Vacation in the Great Smoky Mountains of Tennessee
July 16 to July 22, 2005
Here are some pictures of the CBR sport touring through the mountains. I don't think I saw but a handful of other sport bikes riding up there, most of the motorcycles that I saw in the mountains were those big tour bikes whose owners looked very uncomfortable having to ride at low speed on left, right, left twisty roads, especially in the rain. The little CBR, fresh from its rehabilitation following the May 13th accident, didn't give me a bit of trouble.
New Found Gap- On July 18, 2005 I rode up to New Found Gap. I saw a bunch of other bikers, very few sport bikes at all, mostly cruisers, a few standards and those huge tour bikes which tend to look like bright colored armored post-apocalyptic cockroaches with all their antennas twitching in the air. Well, about 2pm in the afternoon, God decided to drain his bath tub and soaked everyone. It was funny to see the Harley owners all scrambling off the monument rock to run and get their bikes covered up under a bunch of communal tarps they rapidly produced from their saddlebags. It's a motorcycle, it's going to get wet, let it get wet. Oh, right, there's that resale value and Harleys do tend to rust if you sneeze on them. I just shook my head after watching their frenzied antics for a few minutes, lowered my face plate almost all the way and rode back down the mountain in the pouring rain. By the time that the other riders had gotten on their rain suits, they were soaking wet under the suits which probably was more miserable than just being wet.
Epicureans, the silly sad lot of them. Whatever happened to riding in the rain, of getting wet? These new generation of faux-bikers I don't think I'll ever understand. I counted forty-three bikes either pulled off or parked on the side of the road on my way back down the mountain, their owners huddling under trees or seeking shelter from the pouring rain. Yes, I got soaked and loved every minute of it, getting wet is part of motorcycling (if you don't get wet, if your bike doesn't get wet, if you or your bike never get dirty then you're not a real biker...). The rain let up somewhere near the Chimney Tops and had stopped completely by the time I rolled past Sugarlands Ranger Station on my way to bypass Gatlinburg. As I opened the CBR up to highway speeds, my clothes began to rapidly dry. Short of a change of socks and dry underwear at the condo I had rented for the week, I put on the same clothes that I had wore up the mountain and went off riding again through the country roads.
Cade's Cove- The next day was a trip up to Cade's Cove, one of the more beautiful rides I have ever experienced and one I've been wanting to do since I first bought my new Honda VFR750F way back in 1993. Twelve years was a long time to wait to get up here and ride a bike through this part of the country but it was worth every single second of time I spent dreaming about this trip. Riding the CBR through the 12 mile scenic loop was worth buying the bike, every cent. The road is barely big enough for a luxury car, but on a bike it's not a problem, one way scenic loop. I saw a mother bear and her three cubs walking through the woods, followed by twelve deer and a ten point buck with the velvet still on his antlers. Two of the deer were grazing by the side of the road so close I could have reached out and touched them, honestly, one of the deer was so close that it was a hands breadth from me reaching out and petting it and it had no problem at all with me sitting there, eye to eye, watching it. That's the closest I've been to a deer on a motorcycle since my accident way back in 1998. The quiet idle of the CBR didn't disturb the deer at all, they just stood there, staring at me, chewing.
The (rebuilt) CBR at the Chimney Tops area
The obligatory CBR at the park entrance outside of Gatlinburg, TN shot. Since the speeds were so low, I decided to just wear my fingerless gloves, helmet, jeans, shirt and boots. If any safety nazis out there have a problem with it, get over it. It was my skin and trust me, I was well dressed for safety. Most of the other bikers I saw thought safety consisted of a HD T-shirt, shorts, flip-flops, Oakleys and a doo-rag. I had to do a double take on some of the caravans of bikers to make sure that I was in TN, not the Florida Keys.
The CBR parked at a scenic overlook above Gatlinburg. Yeah, I'm fixing to ride into that gathering storm on the horizon.
Closeup of the scenery in the distance and the fast moving storm.
Here's the storm rolling in over the mountains in Cade's Cove. This was a real nasty storm that filled all the mountain streams with fast moving, brown water that did nothing but churn and froth.
Time to go. Lightning and thunder all around, with a dark gray wall of falling water moving towards my position.
"Riders on the storm..." If I remember this CBR for anything else, it will be for the fact that while I owned it there was a whole lot of rain in my life and not a small amount of very good riding. I think that Oscar Levant said it best "Happiness isn't something you experience; it's something you remember." I'm going to have many fond memories of this highly capable piece of technological art in motion.
Somehow, I missed getting drenched for a second day in a row. The storm moved all around Cade's Cove and where it fell in the scenic loop was either in front of me or behind me, never on me. I got a few light sprinkles, some mist but nothing that ever put a drop on my clothes or caused me to have to wipe my visor. This was a truly great ride.
The condo I rented.
Ironic, isn't it? Life is funny like that. I laughed when I pulled
in and saw the name of the condo the first time.