Destination: Blue Ridge Mountains | Motorcycle Travel
Blue Ridge Mountains via Motorcycles
Although the Appalachian Mountains don’t get the adulation of the larger Rocky Mountains and Sierra Nevada ranges to the west, the Blue Ridge Mountains still have a hold on American motorcyclists – imagination.
Consisting mostly of granite and limestone, the Blue Ridge Mountains have a rugged feel about them, and large oak and hickory forests add to the rustic charm.
Stretching over eight states from Pennsylvania in the north to Georgia in the south, the Blue Ride Mountains are home to the Tail of the Dragon (Deal’s Gap), a portion of US Highway 129 in Tennessee near the North Carolina border. Thanks to its proximity to Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the Tail is largely undeveloped and cross-traffic is minimized.
At one time, a reasonable 55 mph speed limit ruled the Tail of the Dragon, which is 11 miles long with 318 curves. However, it is now a stringently enforced 30 mph, making it more appropriate for cruisers than sport bikes. Fortunately, law enforcement presence, as well as tourist traffic, is diminished by riding off-season.
Another enticing ride is the Blue Ridge Parkway, a scenic highway that runs nearly 500 miles through the mountain range – between Shenandoah National Park in Virginia and Great Smoky Mountains National Park in North Carolina. Small towns are plentiful and endearing, just off the Parkway in many places, as well as larger towns, such as Asheville, in North Carolina.
Cross traffic is virtually unknown, though the speed limit is artificially low and double-yellow lines proliferate. Again, riding off-season is much more enticing.
Like the Tail of the Dragon, the Blue Ridge Parkway is a technical, yet relaxing, motorcycle riding experience, no matter your bike choice.
Blue Strada Tours is run by Bill Kniegge, renowned for his knowledge of the Blue Ridge Mountain riding areas. Based in North Carolina, Blue Strada Tours has immediate access to the best roads of the region. While the company offers mapped out tours for those who like to ride without a guide, Kniegge’s experience on these challenging roads can be considered essential.
Whether in a group up to 21 riders or a private tour, Blue Strada can customize the ride to suit the participants. Bringing your own bike is encouraged, though rental bikes from Harley-Davidsons, to sport bikes to adventure bikes can be rented locally (and Blue Strada has some secret unpaved roads for discovery that will take you deep into the forests).