Monday, June 24, 2013

Rally to Ridgecrest, 2013 -- Days 3 and 4


The day begins with devotions and breakfast -- again a great start. 

Today, we are going to ride to the Western Carolina State Veterans Cemetery over in Black Mountain to pay respects to the dead soldiers who lie there, and to their comrades in arms who have been and are still at work defending our country.

There is light drizzle, but everyone lines up at the exit of the conference center to begin the short ride there.  
That white trailer has a peculiar emblem on it.  Hotpoint -- like the refrigerator. It certainly looks the part. 

The riders make their way to the cemetery, park along its roads, and quietly walk up to the building where a few words of dedication will be spoken. 
Photo by Rally to Ridgecrest

A bagpiper plays.  A commemorative wreath is there. 
Photo by Rally to Ridgecrest

The dead lie silently in their simply-marked graves. 
Photo by Rally to Ridgecrest

Flags have been set in place on each one. 
Photo by Rally to Ridgecrest

We hear the speaker's words, then fan out to the graves.  I am touched by the solemnity of the place, and well up with the thoughts of the sacrifices these people made for my freedom.

We head back to the Conference Center as a group for another singing and message. 

I have plans to ride solo today.  My route is back up NC-80, then onto the Parkway, to and beyond Little Switzerland, then return by way of NC-226 -- a route that is twisty in several places:  

View Larger Map of Planned Sunday Day Ride to Little Switzerland

It is only around seventy-five miles, but the rain is gone, it has turned into a beautiful day, and I am eager to set out.

When I reach NC-80, I retrace my path, now toward the north instead of the south as it was on Friday.  I am not going for a speed record, but I ride along at a good clip.  The twists become tighter nearer the Parkway, and I cruise past Blind Kenny again, and they snap a few more pictures, this being one of them.
Still a pretty good lean angle, body upright, looking through the curve.

I reach the Parkway in another couple of minutes and head north.  I am enjoying the road a lot, and there is little traffic, despite it being a holiday weekend.  When I reach NC-226A, I am tempted to take it instead of 226.  It is far more twisty, though and I want to have a little less technical ride today.  So I continue on -- but I don't turn south on 226 as planned.  Instead, I continue on the Parkway until I reach the town of Linville Falls,

View Larger Map of Actual Sunday Ride Route

That adds around twenty miles to the trip, but I just don't want to leave the Parkway.

On the way toward Linville Falls, at milepost 329, I stop at Altapass and the overlook with a sign describing the Clinchfield Railroad Loops -- another series of railroad loops to allow it to gain altitude like the Old Fort Loops.
That is the explanatory sign for an engineering feat.  This series of loops, begun in 1905, and completed in 1908, is now part of the CSX system.  There are eighteen tunnels in this 13-mile trackage section, needed to overcome the elevation change of the Blue Ridge Escarpment.  The distance is only about four miles as the crow flies.  The ridge was a formidable barrier here just as it was near Ridgecrest and Saluda.  Mostly Russian, German, and Italian immigrants provided the labor for this project. 

Here is a map of the railroad route: 
You can't see much of the route from the overlook, but the Frograil railfan website has a good description of it. (Search for "Clinchfield Loops Overview.")  That site does not have many pictures, but is intended to document the best places to view the track and the trains running on it.  You can experience a simulated a trip up the loops in this video.

There is an apple orchard here also, called the Orchard at Altapass, of all things.

There is a gravel road, Peppers Creek, that leads to one of the loops, called Camp 2, at Pushpin B below:

View Larger Map of the Clinchfield Loop on Peppers Creek Road

The orchard is at the left in the map above. (Interestingly, as I was preparing this posting, I explored the map near Altapass and there is a Wal-Mart only 2-1/2 miles from the orchard!  ...and I thought I was in the middle of nowhere.) 

The distance from the Parkway to the railroad is only about a mile, downgrade, with some washboard, and loose gravel.  The road skirts the tracks south of where they pass under the Parkway, though the underbrush conceals them from view. 

I am surprised when I reach the grade crossing.  It has electric signal lights.  I stop for a few minutes, hoping for a train to come along, but, alas, one does not.  I head back up the hill, under the Parkway, and onto it. 

After I gas up at Linville Falls, I reluctantly turn around and head toward 226, turn south, and hit some curves coming down from the Parkway.  After a few miles, the road calms down, and I cruise along in the beautiful afternoon sun. 

That evening, I go to supper and to another worship service.

I take a few minutes to survey the crowd.  Many are dressed in jeans and tee shirts, and about half have leather colors vests on.  Those vests have a variety of patches and pins on them, denoting their beliefs, and some of their activities.  Here are a few:

Afterward, I attend another seminar, this one lead by Ed Obaugh, the same guy who taught Protect Yourself in Court a couple of days ago.  This one is entitled How to Share Jesus Without Fear.  Again Ed speaks from the heart and gives ideas on how to approach others in all kinds of unusual situations about their salvation through Jesus Christ.  A key point is that you don't convict a person to believe.  Rather, the Holy Spirit prepares, and you are His voice and face.  Awesome responsibility, not to be shirked. 

I spend some time in the hamburger shop, talking with other bikers.  There are fewer people here tonight because many have already departed for home, but I plan to stay another night so I will be fresh for the ride home tomorrow.

Another couple, Johnny and Lisa, will be riding in the same direction toward home on their Harleys, so they ask to come along with me.  No problem. 

I pack up my saddle and tail bags as best I can.  I have purchased a few books from the LifeWay store, so I have a bit of a challenge to get everything in, and get the zippers closed.  I prepare my paper map for the trip home tomorrow, and zip it into the top of my tank bag where I can refer to it.  The GPS is programmed to that route as well, so I should be able to follow its lead and get there just fine. 

I hit the sack giving thanks for a safe, inspirational, and enjoyable day. 

Mileage on Sunday = 153


Today, it is breakfast, loading the bike, and a last trip to the office to check out.  Johnny and Lisa are doing the same, and I move my bike to where theirs are parked.  We start out on the superslab.  I have to remember as the leader of the group not to accelerate to cruising speed too soon, as that would require them to exceed the speed limit to catch up.  Once they are close behind, I crank it up to the speed limit. 

The route I have picked is a way to get home quickly, but with a short interlude on the Parkway to give us one last period of enjoying its beauty.  Here it is:

View Larger Map of the Trip Home

It starts out on I-40/US-70, then switches to the Parkway, then to I-26, US-25, SC-11, to Easley, and home   I reach there at about 10:30 in the morning, quite a bit earlier than I expected. 

Mileage on Monday = 97
Total mileage for the trip = 588.

It has been a great long weekend, but I am ready to be home, get reacquainted with my wife, and sleep in my own bed again. 

After I returned home, I hung up my riding suit, rested for a little while, had a lunch prepared by my sweet wife, then cleaned up the bike.  There was a considerable amount of road dirt and splatted bugs to remove.  It came out pretty well, I think, no worse for wear. 

Hope you have enjoyed the trip this year.  Next year, ride along with me to the Rally to Ridgecrest.

Links to other websites:
A Weekend in the Loops of Western North Carolina
The Clinchfield Loops from the Bridghunter website
The Clinchfield Loops from the American-Rail website 
Videos of trains at Altapass, Clicnchfield Loops

Links to related postings:

Rally to Ridgecrest, 2013 -- Day 1
Rally to Ridgecrest, 2013 -- Day 2
Rally to Ridgecrest, 2013 -- Days 3 and 4

Freedom is Never Free! -- Rally to Ridgecrest, 2011, Part I
Freedom is Never Free! -- Rally to Ridgecrest, 2011, Part II

Rally to Ridgecrest Facebook Page

Memorial Day 2010 Weekend Rally
Memorial Day 2010 Weekend Rally, Part II, The Ride Up
Memorial Day 2010 Weekend Rally, Part III, Saturday
Memorial Day 2010 Weekend Rally, Part IV, Sunday and the Ride Home.



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