Thursday, March 18, 2010

New Rock Slide Affects Motorcycle Vacation Travel Plans

Add yet another rock slide to the long list of road closures in the mountains of western North Carolina and eastern Tennessee. This one in particular will affect many motorcycle vacation plans to visit one of the most popular and well known rides in the region, the infamous Tail of the Dragon on US 129 at Deals Gap. Located along the western border of Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the 13 mile stretch of US 129 with it's 311 curves draws hundreds of thousands of motorcycle and sports car enthusiasts each year who come to experience the challenging stretch of road.

It's been an exceptional year for rock slides in the Smokies, the most notable being the massive slide along the eastern edge of Great Smoky Mountains National Park which has closed Interstate 40 for months. With both the east and west routes around the park closed, the only route allowing north-south travel from Tennessee to North Carolina is US 411 which cuts through the heart of the park and it too has been the scene of slides. US 441 is presently open, though cleanup continues on the northern spur road.

The Tail of the Dragon is still accessible from the North Carolina side. From Tennessee, the best route is through Tellico Plains and onto the Cherohala Skyway. Expect increased traffic loads on TN 68 approaching Tellico Plains due to yet another rock slide on US 64-74 in the Ocoee River Gorge which has shifted traffic onto it. As far as I can tell, it is still possible to reach Pumpkin Center from Vonure on the north end of the Dragon via the popular Dragon - Cherohala loop ride. Still, even more traffic will now be using these roads and you may want to reconsider visiting the area until things improve.

I've been reporting on the status of all the rock slides and road closures in my newsletter which you'll find archived here - As there are so many, so widely scattered, it may be the easiest place to find all the information without bouncing around to various DOT sites (they are rarely as up to date). With so much going on, I'll probably post an extra edition or two to keep you apprised of the situation and help with your motorcycle vacation plans. There is a lot going on you need to be aware of including the progress on the clean up to the Blue Ridge Parkway after severe winter storm damage, the closed section there, and all the roads which have been closed in Great Smoky Mountains National Park for paving.

If you have early year travel plans to Robbinsville, Townsend, Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, or Franklin, I suggest you consider them carefully. Better alternative destinations for motorcycle touring would include Maggie Valley and Asheville. I'm am working with local lodgers to find you the best deals and affordable as well as luxury motorcycle friendly accommodations. I'll be stepping up those efforts. Please email me for help. The changes in traffic patterns have severely impacted their business and there are some deals to be had. Watch the blog as I review them.

Finally, for America Rides Maps patrons, I want you to be aware these rock slides have impacted 3 of the 4 loop rides on the most popular map "Maggie Valley to Deals Gap and the Cherohala Skyway". I strongly urge you to look at the "Waterfall Package" for the best alternative. These two maps will lead you into some of my favorite areas unaffected by the changing traffic patterns and open up a wealth of fantastic rides which are too often overlooked. These roads are the first place I head when looking for great riding, the first place I take tour groups, and hold everything you've come to expect from a motorcycle vacation in the Smokies.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Asheville Mayor Welcomes Bikefest

I pulled this off the Asheville Bikefest site -

Mayor rides. Nice to see a city that's so motorcycle freindly. It should be. Sitting right in the heart of the best motorcycle rides in the country, good to know you're welcome here. Asheville has so much to offer.
How about -

"Asheville Voted Top Beer City in America: "Beer City USA"

Music Venue - "Rolling Stone: Orange Peel one of top 5 music clubs in the U.S."

Outstanding Attractions - "Biltmore - America's Largest Home"

You really should look into this event and start making plans. May 13 - 16.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Motorcycle Map Give Away at Daytona Beach Bike Week

I've just donated $1000 of assorted America Rides Maps to be given away during Daytona Beach Bike Week.

Look for the Asheville Bikefest booth, but be quick! They won't last long.

For more info about the Asheville Bikefest, see -

Myrtle Beach’s Loss is Asheville’s Gain


Sunday, February 14, 2010

The Long, Cold, Winter

It's a sad sight, but such has been the coldest, snowiest, wettest winter in memory. I'm fighting a losing battle to keep the batteries charged with rides between the snowfalls. I'm normally one to brave the elements throughout the year, but with the snow has come ice which persists in the shady areas, and there are no shortage of places the sun rarely reaches in the high mountains. Ice and road tires do not mix, and with studded tires starting at $500 a piece, I can only afford to wait it out.

I've been making up the time with desk work and classwork. The web site is getting a long overdue rebuild and it's well on the way to where I can move on. Slowly but surely I'm becoming more competent with all the new software I purchased and I will soon turn to revising the existing maps for 2010. My classwork involves learning to master social networking so I can maintain better contact with you and offer more advanced features and exciting new programs. I've hired a coach, Sabrina Gibson, and am making steady progress learning from a master.

Upcoming changes to the maps will be relatively minor, with focus on adding more features, sights, and improving the Blue Ridge Parkway info. The main focus will be on "behind the scenes" stuff, better editing capabilities and improving the quality of the graphics and images.

I'll be laying out the plans for West Virginia come March. A soon as the weather permits I'll be hitting the road.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Updates and Changes at America Rides Maps

I realize posts have tapered off here at the Cultivated Biker. There is so much going on behind the scenes I owe an explanation;

Following a very successful year, I've made some major investments.

1) I've finally updated my systems and upgraded all my software. I'm now working off a MAC platform and it's a much welcomed change. All new top-of-the-line professional software has been purchased and installed. I am spending long days and often much of the nights learning how the new programs work and how to best apply them.

2) The current focus is on upgrading the storefront and improving the user interface to make it easier for you to find what you want, get the information you need, and locate the best bargains and deals. The SSL secure system has added new features and functionality over time and I am working to implement them. This project is close to completion.

3) The next task will be to update and improve the web site and better integrate it with the storefront. The approach I'm taking is to streamline and consolidate while adding additional features. Time for a fresh face and a makeover.

4) Once this is done I will turn to updating the maps for 2010. This years focus is on adding more detail and useful information. I anticipate only a few new roads will be added to existing maps. Now is the time to email your suggestions and recommendations to I'll be adding to the features along the Blue Ridge Parkway, improving the navigation that identifies the exits, and gradually adding more places to eat, stay, and visit on your travels.

5) Finally, I've hired an expert to help me make the most use of social networking to provide you with content and information that is full of benefits for you. The goal is to maximize security, prevent spam, and give you control over receiving the information which interests you. I have tons of stuff to offer, but at the same time, I don't want to become a nuisance. I'm trying to perfect a system which works best for you.

6) Already done - I've launched a new blog, Smoky Mountain Rider, easy to find at . Unlike the Cultivated Biker, which will remain the official blog for America Rides Maps, Smoky Mountain Rider is independent and will feature general and useful information about motorcycle riding in the region. On occasion I will be cross posting articles to this site.

7) I've also changed the newsletter to a new more functional host that will allow for better presentation and more control for you. Current newsletter subscribers have been informed of the coming change. Still working out the last few bugs, but it should roll out for February.

While my plate may be full, I'm working through it one bite at a time. Thanks for your patience and support and look forward to all the improvements that will benefit you.