Sunday, January 1, 2012

Happy New Years ride.

      January 1st 2012 started out sunny and warmish so Cheri and I did a bit of tidy-up work around the outside of the house. Normal things like, getting rid of pumpkins left over from fall, taking all the plantpots and putting them in the basement so they don't freeze and break,putting patio furniture under the house to help protect the paint. Stuff like that, oh and I also broke up the large concrete slab that used to cover the old septic tank in the back yard. In the midst of doing all this Cheri told me that I should go for a ride cos "who knows when the weather will be this nice again?". I decided to finish what we were doing and then go for a ride. Guess what. It started raining, I mean really pee-ing down. I was just a little put out. Ah well.
      Two hours later the sun miraculously shone through the wet sky and the roads started to dry off. I quickly got all my gear together, including my BRAND SPANKING NEW full face helmet, kissed the missus and took off on my silver(dull white) dream machine(underpowered Italian scooter).
      New Years Day seems to be a good day to ride, there was almost no traffic, I bet I saw less than 30 cars on a 52 mile ride. I went west into Tennessee and up through Roan Mtn. State Park, then up Hughes Gap Road. Hughes Gap peaks out on the top of a ridge that is the border of N.C. and Tenn., it is one of the few places in America where you can drive a vehicle across the Appalachian Trail.  Once at the top of Hughes Gap there is a steep drop down to the little town of Buladean. The road is very twisty, and lots of fun  'cos it's downhill, so my lack of horsepower does not stop me enjoying the curves. Once Hughes Gap connects with 226 I decided to head toward Erwin, Tenn. 226 is another beautiful curvy road and has the added benefit of a nice smooth surface with no gravel to scare you in the corners. (Hughes Gap was quite gravelly and becomes a forest road for a while too, which is where the App Trail crosses it) Anyway I will certainly be going back to ride 226 in the spring when the road is dry and my tires are a bit warmer.
      226 leads into 237 which I took in an Easterly direction toward our friend Beth's house. 237 is another curvy road and has the added benefit of a stream/crick/branch/river running alongside it. Both of these roads have all kinds of brilliant hillbilly type country scenery all along them. Now because it is winter I get to look through all the tree cover into peoples yards and fields and outbuildings. Trampolines are abundant as are 4-wheelers and plastic kiddie pools. Because of the season there are lots of inflatable snowmen and santas around, and, the 1 thing that drives me crazy with envy, plywood cut-outs of santa, his sled, and reindeers, ON PEOPLES ROOFS. There are still an amazing number of 1970s style fibreglass satellite dishes in the Tenn hills, they call them "snow-catchers", plus lots of cars from the sixties, seventies, and eighties. I saw one yard with four late 70s Jeep Wagoneers and a1985 Plymouth Horizon, another yard had a dodge scamp, and another had 3 subaru brats. Then there is the livestock, lots of mules,horses,donkeys, and dogs. I also saw Alpacas and Llamas and goats and chickens. I rode past one field that had seven deer just grazing quietly away. They barely looked up as I buzzed on by.
       Even though there are few signs of massive population on these roads, there are always tons of churches, the most prolific being Baptist churches with their little white buildings with a spire, and an outbuilding for eating or picnic-ing. For some reason Baptists don't like to eat in a building connected to the church!
      237 connects to 19E, which takes me directly back to Elk Park, Sophia, my little scooter, is running very well, probably due to the cold temperatures, and riding up the long steep hills back to N.C. is relatively painless, but somewhat tedious. Unfortunately you cannot always find a new way home, so at some point every ride loses some of its excitement as your wheels follow the grooves in the road that you have made from going the same way again and again.
     I rode a total of 52 miles, up and down some very steep hills, so steep in fact that sometimes I was down to 20 mph and in 2nd gear. My elevation ranged from 3000 ft above sea level to around 5500 ft, and Sophia gave me no trouble at all.
     I hope those of you that rode today had a good safe trip.

    All the best,
  Sir Paul

1 comment:

  1. Sounds like a good day! :-) Happy New Year! Today I went caching with a geobuddy of mine for about 12 hours--no lie. It was the first time I'd gone caching since I visited you in March! I'll tell you all about it when I talk to you later! I'll try to get a hold of you Monday!