Riding to the 2019 Women’s Freedom Ride Fall Getaway

I’ve made no secret of the joy of finding interesting places as a woman riding a motorcycle. I recently related my joy of riding hundreds of miles in cold, heavy rain. 🙂 This is one of the things I like about long distance trips involving overnight travel. You have to be prepared for just about anything. I love a challenge and adventure.

So, on day 3 of travel recently, I discovered Bucksnort, Tennessee. Yessiree, the real mountain south of this scenic country. I’m not kidding, the densely wooded mountains of this area are very pretty.

A little ways further down the road is a sign for gasoline, so I pulled in. First off, the pump didn’t like my credit card. Apparently, something about my card must have caused the system to consider me a possible fugitive from justice. The long arm of the law dictated that I must go inside in order to pay to fuel up my little bike.

So, I noticed a sign on the way in explaining that the building was built in 1911 and has no indoor bathrooms. Those in need would have to utilize the porta-potties placed discreetly at the back of the lot. Fortunately, it was a nice, sunny day. My urgent physical needs at that point precluded me from just waiting to go at the next stop.

I paid cash for my fuel and used the facilities. To their credit, they were clean. My positive attitude reminded me it could always be worse. I have used the real outhouses over a hole in the ground.

But, I have to express my disappointment at finding I was not yet in the deep south. I searched the little store for the only true, genuine lunch of the south–a Moon Pie and an RC Cola.

Finding none and thinking I was hearing the faint sound of banjo music, I fired up my big Harley and headed for the open road. In theory, this bike is supposed to be able to do zero to 60 in four seconds. I can tell you that I was doing 75 at the end of a short on-ramp, leaving the banjos in the dust.

I relaxed, put on “Foggy Mountain Breakdown” by Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs, set the cruise and motored on.

Part 2

Riding the Cherohala Skyway takes you across the tops of the mountains into Robbinsville, NC. It was in the planning stages for a long time and was completed after 30 years of construction with a total cost of 100 million dollars. It is the most expensive road in North Carolina.

The curves are wider than the Tail of the Dragon and a woman riding it on a motorcycle is a lot less tense. There are many stops for scenic views. Although it is only 43 miles long, it takes 3 hours or so to drive it.

The beauty from a motorcycle is breathtaking. The heavy scent of pine air in places overwhelms the senses and enhances the experience. This creates another serious danger and that is paying attention to the road. They sure didn’t blow the budget on guard rails, if you get my meaning. Some of the drop offs are a long way down and extremely steep. Shoulders may be non-existent.

There are many wide observation stops, some of which are level. This is no big deal in a car, but a heavy road bike is another issue, particularly when the added weight of luggage is very high on the bike. I’m still traveling, loaded with a few weeks of baggage as I make this ride.

The art of parking this iron monster is a real learning experience. The kick stand is on the left side. So, if the pavement slopes to the left, this means you’ll need 2 gorillas and 3 tourists to help you lift it back upright off the stand. Conversely, if the surface slopes to the right, there is very little lean weight on the stand. In this situation, a light breeze or a heavy dragonfly landing on the far right side and over she goes. I know far too much about all this and some has been painful.

Oh, I’m not done with parking. There is no reverse gear, just weak old legs to push the bike backwards. This means you NEVER park heading downhill, into the curb, unless you have AAA to send a truck to pull you back out. Ideally, you pull the bike around where you can back it into aforementioned downhill spot. Most roads are crowned so water runs off. Angle parking almost always means moving back and forth to get the bike to slide backwards into a parking position.

Part 3–Everybody loves a Harley. As a woman riding a motorcycle, traveling alone might seem to put you into threatening situations. I’ve not found this to be the case at all, rather it might be the opposite.

Perhaps the general public might consider that dressing like a pirate in black leather may indicate that the rest of the “biker gang” is right behind me and due to show up and take hostages at any moment. 🙂 I get left alone.

I get a lot of long looks at the Harley. Many will stop and relate stories of how they used to ride, how they want to ride or just admire the chrome and steel. The machine projects power and freedom. I love to offer people the chance to get their photo taken sitting on the bike. I tell them if they have a camera, I have the Harley. Their eyes flash with adventure when they get on and it’s easy to imagine what’s going through their brain as they grin proudly and sit erect on top of the world.

Being in a crowd helps keep a person safe and a Harley always draws a crowd. I’ve heard too many stories from the thirties and forties of women being denied gasoline or even arrested because “they shouldn’t be on one of those things”.
Well, the times, they are a changin’. Thank goodness.

Photo ops over and scenic overlooks covered, I get back on the bike and fire it up. I finish the Cherohala Skyway and am looking for a biker bar for some lunch. There don’t seem to be any, even in the little towns. I have to remember that there are dry counties here in the south. Those who have read much of my material know that I’m an expert in finding great burgers in small town bars. The bars are the restaurants in these towns. Apparently, beer pays the overhead. So, it’s no stretch to consider that, with no beer, burgers may be at a premium.

I drive all over Robbinsville, the nearest town to my destination of the Iron Horse Motorcycle Lodge and find no one serving food. I stop in the center of town and use technology to save me. I ask Siri to find food. She cheerily informs me that it’s only 8 miles away, so I instruct her to guide me to the fries.

The roads in Nebraska are laid out exactly east and west in populated areas, so navigation is easy. Not so much in the Appalachians, as roads have to wind every which way to overcome the obstacles of geology. Aha, we arrive at our destination. There is nothing here. Not only is there nothing here, there is no sign anything was ever here.

I heave a heavy sigh and turn around. Looks like it’s convenience store delectables. I am so lucky, as this place actually has a little pot of hot pork bbq. It’s not really bbq, rather it’s baked pork with sauce mixed in. I’m hungry enough that I’m just happy my lunch is not a Moon Pie and an RC Cola. I am in the south, you know.

I get lunch, fill the bike and head for the Iron Horse Motorcycle Lodge.

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