We decided to look farther south for some good riding so we packed up everything and drove the FunMover south on the Blue Ridge Parkway to the Rocky Knob pulloff at milemarker 168.
We planned a route, unloaded the bikes and set-off about 10:30. A few miles down the Parkway we made a quick stop at Mabry Mill at milepost 175. This restored homestead and mill has some interesting exhibitions of early settler life. The mill, used for everything from grinding flour to carpentry, was quite ingenious. Thankfully there were not a lot of tourists, but we bet it gets packed on summer weekends.
We backtracked north and took a left onto VA 799 (Conner Grove Road) and before too long got stuck behind a 15 mph tractor followed by a pick-up that refused to pull over to let us by. We followed for some six miles before the parade pulled off at the Willis gas station. We missed some fairly good country road because of the second gear speeds.
We took a left on US 221 heading west and then took a quick right onto VA 622 (Indian Valley Road). This took us over some scenic country byways, through the crossroads community of Indian Valley, and finally some pretty good twisties as we neared Copper Valley. After thirteen miles on Indain Valley we took a right onto VA 722 (White Rock Road), motored through Alum Ridge and stopped for a Red Bull on Posey Road as we watched the for real bulls in pasture.
Refreshed we took a left on VA 730 (Ridgeview Road) and then a right onto VA 8 which took us into the sleepy town of Floyd. So far the roads had been rather boring technically, but the scenery had been first class, mostly rolling hills dotted with herds of cattle and distant mountain ridges as background.
We don’t know what Floyd might be famous for, but we had a great Six Dollar Burger and fries at the local Hardees. We are not much for fast foods, but this was really good. We got in just in time before the local old age home van pulled-in and unloaded. Service slowed quite a bit after that.
A quick jog to the east on US 221 and then a right onto VA 681 (Franklin Pike) and then a right onto Shooting Creek took us back into the country. Within a few miles we were back on the Blue Ridge Parkway heading north.
An eight-mile jaunt took us to a right onto VA 640 (Franklin Pike again) which almost immediately turned into Five Mile Mountain Road which was actually six miles long. This road offered some great views before descending into the valley in a succession of difficult curves. There was a little bit of everything here … road kill, gravel, dirt, sweepers, tricky shadows, near switchbacks, changing road surfaces, and rural residents looking at us oddly from their front porches. One thing lacking was traffic. These were the best roads of the day so far. Nothing high speed here, just challenging riding requiring you to stay alert. I nearly lost the front wheel in two sandy corners. Nancy never missed a beat.
A right on VA 602 (Ferrum Mountain Road) took us through some farmland and all of a sudden we were rolling into a college campus. Ferrum Virginia is the home of Ferrum University, a Methodist college well off the beaten track.
When we hit VA 40 we took a right to head back toward the Blue Ridge Parkway and spotted a sign for the White Liquor Museum. We couldn’t pass up this one so we pulled into the parking lot, popped a Red Bull and toured the unique exhibition dedicated to the moonshiners of the south. Just inside the main entrance was a souped-up 1951 Ford pick-up truck that had been used by local Franklin County rum runners until 1972. We half expected to see some photos of one of our local shiners hanging on the wall, but somehow our Jim Tom avoided publicity. I just had to have one of the Moonshine T-shirts that glowed in the dark.
Back on the road we headed west on VA 40 which started out to be straighter and as boring as Al Gore but turned into a better than average motorcycle twisty road. After a good section of curves we crested the hill to see a great panorama of the distant mountains where we were headed.
A right onto VA 8 at Woolvine had us heading back to the FunMover. There was still one short sections of twisties as we climbed to the Parkway at Tuggles Gap. This is supposedly one of the motorcycle hangouts in the area, but there were only a few locals there when we arrived. After a quick photo we got back on the Parkway and headed south to the RV.
Nancy and I relived some of the great places we had been on this four-day trip into southwestern Virginia. Some of the least likely roads had turned out to be the most fun.
Once again we raved about our KLR 650s and their awesome versatility on roads ranging from high speed sweepers to rugged mountain gravel. Our KLRs are Wheeler Tuned and put out an amazing 41 horsepower from a stock 33 or 34. Ken added a jet kit, pipe, air box, front fork stabilizers, Scorpion tires (mostly street) and then fine tuned the bikes on the Dyno. We added the Givis to carry our Red Bull, lunch and camera gear. They are a completely different motorcycle than stock. And of course we both have Garmin GPS units which save us hours each day we ride.
DISTANCE: 113 miles
TIME: 4 hours
HIGHLIGHTS: Some great, challenging back roads, rural scenery, White Liquor Museum, safe four days of riding !!!