Series Teaser... Oct/Nov issue 2011
“Oh I don't know, wherever I end up I guess”,
That line is from a TV series way back in the day when I was a impressionable 10 year old kid. 1969
was the year Then Came Bronson roared into the living rooms of America. Thus began my love affair
with two wheeled transportation, starting with mini bikes to trail bikes and motocross bikes to street
bikes. Ask any fifty something motorcyclist why they enjoy riding and how they got the “bug” you are
certain to be given a myriad of answers but I am certain you would hear some Then Came Bronson
remarks. Forty two years later I still have the “bug”. Admittedly I have taken a long hiatus from riding
or even owning a motorcycle but never forgot something I have wanted to do for a number of years;
ride The Blue Ridge Parkway from one end to the other. No hurried time frame. Stop when I want, eat
when I want, photograph when I want, sleep when I want. To see it, live it, and be enriched by it,
talking with people and stopping by some of the little towns along the way. No agenda, no motive other
than just the simple love of riding and taking it all in. I suppose you could call it a bucket list item. But
I much prefer to say I want to “Pull a Bronson”. There is a section of the parkway closed until 2012. I
technically cannot ride the entire length but darn well close to it. So in the coming issues I will be
doing a series on this ride. So I invite you to read along and Pull a Bronson with me. Stay tuned right
here in the foothills times!
Pulling a Bronson Part 1 ... Dec 2011/Jan 2012
As I thought about the ride I wanted to take this fall and trying to keep it as impromptu
as possible in the true spirit of Pulling a Bronson I cannot help but to admit I felt an
almost forgotten emotion; a childlike giddiness and elation over just the thought of such
an adventure traveling down that road many of us here in the foothills have come to
cherish and consider one of our very own Great Escapes; The Blue Ridge Parkway! The
foremost goal I had in mind was to have a safe enjoyable ride covering 469 miles one
way with a flexible itinerary within a 7 day time slot.
As many of you know life has a way of throwing a curve ball to train wreck our planned
events. A family circumstance beyond my control caused me to have to change my
itinerary to a later and cooler fall time frame. I had been keeping an eye on the extended
weather forecast and saw a window of opportunity for a 3 or 4 day ride in late October,
though shorter than hoped for but grateful nevertheless.
Tuesday 25th October I packed a lite backpack and it was kickstand up time! BRP south
here I come. Gorgeous warm day along with cool crisp air intermingled with a wisp of
wood smoke on occasion. To sum it up, it was my version of... just perfect. The views
along the way were spectacular because this day the sky was vividly clear, therefore you
could see for miles and miles. I had no disappointments with the remaining autumn
colors, beautiful hues of reds, oranges, golden browns. tans and yellows a long with
hints of remaining green. I was enjoying every curve and vista a long the way. The one
constant I found to be true during the entire ride was that I caught myself smiling,
smiling a lot. I was bound for Little Switzerland NC at mile post 334 and I was going to
stay at the Diamondback Motorcycle lodge @ the Switzerland Inn, which has a long
history of great accommodations, dining with exceptional service and atmosphere, most
importantly biker friendly! That evening I relaxed in the Fowl Play Pub met some really
interesting people and dined on a Blackened Prime Rib Sandwich and a frothy PBR
draft. Life is good. During that evening of merriment and laughter I learned of the
Diamondback Motorcycle and Sports-car route... old NC 226A. Hmm next day
possibilities were shaping up nicely. But first a good nights sleep was in order. To be
Pulling a Bronson Part 2... Feb/Mar 2012
Wednesday morning I awoke to a golden hue shining through the blinds just as the sun
was peeking it's way over mountains. After a hearty breakfast at Switzerland Inn's
Chalet Restaurant I headed over to main lodge to get an update on the latest weather. As
you know weather in the Appalachian mountains especially in the higher elevations can
change sometimes within a thumb snap. Sure enough the forecast for Thursday night and
Friday had changed fairly drastically for the worse; snow flurries and snow. So I decided
to nix the plan to go on to Cherokee; stay the night and return to Little Switzerland on
Thursday, then return home on Friday. Now armed with the latest weather forecast I
chose to ride further south and ride up the highest mountain east of the Mississippi
river... Mount Mitchell 6684 feet, then return to Little Switzerland to ride the
Diamondback motorcycle and sports car route! Stay the night then return home on Thursday.
No doubt it was just a little cooler but armed with enthusiasm, a gorgeous morning and
an extra layer of clothes I headed south again on the Blue Ridge Parkway. The higher
elevations offer even more splendid views north, south, east and west as you climb up. I
caught myself smiling more and more. It has been many years since I have been here.
Suddenly I encountered a smell from a childhood memory of this place... The crisp
smell of air, mingled with spruce and the land itself. Gosh there is just nothing like it...
Mount Mitchell is located at mile marker 355.4, with a freshly paved road, many
updated facilities, walkways and a great restaurant. You just had to be here to truly
understand how vivid and beautiful it was on this day. My photography presented here
just doesn't give justice to the realm of experiencing it yourself. To be continued...
Pulling a Bronson Part 3... Apr/May 2012
After spending an hour or two enjoying the vivid views atop Mt. Mitchell I headed back toward Little
Switzerland. I was ready to enjoy The Diamondback... 190 curves in just over 12 miles. Awesome fun.
I enjoyed it so much I rode it twice that afternoon. Motorcyclists if you haven't been... GO.
Thursday morning was a stark change in weather, Cloudy skies with peek a boo sunshine, windy and
much colder. I will describe it as... invigorating! Others would call it cold, I guess that depends on
thickness of your hide. I decided it was best to head on home because snow was foretasted later in the
higher elevations and possible rain closer to home. I made the ride pretty much without a hitch, taking
it all in as each mile unfolded. The closer I got to Grandfather Mountain as I headed north on the
parkway the windier it became. I had to slow down a lot because of what I will call a stout wind. The
closer I got towards Boone, the wind subsided and with that a smooth ride to the house. I had a really
great time and want to encourage you to take advantage of this story and go.