Moravians settled land in North Carolina in 1766 and called it Salem. Just one mile north, Winston was founded as the county seat in 1849. In 1913, they merged to create Winston-Salem. R. J. Reynolds built his tobacco empire here, and many recall the cigarette brands Winston and Salem. The city has monikers like the Twin City and Camel City, but for me this is simply home.
Last year, I reviewed the RoadRUNNER archives and realized we’d never done a Shamrock Tour® out of my hometown. We probably didn’t want to play favorites. It is where I certainly ride the most. Just to be thorough, I rode each loop multiple times, accompanied by different riders, aboard a variety of motorcycles. The best of all, though? I did it during the workweek.
As a relatively short warm-up tour, we headed north along curvy backroads. Hwy 66 skirts the west side of Hanging Rock State Park. If you have time, short hikes and a lake await at the top. The roads in this area are technically challenging—you’re barely out of town and the road tightens already, demanding your full attention. I know them like the back of my hand, since it’s where my dad helped my brother and me hone our riding skills. I can still see him today, right there in front of me on his ‘97 Triumph Tiger, fixated on us through his mirrors, holding up his fingers indicating which gear we should be in.
In Virginia, we picked up Squirrel Spur Rd. It’s a short road ascending to the Blue Ridge Parkway, but the road surface is smooth, the road wide, and halfway up there’s a great picnic spot with far-reaching views. Most riders would choose to go north or south when arriving at the Blue Ridge Parkway, but I’m spoiled. I’ve been on the Parkway way too often. Now every chance I get, I explore all of the roads leading to the BRP, as well as the parallel roads. Keno Rd offers a glimpse of what life is like for those who call this area home.
Orchard Gap Rd unsurprisingly leads past apple orchards south to Mount Airy. This little town has really doubled down on Andy Griffith, but I didn’t grow up with the classic TV show, nor have I seen even one episode. So, unfortunately, all that humdrum is lost on me, but I still enjoyed the short Main St to get some lunch and watch people stroll by.
With plenty of time left, we embarked on the fun ride up to Pilot Mountain. I’ve spent many weekends here with my wife and two boys hiking around the pinnacle. On a clear day, you can easily spot Winston-Salem’s skyline.