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Discussion Starter #1
At 4pm on August 30th I'll be boarding the Auto Train in Sanford, FL (Zimmerman lives in the Daytona Beach area now, so I'll be safe!) and will arrive 9:30am the next morning in Lorton, VA. From there I plan to ride over to Skyline Drive & continue on to the Blue Ridge Parkway. That should take the 31st and the 1st. In TN I want to hit the Dragon & the Cherohala Skyway and then I'd like to make my way to The Snake. Not sure of the best way to get there though?

Here's where I could use a lot of help. I don't know anything beyond that. I want to get up through KY, WV and into Pittsburgh, making my way back to Lorton, VA to catch the 4pm train back to FL on September 6th.

I will have almost 7 full days to make this trip & would like to avoid as many highways as possible. I get enough of that in FL...itching for roads that twist, turn & change elevation!

So any help on what roads to take would be most appreciated!

Also, if anyone has any experience with the Auto Train and would like to share I'd appreciate that as well. I'm kind of OCD when it comes to preparedness. It's a 17 hour train ride and I'm afraid I'll not have something at my seat with me that I'll need & I doubt they'd let me go to the bike to get anything.

And in case you're wondering, I'm taking the train because the ride from Fort Pierce, FL to Savannah, GA is about the most boring ride you could ever make!

Thanks in advance!!!
 

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Ft. Pierce to Savannah might be boring, but it's only 5 hours by moto... just sayin'. :fineprint:
 

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I'll tell you from experience , don't overbook yourself , as it can take the joy out of the ride. Every road you have listed is worth hitting twice , but as has been mentioned here before , plan Deal's Gap (and for that matter Hwy 28 as well) on an off day , meaning not Friday thru Sunday. Hit it early and have fun. 421 (the Snake) is also a good road , a little beat up in some areas , but well worth the trip , but not nearly as known by everybody and their sport car buddy , so it should be clear about any time. Savor your trip , enjoy the roads , and it will be most rewarding.
 

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Ft. Pierce to Savannah might be boring, but it's only 5 hours by moto... just sayin'. :fineprint:
It feels more like 15 hours though. Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.... lol

I'll tell you from experience , don't overbook yourself , as it can take the joy out of the ride. Every road you have listed is worth hitting twice , but as has been mentioned here before , plan Deal's Gap (and for that matter Hwy 28 as well) on an off day , meaning not Friday thru Sunday. Hit it early and have fun. 421 (the Snake) is also a good road , a little beat up in some areas , but well worth the trip , but not nearly as known by everybody and their sport car buddy , so it should be clear about any time. Savor your trip , enjoy the roads , and it will be most rewarding.
I should be in TN on Tuesday the 2nd so I don't think I'll be fighting the crowds! Last time I was up there I was on a Vulcan 1500 Classic, on a Saturday. Really looking forward to hitting it with the Vee!
 

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Mad Maps

CP If you have time before you leave pick up a copy of MAD MAPS Smokey Mountains Regional Scenic tours S.E. PT1 you can get one at J P cycles in daytona. they show most major scenic rds. Along with lodging and other pertinent info PS I would avoid Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg area unless you like crowds and slow moving traffic.
 

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I just did a 1500 mile round trip to New Smyrna Beach and it was NO Interstate at all. I went a different route each way. Mapped one out myself for the way down, & let my GPS pick the way back.

Stay away from Gatlinburg, I went through it on a Tuesday before peeling off towards Newport and it was wall to wall people. 441 from Cherokee to Gatlinburg was also pretty backed up with all the tourists. If you want to avoid those clogs and want to get over to TN & KY, take 209 or 63 east of Asheville, hit 66 between Greeneville(TN) and Rogersville(TN) and follow it up through Sneedville(TN). 66 will lead you to 63 and if you turn right on 63 you are a few miles from KY so you can do some exploring up there. 70 out of Newport(TN) and 251 north side of Asheville are also nice rides.

These other roads I mentioned are virtually empty of traffic. Be careful since some of them give the Snake a run for it's money. Compounding positive & negative banked increasing and decreasing radius turns are the norm and 66 is one of my favorites. I have not been on the Snake since the 90's...it truly has turned into a big circus, so if you go hit it mid week...not a weekend.

If you are looking for a place to camp, I have a gazebo in my pasture next to a swimming hole in Big War Creek(Hancock County TN). I'm 25 min to KY, 40 min to VA and an hour from the foothills of the Smokies. You are welcome to pitch a tent of hang a hammock there, just PM me and let me know the dates.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
CP If you have time before you leave pick up a copy of MAD MAPS Smokey Mountains Regional Scenic tours S.E. PT1 you can get one at J P cycles in daytona. they show most major scenic rds. Along with lodging and other pertinent info PS I would avoid Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg area unless you like crowds and slow moving traffic.
Thanks! The one time I was up there we went through Pigeon Forge. On a Saturday. Never again!

I just did a 1500 mile round trip to New Smyrna Beach and it was NO Interstate at all. I went a different route each way. Mapped one out myself for the way down, & let my GPS pick the way back.

Stay away from Gatlinburg, I went through it on a Tuesday before peeling off towards Newport and it was wall to wall people. 441 from Cherokee to Gatlinburg was also pretty backed up with all the tourists. If you want to avoid those clogs and want to get over to TN & KY, take 209 or 63 east of Asheville, hit 66 between Greeneville(TN) and Rogersville(TN) and follow it up through Sneedville(TN). 66 will lead you to 63 and if you turn right on 63 you are a few miles from KY so you can do some exploring up there. 70 out of Newport(TN) and 251 north side of Asheville are also nice rides.

These other roads I mentioned are virtually empty of traffic. Be careful since some of them give the Snake a run for it's money. Compounding positive & negative banked increasing and decreasing radius turns are the norm and 66 is one of my favorites. I have not been on the Snake since the 90's...it truly has turned into a big circus, so if you go hit it mid week...not a weekend.

If you are looking for a place to camp, I have a gazebo in my pasture next to a swimming hole in Big War Creek(Hancock County TN). I'm 25 min to KY, 40 min to VA and an hour from the foothills of the Smokies. You are welcome to pitch a tent of hang a hammock there, just PM me and let me know the dates.
Fantastic info & thank you! I won't be doing any camping on this trip, but that doesn't mean it will never happen!

Frankly, I've been in FL for 3 years now and I'm pretty much done with it. I've ridden all up through there & it does nothing for me. I'm gonna take a relaxing train ride to where the good stuff is & let 'er rip! Don't worry though...I know my limitations!

Honestly, I may very well end up in the Chattanooga area in the next year or so. I love it there! I've been casually looking, but haven't gotten totally serious about it yet. But I suspect that will change soon.
 

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Years ago I took my first trip to the Dragon. My route was from central Ohio, thru WV, then VA, etc. In VA, I went to see Burkes's Garden, a valley on top of a mountain, kinda neat, then a little west to Tazewell where I caught 16 south which would take me to I 81 and then towards the Dragon. While I was on 16, I thought if the Dragon is worse than this, I'm in deep trouble. I surely didn't count the curves, switchbacks, or anything, just focused on not crashing and burning. And very little if any traffic. I honestly thought the Dragon was easier. Check it out if it's near your route. I've ridden the Dragon a couple of times since, and there's just too many people on it, a lot of them in your lane, just ride at your own pace.
 

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Heading into PA you might check out Wellsboro, I haven't been yet but have read good things about it on EatSleepRide. It's east of Pittsburgh, maybe then head to the Hawks Nest on the Delaware River and then start meandering back toward Lorton?
 

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I've made the trip from Skyline Drive down to Deal's Gap a few times so here's my $.02 worth. I would suggest that rather than getting on SLD at Front Royal (north end) that you make your way from Lorton to Warrenton, VA and take 211 west and get on the second SLD entrance at Thornton Gap instead, near Luray. It's well worth riding 211 all the way to Luray (fill up, etc.) then backtrack on 211 the few miles to the Thornton Gap entrance. 211 is one of those must-ride roads on a lot of lists. Keep in mind that the ONLY gas station between Front Royal and the furthest end of the Blue Ridge Parkway is at Big Meadows which is at about the 50 mile marker on SLD. Otherwise you have to get off and find gas along the way. (I put together a gas locator sheet for one of my trips and it comes in handy. I can send it to you if you want, it keeps you from wandering aimlessly off the parkway too much). From my experience you will get pretty antsy after a while and will likely want to get off the parkway to make better time, but WHATEVER you do avoid I-81 anywhere north of Roanoke, VA but I-40 is actually a pretty nice ride especially west of Hickory, NC. Once you make it to Asheville by whatever route, Route 19 from Asheville through Maggie Valley (motorcycle friendly) and Cherokee (casinos) is nice and it takes you to the Robbinsville/Deal's Gap area. Anyway, I work about 20 miles from the Lorton Amtrack station and you will literally pass by my house if you decide to try 211 to Luray, so let me know if you need anything while you're in the area!
 

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...In VA, I went to see Burke's Garden, a valley on top of a mountain, kinda neat, then a little west to Tazewell where I caught 16 south which would take me to I 81 and then towards the Dragon. While I was on 16, I thought if the Dragon is worse than this, I'm in deep trouble. I surely didn't count the curves, switchbacks, or anything, just focused on not crashing and burning. And very little if any traffic. I honestly thought the Dragon was easier. Check it out if it's near your route...
I agree with all this. I've never ridden the dragon, but I can tell you that Highway 16 from Tazewell VA to the point where Hwy 16 crosses the BRP is quite a ride. If it works for you I don't think you'll regret doing it. Marion VA and Tazewell VA advertise it (the section between those two towns) as "The Back of the Dragon", and both my and my mother's house's are near it, and I can tell you there are lots of motorcycles on this road (especially between Marion and Tazewell - maybe the best section, depending on your preferences), and more and more keep coming. Not enough to negatively influence riding, but growing. At least five major (for this area) mountains are crossed, and I suggest you not enter blind curves fast or you could have serious problems. If you want to get playful, especially on the Marion-to-Tazewell section, you might want to go through it slowly and carefully once, make your own judgment, then go through again faster, if you deem that prudent. On a Vee, especially, I'd suggest a fuel-up in Tazewell. There are communities with fuel along the way, but might not be open, depending the time of day you pass through.

You said you aren't camping. If a stay in Marion fits your schedule I suggest the General Francis Marion hotel on main street Marion. A very nicely completely renovated old hotel with the best food in town in their restaurants or within a 3-5 minute stroll on main street (brisket, barbecue, pizza (a new pizza / burger place with 20+ beers on tap (called "27 Lions" (they're working their way up to all 27 based on customer suggestions, I believe - a very nice new place))).

Burke's Garden is a somewhat bowl-shaped "valley" at elevation. Rather unique. You can see it on Google maps... Interesting to visit, to some.
 

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I know you are committed to the Auto Train this time, but next time route your trip through all the small towns in FL & Ga and all 2-lane roads. I promise you it won't be a bad ride. I have a daughter in Orlando and a best friend in New Smyrna. I use to blast down I75 or I26 in the suv/truck to visit and hated every mile. After this bike trip I will no longer use the big roads even if I am driving a cage. It may take another 2 hours but the whole ride just brings my blood pressure down and keeps the FL dread at bay.

A good half way point is Lake Thurmond near Augusta. I stayed both ways at Wildwood park...$20 a night and waterfront campsites;
https://plus.google.com/103047884197424249210/about?review=1&source=lo-ta&hl=en&gl=us

There are three more big lakes to explore in a N/S line and all have state or county campgrounds on them.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
All this local knowledge has me totally stoked for this trip...thanks so much and keep it coming! Could really use some KY, WV and PA input though. I'm sure I'll find stuff there, but it's better when someone local tells you where the best stuff is!
 

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I know you are committed to the Auto Train this time, but next time route your trip through all the small towns in FL & Ga and all 2-lane roads. I promise you it won't be a bad ride. I have a daughter in Orlando and a best friend in New Smyrna. I use to blast down I75 or I26 in the suv/truck to visit and hated every mile. After this bike trip I will no longer use the big roads even if I am driving a cage. It may take another 2 hours but the whole ride just brings my blood pressure down and keeps the FL dread at bay.

A good half way point is Lake Thurmond near Augusta. I stayed both ways at Wildwood park...$20 a night and waterfront campsites;
https://plus.google.com/103047884197424249210/about?review=1&source=lo-ta&hl=en&gl=us

There are three more big lakes to explore in a N/S line and all have state or county campgrounds on them.
I'd be curious to see your route. I've ridden up there previously and it's all just too flat & straight to interest me. Perhaps because you live in the land where every road is a roller coaster ride it's a relaxing change of pace for you? :bom_tongue:
 

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Ha, good point, yes, once out of the foothills it's flat. The larger the road the straighter is tends to be, so the small 2-lanes actually have some curves & turns that break things up a bit.

You want to talk about flat? I rode from Ft Lauderdale to Sturgis & back by myself. Kansas, Iowa, Nebraska.....wow.... you could watch your dog run away for three days.
 

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You could use google maps to help you plan. Select "avoid highways" as an option. I rode solo last fall from Canada down through the Appalacians, deals gap area to Key west and back up through Alabamba etc. had my GPS set mostly to avoid highways as well...found some great roads (including Florida but not on the East coast)..you seem committed to that train, but it may not be worth the trouble and you could always leave home early morning and burn those miles off quickly.
 

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At 4pm on August 30th I'll be boarding the Auto Train in Sanford, FL (Zimmerman lives in the Daytona Beach area now, so I'll be safe!) and will arrive 9:30am the next morning in Lorton, VA. From there I plan to ride over to Skyline Drive & continue on to the Blue Ridge Parkway. That should take the 31st and the 1st. In TN I want to hit the Dragon & the Cherohala Skyway and then I'd like to make my way to The Snake. Not sure of the best way to get there though?

Here's where I could use a lot of help. I don't know anything beyond that. I want to get up through KY, WV and into Pittsburgh, making my way back to Lorton, VA to catch the 4pm train back to FL on September 6th.

I will have almost 7 full days to make this trip & would like to avoid as many highways as possible. I get enough of that in FL...itching for roads that twist, turn & change elevation!

So any help on what roads to take would be most appreciated!

Also, if anyone has any experience with the Auto Train and would like to share I'd appreciate that as well. I'm kind of OCD when it comes to preparedness. It's a 17 hour train ride and I'm afraid I'll not have something at my seat with me that I'll need & I doubt they'd let me go to the bike to get anything.

And in case you're wondering, I'm taking the train because the ride from Fort Pierce, FL to Savannah, GA is about the most boring ride you could ever make!

Thanks in advance!!!
I live in Pittsburgh and there is some great riding around here.

Let me know what days you'll be around here/general directions and what not and I can give you some tips and/or go out for a ride if you want.
 

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You could use google maps to help you plan. Select "avoid highways" as an option. I rode solo last fall from Canada down through the Appalacians, deals gap area to Key west and back up through Alabamba etc. had my GPS set mostly to avoid highways as well...found some great roads (including Florida but not on the East coast)..you seem committed to that train, but it may not be worth the trouble and you could always leave home early morning and burn those miles off quickly.
I planned on the "no highways" option, but there's no substitute for local knowledge! The train is already paid for so no going back. I'm actually looking forward to that part of the experience too, odd as that may seem.

I live in Pittsburgh and there is some great riding around here.

Let me know what days you'll be around here/general directions and what not and I can give you some tips and/or go out for a ride if you want.
I will absolutely do that...thank you!
 

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I've ridden the Dragon a couple of times since, and there's just too many people on it, a lot of them in your lane, just ride at your own pace.
Labor Day is Sep 1 this year; riding just afterward by a few days may mean far fewer people. Midweek mornings on the TOD may be a far less crowded time - seems everyone wants to ride that road at least once just because. I prefer the Cherohala Skyway for its relative lack of crowds and scenic beauty. Loads of other roads in the area that have been mentioned. Northern Ga has terrific riding in it, too.

The comments about Pigeon Forge have rung true with me, too. The Smokies just outside of it are stunning, however.

Have a great ride.
 

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The comments about Pigeon Forge [and Gatlinburg] have rung true with me, too. The Smokies just outside of it are stunning, however.
I agree completely. I don't live all that far away and those two towns are two I go out of my way to stay away from. Tourist traps.
 
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