D. 

From the above website:
Judaculla Rock is North Carolina’s best known and largest example of an American Indian petroglyphs site. In the modern and generic sense, it is a public attraction and a point of interest, and is commonly identified as a boulder covered with ancient and mysterious engravings....

Judaculla is the anglicized pronunciation of Tsul Kalu,...a legendary giant.... Judaculla was a human-like giant with supernatural powers, who traveled between This World and the Underworld....
View from the parking area.  The rock is in the center of the curved observation platform. 

The carved face of the rock:. 

For this 1930s photo, the cryptic markings were filled with chalk. Since this valuable picture was made, the rock has continued to erode, making serious study increasingly difficult.
photo courtesy Jerry Parker, former owner of the land on which the rock sits. 

This little guy is sunning himself on one of the stone pillars, but keeping a wary eye on me.

Quite photogenic, he is. 

Shortly after I leave, I cut over onto NC-281, also known as Canada Road.  This route is said to be better for twisties and with less traffic than the parallel NC-107.  I find that to be true. 107 is a good road, mind you, but this one is better -- and I have not been on it before. The surface is generally good. 

The scenery unfolds among a continuing series of turns.  Occasionally, I can see a lake in the distance or some other great scenery, but mostly I am watching the road for its next contortion.  I'll bet there are a lot of riders who would use this as a racetrack challenge.  

I come around a tight right-hand bend and immediately before me is the T. Fields Dam holding back Wolf Creek Lake.  The dam is a not-very-attractive structure with a concrete spillway, and there is almost no room on either side of the road to walk, so be careful.  I stop in the gravel pulloff and look around. 

The stone-faced earthen dam.
The concrete spillway, also showing the narrow space between the road and the railing. 
Looking downstream from the dam spillway.  The water is an eerie green color. 
View of Wolf Creek Lake.
I spot this sign from the parking area, warning you that the water below the dam can rise rapidly, depending on the spillover volume.  The sign clearly states the danger.  

Someone cleverly defaced the sign so it conveys another message, quite effectively, I might say. 

Canada Road continues on for several miles, and there are some fun twisty sections along the way -- not much traffic, not many driveways, and not many crossroads. Watch out for a hairpin or two. 

The road comes near Silversteen Road, a neat twisty ride I couldn't get enough of back in November, 2011.  I don't take that way, as my backside is getting a little fatigued from the seat time today. 

281 joins US-65 for a short distance, then turns south again and passes Gorges State Park.  This is a road with mostly sweepers, but with two or three tighter turns.  I am moving right along, for me, and I am holding good lines through the curves.  I am enjoying the road quite a lot.  It passes Whitewater Falls, a place I have visited many times before, that is quite picturesque, the falls dropping 411 feet. 

There appears to be a problem, however, as I pass the falls entrance.  There are cars parked along the highway for some distance in both directions.  I slow down, and then see the reason.  Obama again -- there is a yellow tape across the entrance: The falls is administered by the U.S. Forest Service

See the tape on the left behind the SUV? 

 This is what Obama doesn't want us to see today:

Too bad.  Now, I have only seen a park ranger here once before, so it is not as though the park is highly patrolled.  Anyway, those people parked along the road have to hike into their park, and their cars, trucks and motorcycles create a potential hazard on the edges of the highway.  I wonder: What would happen if the yellow tape somehow happened to get broken?  [Naughty, naughty thought, Bucky.]
Just so you know, I don't yield to my temptation, and go on about my ride. 

The road becomes SC-130 just south of Whitewater Falls, right near the Duke Power Bad Creek Pumped Storage Facility (where there is a nice overlook and where the gravel Musterground Road starts).  130 is loaded with sweeping curves on almost all of the ten miles to SC-11.  I carry a good speed through here as well, and reach that intersection in jig time. Watch for a few places where the top layer of pavement has spalled off. 

The route home is easy roads, and I am enjoying the hum of the engine and the wind coming at me. By the time I reach home, I have covered about 212 miles, on a beautiful clear day. 

Other Good Places Near the Route I Took:

  • A Sportbike Route by Wayne Busch of Smoky Mountain Motorcycle Rider blog.
  • A route including Charlies Creek Road, Ellijay Road, Becky Mountain Road, and Explorer Road.  [175 mi, 5 hours]
  • Dolphin Rock, about here, just beyond the dam I crossed.
    Dolphin Rock taken by bcool of Carolina Riders Forum