June 11-13, 2004
If ya haven't been to Uncle Roy's biker-only parties at Rider's Roost, then what the hell kinda biker are ya? First of all, the campground only lets bikes in. Thats a good start - the grassy shaded spots are nestled next to a good sized river coming out of the Blue Ridge Mountains. That's even better - and Uncle Roy is actually a pretty damned good comic. This was gonna be my third Roost Bash
Truth be told, I've still not really been to one of Uncle Roys Spring Flings. Oh, my old grizzled carcass has BEEN there. I've camped there, I've cabined there and I've partied there, but my mind has not really joined-in quite proper-like.
Two Springs ago, I went with my old lady, and - I dunno - the moon was right, or the celestial forces were in tune - hell, Venus aligned with Mars for all I knew - but come dark, we found ourselves in one of the cabins ( I honestly DO think it was the one we were assigned to), and that whole Venus and Mars thing just kinda took over and the alignment was good. What with all the hootin and hollarin and bands playin and women screamin, the paltry sound effects WE were creating was drowned out - which allowed for wild abandon you couldn't even begin to imagine... come on - you know how it is at home... kids sleepin in the next room, dog eyeing you like some tramp who's come in from the cold and the squeaky bed frame just kills it for me.
Anyway - by the time we finished the requisite nap afterwards (Oh, yeah! I got one of them women who totally understand THAT concept) the bonfire was embers, the band had packed up to go home and the remaining partiers were incoherant to the extreme... OK, next time, leave the Viagra at home!
Next time came the following (last) year and we pulled in with 8 bikes in tow (uhhh, not really in TOW ya understand - thats how many were in my rear view mirror) and set up camp by the river around a fire pit of our own. Rain be damned, we brung out the tekillya early, and before dark, was deep into it. Didn't do the Saturday night party though, had other plans with another couple we ride with up on the Blue Ridge.
Click here for last years party journal and a link to the camps website. BE SURE to read Uncle Roys Roost News for a commentary on the last Spring Fling - damn I wish I could write like he do...
Sooo...I feel like I hadn't really been there yet and that brings us to this year. Went with two other couples and had the "condo" reserved, three cabins side-by-side with a covered porch - pre-planning that really made a difference at this year's Spring party because of all the rain. The walls are paper thin and the doors don't lock - but still hoping for a proper planetary alignment again. Here's the story:
9:05am - coffee is getting cold, sausage biscuit is history and the old men at Libby's Too Diner are discussing proper techniques for drywall hanging. All of 'em seemed to be way past productive years, so I assume this mental exercise is something they spar with most every morning - hope the topic changes often. My old habit of trying to be early is working against me today.
9:15am - second cup of coffee is seeping into my bloodstream, and the waitress is eyeing me funny, wondering why I didn't have anything brilliant to add to the drywall conversation. I was listening to a heated argument about nails versus screws, and just didn't wanna get into it. My daddy always told me "Keeping yer trap shut and have people think you a fool is far better than opening it up and confirming it." When it came to the difference between nails and screws, I just didn't have anything of value to add... I kept staring past some old codgers shoulder into a Duke Basketball Team picture on the wall watching the reflection in the glass which would have betrayed one of the two couples approach by the front entrance - it was perfectly aligned and acted like a mirror. I DO think the old guy got pretty nervous thinking I was eyeballing him. I can imagine the conversation after I left.
9:25am - The old guy was smiling back. I was thinking to myself, THIS is why I like to ride solo - come and go as you please, no waiting, my own schedule. But then again, these guys both had women to contend with - you know, always waiting on the women. Around 9:30am they both were sitting at the 70's style formica tables in front of me, both of the women explaining that it was the guys this time holding things up - business call on one end and kids off to wherever they were going on the other.
Fortunately, it was Friday morning and I didn't have to be anyplace in particular til Sunday evening, so what the hell... a third cup of coffee in my hands and I was content to watch them wolf down a bite to eat, anxious to get on the road. One couple, and they know I write this shit so they gotta know I was gonna tell stories about 'em, was on their first long ride. OK, so three days wasn't too long, but it's a start. Up til now it's been Interstate hauls to the beach, to return the next day or two frazzled and beaten by the speed and truck blast of the Interstates.
The other couple had been with me last Roost Party when it was THEIR first decent ride. They also just came back from the West Virginia / Virginia ride with me a couple weeks ago. I had promised to snake over to Rider's Roost - only about 180 miles away - completely on the back roads, and already had both the To and From routes programmed into the GPS to ensure a winding, snaking route on two-lanes the whole way. What is usually a 2 hour 15 minute ride will likely be 5-6 hours by my route.
Right away - 10 minutes down the road - we hit a 2 mile stretch of gravel road, and I am out front grinning thinking what they must be saying to each other back there - hoping I wasn't gonna take 'em on THIS kinda back road the whole way. Actually I was surprised, too, the GPS mapping program showed it as paved, but it wasn't too bad and I knew it had to stop soon because it was to hit a known road around the next few bends that I knew to be paved. Fortunately that was the only gravel section, but it laid a coat of dust on everything - can't pull into a biker-only campground with a shiny bike ya know!
The route was better than I expected, too... slow winding roads through the heartland of North Carolina - farms and ranches and fields and every now and then what passes for a small town. All the hustle and bustle of a Friday morning looked good in our mirrors as we passed by leaving them to tend to their working day, as we rode past heading for a cooler full of beer and 150 other bikers sitting around their campfires. We stopped at the American Heritage Diner in Ashboro, like I always do. I'm rather tired of taking the same old picture over and over, so you'll have to find it in other journals where I head west. Those of you who ride, know that there's a lot more to a day's ride than just a couple pictures of scenic stuff that you see AND can pull over or U-turn to go get a picture. There's the smells - good and bad - the old crumbly barn that is being overtaken by vines or Kudzu, or just falling down - 2-3 second glimpses of Americana as you ride past. Can't realy take a picture of all that stuff, but it all makes up a great ride.
Pics #01-04 were taken at our last butt break of the day, at Moravian Falls south of Wilkesboro, NC. I've been going to and taking pictures of these falls ever since I started dating my wife 30 years ago, as she lived in Wilkesboro at the time. #03 is of those two other couples who joined me (my wife was due to show up the following morning), David, Jen, Connie and Toby. I dunno WHAT Connie was doing with her butt there, but Toby seems to be enjoying it.
I also, because I'd been here so many times, didn't take very many pictures of the Rider's Roost campground - plenty of them available on my other journals here. But we got there about 3pm after a great ride through North Carolina, dropped our crap in the "Condo" and went out for a little supplies-run into town, which, of course, included the ABC store. Unfortunately, that was the last picture I took of the first day, but the day sure wasn't over. We had dinner at Ryans Steak house - ya know, a steak dinner with buds on a bike ride just don't get any better, does it? - and rode back to camp in time to have a few beers and join many of the other campers in Uncle Roys recreation building for an evening of Stand-up comedy. Ya see, Roy learned during his short prison stint, that the bigger Mr. "T" types would leave your ass alone if you made 'em laugh (pun intended) - he does a regular Friday night routine at these parties, so don't be too late. The crowd was less than cooperative though, with one particular drunk screwing it up for everybody. After several choruses of "Shut the fuck up" from the whole crowd, Roy gave up - as I would have, too - and sent everybody packin to their tents and campfires. Hey - it was a measley five bucks, can't expect too much. I'll tell ya that last years stand-up was hilarious, though. Luck of the draw I guess.
I see Roy in the morning when I go to get coffee from the Rec Center, he says the drunk last night was someone he knew - AND knew would screw things up as he always does. Couldn't blame him though and told him so.
Kim shows up at 8am with coffee and sausage, egg and cheese croissants from Burger King 15 miles away. She got up early back home and hauled ass to join us for breakfast and the rest of this trip. Gonna have to keep that woman! Got hit with some COLD rain on the way up the mountain to Blowing Rock, stuck behind some busses and RV's. But the sun came out and we rode around the hills, stopping at the Mast General Store in Valle Crucis for a root beer and an ice creme sandwich... hey! Ya can't think I drink ALL effin' day do ya? Picked up a few jars of Apple Butter for back home and sat under a shade tree listening to some bluegrass band entertaining the tourists for a few minutes. Was a beautiful sunny day for it too...boy did THAT change!
Between Pic # 09 and 10, most of the day went by. Several good picture opportunities went by the wayside due to the weather. Our ride up 40 miles of the parkway was largely at 20 mph in deep fog that didn't permit any views and barely allowed us to see the tail lights in front of us. A lousy first ride on the Parkway for one of the couples, but an experience ya gotta get out of the way sometime on your riding career, huh? We stopped for lunch at Stations Inn in Laurel Springs on Hwy 16 at the Parkway - Stations Inn is getting to be a pretty popular destination for many parkway riders. They have a good restaurant and bar and about 14 rooms in the attached motel. Watch for my "Jinx Ride" in August - a Friday the Thirteenth ride to Stations Inn for two nights.
Then down the mountain, through the woods to Rider's Roost we go... stopping at Winn-Dixie for 6 steaks, baked potatoes, Garlic Toast and some tin foil for tonights dinner. Pics #10-13 is us under the tin-roofed front porch at the cabins. If ya ever go to Rider's Roost (www.RidersRoost.com) for one of Uncle Roy's parties - and I DO recommend it - leave the tent and blowup mattress and pillows at home, save room for more beer. Roy provides the linens, blankets and pillows in his cabins, for $30 for two people. The other cabins have small porches, but there's nothing like getting the Condo for a group of three couples...or get it and have everyone else tenting nearby - the porch will be your meeting area for the party. You'll need to reserve it in advance. Bring an extra $15 for his book, too - Shovelhead Red is a great biker's read. (I'm assuming y'all can read having gotten this far!)
Right aaround 5pm we fired up the firepit to get some coals going. I had an awful time getting the fire going again tonight - my firelogs were wet and didn't catch well. The neighbors from South Carolina got us going last night with thier firelog, but tonight's storebought log didn't work either, so we did it the old fashioned way - white gas and a mattress blower upper - the extra blast of air from one of those babies does a great job - something else for my list of must-get's
Pic # 17 tells the whole story of dinner - nicely cooked T-Bone steaks grilling over potatoes wrapped in foil in the coals. OK... not quote the WHOLE story mind you - #18 does show the beer and wine and tequilla that rounded off the meal. What ya don't see is the rest of the campground in their tents trying to stay dry, while we're laughing up a storm on our front porch (we pulled a picnic table up there under the eaves) while eating grilled steaks and slopping butter and sour cream on our baked potatoes. I KNOW they all hated the bastards in the COndo that evening... fuck 'em.
#18 is actually me outstretching my arm to get us all in the picture - no-one was around to ask to take the picture (all in their tents, remember?) As testiment to what a good time we were having, Pic #19 shows the same picture from Toby's outstretched arms a few minutes later... get the idea?
Saturday night - complete with non-stop rain all night (and continued into the morning) was mostly centered on the front porch - telling stories, jokes and lies til late. My sides and cheeks still hurt from the laughter. The band could be heard playing off in the distance, under Uncle Roy's porch. This is what bike campouts are supposed to be like.
Pic #20 is much later in the day - after we had breakfast at Leatherwood Stables 5 miles up the canyon road from the camp, and after we packed up, said goodbye to Kim and rode most the way across the state back home. It never really rained, threatened all day - but that made for really a great ride, too... no sun, no heat, but no pictures either. These kinda days make for dull grey pictures, besides, we were enjoying the backroads and twisties and small town squares and I didn't wanna fool around with pics. Anyway - #20 is also after we stopped at a friends house north of Greensboro - Hatchetman's place... you may remember from some of my old stories years ago that I rode with him a lot. He don't get on the scooter much anymore, but a visit with an old friend was in order. From there we went to the lil' burg of Ossipee and bumped into a large bike run for some cancer charity. The Ossipee Ski Lodge has an odd name for a biker bar, but it is a classic. I couldn't take any pictures inside because it may offend some of you more sensitive types, but it is an experience. Another beer stop at the One More Bar on Hwy 87 south of Graham, NC where Janice made us swear we'd all come back for their 4th of July party, (forgot to take pictures again - the two beer buzz is working it's magic) and finally a stop at The Lil Bar on Hwy 54 west of Chapel Hill.
Funny story about pic #22 and 23, Connie somehow got scratched on her neck in a perfect letter "H" on her neck. You can imagine the fun we had with that - most of which we couldn't repeat 'cause her kids may read this stuff. Wasn't far to get home from here and we all went our separate ways at various intersections. As we speak, I am laundering the various gloves I've used over the past couple years, these shorties being my favorites. While unpacking today I just got tired of the smell of them - took them all and soaked 'em in laundry detergent and am drying them in the dryer on a rack on low air. Even rinsed out my helmets, too...first time for those in 10 years. This is what a pair of my current 5 year 100,000 mile gloves look like...just about got 'em worn in! The other sides have big ol' holes in the palms from resting on the throttle so much... just can't bring myself to buying a new pair.