Day 10
October 8th, 2010
Moonshine Campground
Balsam,  North Carolina

I couldn't explain why I didn't sleep well last night.  My bed was comfortable, it wasn't cold, and the night was quiet and dark.  All that aside, I tossed and turned most of the night.  Perhaps I'm just getting older, and what was once easy (sleeping in a tent) has become a little more difficult.

Another heavy dew blanketed the campground on this morning, and the 1300 looked like it had been rained on.  I don't cover it at night while on a trip for 2 reasons; one don't want to give up the space to pack a cover, and two, I don't see the need to cover a dirty bike in the middle of a long tour.  I just wipe off the morning damp with a rag.  A cover does offer security, so might not be a bad idea if you're going to be staying in questionable places.

I estimated we had over 50 bikes on the scene.  Everywhere riders were gearing up and securing gear for the upcoming rides.  About half of the riders would be linking up on what has come to be called the "train."  Uncle Phil leads this ride on the area's best roads, if a guy is new to the Blue Ridge, its a good way to see what the area has to offer.  I usually ride the train on Friday, and split off on Saturday.  With all the bikes, we make sure there is enough old timers on the train to help Uncle Phil.

We left the campground with a line of 25 bikes and headed for breakfast at Clyde's, just a few miles north on highway 74.  After a great meal we set out for Sylva to run 281.  Using the drop and sweep group ride method, we moved our line through the city, and into the hills.  The pace was reasonable, and the ride was progressing nicely.  
​The line up at Clyde's Diner for breakfast
I was still wrestling the 1300 in the curves with the slick and cupped tires.  The front seemed to wobble when I tilted the bike over to lean it.  The line was not moving fast as most of us middle aged men had nothing to prove by red lining it, so I didn't slow the line.

The weather was warm and sunny, perhaps the warmest I'd ever experienced in these hills.  Not a cloud was in the sky. After 281 we picked up U.S. 215 near Brevard and followed it to the Parkway, where we went north to SR 151, located near the Pisgah complex.  From here things turned ugly.

SR 151 is a narrow, twisty road, that has to be respected.  A couple of years ago we encountered a tourist bus on the wrong side of the yellow, he brushed our line to the side, fortunately we avoided any mishaps.

Less then half mile from the Parkway, I noticed the guys in front of me were either slowed way down or stopped in the approaching right hand curve.  I proceeded with caution, and on the other side of a curve I came across a wrecked ST and Harley.  I went to a safe place and dismounted, and ran back up the hill to check on things.  A couple of guys were already assisting.  

To make a long story short, one of our guys crossed the yellow and hit a Harley who was coming uphill.  The HD was 2 up.  Our guy was only shaken up and bruised, but the HD rider had a obvious broken left leg, and complained of rib pain.  His passenger was ok.  The ST 1300 was a mess, the front end was virtually destroyed, he had hit the Harley on the left side, and totaled both bikes. 

Uncle Phil told us to move on downhill and regroup at a con store a few miles away,  I went to a hundred motorcycle wrecks in my 26 year fire department EMT career, throw in another 500 or so car wrecks, including many multi casualty incidents, but I wasn't able to tell the guys at that scene anything, so I let them handle it, plus I wanted to be gone when the local volunteer rescue squad arrived, they tend to get upset when a professional shows up on their scenes.

The mood was sober at the con store, as the group gathered back up.  I ate a ice cream sandwich and then Peter Menard and I decided now would be a good time to make a move.  I really didn't feel like riding anymore, and just wanted to head back to the campground.

On the way back to the campground Peter and I somehow became separated, "he musta pulled off to take some pics."  I continued on, and shortly after he called me and said, "meet me at the Balsam Overlook, and we'll do some riding, then eat supper."

Well that joker was on the Parkway riding south, NOT north, and rode all the way to Cherokee, before realizing it.  I rode the Parkway north all the way to SR 215.  "Where is HE??  Guess I'll just ride on to the Jukebox Junction and loop back around to the campground that way."

I finally got a voice mail from Peter about his mistake so I called him back. He was in Cherokee.  "I'll meet ya in Waynesville for supper.  Lets eat Pizza, I have a place in mind I'd like to try."  "ok."  "I'll text ya the address when I get there." 

I've been riding by Angelo's Pizza and Pasta for 10 years, each time telling myself, "I need to eat there oneday."  This time I'm going to make good on that statement.

I had a great afternoon ride on the Parkway and 215.  It was dark down low, and sunny on the high spots.  I got in some good alone time.  I'll let the pics below tell the story of the ride.

Over the years I've taken many pictures at the Balsam Overlook, but
none with a sky this blue and clear.  It was a great day to ride the Parkway.

At a overlook north of Balsam I captured this scene of the Blue Ridge in 
early stages of Autumn color.  These hills and mountains have a special
place in my heart.  

You can tell from this picture, the foliage is at least a week away from

​Color was a little better on SR 215.
At the Jukebox Junction I noticed several STs in the parking lot, the last of Uncle Phil's train.  "Lemme go see what's goin on."  They were about to eat supper, but I ate at the Junction the night before, so wanted something different tonight.

They updated me on the injured rider and what the next move was going to be concerning him.  He was flying back home, soon as he squared what was left of his bike at the dealer.

"Look here, I'm suppose to meet Peter in Waynesville, so I'll see y'all back at the campground."  On the way out I stopped for gas at the Exxon down the road.

In Waynesville I went straight to Angelo's and parked around back.  I had a voice mail from Charlie Kingston, who wanted to know what the supper plans were.  I sent him a text with the address and waited for Peter.  He showed up a few minutes later, and after that Charlie rolled in.

The food was excellent at Angelo's and now it is on the list of places to eat when in town.  It was a good meal and good times.

I was so full after supper I didn't think I was going to be able to get on the bike for the short ride back to the campground, but I managed.

That night we had another great campfire and I hung out with my friends, most notably Big Ron.  We came up with a plan to take a shorter ride tomorrow, so we could take pictures, and return early to get ready for the traditional steak supper.  So far tomorrow's ride would be myself, Peter, Big Ron, and Charlie Kingston.  Good group if I ever saw one. Later on we invited Annette and Pat from Ohio.

The campfire broke up about 10 and I went up to the showers.  "I hope I sleep better tonight."  Back at the tent I plugged my headphones into my Iphone and listened to a few tunes, before going to sleep.

I was looking forward to my final day in the Blue Ridge.