North Carolina Mountains

Text: Chris Myers • Photography: Chris Myers

In my younger, more impetuous days, my old buddy Rich and I were known for embarking on road trips that often defied logic in their timing and execution. Never sticklers for details, we'd throw caution to the wind and, on a whim, hit the road with reckless abandon. Not all of our sojourns were great successes, but none could ever be considered complete failures. No matter the situation, Rich's indefatigable spirit of exploration always carried the day. Even when the chips were down and things looked bad, he'd simply smile and say, "Where's your sense of adventure?

Although Rich is gone, I like to think I carry a bit of his intrepid spirit with me every time I set off on another journey. As I'm securing the Givi Arrow bags to the bike for this latest assignment, I can't help smiling, knowing that Rich would be particularly proud. I'm about to leave on a three-day tour of North Carolina's mountains, hopscotching from one quaint mountain town to the next. It's a dream ride in most respects, but my mount this time out happens to be a 1972 Triumph Bonneville. I can attest to some experience with these early Brit bikes, and to say they can be temperamental is an understatement. The machine's notorious Lucas electronics are the butt of numerous jokes: Why do the British drink warm beer? Because Lucas makes the refrigerators. And never ride your old Triumph further than your buddy is willing to drive his truck.

A quick tickle of the Amal carburetors and three stout jabs at the kickstarter have me on my way. My first few rides on a real street bike were aboard an early seventies Triumph. Pleasant memories of high school and carefree romps about the Southern Maryland countryside come rushing back as the rpm rise from gear to gear creating a glorious din of ordered mechanical clatter singing in perfect harmony with the raw-boned, staccato exhaust note. You'd be hard-pressed to convince me that it gets any better than this.

Old Favorites and a Classic Ride
By lunchtime I've reached Black Mountain, home to numerous artists and craftspeople as well as Super Bowl champion quarterback Brad Johnson. Having spent a few years just up the road in Asheville, Kathy and I regularly rode to Black Mountain to explore the many galleries and antique shops and to lunch at one of the best pizza joints around, My Father's Pizza. Much to my dismay, they chose this particular Tuesday to close for renovations - just my luck. I walk down the street and have a tasty bowl of chili at Peppers, a restaurant decorated in all things Dr. Pepper. I stuck with mountain tap-water though. After all, it was past ten, not yet two, and well before four.

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For the complete touring article, including facts & information, map(s), and GPS files, please purchase the September/October 2006 back issue.