Off-road in The Smoky Mountains

A friend from Tennessee invited me for a weekend of fire-roading in the Smokies, and as a new Ohlin ‘Adventure’ shock had just been added to the Tiger, off I went. The 800xc is dirt-able with Anakee 3 tires and the Ohlin, however, I have been reluctant to test the sugar-sand trails in Florida. The hard dirt and gravel of both Cherokee and Nantahala National Forest roads should be great. Plus, there were experienced locals leading; I could just relax and ride.

1st Dragon run-2012

2012: Bonnie on the Dragon

It was over 500 miles to get to The Lodge At Tellico Plains and I split it up by one long day most of the way and the second day riding the Dragon and the Cherohala Skyway

before meeting at The Lodge. I’ve been to the Dragon three times prior and we might not be riding to the Dragon part of the Smokies if we are trail riding, so I figured stop in on the way and get a sticker and some North Carolina BBQ (pork with a layer of finely chopped cole slaw). It was cool as I rose in altitude into the Smokeys and sure enough I was riding through fog from 8 in the morning until about 10. I stopped at the Dragon for a snack and a few photographs, and there were only maybe 20 riders hanging out.

They hit 96°F yesterday in Georgia, and more is in store. Also, a storm is headed up from the Atlantic.


The Lodge At Tellico Plains is real nice, with optional indoor bike parking for $5 and modern cabins. After a terrific 200 miles, I checked in as the record heat rolled in.0912191355.jpg

We were on the road by 9 and heading up the mountain. A couple of miles into the Cherohala Skyway we took a right onto Cherokee National Forest road 210, a canopy shaded paved road that ran along a creek for quite some time. Eventually, we broke off onto some very slushy gravel with lots of elevation and hairpin turns. It was also a two-way road so we really couldn’t hug the cliff wall the way we wanted to because of oncoming traffic, and there were oncoming cars, motorcycles, and side by side ATVs. The experienced group with the proper bikes and training were blasting through this at about 50 miles an hour while I drifted around in the back in first and second gear.


I survived however, and we returned to the pavement, which they tore up as well, and I was always about a mile behind them. We stopped for several snacks around the mountains and had a spectacular day riding.

We were able to criss cross in and out of North Carolina and Tennessee including both the Nantahala and Cherokee Forests.

Posted in ADV, Cherohala Skyway, Dragon, Iron Butt, LD Riding, motorcycle touring, Tail of the Dragon, Touring the USA, Triumph Motorcycles, Triumph Tiger 800, Triumph Tiger XC | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Ride For The Living: biking from loss to hope

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Over 250 people from around the world gathered together to bicycle 60 miles (97k) from Auschwitz-Birkenau to the JCC in Krakow. The Ride for the Living (RFTL) commemorates Poland’s Jewish past, celebrates its present and most importantly looks towards its bright future. The ride is celebrating six years of bicycling from the deplorable horrors of the past to the hope of a thriving and resilient future of Jewish life in Krakow, Poland, and the world.RFTL is a community event that includes participants who range in age from holocaust survivors to young children and riders of all abilities. The ride coincides with a week-long international Jewish cultural festival comprised of more than 70 countries, 30,000 participants and 300 events.

The oldest rider this year, Bernard Offen (90), is a survivor of five work camps including Auschwitz-Birkenau. Bernard shared his memories of the places where he stood for selections…

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Just another… brick in the road

Calling all dirt bikes!

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A crisp, clear January day was the impetus to explore the Old Brick Road. There is a ten-ish mile section of Old Dixie Highway that is a drop off the beaten path, bordered by a scrub forest in Flagler County, Florida.The original Dixie Highwayproject brought together private industry and state governments to create a network of roads which would connect ten states with more than 5,000 miles of paved road.The portion of the original Dixie Highway we visited was completed in 1916. It is a stretch of red-brick road that brought a stream of tourists from as far as Chicago to the tropics of Florida. By 1926 however, US Highway 1, a more efficient, paved multi-lane road, was completed and the Old Brick Road instantly became obsolete.Today, it is one of the few remaining original sections of highway and it attracts very few tourists. It is…

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Winter whirlwind weekend in NY; why not?

What we did this weekend

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A weekend with no holiday party scheduled and a clear weather forecast was a perfect opportunity to take in the New York holiday energy.

Before the chaos and crowds we visited the School of Visual Art’s gallery on the 15th floor of the Starrett-Lehigh building in Chelsea. An exhibit of one of my favorite illustrators, Roz Chast, was on the must-see-before-it-closes list. It was a terrific exhibit.This year’s holiday window walk began at Macy’s. The theme is “Believe In The Wonder Of Giving.” The windows show Sunny the Snowpal, with the help of her friends and Santa, save Christmas.Lord & Taylor has sold its flagship building so this is the last year for its holiday windows (only two windows on Fifth). Their very first animated and a few Canada Geese to offer some holiday cheer.Heading further north, Patience and Fortitude, the two regal lions at…

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Savory Sicily: a cooking class

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Villa Britannia is a lovely bed and breakfast outside the Porta Messina in Taormina. The home is inviting and filled with aromas that draw you immediately to the kitchen. Host Louisa greets everyone with a brief history of the home, introduces her husband Marco and her father-in-law, who are also hands-on in the multi-course meal process, and explains the simple, pure and fresh ingredients of the Sicilian diet. We began by chopping vegetables for a caponata (a cold Sicilian roasted eggplant and vegetable salad), tomato sauce, and a second kind of eggplant salad. After we got the sautés going on the stove, we headed to the outside garden to make our pasta. Sicilian custom is to use durum wheat semolina and water. The durum wheat semolina is a product that is less refined compared to the re-milled semolina; yellow color, a little more coarse in texture. First roll and knead…

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Taormina: The terrific and tasty island in the sky

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Taormina is perched on a cliff overlooking the Ionian Coast and is often referred to as the island in the sky. It claims to have been inhabited by an Italic tribe during the Iron Age even before the Greeks arrived on the island in 734 BC. The city has been both a well-known tourist destination and a draw for artists and writers for millennia. The main road, Corso Umberto, runs the length of the town between two entries, Porta Messina and Porta Catania. Mostly pedestrian, it is filled with shops, restaurants and several great plazas with views of the sea below, Madonna della Rocca church and a Castello above, and when the clouds part, we are told, a stunning view of Mt. Etna. The ancient 3rd century Greek theater is well preserved and continues to be used for performances (mostly on weekends). There are remarkable views of Mt. Etna and…

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Excursion Etna

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Mount Etna, an active volcano with more than 300 craters, occupies almost a third of the northeast corner of Sicily. The mountain has been in our sites from a sort-of safe distance (nowhere is really safe) for the past week or so and we planned a hike on the north side of Europe’s largest volcano. Sicily Life organized a tour that brought us into the national park and drove us to the Silvestri Craters, which are at 7,000 feet above sea level. Here, we climbed up and around several trails giving us great views of past lava flows and deep craters. In the winter months, this area is used for skiing and snowboarding with the craters acting as natural half-pipes. There are trails and a cable car that climbs another 2,000 feet for longer ski trails and a closer look vDWat the top of the volcano. The weather was incredibly…

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A celebration of true love and food in Taormina

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Weddings are always a time of joy and celebration; this one was extraordinary on many levels. The amount of love expressed by guests for the bride and groom was only surpassed by the special love between the magical couple. Beginning with the service, followed by a stroll to the plaza in the center of Taormina, accompanied by a folk band and a vintage Alfa Romeo, was a fitting way to begin the festivities.The reception was held at the stunning Castello San Marco. The red carpet at the entry led us to a aperitivo spread that set the tone for the night.Plato said of Sicily ‘Sicilians build things like they will live forever and eat like they will die tomorrow.’ These words ring true to this day. We experienced an outrageously delicious five-course meal (not including the incredible dessert spread along with cake). The band played on, family and…

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Sensational Savoca

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A picture perfect day began with some smoke atop Mt. Etna. There was a fresh snowfall, too.We joined the wedding party for an adventure to Savoca. A small town which sits high above the Ionian coast, Savoca has a great view of the sea and mainland Italy’s Calabria. The village is most remembered for a few scenes, including the wedding scene, from The Godfather. We were greeted by cousin Maria Teresa. She made a special presentation to the bride and groom-to-be and welcomed us to her town.We walked through the town toward the museum where we sampled the most delicious lemon granita with zuccherata; a sweet breadstick that dunks into the granita. It is a delicious treat often served for breakfast.A group photo was taken in front of the church made famous by the movie.Our multi-course lunch was filled with local specialties including pickled…

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Mangia on Mt. Etna: mangiare e bere (let’s eat and drink)

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When it rains we find solace in food and beverages. Lucky for us, the family of our friends welcome visitors with open arms and delicious food. We traveled to the small fishing village of Roccalumera, halfway between Taormina and Messina. The Italian mainland region of Calabria was visible across the straits of Messina, like New Jersey across the Hudson River from New York. Our greeting was filled with love and amazing aromas from the kitchen. Risotto with porcini mushrooms (that were foraged earlier in the day), Stocco stew, a delicious traditional cod dish, pulpo, caponata, stuffed anchovies and so much more. Coupled with homemade wine and finished with gelato, pistachio-filled cannoli, a plate of fresh melon and a dish of persimmons. The language of food, and lots of pantomime along with the family’s pretty good English (compared to our pretty rough Italian) made this special evening extraordinary.

We have begun…

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