Shamrock Tour® - Bryson City, North Carolina

Text: Chris Myers • Photography: Chris Myers, Kathy Myers

Remember recess? It was every kid's refuge from the old three Rs. Fresh air and freedom reigned and rules were the exception. Unwinding was your sole responsibility and frolicsome fun ensued for no apparent reason. Most motorcyclists know how to get that feeling back and many of them head for the Western North Carolina Mountains to romp on the adult equivalents of those old childhood playgrounds.

Funny how some things never change. In the last few days before Kathy and I were scheduled to leave for our Shamrock Tour in Bryson City, North Carolina, the clocks ticked slower, the easiest chores were studies in tedium, and more than once I cursed the people who had the foresight to schedule their trips a week earlier. Then finally, after rabid bouts of intensive doodling, Internet noodling, and prolonged fits of grumbling and gnashing of teeth, the bell finally rings - and the calendar sets us free to speed west from Winston-Salem on the nimble Triumph Sprint ST, giddy with the excitement of having four days of moto-playtime.

The Skyway: A+

Our first day dawns a little chilly and a lot foggy. But having once lived an hour east of here in Asheville, we know this is a temporary situation and not the least bit uncommon in early May. We breakfast in the Fryemont Inn's restaurant and wait it out with an extra cup of coffee on our cabin's private balcony. By 9:00, pats of blue emerge and expand as the fog burns off and the Sprint's eager triple quickly barks to life. Within minutes we're motoring southwest on Route 19-74. By the time we reach the Nantahala Gorge, the blanket of haze has melted away, exposing a brilliant sky. We ride into the valley's dense tunnel of hardwoods, where the sunlight spilling through the thick boughs mottles the narrow two-lane road and shimmers off the roiling Nantahala River. This tributary is nationally recognized as one of the finest whitewater rafting areas in the United States. Numerous outfitters along the way offer adventure-soakers ample opportunity to grab a paddle and get a frosty mountain dousing. But from our point of view, even though the midmorning sun is hard at work, the cool temperatures are much more conducive to running asphalt rapids.

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For the complete touring article, including facts & information, map(s), and GPS files, please purchase the January/February 2009 back issue.