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Sport Touring Corner

By Norm Kern

The Big Lynn Lodge is located on a mountain ridge next to the Blue Ridge Parkway, a few miles south of Spruce Pine, North Carolina. It’s one of the most beautiful settings you’ll find for a motorcycle rally, and there are fantastic roads in every direction from the doorstep of the lodge. I attend the MSTA rally there every July, riding down through the back roads of Kentucky and Tennessee on Thursday, riding rally routes on Friday and Saturday and returning home on Sunday.

This year my friend Dan Steinberg, who recently moved to the area from Chicago, led the Friday ride. Dan’s friends from Chicago, some locals and I made up a group of ten for the day’s ride. That’s a larger group than I would normally like, but they are all expert riders and Dan is an exceptional ride leader.  He took us on many of his favorite back roads few people know about.

Dan likes regular breaks, and one of them included the unique Mast Store near Boone, NC. Lunch was at the Farmers Barbecue and Grill in Mountain City, TN. After lunch we continued Northwest and rode through Shady Valley on US421, also known as The Snake. Near South Houston Lake, we turned around, rode back down US421 toward Boone. then US19E to Spruce Pine. I got back in time to get a quick shower and help attendees load routes into their GPS.

The lodge has a nice dining room, with breakfast and dinner included in your stay. After dinner I had booked an appointment with expert masseuse Anne-Marie LaFrance, who comes to the lodge each year to work out the aches and pains of event attendees. Anne-Marie also attends and works my FlyBy Week rally in Marietta, Ohio, the last week of August and loves to work with our riders. She says, “Everyone has a problem they can use help with- it’s a target rich environment!”

After the massage, I was able to enjoy some adult beverages and listen to Almost Vintage, a rock and blues band that performed a couple sets out on the back porch.

My friend Jonathan Rader had arrived about noon on Friday, after getting a nail in his tire on the way down Thursday, forcing him to spend the night in Kingsport, TN. He missed the Friday ride, so he was 100% ready to go for a full day on Saturday, when we were joined by MSTA STAReview magazine layout guru Chris Parker from South Carolina.

Thunderstorms were predicted for the afternoon, which is typical for Summer mountain weather. Looking at radar and get-there-dry.com, we chose the 200 mile Southwest loop to avoid them. The morning leg took us on lots of back roads and mountainous terrain, including the steep climb on Green River Cove road, which has fifteen switchbacks in one and a half miles. This was very challenging, as there was oncoming traffic that made the blind corners very difficult.

The lunch stop was at Green River Barbecue in Saluda, NC, where I enjoyed a tasty pulled pork sandwich. After lunch we caught up with a thunderstorm just East of Hendersonville. Looking on the Garmin GPS weather radar display, I thought we could get around it by detouring Northwest, which we did for about eight miles, then turning Northeast to get back on our route. I should not have turned quite so soon, but we lucked out and just got sprinkled on. 

Eventually our route took us North of I40 and onto NC80, where we had a fun run up to the Blue Ridge Parkway. From there it was about twelve miles on the parkway back to the lodge. It clouded up and sprinkled on us a few times on the parkway, which was not a problem. Rather than get off and go straight to the lodge, we decided to go to the next exit and down the hill to Walmart to get gas so we could start home Sunday with a full tank. Jonathan and I got hit with a strong thunderstorm while in the gas station. It lasted about ten minutes and we left for the lodge when it let up. By the time we got most of the way back up the hill to the parkway the pavement was dry and the sun was out. It was that kind of a day!

Saturday evening was dinner, social time and a good night’s sleep to get ready for Sunday’s ride home. Jonathan and I took back roads to I26 and got through Johnson City and Kingsport, TN, taking US and state routes through Virginia and into Kentucky. Virginia dumped a few brief showers on us but the roads dried out by the time we hit Kentucky. There our route passed through Pikeville and Prestonsburg, where Jonathan split off onto US119, eventually picking up US23 to get back to Pataskala, Ohio. I passed through Morehead, crossed into Ohio at Maysville, rode OH763 and my favorite network of back roads to arrive home at Dayton, Ohio, about 5PM. Another fun trip!

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Don’t miss FlyBy Week August 23-29 at Marietta, Ohio. Registrations are coming in fast and the hotels are filling up so make your plans now. https://flybyweek.com/ 

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Connect with local Ohio Motorcycle Sport Touring Association riders at these monthly breakfasts:

Southwest Ohio Breakfast, 9AM, June 19

Village Family Restaurant
144 S. Main St.
Waynesville, OH 45068


Central Ohio Breakfast, 8AM, July 4

Portside Cafe
6515 S High St
Lockbourne, OH 43137

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