2010 Cherry Point motorcycle trip

August 16

The alarm went off at 7am, and I felt rested. I laid in bed thinking of the trip ahead when I heard a noise. What? I looked outside. Rain...heavy rain...thunder and all. Might as well wait awhile, so I crawled back in bed and slept for a couple more hours.

Harlan, KY. 10:14, mileage 43,830 - It took awhile to find a gas station that took a credit card. I was a little aggravated. Not about the gas stations, but for the second day in a row I was starting later than I had hoped. An ambulance on a run passed by as I was fueling. On the way back through town I took a picture of the hotel.

A nice view on the way out of town.

The first thing I noticed as I left Harlan was the road was much nicer. There was a sign for "Old US421" and it was apparent this road had been rebuilt. The road was nice for about ten miles. It reminded me of US321 west of Pigeon Forge...sweepy and scenic. Near the Virgina line the road went up a mountain. The pavement quality reverted to what I had gotten used to prior to Harlan, but at least the road was nice and curvy going up the mountain.

The other thing I noticed when leaving Harlan was my GPS giving me "XM not communicating" errors. I figured the XM connector was wet from the rain this morning. I unplugged it so it could air dry.

The Virginia line on US421.

US421 in Virgina. This is part of the Daniel Boone Heritage Trail. I'm enjoying the ride today much more than yesterday evening. Might be the nicer roads, nicer scenery, or the fact that I'm rested...probably all three.

Because of the bluffs and valleys sometimes east/west and north/south highways share the same physical roadway.

A couple miles east of Stickleyville I crested a hill to find this awesome view. I had to stop and take a picture. At Duffield US421 merged with US23 and became a 4-lane all the way to Weber City. I wasn't expecting that, but it's nice for cranking up the speed.

If you've read many of my trip journals you know I like trains. In hilly areas like these they seem extra cool. The tracks hug mountains, cross impressive trestles, and disappear as fast as they came. They usually support what little industry exists here. A lot of the trestles come and go before I can think about getting a picture. I was able to get this one.

At Weber City US421 broke away on its own and became 2-lane again. Several miles later I stopped for some road construction.

I rolled into Bristol, TN, about 12:30. My stomach had been requesting food for an hour or so so I thought I'd find a place to eat. There's a NASCAR race here this coming weekend and I didn't know what to expect as far as crowding. Things didn't seem bad at all.

The problem was before I knew it I was out of town. I don't know where the restaurants were. Oh well. I did need to get something to drink and refill my cooler with ice, so I pulled over at a convenience store. As I filled my cooler the driver of the green Subaru Forester came over and talked to me for awhile. He told me about some nice places to ride around here and near New Bern where I'm headed.

In the background of the above picture you can see mountains in the distance. This section of US421 between Bristol and Mountain City is known as "The Snake" because of it's curviness...kind of like US129 is "The Dragon" in eastern Tennessee. It's one of the reasons I decided to take US421.

I love signs like this.

The road sweeps through the Tennessee valleys until you cross the South Holston Lake. The first mountain was a fun and enjoyable ride. There was no traffic except for an occasional motorcycle. The road wasn't as curvy as The Dragon which it is often compared to, but I think that's the part that made it more enjoyable. The Dragon wears you out. The road quality on The Snake is excellent. The curves are spaced enough you can savor the last one before diving into the next one.

After the first mountain the road smooths out and you're in Shady Valley. I passed a nice looking fire station and came to the Shady Valley Country Store.

The store is a popular place for motorcycles to congregate. I stopped to take a picture. Even got a GL1500 trike picture for John. About a hundred miles down the road it occurred to me there was probably a Snake pin in there with my name on it. Oh well...another reason to come back.

The second mountain was even better than the first. The downhill side seemed to last forever. I'd find out later what I thought was the downhill included another smaller mountain.

A few miles after finishing the Snake you roll into the town of Mountain City. My stomach said "eat" so I pulled into Hardees. I ordered two hamburgers and a Coke and they gave me two cheeseburgers and curly fries. What?? I ate the cheeseburgers and chucked the fries. I don't like curly fries.

When I got ready to leave Mountain City I noticed some dark clouds to the east. Hopefully they stay east of me. I also noticed the Snake had worn down a few links in my trailer chains. I blew out the XM connector and hooked it to the GPS. Seemed to be working now.

When I left a little after 2pm the traffic on US421 was fairly heavy so I just cruised along. I was riding along enjoying the scenery and peacefulness of the road. I didn't know a surprise awaited me at the North Carolina line. I rounded a turn and there it was. Ahhhh...crap. I didn't even have time to react before the downpour of rain hit me. I pulled over in a car lot and put my raingear over my already-soaked clothes. As if to mock me, the GPS updated the now-working weather radar to show me in heavy rain. No sh!t.

I rode in the downpour behind a semi for a few minutes before it decreased to sprinkles. By the time I got close to Boone I had started to air dry. On the outskirts of Boone there was a five minute wait while some small trees were cut down. I kept a restless eye on the weather radar and the northwest hoping the rain would stay behind me.

It took a long time to get through Boone with road construction and stoplights. We stayed here last year on part of our East 50 trip. At the eastern edge of Boone I stopped and got gas. I was piddling there trying to decide whether to get my camera out of the trunk when I looked behind me. Coming over the mountain like a pyroclastic cloud was the rain. I hopped on the bike and hauled ass.

From Boone US421 is 4-lane until it merges with I-40. The camera was in the trunk...I was wet...so the rest of the day was dedicated to chewing up miles.

Wilkesboro, NC. 15:47 - I pulled over and ditched the rain gear. By now it was sunny, hot, and humid. I'd left the rain far behind.

Burlington, NC. 17:28 - Stretch and nature break at a rest stop. Along the way I've seen a few NASCAR haulers headed to Bristol.

New Bern, NC. 20:43 - I arrived at the hotel. I checked in, drove to Arby's for supper, then went back to the room where I ate and unpacked and took a shower. I found a parking spot that I could see from my room. I put the cover on the bike. It'll get to sleep for a few days.

440 miles.

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