RoadRUNNER’s 7th Annual Touring Weekend began with a festive atmosphere as riders from near and far gathered for four days of riding, celebration, and music. Wednesday night’s welcome dinner under the big tent led into bluegrass band Buncombe Turnpike playing into the night. As the band played, old friends got reacquainted; couples danced, and new friendships were begun, with a little help from the Craft Beer tent.
Thursday morning started out with a presentation of vintage Harley-Davidson motorcycles from Wheels Through Time museum founder Dale Walksler. Though the forecast for rain proved all too accurate, many people went out riding anyway, taking the unguided Photo Scavenger Hunt tour up to Deal’s Gap and earning a free tire repair kit in the process. After dinner, Thursday night wrapped up with a very timely seminar on group riding from Stayin’ Safe instructor Eric Trow.
Friday, the real fun began. Though the now all too familiar rain clouds were still present, the tour groups formed as planned. With riders grouped according to different riding styles including sport, leisure, touring, and dual sport, the groups headed out in ten minute intervals from 8-9 a.m. Each group followed one of three guided tour routes, the 230-mile northern loop, the 184-mile southern loop, or the 54-mile dual sport loop. Each route offered its own unique blend of curves, scenic views, and landmarks. Near the halfway point of the southern loop, Bridal Veil Falls offered riders the rare chance to ride under a waterfall. Along the northern loop, the summit of Mt. Mitchell, the highest peak east of the Mississippi river, displayed unmatched views of the surrounding Appalachian Mountains. By lunchtime, most of the rain was gone though the sky remained overcast for much of the day. In spite of their wetness, the roads were in amazing condition with few tar snakes and only a moderate amount of rain-washed gravel.
Back at the Maggie Valley Festival grounds, everyone sat back, relaxed, and laughed as John Flores gave a completely farcical presentation on motorcycle camping concluding (jokingly) that it shouldn’t be done, ever. After a presentation from Stayin’ Safe coach Pete Tamblyn on mentoring new riders, it was time for some more music as classic rock cover band Two Old Guys took the stage. With a great mix of fast and slow songs the Old Guys kept the party going late into the night, and even coaxed a few dancers onto the floor.
Saturday’s ride began just like the one before it, wet and rainy, but by mid-morning, the sun was peaking out in between the shifting clouds. Though the rain made a brief reappearance around lunchtime, it stayed away for the remainder of the day. The riding groups switched up routes so if they’d ridden the southern route on Friday, they road the northern route Saturday and vice versa. With the sun out, the visibility increased dramatically allowing the full splendor of the roads and mountains to be seen for the first time.
That night back in the tent, everyone enjoyed a hearty steak dinner while talking, laughing, and rehashing the weekend’s rides. Motorcycle Bingo rounded out the evening with tons of prizes and even more laughs. All in all, it was an amazing weekend with truly memorable rides, many faces old and new, and a sense of camaraderie and closeness with like-minded motorcyclists no amount of rain could take away.