Saturday, May 05, 2007

Every cloud has a silver lining.........

We were supposed to be in Maggie Valley tonight. We aren't. More on that later.

It was cloudy, cool, damp and foggy this morning in Wytheville. The radar showed rain SW of Asheville, moving NE. That wasn't good. We had breakfast in the hotel restaurant and Slammer called to warn us about bad weather on his end, with a forecast of clearing in the afternoon. He suggested we avoid the Parkway. We agreed, put on weather gear, and headed down I-81.

The pavement was dry and we made good time. Saw a State Trooper in an unmarked Dodge Charger with all the hidden lights blinking as he ticketed an unsuspecting driver. In Abingdon, we got off and headed south on SR75. As we crossed the Tennessee state line, it started to rain. We stopped at Darter's Store at US421. This was where we wanted to go up 421 east to check out the road VROCer VT told me they call The Snake, but the roads were now wet and we opted to head directly to Johnson City via Bristol Motor Speedway. The road dried again, but a sign at BMS said all drag racing had been cancelled due to rain.

In Johnson City, we stopped at Perkins for coffee and pie. Then we headed south on I-26 towards North Carolina under a sky that didn't know what it wanted to do. There was just enough rain that I had to keep my visor down. We stopped briefly at the lookout at the summit, where I took a picture of Leo and John, and then crossed into NC and started down past the site of the infamous drag chute episode of 2005.

Past Asheville, I phoned Slammer and told him we were inbound to Lake Lure where we were meeting him for lunch. As we approached the start of the twisties, we came up on a slow moving Sienna van but didn't have time to get by. After a few turns at 20 MPH, there was a stretch long enough to pass and then we had a spirited ride up over the Eastern Continental Divide and down past Bat Cave and Chimney Rock to the Margarita Grill in Lake Lure.

Jerry was waiting for us. Apparently he had just gotten there. We had lunch, told some tales and had a good visit. After lunch, we found the dry roads had been cancelled and it was now raining more seriously. Another morning forecast shot to hell. The picture shows Jerry, Leo and John on the deck as we prepared to set out. for Hendersonville and Maggie Valley.

Leaving LL on soaked pavement and steady rain, we went back to Bat Cave and turned south on US 64 towards Hendersonville. Once there we abandoned plans to take the back roads to Maggie and were heading for the I-26 ramp when John's rear tire went flat. We pulled into a gas station and the older gentleman attendant told us we could park under the awning. A 4" spike had gone through the tread and come out the sidewall (see picture). This was not repairable. James, the attendant, got us a phone book and the company phone. We found that at 2:30 on a Saturday afternoon, all the bike shops in Hendersonville were closed.

At this point, our first angel of the day appeared. Enter Johnny Johnson of Hendersonville who was filling his small SUV with gas. He came over to see what was up and told us the he had a trailer. He also said the Honda shop would be open tomorrow since they were 7th Day Adventists. He could haul the bike to the dealership or a motel. Johnny headed off to get his trailer and I went to find a motel room. There was a Days Inn near the Honda shop so I got a room and called to cancel Maggie Valley. As I was finishing, Leo pulled up and said they had found someone who had a tire and would change it right away. He thought we could still make MV, but I decided that we would stay here regardless.

Back at the gas station, Johnny arrived with the trailer. He was the one who had found the tire changer. Turns out it was right next to the Days Inn. Justice Cycle, a little shop, was closed but Johnny had called CJ at home and he said he'd come in. While we waited, John took the wheel off the Beemer. CJ and his wife Marie (they've had this shop since 1965) arrived. This little shop has a huge inventory of tires. In the picture, Johnny is standing in front of about 1/3rd of the tires in stock. They had an Avon made for the GS and it was on sale. It took CJ no time at all to get it mounted and balanced. After paying them, John struggled a bit before getting the wheel back on the bike, but it went.

CJ and Marie, our other angels, said goodbye and headed home. Johnny refused any payment so I gave him my card and told him that if he was ever in Ontario to look me up. I also invited him to stop by Kickstand Lodge in June when we are going to be down there again.

Note to anyone passing through Hendersonville. Justice Cycle is at 137 Orrs Camp Rd, right near the US 64/I-26 junction. They are good people.

Back at the Days Inn, we unpacked and then wandered down to the Pizza Hut for sandwiches. Back in the room, we're watching a rain delayed NASCAR race and I'm blogging this.

If the weather is good tomorrow, we'll head out US 64, up US 276 and across the Parkway to US 19 near Maggie Valley. Then we'll head across US 19 and up US 28 to KSL to say hi. Then across the Cherohala Skyway to Tellicoe Plains, Tennessee and straight south to Woodstock, Georgia. If the weather sucks, we'll take a more direct route. Whatever happens, we have to be in Woodstock tomorrow night.

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