The Three Amigos Motorcycle Trip


June, 2008



Somewhere on the Blue Ridge Parkway


Sometime in early 2008, I decided to travel to a motorcycle rally being held in June, located in Elkins, West Virginia.  As I formed my plans, I asked a few friends if they would like to come along.  Most could not commit that far out, but two guys were making the right noises, and as the date approached, they committed.  So our cast of characters is:




Me.  You know enough about me already.



If you have read my past journals, you already know Bill.  We met in the fall of 2006, in a café in Tennessee, where we discovered that we had been living a few miles from each other for the last 15 years.  Since then, we have become friends and brothers.  We often reflect on what a fortunate event it was for us to meet on that fall day in Tennessee.




I came to know Marc thru Bill, as they work together.  He is an engineer by trade, father of a young family, an accomplished musician, and insanely funny.  When I met Bill, he and Marc both owned 600 class sport bikes, and were track-day regulars.  But as we got to know each other, the touring bug bit them, hard.  Bill already had an excellent tourer, a BMW 1150 RT.  Marc, however, had his sportbike and a garage full of dirt bikes.  He became interested in the V-Strom, rode mine, did his research, and in a flash, sold his R6 and picked up a clean used Strom for a song.  He was ready to go into adventure-touring full force.



Both Bill and Marc are accomplished riders, yet neither of them had ever ridden the long days that are the staple of a moto-tourer.  Our favorite riding grounds are the Smoky Mountains, over 400 miles away.  Over the years, they had ridden the same areas that I had, but usually had trailered their bikes into the mountains.  They seemed puzzled that I would even consider riding the long, boring, three-state slog to the Smokies.   They both peppered me with questions about staying comfortable and safe while riding big miles.  They cruised Internet forums and the Aerostitch catalog, soaking up information and gear.  Then one day, Bill said to me "It's done.  I have decided.  No more trailering.  My next bike trip will start in the driveway".

He had joined the dark side.  Marc soon followed.

Somewhere along the way, Mom mentioned that she would be in her timeshare condo in Sapphire, NC, around the same time that I planned to be in the area.  She was considering taking her new trike up, for it’s first long voyage.  It would be good to visit her, so we worked that into the planning.

As the day approached, my schedule got busy.  I had intended to take 10 days for this trip, leaving home by myself, going to the afore-mentioned rally, then meeting up with Bill and Marc for the ride home.  But other commitments were pressing down on me, and I decided that I needed to cut the trip short, and the best way to do so would be to limit how far north I went.  I cancelled my hotel reservations for the rally and trimmed my trip to one week.  I would leave with Marc, and Bill would join us a few days afterwards.

Marc wrote most of the narrative for this trip.  All of his words will be in black, Bills will be in red, and mine will be in green...that should make it a bit easier for your to keep track of who is writing!


Marc writes:

Not a run-of-the mill bike trip for me -- this trip was a first.  I'd be heading out from my driveway; actually riding the bike, with all the gear I'd need for the trip.  No car, no trailer, no strapped-down bikes to monitor in the rear view mirror.  Nope.  None of that.  Previous bike trips meant loading up the trailers with supersport racing bikes and hauling them up to the Suches GA area.

Suches was, for a time, the closest point inside the "good area"; that area of the Appalachian mountains choked with beautiful and twisty roads.  With my YZF-R6, the options for heading up to the mountains were limited.  Either trailer up or plan on plenty of recovery time when you arrived at the foot of the Appalachians.  They are fun bikes, but not forgiving or comfortable.  Don't be confused, I'm not getting old.  Those bikes are just extreme.  Yeah.

Preparations for this trip started well in advance of my departure.  I was coming from the supersport world, geared up for track-days with things like EZ-Ups, fuel containers, extra tires, etc.   Now, I was up for a long distance adventure.  I needed some lightweight backpacking gear and road supplies to get me going.  I'd been car camping with my family for years but the 6 and 8-man tents would not do well here.  Right, then.  I had justifiable GAS (Gear Acquisition Syndrome).  REI half-dome tent, BigAgnes bag/pad, SeaLine dry bag, stove, tool-kit, tire repair, air compressor, rain gear, ... and on and on.  Oh, and the bike.  A 2006 DL650 V-Strom, bought used via craigslist from a nice man in Mobile AL.  My wife Connie took notice, to say the least, of repeated visits by the UPS man and after-dinner time spent in my shop playing with the stuff.  I had the ache for a ride, and it showed.