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Looking for advice on NC / TN in late March


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Hey folks:

So I’m planning a trip south during the last week in March – first week in April. My father and step-mother recently moved to Gainesville, FL from Chapel Hill, NC, so the plan is to go visit them for a bit. I’ve managed to get roughly 2 weeks off for the trip and so far, this is what I’m thinking. I will leave CT on March 22.


1. First day will be slab from CT to Charlottesville, VA. My wife and I will be moving here in less than a year so I’m going to stop by and stay with a couple friends. This will either be a 1-2 day stay, depending on how good the next step starts to look.


2. The next leg will be to take the BRP south into Asheville. I know it’s still a little early in the season, but I’d like to camp somewhere in the western part of NC, preferably somewhere close to good riding. As long is there is no snow, I’m okay with my winter gear. I have only done a quick fly-through of this part of the BRP and I’ve never been to Deal’s Gap or some of the other coveted roads in Eastern TN. Any input on this part would be great. I have 2 days here as long as I camp.


3. From the Asheville area, I’m going to head to Oxford, GA to stay with some friends. They just had twins so I’m planning on a nice, quite and relaxing stop… dopeslap.gif probably one night.


4. Form Oxford to Gainesville. My wife will be flying into Gainesville on Saturday March 29 with her riding gear, so after another night with the folks the two of us are going to a beach cottage at Flagler Beach for 3 days. Can’t tell you how bad we need that! Then she will head home the following day via plane. I will probably stay for another day or two.


5. The trip north will involve an IBA Saddle Sore 1000, from Gainesville to Pittsburgh, PA in <24 hr. Mostly slab out of necessity. Then from Pittsburgh, where I grew up and have some family to see, it will be back to CT across the northern part of PA via route 6.


As I think about everything, the wild card for me and where I could use some wisdom here, is the time on the southern BRP and camping around Asheville. Any suggestions for roads and campsites would be great.


Thanks in advance!

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I don't have time at the moment to go into all the roads (but I will later if you don't get enough help), so I'll just mention three quick things for you:


1) Many places are closed that time of year--particularly campgrounds, and then some restaurants and hotels. It's a tourism-driven area, and outside of the main areas, it's fairly deserted.


2) Be really careful with ice. The BRP and Cherohala, for example, are at higher elevations (7,000+) and they get ice and snow, which melts onto the road when the sun comes out. And because they are mountainous, many parts of the road remain in the shade and take a long time to thaw. So picture yourself coming around a corner, with the sun in your eyes, limited site distance, and then...bam...you hit ice without even seeing it. Myself, I would stay off those roads unless there were several days in a row of above-freezing temps.


3) It can get very cold and windy in some of those places, particularly at night. Couple that with sparse fuel, and it's easy to get in trouble. I'm not trying to alarm you--just warn you to be careful.


I'll check back in to see if you get the other help you need! smile.gif

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I agree with David. The southern part of the BRP is not the warmest, it's the highest in elevation. The gates/entrances to the BRP could actually be locked, for public safety...depends on local conditions. I think the Blue Ridge Motorcycle Campground in Cruso, NC is closed for the season. Owners are probably in Gainesville, Fl with your Dad! The camp, etc. at Deal's Gap will probably be open. There's a KOA in Asheville/Swannanoa that might be open. You can camp in Maggie Valley. Stop in the Wheels Through Time Museum and they'll be able to tell you which campgrounds are open and where you can find something to eat. Too bad you can't wait till the end of April...you could be there with the rest of us!

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Thanks guys. I had a feeling that I'd be cutting it a little close with the season, which leaves me wondering if I would be better off heading down via a more eastern route and out of the mountains. Certainly not as fun.


I suppose the option of staying under a roof is always there as well, but I still don't want to deal with ice during the ride. Hummm...

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Paul Mihalka

Even on a nice sunny day, extra care in the BRP tunnels. Water, specially if there is melting snow on the edges, runs into the tunnels and freezes, for a solid cover of ice.

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If you have some time (full day) to go from Oxford, GA to Gainesville, FL, I can send you a copy of a route I like to take from NE FL to ATL, all back roads.

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...wondering if I would be better off heading down via a more eastern route and out of the mountains. Certainly not as fun.

Pointless to go east. You can actually go west for some milder mountains up along the West Virginia border. Pick up VA 42 up top of Staunton and head down that way. Also, I 26 southbound into Asheville, if you wind up going that way, is a very good ride for an interstate.

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Drzep, I send you a PM(personal message).

I need to know if you want me to e-mail you a Garmin GPS file with the route from Oxford, GA to Gainesville, FL.

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