During the autumn months, motorcycling is a wonderful way to explore the High Country area of Western North Carolina. The famous Blue Ridge Parkway is a destination in and of itself, winding through some of the best fall foliage in the country this time of year, although there are many side attractions to explore as well.
Coming in from the Shenandoah Mountains in the north, the 469-mile Blue Ridge Parkway is sought out by many motorcyclists wanting to ride the entire BRP, while others come straight to the North Carolina section of the roadway where you will find beautiful scenery and the highest mountains in east of the Rockies.
The High Country section of the BRP is one of the more sought-after sections of this scenic and historic roadway featuring quick access to the mountain towns of Boone, Blowing Rock and Banner Elk as well as many wineries, old country stores, hiking trails and more. All of it leads to a drive up to the top of Mt. Mitchell, the highest mountain found east of the Mississippi River.
Normally, while you are in this fabulous part of the world, there are usually many motorcycle-specific activities to check out as the summer months play out. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, however, many events have either been canceled or postponed. If there is a cycling event that you are used to attending, be sure and check in with those to get the latest news and updates.
Crossroads Harley Davidson, located at 1921 HWY 421 in Wilkesboro, hosts a wide variety of motorcycle challenges, charity runs and benefits throughout the summer months. But, once again, the fate of those events could be affected at any time by the pandemic. So, be sure and check for more information at http://crossroads-hd.com/events and (336) 667-1003.
Another stop in the fall for motorcyclists is the Beech Mountain Resort. With a quick trip through the resort town of Banner Elk, you will end up on Beech Mountain, the highest elevated incorporated town in eastern America. At the Beech Mountain Resort, you can park your motorcycle and then rent a mountain bike as the resort turns its ski slopes into some challenging mountain bike trails. The mountain bike-fitted ski lifts will also take you up to the unique 5506’ Skybar located at the top of Beech Mountain. Disc golfing, hiking and sampling craft beers made onsite by the Beech Mountain Brewing Company is also available. On Oct. 3 everything will close down as the resort then prepares for ski season. More information can be found at beechmountainresort.com.
An exceptional mountaintop destination along the Blue Ridge Parkway is a ride to the top of Grandfather Mountain. For an entrance fee, you can ride to the summit and walk upon the Mile High Bridge, which features some of the best 360-degree views in all of the High Country. There is also an animal attraction on the mountain, a gift shop and more. On an especially clear day, you can see the skyline of the city of Charlotte about 90 miles away on the horizon when the conditions are right. Grandfather Mountain is located off of the Rte. 221 exit at the 305 mile marker on the Blue Ridge Parkway. Now, the park is using a phone-in reservation system so people can access the mountain safely. More information on opening and closing times of Grandfather Mountain State Park can be found at grandfather.com.
At the 316 milepost of the Blue Ridge Parkway, follow the signs to the Linville Falls and Linville Gorge recreational area. Linville Gorge is considered the “Grand Canyon of the East” as it is the steepest gorge in the eastern United States. Wiseman’s View is located four miles down the gravel road known as Rte. 1238 or Old NC Rte. 105. While the overall Linville Gorge is filled with challenging and dangerous trails suited for more experienced hikers, Wiseman’s View provides an easy walk on a short paved trail that leads to spectacular views of the gorge.
The highest mountain east of the Mississippi River is Mount Mitchell. This peak is also accessible mostly by road which leads to a free parking lot just 600 yards from the summit. Mount Mitchell State Park is located at the Rte. 128 exit at the 355 milepost on the Blue Ridge Parkway. The views are simply spectacular.
For those riders who want to experience all or most of the wonderful attractions found on the High Country gem known as the Blue Ridge Parkway, an interactive map can be found at http://www.blueridgeparkway.org/map.php.
A 30-mile drive from Boone and the Blue Ridge Parkway is Brushy Mountain Powersports located at 4641 US-421 in Wilkesboro. It is the place to go for those looking for a new motorcycle, side by side or ATV.
Brushy Mountain Powersports is owned by Tim and Lynn Quinn, both of who were former successful corporate professionals in Atlanta who decided to escape to the mountains. Once they had the chance to purchase the company in 2017, they made the move and decided to run the business in a way that make the customer come first.
“I think a lot of our success has to do with a little bit of a different approach to doing business, said Tim Quinn. “A couple of things that we decided to do is No. 1: be more flexible. This is the information age and people can go online and shop half the way around the world. So, you can’t act as if you live in isolation here.”
Another positive aspect of the way Brushy Mountain Powersports and the Quinn’s conduct business is in how they treat the customer.
“The second part of our success is that we changed our business model to be more transparent on the sales front,” said Quinn. “If you have bought a motorcycle or ATV in the last few years, frequently you will go in and negotiate a price and then when you are sitting down to do the paperwork, they start adding on dock fees and assembly or set-up fees. That is kind of a matter of smoke and mirrors because at the end of the day, we all pay the same price for these machines. So, we decided that we were going to quit with the mumble jumble. We are going to give you a good, clean price and we did away with dock fees and assembly fees altogether. If someone asks for a price on a motorcycle or ATV, we give them something that they can take to the bank and get a check and come back and ride home with a new bike and a full tank of gas.”
Brushy Mountain Powersports specializes in selling and servicing Yamaha, Kawasaki, Honda and Kymco vehicles.
Since the onslaught of the coronavirus pandemic and lockdown, people have fled their isolation by getting outside in record numbers and that has affected motorcycle sales at Brushy Mountain Powersports in a big way.
“We are having a phenomenal sales year in 2020 as it seems like everybody has decided to get outdoors because they can’t do all of the other stuff that they had planned on doing,” said Quinn. “March was kind of nominal, and April was a little better than the previous year as our facility was shut down for the whole month. But in May, our sales exploded and we sold over twice the bikes that we sold last year and that was true in June as well. July was also a good month, although demand finally began to taper down a little bit. There seems to have been two factors to our sales this year, and the first one was that by late spring, people wanted to get their kids out of the house and that was when there was a run on our smaller dirt bikes and ATVs. After that, we began to get the customers who were thinking, ‘Well, we can’t do the vacation we wanted to take, so let’s go and do something.’ While there are some brand new riders in that group, most have riding in their background somewhere and want to get back on the road.”
For motorcyclists who are new to the sport or want to rekindle their past love for motorcycles and ATV adventures, Brushy Mountain Powersports is the perfect place to make that happen.
“We want to make sure that new riders feel comfortable while sitting on their new bike so they feel like they can control the bike,” said Quinn. “You never want to sell to anyone something that is too heavy, too tall or too powerful for the rider. So, we try to help them and walk people to the machine that they can get some seat time on and build some experience on. Then, later on, if they feel like they want a more powerful bike, then that is good for everyone.”
For more information on Brushy Mountain Powersports, go to www.421powersports.com or call (336) 973-3325.