On April 3rd Alystar Mckenneh left Glendale Harley-Davidson in California to ride 10,000 miles around America with her cross country trip ending in Sturgis during Bike week. Last week she hooked up with the participants of “The North Carolina Big Mountain Run” organized by Cycle Source Magazine. She sent me these lines about her experience.
”I was at Woodstock this past weekend. I stepped back in time and found Woodstock. There was no Janice Jopin, Jimi Hendrix or acid dropping but… the amazing music of Rob Keller and the Knuckleheads, the sound of motorcycles echoing in the mountains and the camaraderie of biker brothers and sisters was more than enough to make up for it. Forget the outrageous ticket prices, charity’s with their hands out, $200 dollar a night motels and a police presence that would make you think the president was in town.
Instead for a $30.00 camping fee, Chris Callen from Cycle Source Magazine took us on a “Gypsy Run” through the most beautiful back roads of N. Carolina that you will ever see. We stopped for a night ofcamping at “Wheels Through Time” in Maggie Valley, N. Carolina. Our host provided pizza, beer, a campfire and the should be famous Chad Hill with his guitar. The night was full of old friends sharing stories with new friends, passing around different bottles of moonshine for every one to admire or not… and just when you hoped the night wouldn’t end; the morning came and we were on our motorcycles again. This time we ended up in Deals Gap where we rode the “Tail of the Dragon”.
I’ve ridden “The Dragon” before but never screaming up the curves a foot from the back tire of Chris’s motorcycle with the famous photographer Michael Lichter sitting backward snapping pictures! While Michael waved me closer, we rode the hairpin turns so fast that I scrapped my floorboards on every turn and the only thing more unnerving was that Chris was scrapping his floorboards as well. Back in the parking lot at Deals Gap the couple on the dresser behind us commented on the piercing screams of stereo floorboards.
After lunch we left “The Dragon” for the Cherohala Skyway. The view of the Smoky Mountains from the Cherohala Skyway is breathtaking and while taking pictures, I lost the body of the pack which numbered about 50 bikes. Thankfully the pack was waiting at the next gas stopor I’d have been lost in the wilds of Tennessee. In Reliance, Tennessee we camped at Hiwassee camp ground for three nights where we were met by tons of new people waiting for the party to start. The weekend was raw and earthy, very much like when you grabbed a keg, built a bonfire and showed up in the corn field next to the river outside any small Midwestern town in the US. Filled with great music, bike rodeos, BBQ, dancing, kayaking, a wedding and the best company you will find anywhere!
The guys found a way to entertain themselves by doing burnouts on the skateboard ramp, setting the communal firewood pile ablaze and riding a truck liner dragged by a motorcycle around the circular track in the campground. All good fun! The best games were the ones set up by Chris Callen and the Cycle Source Crew. Of note: a triathlon of sorts – run from a tent to your motorcycle, pull on your boots, ride to the river and swim to a boat. Bean’re (an ex-marine) and clear winner in the race can be seen on Youtube as his motorcycle skids sideways then on it’s side, rolls tires skyward launching him up the road where he stays on his feet then does a military roll and ends up on his feet again. The only words from him are “That sucks!” as he flies by, whips off his boots and runs for the river. No one was hurt and for the few who just liked to sit and watch the circus; it was all they could hope for.
I’ve been on many runs and ridden with many people in my lifetime. This week with Chris Callen and the Cycle Source Crew, my West Virginia boys and all the wild and wonderful bikers who showed up at the Big Mountain Run; this week will be the one I point to when I talk about the way it used to be” (lower picture by Michael Lichter)