Back in RoadRUNNER’s August 2014 issue we introduced our Budget Touring Project Bike. The goal was to prove how affordable motorcycle touring can be by purchasing the cheapest road worthy motorcycle we could find and take it on tour. We bought a 1984 Honda Shadow 700 for $ 1,000 and spent less than $ 500 getting it ready for touring duty. To see how well our budget bike accomplished its mission, I decided to ride it for a long day trip from my hometown of Winston-Salem, NC, deep into the Appalachian Mountains.
Down the Parkway
It's a bright, clear summer morning when I roll the old Honda out of the garage. After fiddling with the choke and a couple stabs of the start button, the little V-twin rumbles to life, though it doesn't seem too happy about being disturbed so early in the morning. As I follow 67 West through the small towns of East Bend, Boonville, and Elkin, I start to get familiar with this bargain touring machine. The Shadow is older than I am, and it certainly hasn't made it this far without picking up a few quirks along the way. With a side panel or two missing, this Honda's not going to win any beauty contests, but after its initial reluctance to start, the bike's running just fine. I'm aiming for the Blue Ridge Parkway (BRP) and enjoying some curves along 21 as I pass side roads with names like Railroad Grade and Raccoon Holler.
By the time I hit the Blue Ridge, I'm already impressed with how comfortable the small bike is. The seat, though quite squishy, isn't bothering me at all. The seating position is nicely upright, and highway pegs give me the option to stretch out my legs. The only troublesome thing I notice is that the rear brake is nearly non-existent, even though we replaced the shoes for the Project Bike article. I make a mental note to tighten the linkage when I get home.
Motorcycle & Gear
It's a perfect riding day in the mountains of North Carolina. The sun is shining, and the sky is filled with thin wisps of cloud. The sun climbs higher, and so do I, keeping the temperature hovering around 70 degrees. Winding down the Blue Ridge, a new breathtaking view unfolds every mile or two with convenient turnouts to stop and soak it all in.
Once a Mountaineer…
My destination for the day is Boone, NC, home to Appalachian State University, which happens to be my alma mater. During my time as a student, I came to love the town and all that the surrounding area affords. Its proximity to fantastic motorcycling roads, like the Parkway, and the stunning beauty of the Appalachian Mountains have kept me coming back ever since. But for now, I've still got a ways to go.
I continue south on the Blue Ridge past the exits for Boone and Blowing Rock before stopping at the Moses H. Cone Memorial Park. The park's namesake, Moses Cone, was an innovator and entrepreneur in the textile industry that was crucial to the state's economy during the early part of the 20th century. The park centers around Cone's former residence, 13,000-square-foot Flat Top Manor. Today, the Colonial Revival style mansion houses the Parkway Craft Center where local artists and craftsmen sell their wares. Hiking trails and horse paths surround the manor with a small group on horseback trotting by me as I take a break from the road. The Flat Top's large front porch extends yet another expansive mountain view with one of the property's bass and trout stocked lakes taking center stage.