I really didn’t know what to expect from today. I’d done the big ride yesterday and I knew I wasn’t going to make it back to the Blue Ridge Parkway today, it was just too far. I’d mapped out today with a jaunt into Kentucky mostly just to say I’d gone there and to grab a poker chip. I know, again with the poker chips but they are such an easy souvenir.
It all started as I thought it would. Back country highways with a top speed of 55mph. Nothing too spectacular but beautiful nonetheless. I made it just outside of London Kentucky when I finally decided to take some random backroads. I started passing through really picturesque farmland. I even stopped to take a picture of one.
In London I got my poker chip and they pointed me to a good place for lunch. It was while sitting at the counter where all of the locals sitting nearby tried to talk me out of going to Hazard.
So the verdict? I didn’t go. And I’m glad I didn’t for two reasons. First, as was kindly pointed out, it is not the correct Hazard so who really cares. Second, the roads I ended up on were epic. I mean absolutely epic.
I am baffled that these roads aren’t more well known. Honestly they may be and I haven’t heard of them but I was the ONLY motorcycle on them all day. I never saw anyone else. As a matter of fact, even cars don’t use them much. I had them all to myself. Even better? The speed limit is ridiculous. It’s posted at 55mph. There is no way you can do 55. The few cars I saw were doing about 40 to 45 and I could pass them easily. I was able to hold the speed limit most of the time but there were plenty of corners where I was down low in 2nd gear. SO. GOOD.
So for those of you interested, pull out a map of Kentucky. Find Hyden in the S.E. corner on route 421. We’re heading south. The road from there is the busiest but not bad. It’s in a narrow canyon with a creek to one side of the road. The creek is maybe 20 feet wide and 1 to 2 feet deep. It runs over rocks and is very clear, except when it pools, then it’s an amazing emerald blue. Next to the creek is room for a house with a small bit of land and then the road. That’s it. Green trees of a hundred varieties overhang the road as well as rocky outcroppings. I even passed an active coal mining area. Tight fit. Going 55 through here was crazy!
One thing I’ve noticed about the South is the inordinate amount of abandoned homes and buildings. Mostly it’s sad little mobile homes or hundred year old barns. But today next to the creek I came across this place and just had to stop for a picture.
I followed 421 until I reached Pennington Gap. I’ve learned that back in the mid 1700’s, getting through the Appalachians was difficult and wherever the pioneers found a way through, they named it … Gap. I digress.
Not sure why but as I was riding through Pennington Gap, I saw a self serve car wash. I whipped around and gave Ox a much needed scrub down. Funny enough, a guy was there doing maintenance. He came over to talk and he mentioned that he is usually a local cop. I asked about the high speed limits in the area and he just shrugged. He asked where I was going next and when I told him, he just grinned and told me to hold on tight.
On to Jonesville and the beginning of 70. HOLY *%#&!
Can you see this?
This was actually taken a bit further down the road but it’s a good representation of what I rode, the whole time.
With views like this
And past farmers fields like this
All to myself.
How do people not know about this road? If you are a motorcyclist, put this road on your bucket list, right now. I am actually not done with it yet. I’m camping near Greeneville and I will follow it up and over the mountain to Asheville NC tomorrow morning. I am so giddy about it I don’t think I’ll be able to sleep.
70 took me into Rogersville. And I got lost. Not really but for at least the fifth time this trip, my nav has tried to take me the wrong way down one way streets. The cool thing about that is I saw a little historical sign and I stopped to read it. It said I was right by an old cemetery where the founder of the city and Davy Crockett’s grandparents were buried. My parents and wife can tell you that I’m a sucker for old cemeteries so I decided to stop and check it out.
As I left, I realized that I have been where Davy Crockett died and where he was born (close enough, it’s maybe 10 miles away), all on this trip so far. I think I stalking him a couple of centuries too late.
I got myself a nice little campsite, an actual shower and I’m hoping for no rain tonight. I also have internet obviously so things could be worse.
Looking forward to the unknown of tomorrow.