300 Miles for a Beer

The text came in on Friday: Meet Saturday morning, 10:30am for the first long ride of the season.

Well, it would be the first long ride for me, anyway.  Lots of travel, civic events, and weather have kept me off the bike for other than short trips, and I was determined to devote at least one day of the weekend to riding.

It was a beautiful day for the bike, and our destination was Devil’s Backbone Brewing Company in Lexington, Va.  We rode through multiple counties and across several mountain passes.  Lots of curves and twisties which made for fun riding.  We didn’t stop for photo opportunities along the way, so I’m sharing this photo from a similar ride in 2011.

I was able to pull out the camera at the brewery, though.

I crawled underneath the tower to capture this one.

And a friend took these as I climbed part way up the tower.  I was nervous about going further, not because of the height but because I didn’t want to get fussed at.

Devil’s Backbone Brewery has 2 locations and the one in Lexington is called the Outpost. According to the website, the Outpost “houses our custom built brewery featuring a 120bbl Rolec Brewing system, SBC bottling and canning lines and Tap Room” (I have no idea what those brewery terms mean).  “You can belly up to the bar in the Tap Room for a pint or sampler flight seven days a week”

“or bring some of your favorite local food and have a picnic in our bier garden out back”.

It was a great day on the bike AND I got to wear my new Women’s March hoodie.  Yep! I’m a feminist bike chick and proud of it.

300 miles later, I was home in time to watch my Gonzaga Bulldogs win their Elite Eight match up with West Virginia, which sent them to their first Final Four in school history!

The riding season has officially begun.

It’s also March Madness and this basketball loving biker is happy.

The Perfect Recipe

The photos and stories from my trip to Atlanta are not quite ready for prime time posting, but the photos from an incredible day on the motorcycle are.  It was the perfect recipe for a day ride: great weather, good roads, and wonderful friends.


This past Sunday I rode a little over 200 miles through the back roads of Virginia and North Carolina with three of my favs.


We also spent some time on the Blue Ridge Parkway (BRP) which offers wide sweeping curves and great views.  The BRP which is America’s longest linear park, runs for 469 miles (755 km) through 29 Virginia and North Carolina counties, mostly along the Blue Ridge, a major mountain chain that is part of the Appalachian Mountains.




The BRP celebrated it’s 75th Anniversary in 2010 and while I do not know for sure, I believe these stone walls have been around since the parkway was constructed.


 You may remember that I celebrated my 50th birthday that same year with a solo ride on the BRP, the first of several solo rides.

 5 Days / 3 States / 925 Miles.

You can see photos from that incredible trip here and here.

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Despite the various stops along the way, which offer the chance to bring out the camera, it is the riding that makes the day so great.  The bike and I rolled smoothly over the miles, and we flowed through the curves with ease.  I was completely content.


Seriously, wouldn’t you be?

Riding on International Female Ride Day

In it’s 10th year, International Female Ride Day (IFRD) is a one-day, globally synchronized ride exclusively for women motorcyclists.


Having found out about IFRD too late to organize a group ride, I was none the less determined to get on the bike.  Okay, let’s be honest.  I was determined to get on the bike even if it wasn’t International Female Ride Day.


I met Dave and Michael, two of my favorite biker buds who I’ve written about before, at 11 on Saturday morning.


We flirted with rain all day but stayed dry, and thankfully so, as the roads we took were full of fun curves and twists.


We stopped at Big Walker Lookout, a 100 ft observation tower on top of Big Walker Mountain.


Built in 1947, the tower offers great views of mountain peaks in 5 surrounding states.



 It costs $6 to climb to the top, and while I’ve made the climb in the past, today we enjoyed the views from the bottom.



In addition to the observation tower, there’s a General Store, a swinging bridge, and this collection of old license plates.


At one point during the day, we got caught at a railroad crossing.  This building caught my attention and I literally ran back, huffing and puffing in my helmet and boots, to take a photo while waiting for the train to pass.  I managed to take a quick shot, but had no time to gather any history, as the crossing bars started to rise signaling that it was time to ride on.


My friend Karen gave me an action camera, similar to a Go Pro, and I cannot wait to start using it.  If I’d been riding alone, I would have stopped far too often for photos.  Since Dave and Michael like to keep on riding, the action camera will allow for some fun shots and video without having to stop so often.


As always, we finished the ride with a cold beer, a great meal, and the chance to make a new Gravatar.


I’ve already marked my calendar for the 2017 International Female Ride Day, and if I get my act together, I’ll try to organize a ride.  Until then, here’s a bit more information about IFRD.

The guiding principles of IFRD are:

  1. Freedom – women are encouraged to participate and enjoy the day in any manner they choose.  Just Ride!
  2. Brandless – the event is not to be taken over by any one motorcycle, manufacturer brand, product, or country.  The idea is to UNITE not exclude
  3. One Fixed Date – IFRD occurs on the first Saturday of May every year.
  4. Open Good Will – to not impose on any rider, group, or club’s charity purpose.

Thunder Ridge

The Blue Ridge Parkway (BRP) is a 469 mile drive that connects the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in North Carolina and the Shenandoah National Park in Virginia, and I’ve ridden every one of those miles on the bike.  In fact, I took my first solo ride on the BRP, celebrating my 50th Birthday, 4 years, and 2 cameras, ago. You can read about that ride here and here if you’d like.

Even though I’ve ridden on the BRP many times, I still see something new with each visit.


 Yesterday’s 230 mile ride, part of which was on the BRP, included a stop at Thunder Ridge, at Milepost 75.



A very short hike reveals a view of the Allegheny Mountains and Arnold’s Valley, elevation 3485 ft.


The view made me think of a blanket made of mountains.


We stood there admiring this incredible view, feeling the sun on our faces while the wind blew with gusto, and then took the trail back to the bikes.


What an incredible gift it is to live right near the Blue Ridge Parkway.

“Celebrating its 75th anniversary in 2010, the Blue Ridge Parkway is a product of the New Deal’s efforts to provide jobs to the unemployed of the Great Depression. Construction began in September 1935 at Cumberland Knob near the North Carolina and Virginia state line.

The idea was to create a link between the Shenandoah National Park to the edge of the Great Smoky Mountain National Park. Completed in 1983, the Parkway’s history has been highlighted by documentarian Ken Burns in the six-part “The National Parks: America’s Best Idea” series originally aired on PBS”.

Breaks Interstate Park – Virginia and Kentucky

Despite the fact that every weather report called for extensive rain, I was ready to ride!  My goal for this ride, my first trip on the bike since the wreck 10 months ago, was to take my time, enjoy the adventure, and have a completely different outcome from the last one.  To say the least, I was excited!

The destination for this, the first day, was Breaks Interstate Park, a park shared by the states of Virginia and Kentucky.


I took a chance and kept my rain gear packed in the saddle bags and hit the road.  The day was overcast and just a little cool … in essence, a perfect day to ride.   As I got closer to the park the roads became curvier and the traffic became more sparse.  About four hours later and just a few miles before entering the park, I stopped at Mill Rock Point Overlook.  A short 65 yard hike, and I was taking my first photos of the trip!


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Shortly after that, I entered what is known as the “Grand Canyon of the South”.  200 million years ago the area was covered by a vast inland sea.  Once the sea receded, the river that is now known as Russell Fork began the work of carving out an immense gorge, renowned as the largest east of the Mississippi.

I rode straight to the Visitors Center, and was immediately distracted by this historic log cabin.


It was while chatting with the woman at the Visitors Center, and hoping to quench my thirst, that I realized my first error in planning.  There would be no traditional end of the day beer as there areNO ALCOHOL sales in the park!  Ah well, at least I was able to enjoy a cold ice cream cone!

The park has several trails and I set off to hike a few of them.  Most were less than a mile and all of them led to various views of the 5 mile gorge.



These images look similar but the clouds kept changing and I could not stop shooting!


It was 6 oclock in the evening and I met no one else on the trails and saw no one at the overlooks.  Perfect!


From this vantage point, I was standing in Virginia and looking at both Kentucky and Virginia.

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All I could hear was the sound of the river, the train, and hawks flying around overhead.


I had to chuckle as I came upon this sign and of course, ventured beyond.

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After several hours of riding and a few hours of hiking, it was time to head to the lodge for supper.  While I had to settle for unsweet iced tea, I thoroughly enjoyed the restaurant’s specialty of brown beans and cornbread.  Time on the deck was the only dessert that I needed.

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With the bike parked right outside my room, I settled in for the night.  I managed to escape the rain this day, but I knew that there was a good chance I’d be riding in the rain soon.


Next Post: Onward into Kentucky

Women Riders

A friend of mine was the focus of a Women Riders segment produced by one of our regional television stations.  Missy and her husband own an indepedent motorcycle shop, and Missy, who has been riding for years, invited several women to come ride with her and help put the spotlight on women who ride.

It’s been 6 months since my wreck and unfortunately, I am still a rider without a bike (although not for much longer!).

Thankfully, I was able to indulge in another passion of mine.

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I’ll be posting more photos soon, but meanwhile remember this:



The Last Ride … For Now. The Great Smoky Mountains!

October 18th dawned clear and cloudy with temperatures in the 40s.  Not one to typically wear leathers, I’d borrowed my friend Martha’s chaps in anticipation of a cold ride.  I pulled out of my driveway at 8am, excited about my 4 day ride on the bike.  The plan was to spend alot of time with my camera and also with friends along the way.

Little did I know when I posted to my blog that morning, that the trip would end the way it did.

The ride from my home to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park (GSMNP) typically takes about 4 to 5 hours.  I rode the interstate for the first three hours and had to pull over 3 times just to warm my hands and feet.  By 10am though, the fog was gone, the sun was shining, and I was much more comfortable.

My first glimpse of the Smoky Mountains was so exciting and of course, I just had to pull over.  The tops of the mountains were hidden by the clouds and I couldn’t wait to get there!



Before entering the park, the main drag through the City of Galtinburg has to be conquered. I wish I had a photo to share, but I was not about to try to find a place to park just to photograph the crowds of people walking and driving up and down the street.

Clearly, I had not done my homework.  I would be entering the most visited National Park in the United States during the most visited weekend of the year – “peak weekend” for fall leaf color.

Oh my …

I successfully navigated Gatlinburg and entered the GSMNP.  It was a beautiful day, and I prepared myself for a fairly crowded, bumper to bumper ride.


My first stop was the Sugarlands Visitors Center for the purchase of a helmet sticker.


I love to sticker up my helmet. It serves as a fun record of many of the places that I’ve visited on the bike.


Then, it was off to enjoy the ride.


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I overheard someone complaining that the colors weren’t as pretty as in the past.  Really?  I was just so happy to be riding through these gorgeous mountains.





I kept stopping along the road and would laugh out loud with the pure happiness of being there.  You’ve seen my photos of the park in B&W, but the landscape was stunning in color, too.

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Despite the crowds, I thoroughly enjoyed the ride.

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For those who are planning a visit, know that most of the crowd action is between Gatlinburg and Newfound Gap.  It seems that most people drive up from the city, and then turn around and go back down.  Once over the Gap, I kept on going, and I felt as if I had the road to myself.  The sweeping curves made for wonderful riding and I was oh, so happy.  Of course, I still continued to stop.

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The ride over the mountain from Gatlinburg, TN to Cherokee, NC is only 35 miles, but it took me a few hours because of the many stops that I made.  One day allows you to see just a tiny fraction of the park.  My friends, Sheila and John, have been hiking the trails in the park, over many visits and several years. This visit, for me, was just a small introduction.

An hour and a half later, I was in Weaverville, NC with my friends Delores and Gary, enjoying a delicious dinner after watching a lovely sunset.  It was an amazing 350 mile day!

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The next morning I hit the road to visit with more friends, this time in Flat Rock, NC.  Gary took the last picture of me on my beloved 2013 Softail Slim.  6500 miles, no drops, no pipe burns … just one big wreck.


Donna, Joanne, Janet, and I enjoyed a wonderful lunch in Hendersonville, NC and after several laughter filled minutes of getting me back into my borrowed chaps, we posed for a photo … the last photo of my original smile.  I rode along some beautiful roads, intending to meet up with my friend Christine and her family in Boone, NC.


Who knew that just 3 hours later, I would be in a bike wreck, hit while riding through an intersection.  Thank goodness for DOT approved helmets, good fortune, amazing family, and wonderful friends!  The bike is totaled, but I am not.  I am healing from my injuries and hope to return to work in a week. I have much to process emotionally, and the wreck has caused pain, tears, time away from my patients and several life changes, but for now …

I am grateful to be alive.

And I will ride again.