After leaving Maggie Valley, I headed west towards Tellico Plains to begin my route on the “Trans-America Trail.” At some point along the ride I had an epiphany and realized I had been incorrectly referring to the route as the “Trans-American” trail for about 2 years and 3 months and 4.5 days. I am sure it was the ark inspiring rains that accompanied me through the Smoky Mountains that jogged my brain. Eventually the rains let up and I found myself on the Tennessee side of the Dragon. I ran it up to Deals Gap just in time to miss two sportbikes that decided to give off-road riding a shot. The riders had already been carted away but the carnage in the woods remained, a not-so-subtle reminder of the importance of riding safe.
Like so many other riders this weekend I did my best to look fast as I rode by KillBoy and US129Photos. Thank goodness they are taking stills and not video—it makes my 18-mile-an-hour turns look positively epic! When I reached Deals Gap I had just enough time to buy a sticker and head back toward Friendsville, TN. If you can’t find helpful people in Friendsville where can you go? Right?
A quick aside: I was heading to the small town of Friendsville because my wife Beth made the connection for me. She exchanged emails and calls with Megan of Dual Sport Touring, while I was busy in Maggie Valley. Thankfully DST was willing to meet up and help me with some needed service on a Monday! (To be clear, by help, I mean I marveled at co-owner Francois’ talents while enjoying a coke and cheering him on with his friend Mack!)
Amazingly I had “bumped into” Francois days earlier at a gas stop. My Maggie Valley tour group and I rolled in minutes after he did. Never meeting or even speaking before – he recognized my bike from my wife’s description. Ah the universe is a strange and wonderful place. We shook hands and laughed at the amazing coincidence. Thankfully for me, Francois and Megan have a pay it forward approach when it comes to helping traveling riders; instilled in them when they received similar treatment years earlier on a ride. Being willing to help a traveler on an off day is definitely good Karma!
I enjoyed meeting them so much I contemplated staying an extra day when they suggested I consider attending the monthly Time Warp Tea Room Vintage Motorcycle Club gathering. It turns out this is the very place where Francois and Megan were married, Francois was even sporting his SIDI boots in place of the “traditional” black patent leathers. The deal was later sealed as I was walking to dinner in Knoxville and struck up a conversation with a rider named Keith, who was enjoying a beverage next to his Honda Saber turned army bike. He too mentioned the event. That was it. I was in! Once again the universe had a plan—and I was on board!
To be continued . . .
Originally posted in my RoadRunner Magazine Column as: Dual Sport Riders Guide to the Galaxy
Click here to read this and other posts on my official Adventure Hermit Column at RoadRunner.travel