Another couple and us try to take a multi-day trip motorbike trip every year. A few years ago it was two weeks to Sturgis, SD, last year it was four days to Bristol, TN, and just last week we spent a lazy week getting to Nashville and back.
Last time I drew this out in to multiple posts about individual aspects of the trip, but I’m too lazy for that this time around so I’m just dumping it all at once.
I know we could have made it to Nashville in two days, but I decided on ~250 mile senic routes instead of using the highway.
First day was no highway at all. [MAP] I plugged Lewisburg, VW (via Seneca Rocks) into my phone, selected “avoid highways,” and we left.
We chased rain a little bit half-way through the day, but never seemed to catch up to it enough to need to stop to put on rain gear.
We usually stop a few miles from our destination for a snack and a refreshment. This is also were our fifth wheel joined us - our friend Lou in his 2002 SLK 6-speed. He was going to tag along with us for a few days.
I had the brilliant idea to hook him up with the girls’ “find my friends” app on their phones. That way, he could check our progress and catch up with us along the way. Unfortunately, there was no data service for most of the trip, so all he had were a history of our locations and time stamps via text - which apparently was all he needed since he used to be a navigator/ bombardier.
It worked, he intercepted his target five minutes after we stopped in White Sulphur Springs, WV.
Stayed at the lovely Relax Inn - after we discovered that all the other hotels were sold out because of a mud bog and a rubber ducky race. We always hope for a restaurant/bar across the street, but this time we had to walk a mile to dinner at Ruby Tuesdays.
They raped us on two rooms @ $125 each. These weren’t worth more than $75-80. I still don’t know what a rubber ducky race is.
Day two was a pretty interesting route [MAP]. It also had no highways on it and took up through some of the windiest, least populated parts of WV and KY.
Today started off pretty solid with a non-starting SLK. Lou called AAA, we went to breakfast without him, and he called us and said he was towed to a garage, and getting a rental car for the rest of the trip. Not bad for Sunday in Lewisburg where there is no Uber and the taxis go to sleep at 6pm.
He showed up about 45 minutes later from the airport (we all thought, “wow, there’s an airport here?”) with a Ford Fusion. We were back in business - albeit over an hour behind schedule - and left.
One of the things I found interesting about this part of coal country were the
yard shoulder sales.
The terrain was really unusual. Very few flat areas for buildings, so every half mile or so, there would be a small group of them. Five trailers, a general store, and something that looked abandoned. Another half mile, there would be a Dollar General, a gas station, a few more trailers, and two homes. Everything was just built where there was room, and it was all spread out over miles and miles of hilly, twisty, two-lane roads.
Every once in a while there would be a really wide shoulder and there was someone in a deck chair, a bottle of water, and piles of shit to sell.
One dude had a pickup truck, and what looked to be a whole tool chest?s full of tools laid out in front of him. Two miles later, a guy with a flatbed delivery truck with lumber. Around the corner, a lady with what looked to be like her laundry out to dry.
We would go 30 minutes or so without seeing a sole, so who were these people selling to? Did everyone just know if they needed lumber, to go see Frank at mile marker 35? Kitchen and bath? Go see Floyd at mile marker 44. DVD and VHS movies? Hank at mile marker 50 (he keeps the good ones in the trunk)
It was like a 50 mile flea market.
Somewhere on the 10 mile stretch of the Coalfields Expressway in WV my heel shifter fell off.
Not knowing where it fell off, we didn’t go back. If it would have been my only shift lever, I would have.
We also stopped by the third largest sitting Abraham Lincoln in the world. It’s just sitting on the side of the road in a town of about 500 people in Stanville, KY.
While we were there, another couple pulled up on a motorcycle and asked us if this was one of those monuments that had been taken down and relocated, as if Lincoln was a southern hero of the civil war. I’m not kidding.
We scored a suite at Holiday Inn Express that night in Hazard, KY for $120 which gave Lou a couch to sleep on. Good news: It had a laundramat next door, and a Mexican restaurant across the street. Bad news: It was Sunday in a dry county. Oops.
Day three consisted of some highway [MAP] because we had to stop at a dealership. Not for t-shirts and more tassels, but for a fluid leak in Bike #2, but not before we did some laundry.
Taking advantage of the side-effects of being in a dry county, Mrs McMike and I went next door and did our laundry at 7am. We always pack clothes we can wash cold and tumble dry so we can get away with doing it quickly in one load.
OMG there were socks everywhere.
The interstates suck, but at least some of the other highways were nice. It was hot AF though. First day without any rain at all, which was nice.
We stopped in London KY at one of the nicest dealerships I have ever seen. Lot of money went into this place. We stopped because that fluid leak on my buddies bike. He showed it to me that morning, t was brake fluid from his rear master cylinder/reservoir. We figured we should stop.
They replaced the master cylinder for like, $100, but found a few more leaks. Two of them (stator plug and clutch cable) are very common and just slow seeps. I have them on mine, and don’t give them a second thought. The other two were a slow leak in his primary, and one from his oil cooler.
He had just had the bike worked on before we left. He needed tires and an oil change. I told him to get his brake fluid flushed, too since it was likely 8 years old. He also got his other two fluids changed, too. It’s odd to me that the master cylinder was leaking after the fluid flush, and the oil cooler was now leaking after that service. I haven’t had a chance to take a look at it yet, but I have a feeling they were both damaged when it was in the shop. This oil leak would have shown up before we left if he had got it worked on sooner.
He got the bike home the night before we left. I wish he wouldn’t do this, but he does it all the time. Waits until the last minute to get the bike serviced so there’s no chance for a shake down. I am also in his garage the morning we leave checking tire pressures, shock pressures, and fluids before we can leave. I would love to knock that out before hand.
While I was doing this before we left, I found that the shop that worked on his bike forgot to reattach #9. A week later, I still have no idea why they removed the bolt it was secured with to change a rear tire. At most, you just have to remove the muffler from the hanger to get the axle out, not remove any saddlebag support. Incomplete job. I’m glad I caught it because it was just hanging loose by the rear tire. He bought a quart of oil, and we used it over the next 1000 miles or so. We’re going to need to look at that oil cooler leak, because it’s leaking way too much.
I did congratulate him on having a leak in all four of his fluids. Engine oil, transmission fluid, brake fluid, and primary lubricant. BINGO!
While we were there I picked up a new heel shifter, and all is well with my bike.
...two hours later we were back on the road.
My buddy called in a favor with his ex-brother-in-law, and got an employee discount on a suite at the the Marriott Renaissance. Not too shabby.
Another nice thing about this hotel was it’s one block from Broadway, which is pretty awesome. Unfortunately they play both kinds of music - Country AND western.
We were there for two nights. We ripped it up the night we got in, did some touristy things the next day, then left the following morning.
Mrs McMike’s dad and stepmom decided to ride down from Omaha and spend the two nights with us. Good to see them.
Day four [MAP]started off with a little interstate because couple #2 wanted to stop and have lunch with some family in TN. As soon as the waiter brought the check, it started raining. We couldn’t wait, so we rode in the rain for about an hour.
Interesting part of today was Pigeon Forge, TN. Holy shit, it’s like Atlantic City NJ in the middle of nowhere. We’re seeing nothing but two lane country roads for hours on end, then all of a sudden - a five mile, six lane strip of roller coasters, miniature golf, hotels, wax museums, Ripley’s believe it or not museum.
This is where Dollywood is, I had no idea. We didn’t stop by.
The only reason I plotted this route was to go over the Smokey Mountains on US441. It looked interesting. It was also pretty.
It was also windy.
I don’t think I have ever seen this particular street sign before.
On the other side of the mountain, North Carolina had rain and elk waiting for us. We pulled in to the hotel just when it started raining the hardest.
Our hotel this time was not a hotel, but a three bedroom cabin. We found it online and gave them a call at lunch, and it was only $199 a night. For the same price we paid for that shithole on day #1, we each got our own bedroom, a washer/dryer, a creek, and free cupcakes!
Lyndon and Greg also let us park the motorcycles in the office carport. Nice people, would recommend. We had dinner at a local steak house right around the corner. Nicest meal of the trip. Happened to be the location they shot a restaurant date scene in that Three Billboards movie.
Today [MAP]was a repeat of what we encountered in North Carolina three years ago. We started off with nothing but mountain country roads and ended up so far away from any interstates that when we gave up and actually wanted interstate, they were unavailable. The look on everyone’s face when we stopped for fuel at 5:00 that there were two more hours left was priceless. I believe it took us (with our stops for fuel, food, and sightseeing) over 10 hours.
Sorry guys, it’s not me, it’s North Carolina.
We started off the day with a visit to the Wheels Through Time Museum that was just across the street from the cabin. I had no idea this was the one that I had seen on TV (Maybe on Leno, American Pickers? Can’t remember) Pretty decent collection.
Then we took off looking for breakfast. Looks like we missed Mr Biscuit by one day. :(
Shortly afterwards, Lou split off and headed back to pick up his car in Lewisburg, and it was back to just to the two bikes.
Our next stop was Grandfather Mountain. I had seen it on the map, and figured it would be worth stopping by.
Views were pretty decent.
The ride up the last little climb was a little sketchy - only because we were really top-heavy with two passengers and luggage, and the shit was really tight.
Thank god they took the time to put up the “Forest Gump ran here” sign. We would have had no idea.
Then it was off to six more hours of rolling NC hills. During that six hours, we added a half-quart of the oil #2 bike bought on Monday. God, what a mess.
We ended up in Martinsville, VA shortly after 7PM. and checked into the first hotel we found. It was .5 mile from a Mexican restaurant, and was back to what we were accustomed to - four people, two queen beds, and $80/night.
Today’s destination was a river weekend house owned by couple #2's family, and we wanted to get there at a reasonable time to spend time on the water. It wasn’t all interstate, but the latter half was. [MAP]
Not a lot happened on the road today, just two fuel stops, and a beer run right before we got to the river.
Good two days. Fishing near the Chesapeake Bay, cornhole, crabs, more fishing, a second beer run, adding more oil to bike #2, and two sunsets.
We wanted to get home today before noon, so today was nothing but business. [MAP] One fuel stop, no drama, no photos besides this one.