2020 TAT - Day 8
Back in April 2020 (seems like forever ago), Paul, John, and I (all business partners) went on a motorcycle trip and stayed mostly in the Tellico Plains area. While riding the “Smoky Mountain 500” (they call it the Smokey Mountain 500), we came across the Lodge at Green Cove. Rustic little place with very basic amenities - but, it had an outdoor fireplace, an outdoor grill, and all the wood you want to burn. So we decided to spend the night here. Great night, just the three of us - we cooked steaks and potatoes over the fire. Sat around the campfire for a while… just overall a great night.
Today, Paul and I were riding on TN-02, just zooming along because most of it was straight and then all the sudden come around the corner and I see some cabins that I immediately recognized. I said to Paul over comms, “Do you know where we are??” He had no idea, I told him to wait one minute and he’d know… at which point we pulled in to Green Cove again. We both agreed immediately that we’d stay here this evening. @John, we wish you were here…
Total Mileage since the beach in NC, 1,428. Today, we only managed to complete 152 miles. We’re not upset about it… in fact, we sat around the campfire this evening and did some math. We’ll be in Tulsa when we’ve planned and we should be on the beach in Oregon as we’ve planned.
By the way, more rain today… however, something cool did happen. We stopped to get gas at the Shell Station in Andrews, NC. Sitting there at one of the pumps was obviously another Tatter. I pull up on the other side of the pump to fill up, but to also chat with the fellow rider. I ask if he is riding the TAT, he confirms. He introduces himself as Nick and we have some small talk. We say our goodbyes and Paul and I head out to the switchbacks. (TN-01)
During our ride on TN-01, I get a text message from John, so I stop to call him. As we’re sitting there chatting, Nick rolls on by and waves. I wave back and he keeps rolling. After we get started again, I am paying attention to the ‘tracks’ that Nick has laid down in the dirt/gravel. I can pretty much tell that he has ridden dirt bikes his whole life. Anyways, we keep on rolling and come to a section that is more straight, so I kick up the speed in hopes that I can catch up with Nick. Eventually, I see him and close in. As soon as we hit pavement, the rain starts and I flash my brights to get his attention. We all pull over and discuss the upcoming section and get a little more background on Nick. He’s from NY, he has ridden dirt bikes forever. He’s riding a KLR 650 for the TAT - running knobbies… we’re currently running 50/50’s. So we decide to roll out together… we completed TN-01 and it wasn’t until we came across Green Cove on TN-02 that we decided to part ways. He wanted to get some more miles in and us old people (ok me, not Paul) can’t hang with the young bucks. We said our goodbyes and will likely run into each other again. If not, Nick, it was a pleasure… stay safe out there!
I wanted to get that important stuff out of the way, but we do need to step back to the start of the day. We were in Gatlinburg… We kinda blazed our own path to the Tail of the Dragon in the Robbinsville area. Rode the Foothills Parkway for the first time - almost got beheaded by a tractor driving backwards with some sort of crazy arm/mower attachment. Mind you, the Foothills parkway is mostly long sweeping curves and the speed limit is around 45 mph most of the way. I usually ride pretty fast on a long sweeping curvy road… no details here… sorry. So, I come around a corner and there is a tractor in my lane in reverse with the arm of death looking straight at me. I dive for the oncoming lane once I’ve confirmed it is empty. Then my next immediate thought is … PAUL!! He is a less experienced rider than me and this arm of death could in fact eat him. So I turn around on the parkway and head back towards him (yes, he is behind considerably due to my need to consume long sweeping curves). He survives the pending doom of the Arm of Death.
Foothills Parkway brought us right into the northern part of US 129/ Tail of the Dragon. Great Ride on the Parkway - really enjoyed it. But now… it is time to test the KTM 790 Adventure R on the Tail. Paul and I stop at the ‘scenic overlook’ for a quick “we were here picture” and then I told Paul that I’d see him at Deal’s Gap. I told him to ride safe and don’t ride beyond your capabilities. Then I took off… I was so excited that as I was speeding off, my front tire literally came off the ground… Traffic on the Tail was light - though there were some people driving in their boxes. They typically got out of my way or maybe I passed them (legally?? Maybe.)
That 11 miles was fun. I was working the KTM hard… I think my right and left toes of my boots touched the ground at least a half dozen times. Maybe more… I was really getting into it. By the time I pull into Deal’s Gap, I check my tires to see how much of the tire I exposed to asphalt. Yep, All of it. Everything. From Edge to Edge. I was satisfied with the run. I waited for a while… and eventually Paul pulled up next to me. Him being a novice rider, he really did great out there - he even said that he enjoyed it. (He initially only rode the tail because I wanted to). We got our stickers and went on our way. The KTM’s have been christened!!
Dinner this evening at Green Cove was um… Ramen Noodles again :) We even bought some hot dogs and through them in with the Ramen noodles. While eating, we discussed the fact that we need to start preparing ourselves a little better for when we don’t have a store around and it is time to retire for the evening. We’ve promised ourselves that we would put some food somewhere on our bikes. During dinner, I also built a fire… then we played some cards (cribbage and poker) - i’ve never played cribbage, pretty complex game and Paul has played it since he was a kid. I had no chance. The scoring alone is a problem. Poker was more fun. Then we just sat around the campfire and bullshitted and listened to music. Really a great evening - especially because all of this happened right in front of the Tellico River.
For the wine fans - we had no wine this evening. Just isn’t any out here…
This was written on Wednesday, July 22nd at 9:39pm - unfortunately, way out here in the woods, we have no Internet. We may not have internet tomorrow either. We plan on camping… so more than likely we won’t get this posted for a few days.
Life Is Good.
Here are the rest of the pictures: