During the summer 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, although there are many side attractions to explore as well.
Coming in from the Shenandoah Mountains in the north, the 469-mile long Blue Ridge Parkway (BRP) 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 cooler temperatures in the summer and the highest mountains in east of the Rockies.
The High Country section of the BRP is one of the more beautiful parts 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 organizations this summer to get the latest news and updates.
One such event in the Boone area is the spring and fall Boone Bike Rallies. As of presstime, the spring rally has been postponed until the end of July, but changes could happen at any time. The best way to keep up with the latest moves is at the website www.boonebikerally.com.
Crossroads Harley Davidson, located at 1921 HWY 421 in Wilkesboro, N.C., 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.
As of early June, the Carolina BMW Motorcycle Owners Association will host the 43rd annual Dan’l Boone Bike Rally on August 6-9. The center for events of the rally will be the Boone KOA Campground located at 1258 Ray Brown road in Boone, N.C. There will be door prizes, classic and vintage people’s choice bike awards, annual rally pins and more. Camping will be available. More importantly, the central location will provide access to wonderful roads to travel on bike including the Blue Ridge Parkway as well as wonderful drives in both nearby southwestern Virginia, to places like Whitetop Mountain and Mount Rogers, and to northeastern Tennessee where you will find destinations that include beautiful Roan Mountain, the Channels of Virginia rock formations, the birthplace of Country Music Museum in Bristol and many other attractions. More information can be found at http://www.carolinasbmwmoa.org/annual-boone-rally/.
Another cool stop in the summer time 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 now-green 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. 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 a zoo on the mountain, a gift shop and more. On an especially clear day, although it can be a rare occurrence, you can see the awesome 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. Right now, the park is using a phone-in or online 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. The park also contains tent camping areas, a museum, restaurant, picnic areas and more.
For those riders that 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.
Just a short 30-mile drive from Boone and the Blue Ridge Parkway is Brushy Mountain Powersports located at 4641 US-421 in Wilkesboro, N.C. 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 whom were former successful corporate professionals in Atlanta that decided to escape the rat race and head 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.
“Two years ago was our first full year in business and our sales were up about 72percent over the previous year,” said Tim Quinn. “I think a lot of our success has to do with a little bit of a different approach to doing business. A couple of things that we decided to do is, number one, to 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. And, they are prepared to make life easy for the beginner motorcycle owner.
“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.