10.22.2007,8:29 PM
Race against time

And we lost!

Riding down the two-track road I realized how sweet it was to be on a bike on a mountain side. No loud smokey ring-a-ding, ride as fast as conditions will allow or slow to soak up the surroundings, veer off onto a trail that looks inviting, and ease of just stopping whenever my senses put on the brakes. I was grinning inside and out. It was also a preamble for the next day.



Winding down the mountainside we picked up where we had left FSR 217 and turned east again. We saw fewer campsites along the road than we did before FR 61. While riding by the primitive sites I entertained the idea of packing camping gear on the Sherpa and staying a night at one of them. Next year!

We came upon a large concrete bridge over the road and a sign on the side announcing the boundaries of Tennessee/North Carolina and the Cherokee/Nantahala National Forests.


Off the bikes and checking our maps and time, we realized that sunset was only an hour or so away. As was our nemesis all three days, we were running out of daylight. Instead of following our intended route through the Nantahala Forest to Robbinsville, we both agreed we needed to return to Tellico Plains if were to avoid riding back on the skyway in the dark.

Forest Road 81 continued left: north, east and south for miles before it rejoined the Skyway near Robbinsville. We took turned right hoping that it would eventually join the Skyway before too long. We were rewarded soon enough reacing a ‘T’ and pavement, a sign straight ahead point west to Tellico and east to Robbinsville. We later learned that the entry onto the Skyway was at Stratton Meadows and the gravel road leads to Stratton Ridge.

The ride back on the Skyway was the third time and absolutely pure joy. No overlooks, no photographs, just enjoying the road and the bike. Sweep after sweep, shifting between 5th and sixth gears, barely using any brakes. Lean, swoop, lean, swell, zoom. Again I was grinning inside and out, oblivious to everything but the road and the bike. I didn’t want it to end.

Too soon we were approaching the end of the Skyway nearing Tellico, and by that time we were hungry. Without a second thought we pulled into Cherokaha Crossing again for something to eat and drink. We enjoyed the rest and tranquility on the back deck looking over the river, eating our meal with gusto. I discovered their barbque sauce on my smoked turkey sandwich and still rave about it. I prefer the Tennessee bbq sauce to the typical Texas fair: sudtle hints of molasses and vinegar, spicy but not hot. I wish now I had asked to buy some to bring back home.

I requested a stop in the heart of the town for some coffee and photo ops. As I mentioned previously, two wheels are everywhere.


My order for a cup of coffee must have gone through a word-warp. Sitting down outside with that familiar expectation of enjoying a hot cup of Joe, my first sip left me squishing my face in distaste. It was the weakest coffee ever to pass my gullet. After the initial shock and disappointment, the scent and taste confirmed that the liquid in my cup was tea. Not coffee.

Pulling into Hunt’s Lodge we showered the day’s dirt and sweat off ourselves and I made camp cobbler on the fire that Ed prepared in the pit. Lori and Jack joined us for nighttime desert and we listened to local stories. By the end of the second day there, I announced to them that I shall be back next year to finish what I missed this time around. And ride more!

Lost of all sense of time now, and not caring, I hit the bags, asleep before I could count to one.

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posted by Macrobe
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