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The Big Adventure - Day 4


by Luc Brière ,

It's 9:30 am, the tank is full and today's ride promises to be very interesting.

The Blue Ridge Parkway may be traveled by riders from all over the world, but I have to say the indications are easy to miss, like this green road sign (about 12x36 inches) hidden by the surrounding trees which forced me to make a U-turn!

Cruise control is set at 75 km/h and I'm off for 380 miles (625 kilometres). The corners are not as sharp as yesterday's and I don't have to cancel cruise control, which allows me to appreciate the panorama even more. The road mainly runs through the woods and crosses some flat croplands where farmers are visibly busy harvesting hay. As I keep an eye on mileposts, I'm realizing that this journey will be a long one.

Funny how someone would set out to blaze such a unique path along the Appalachian summits. Commercial vehicles are not authorized, the 221 often runs parallel, plus it cost a king's ransom to build with all these artistic works along the way (like the multitude of tunnels) and maintenance is quite expensive, especially in the mountainside sections. What's more, there's no toll! The people who built this road are clearly passionate about touring and transportation. You wouldn't see that in Quebec!

Suddenly, two sportbikes fly by me. I did not have time to identify the first, but the Honda VFR trailing behind was easy to recognize with its characteristic tailpipes. Of course, I decided to follow them -- if there are patrol officers out there, well, at least we'll be three. These two jacks are almost riding "The Pace"... at 100 km/h. At that speed, the road takes on a whole new dimension. I had no problem staying on their tail except for some wobbles when negotiating blind corners. After a lengthy analysis, I realized that it was all my fault and not the bike's. I used my thighs to squeeze harder on the base of the tank and the problem disappeared. The fourth gear gave me all the torque I needed to keep pace.

The guys were riding pretty well -- actually, so was I -- braking before the corner and reapplying the throttle upon entering. This style of riding proves easier and especially safer when you don't know the road and you can't see beyond 50 meters ahead. When cornering, you have to stay closer to the road shoulder than the middle line because incoming Winnebagos tend to cross the line and, since long-range visibility is limited, you can avoid unpleasant consequences this way.

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