Memories of America #6 - Odd one out

I took this photo outside Blue Ridge Riders in Asheville, NC.  I'd been trying for a few days to get hold of a small bottle of engine oil to carry with me for chain lube and in case I needed to top up the engine at any point.  As it happened, they didn't have any, but the motor factors next door (C&H Auto Factors) did have a quart of 10w-40 bike oil, which was duly tucked into a pannier.

The Tenere looked somewhat out of place parked up with the rows and rows of Harleys and other cruisers, although that did mean it was a pretty good conversation starter wherever I stopped.  Apparently they don't see many Australians riding around on tatty, heavily loaded, monstrously tall trail bikes.

(To avoid confusing people who know me and misleading those who don't, I'm not Australian.  However for some reason a significant proportion of people I chatted to along the way thought I was.  I was left wondering whether it's that I do actually sound Aussie or if popular culture has so ingrained in the American public the notion that all Brits have posh Home Counties accents that, when they encounter an English speaker whose accent isn't American, Canadian, or Stephen Fry they just file them under 'Aussie'.)

Incidentally, the ladies apparently keenly browsing the assortment of Milwaukee iron on offer are actually mannequins.  I'm not sure if this was some sort of marketing tactic to lure in customers passing on the road, and indeed, what sort of customers.

Memories of America #5 - It's a long road westwards.

This is the look of someone who's been in the saddle for seven hours or so and still has another hour to their destination.

After visiting the Wright Brothers National Monument, I spent my first night of the trip under canvas on the Outer Banks and pondered my next move.  I was now approximately as far south as the start of the Trans-Am Trail in Tellico Plains, Tennessee, so it was time to leave the Atlantic behind and head west across the length of North Carolina.  Trouble was, looking at the map didn't reveal a sensible route which avoided freeways and big cities, and looking at the guidebook didn't reveal anything that desperately appealed before the Blue Ridge mountains right at the western end of the state.

The simple solution - go fast until you get to somewhere that makes you want to slow down.  

I set the GPS for Asheville, 450 miles away, and got rolling.  I took this picture at four or five in the afternoon, pulled over on a sliproad of the I-40.  I'd stopped a few other times along the way for fuel, food, a prolonged search for a cash machine, and getting pulled over by a cop because he thought I'd been filtering along the shoulder (I hadn't, I'd just pulled out of a fuel station where his view was obstructed by a truck - happily he accepted this explanation).  This stop - probably only fifty miles short of Asheville - was simply because I couldn't go another mile without getting off the bike and getting my helmet off my head.

Ten minutes walking around, some crisps and a drink, and a chat to Sarah on the phone, and I was ready to go again.  America's a big old place, and that means sometimes you've got to make the miles.