East TN Motorcycle Trip – Day 1

If you haven’t heard of it, March Moto Madness is great. It’s a weekend dual-sport rally in Tellico Plains, TN. It’s close to my favorite paved twisties and all sorts of forest service roads. This year, my buddy John Gabriel and I decided to head out to ride this weekend.

Day 1 – Wednesday, March 25th

We were planning on leaving Thursday and staying Thurday-Saturday…but the weather forecast showed that Wednesday was beautiful and Friday and Saturday would be cold. So we shifted our schedule up a day.

John "riding" at a gas station in Cookeville.

John “riding” at a gas station in Cookeville.

We loaded up the bikes on the trailer about 8:30. The V-Strom and Vulcan make odd traveling companions, but they fit together fairly well. The weight was a little too far back on the trailer, so we made fairly slow time. (I need to move up the second wheel chocks by about 8 inches before the next trip.) My max speed was about 65mph to avoid that awful fish-tailing wobble that an unbalanced trailer brings.

The trip to East TN was uneventful, but slow going. We had to make it through a wreck near Mount Juliet and two or three rolling pothole repair slowdowns.  John considered hopping on the back of the bike and just riding through traffic, but we weren’t sure the THP guys would find that as funny as we would…

We made it to the cabin a little after 4pm local time. Rather than camping at MMM, home base was Cherohala Mountain Trails Campground. As far as I’m concerned, it was about the perfect motorcycle campground.

2015-03-25 15.26.40I usually like to write more about the rides than the accommodations, but I’ve got to tell you about this place.

Now, your wife might not be impressed with the campgrounds; the cabins don’t have bathrooms, but it had the nicest, cleanest bathhouse I’ve ever used. Great fire pits, gazebo, creek. Really nice place.

He really caters to motorcycles, though. It had EVERYTHING a motorcyclist might need. Each cabin had a glove/boot dryer, a stone for the kickstand, racks to hang jackets, helmets…you name it. There was a bike washing station. He had special towels for cleaning up your bike.

2015-03-25 15.37.24Wayne (the owner) even lets his guests use his shop and tools to get some repairs! There was a little breakfast stuff in the morning, Wayne sold hamburgers and Philly cheese steaks in the evening. When we asked him about a fuel stop, he called the station to verify that they were open and what grades of fuel they had in stock. He had great advice on routes and weather.  I can’t recommend the place enough.

Once we got the bikes unloaded and got ourbearings, we decided we’d go hit our favorite roads first. We went back in town to the Skyway and took TN-360 North to TN-72 East to US-129 South. That’s where you pick up the Dragon’s Tail. Good ride with very little traffic. Took US-129 to the Cherohala Skyway back into Tellico. It definitely got a bit cool on top of the Skyway, but we got back into town just after sunset.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

We stopped at the Tellicafe for dinner. We didn’t realize it, but I think we walked in about 2 minutes after close. We got great service and the food was good….and they only looked like they were thinking about murdering us a little. Hopefully over-tipping was enough to keep them from slashing our tires that night.

John the Pyro

John the Pyro

Got back to the camp, built a nice bonfire, and headed in for the night. (Man, it’s nice staying in a place that had firewood, kindling, and a covered ring ready. This place was really cool!)

About 140 miles of riding on the day on my two favorite roads in the world. Weather was sunny and in the 70’s—can’t argue with that one bit!

I could tell that it had been way too long since I had ridden any distance. I slept better than I had in a while.

Day one was definitely a success! Stay tuned for day 2!

Day 1 Route

Day 1 Route