Vita Rara: A Life Uncommon


Part X: The Circle of Life

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September 1, 2003: The Long Haul to Washington, DC -- Zen Time

Today I rode from Fontana, NC to the Washington, DC area.

Up and out early. I think I'm the first person to get under way. There are a lot of bikes in the parking lot. It is Labor Day weekend after all. I pack the bike and get going. I have to say good bye to these incredible mountains. I've spent a bit of time here in the past two weeks. I'm going to miss this place.

I headed east on NC-28 out of Fontana Village. It was getting more light out and some of the views were real nice, but one in particular was a near religious experience. Near the intersection of NC-28 and US-129 there is an overlook on the west bound side of the road. I was headed east bound, but the view was so incredible I doubled back to take a look.

Part IX: The Sign of the Covenant

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August 30, 2003: Dragon Redux -- The Litany Against Fear

"I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain." --The Bene Gesserit Litany Against Fear from Dune by Frank Herbert

Through a series of wrong turns and miscalculations I've found myself in TN with the shortest path between me and my hotel taking me through the Dragon. I rode the Dragon two weeks prior and I did ok, but today I'm spooked. I did it two weeks ago, but it wasn't my kind of riding. But here I am in TN and looking at a lot of miles out of my way if I want to avoid it, and beat the rain I know is on its way. I've been a fan of Frank Herbert's Dune books for many years. One of the things I've always remembered from them is the Litany Against Fear.

Part VIII: Blue Ridge Parkway

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August 27, 2003: BRP Part I

Today I hauled myself back to the mountains. It's good to be back. I took NC-215 south from Canton to where I had entered the Blue Ridge Parkway (BRP) on the 18th and ridden south. Today I would start riding north on the BRP. As the ride has evolved I decided I wanted to ride the whole BRP in the course of the trip. When I was headed south on I-81 to meet at Deals Gap I was tempted to head for the parkway. I'm glad I didn't. The BRP takes time to appreciate. It's long, it's scenic, it's special. I'm glad I gave it time. I could have given it more.

Well, the part of NC-215 north of the parkway is nice once you get out of the flat lands. It rises up to meet the parkway in nice s-curves and switchbacks. I touched down the fairing again. I've cranked up the suspension, looks like I need to add a few more turns yet. The road surface here is great. I really like this road. I haven't heard anyone else mention it. Go ride it if you're in NC. It's worth it.

Part VII: Service Time and New Friends

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August 24, 2003: The Long Haul to Carey, NC

Well Sunday brought the end of my stay at T.W.O. It was time to head for Carey, NC to visit some members of the website, and to get the bikes 12k service done.

I got lost in northern GA. I went into several gas stations with the map and had people point at different places on the map to indicate where I was! Uggh! Where am I?!?! Why didn't I get a GPS?!?! I might be lost but at least I'd know where I was lost. Anyway, I finally found my way out of the mess and high tailed it through SC, through Charlotte, NC up I-85 to meet my friends at the range where they were teaching an MSF BRC class.

Part VI: Cherohala Skyway Part II

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August 22, 2003: Cherohala Skyway Part II

After running the Cherohala Skyway with the guys last Sunday I can't get the road out of my head. I have to ride it again, particularly I need to run in eastbound. We rode it westbound on Sunday. So, I really have to see if it is just as good in the opposite direction.

So, I head up GA-60/TN-68 to Talloca Plains, fuel up at the gas station at the end of the Skyway and proceed to rise into the clouds. There are some huge cumulus clouds hanging low and threatening rain, but surrounded by huge tracts of blue sky. This is special. As I crest the highest point on the pass this huge storm cloud is lifting off to the east. Its tendrils clinging to the mountains, not wanting to let go. The sun is shining its rays upon the mountain, as if saying, "this is my abode, begone," to the storm. The air is pregnant with life. You can feel it; touch it; drink it in. This is magical.

Part V: Two Wheels Only - Home Away from Home

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August 19, 2003: T.W.O. -- Home Away from Home

Over the previous weekend I had spoken with a board member of a swing dance site,, I participate in. We have a motorcycle thread where we talk about bikes, our rides, etc. It's an interesting sub-culture of a sub-culture, swing dancers who ride motorcycles. Anyway, Peter reminded me about T.W.O. in GA, gave me the number, I called and they had room. I remember reading about T.W.O. from Kathy and Laney's trip reports, and Peter highly recommended it, but nothing can compete with reality. T.W.O. is a riders heaven. The decor, the ambiance, the grounds, everything is great. I rented a room, as I'm not carrying camping gear with me. (Someday I'll have to try that.) As it turns out I have the whole thing to myself. There is no one camping, in a cabin, room or anywhere. This place is so special I'm disappointed that I don't have anyone to share the experience with. If you need to recharge the battery, find some time away, take a break or whatever, T.W.O. is a great place to do it.

Part IV: Sittin' On Top of the World

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August 18, 2003: Out and About in NC

This was my day to relax a little and take my time, or so I thought. I headed out US-64 from Franklin past Highlands, NC to NC-215 north to the Blue Ride Parkway back towards Cherokee, NC, then I took NC-441 south back to home base in Franklin, NC.

Well, Shawn, Lone_RT_Rider had described US-64 as a forty mile long Deals Gap. He had taken it to our rendezvous point on Sunday in Franklin. In the difficulty of its corners I didn't find it was quite The Dragon, but in its relentless mile after mile of twisties that were a bit more suited to the RT it was a more enjoyable road. The only draw backs were the traffic, which by and large pulled off to let me through, and the occasional town that had to be droned through.

Part III: Tail of the Dragon and Cherohala Skyway

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Sunday, August 17, 2003: Rendezvous and Ride

We planned to meet in Franklin, NC at 10:00 AM and head to Deals Gap. I arrived at the rendezvous point and Chris K and Mark Davis (madavis) were there waiting, and shortly Shawn (Lone_RT_Rider) appeared. Four RT's from three states, two from Georgia, one from Detroit, MI and mine from Troy, NY. Just a typical BMW group as someone pointed out.

We head north on NC-28. This was my second ride on it. Chris and Shawn went first, followed by myself and Mark. Chris and Shawn quickly disappear when we hit the twisties. Ride my ride. I'm maintaining what I think is a brisk pace, but nothing like what those guys are maintaining. I have a lot to learn. The whole day taught me that. The RT will lean farther then I'm comfortable with at this point. I intellectually know there is a long way to go, but I get to a certain point and I think I've reached the limits. I think some of this is left over from my days of riding my Yamaha V-Star cruiser. That bike would drag pegs at a very slight lean angle. Looks like it's time to work in the parking lot and find the bikes limits.

Part II: Woe! Curves!

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Friday, August 15, 2003: The Long Haul

I'm not a real morning person. So, in planning the riding day either I had to leave real early to miss rush hour in Harrisburg, PA, or sleep in a little and sail through after the rush. Sleep in. That was easy. This is going to be my big day. By calculation on Yahoo! Maps it is 885 miles portal to portal. I have 250 under my belt, so I think maybe I can complete the ride this day. I've never really run this hard before, so I'll take it as it comes. Well 500 miles or so of slab later I'm in Bristol, VA, about five miles from the TN border.

Today marks my arrival in the south. As I crossed into MD from PA there were the typical welcome signs, then a bit further down the road were the signs for the Mason Dixon line. I find it interesting the symbolism that attaches itself to this line. My real introduction to the south though was the delightful waitress at the restaurant in Bristol. Southerners really know hospitality. Did I mention that I love The South?

Part I: Prologue and Departure

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This is going to be long. It's over 10,000 words which is about 18 pages in a standard MS Word document. I hope it's worth your time to read. It was an amazing incredible life changing experience. I came to understand that the way we get to know each other is by sharing our riding experiences. Well here is mine. I will be posting it in several pieces over a few days.

Monday August 11, 2003: T-Minus 3 Days

I made the decision to ride down to Deal's Gap and ride The Tail of the Dragon with Shawn, Lone_RT_Rider, and some other members of the board. Getting out of town had been a long time in coming. I bought the RT this past March with the intention of getting in some long distance riding, but life has changed and it looks likes like I'm going to get to do a lot of riding. Suffice it to say I was thinking about riding the whole month of August, but things didn't work out to get me on the road, then I saw Shawn's query of wether anyone would like to get together at Deal's Gap and I took it as the motivator to get on the road. I had tires on order and they should be in on Wednesday. God willing if they show up on time and I get them mounted I will be on the road to Deal's Gap first thing Thursday morning.

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