Wednesday May 5, Blue Ridge GA to Townsend TN
More of the same; wonderful roads, beautiful mountains, blue skies and fluffy white clouds. Today I traveled from Blue Ridge GA to Townsend TN almost exclusively on narrow twisty two-laners with smooth surfaces. Not completely, because it’s getting difficult to bypass those places where we’re forced onto the proved-up versions on the good roads. If you’re a local and know all the back roads you can skip those.
Left Blue Ridge on GA 60 Northward into NC to pick up US 64 / 74 to head into the high mountains. Then US 74 to Andrews at which point the road becomes US 74 / 19 / 129. Rode US 129 into Robbinsville. The objective road was NC 143 out of Robbinsville, also known as the Cherohala Skyway. US 64 has been basically ruined for hundreds of miles across TN; a highly proved-up four-laner and US 74 is the same until about Andrews where it becomes a proved- up two-laner. US 74 frommabout Murphy NC to Andrews runs through a wide beautiful valley. And, a river runs through it; Valley River. US 129, on the other hand remains a narrow twisty two-laner; very narrow, very twisty.
US 129 and NC 143 are world-famous roads to Denizens of Biker Trash Land. US 129 is major twisty road and has been re-surfaced since Mary and I were last through here. It’s still very narrow and is one of those olde-timey hug the Earth’s surface roads.
Cherohala Skyway was completed in 1996 and so is a wide two-laner and unfortunately has mostly wide sweepers. This road could be ridden very rapidly, but the posted limit is mostly 35 MPH. A beautiful road that goes up high and runs along the ridges. Lots of long views of the mountains. It was very cool up there this morning and felt especially good.
The Skyway ends at Tellico Plains TN and I took a short break at the Biker Friendly service station on the outskirts of town. Not a lot of other bikers out yet so I didn’t get a chance to chat with other Denizens. Took TN 360 out of Tellicoa Plains with the next objective road being The Foothills Parkway. TN 360 is another beauty and intersects US 411 at Vonore. At 411 there were signs saying that US 129 was closed. I didn’t have to use 129 for too many miles to get to the Foothills Parkway, so I asked about where the road was closed. It was closed just beyond the entrance to the Parkway at the TN / NC line. So I rode TN 72 to 129 and then rode the Parkway to Walland TN. Yet another beauty through the mountains with lots of long views. Two full days of road riding and running.
From Walland I putt-putted here to Townsend near the West entrance to Great Smoky Mountain National Park. Tonight I’m in an EconoLodge that was previously a Comfort Inn. It’s a very nice place and the rate is very good, too. Last night I was in a Comfort Inn that was also very nice and reasonable. I suspect that these good rates will end as soon as school is out for the summer.
In addition to the most excellent road riding and touring and the nice and reasonable places to stay, I have additional very good news. I have found a road that bypasses both Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg. I plan to do exactly that and be on top of Clingmans Dome early tomorrow morning.