Take me home, Captain!
Tips for Riding the Blue Ridge Parkway

Welcome to my "Tips for Riding the Blue Ridge Parkway" page. IMHO.. the BRPW is one of the finest motorcycle road in the world. It's 470 miles of perfect pavement and endless curves starts near Cherokee, North Carolina and ends near Waynesboro, Virginia. Map of the BRPW.. If you've never ridden the parkway, you should add it to your bucket list as there are few roads like it. If interested, check out my article.. . 30,000 Miles On The Blue Ridge Parkway.

BTW... The wordage below is an accumulation of helpful tips contributed by myself and fellow experienced riders who have spent a lot of time on the parkway. My hope is that after perusing these tips, you'll be a safer and more informed while riding the BRPW. Feel free to print this list out and share with as many people as you wish...

Thanks to all my riding brethren for the insightful contributions..If you want to contribute something new, send your tip to pirate@acelink.net

Note for the simple minded: Jerry (a.k.a. Pirate) Finley, Pirates' Lair, Pirates' Lair staff members, and/or any of the contributing participants of this page do not "officially" endorse any of the tips below. Motorcycle riding is potentially dangerous and can result in personal injury or death or lots of velocity awards.. You and you alone are responsible for your own safety. Ride within your own ability. It's called.. "personal responsibility."

See ya.. In My Mirrors..

1. Always hit your horn when entering a tunnel. There are lots of bicyclists on the BRPW at all times of the year.  Many Tour de France riders train on the BRPW as it's very close to European riding. Most wear safety colors and have flashing lights.. Many do not. In the 2 seconds it takes your eyes to adapt to the darkness of a tunnel, you could be all over a bicycle rider who's stupidly in the middle of the lane and/or not wearing reflective gear. In theory, hitting your horn will alert them you're coming and allow them the time to move over to the inside line and give you room to pass. Before I started hitting my horn I came close a' dozen times to taking out a poorly lit bicycle.

Never ever pass a car when approaching an overlook or rest area. More often than not the cage in front of you will make a last minute turn into the area with no warning. Some have been watching YOU on their ass in their rear view mirrors and  have just been waiting for a chance  and a place to let you pass.

Never speed on the few straight sections of the parkway. That's where the po po will have radar set up. Trust me on this. If they nail you while going through the curves.. DO NOT try to outrun them. There's usually never a place to get off when you need one.. or so I'm told. Just pull over and wait for them to show up. Unlike a state trooper or local cop, park rangers have carte blanc authority to write the ticket up to $1000 if they deem justified. If you are doing something really stupid.. like 40 over or trying to outrun them.. be prepared for the financially painful consequences.

Waiting Out the Rain!

4. If you get pulled over... BEFORE you whip out your license and registration, inform the trooper that you are or are not carrying a weapon. As of 2010, you can carry weapons on the parkway so the park rangers are a little skittish. By letting them know you aren't carrying.. they'll instantly A. appreciate the info and B. Possibly lighten up a bit and let you go, although that rarely happens with me.

5. The parkway eats tires. It's more abrasive than any road you'll ever see.  Most sections are paved with a glass derivative offering supreme grip. If you are planning a long trip on the parkway, start with good tires. Have had dozens of riders stop in here perplexed that their tires were toast after such a short period of time. This is something they don't tell you on the BRPW's official website.

In the fall when the leaves are peaking... unless you like riding a Harley or golf cart and are used to putting along at old lady speeds...stay off the parkway after 12 noon on week days or any time of day on weekends...The best time to ride is early on week days. Expect tourists to actually stop in the middle of the road to take pictures or drive at 5-10 mph totally oblivious to the long line of cars, bikes, snails behind them..

7. Never, ever ride the BRPW after dusk... that's when the zombies (aka.. deer) come out and they want to kill you.  They usually travel in small packs. They stand around in the middle of the road or leap out from the trees whispering in deer language.. "brains.. brains."  Be afraid of them. Always get off the parkway 1 hour before dark. Trust me on this or not.

8. There are lots of turkeys around the BRPW.. Most people don't realize that they can actually fly. Be careful if you pass one as when scared, sometimes they will fly up and when that 30lb bird smacks you in the chest.. it's not pleasant for either of you.

9. Always carry a few essentials like a drink and a snack as there are only a handful of places to buy such things on the parkway and you never know when you're gonna need a moon pie and Mt Dew. An emergency tire repair kit is always a good idea. I also carry a book in case I see a nice spot to kick back and relax and a "travel-size" roll of toilet paper for er.. emergencies..

10. Always carry a map (or GPS) so you can find gas if needed. Unless I'm mistaken, there are only 2 spots actually on the parkway that sell fuel. Otherwise you have to get off and go looking for it. It's an environmental issue, I'm told.

11. Fog Banks: If you put in enough miles on  the BRPW sooner or later you're gonna run into a fog bank... They can range from barely annoying to "please God.. let me make it through this alive" scary. Immediately make sure your low beams and flashers are on. Generally these banks are less than 1/4 mile long, but I've seen them last 12-14 miles and be so thick that not only can you NOT see the road either in front of you or even the side, but so thick that you can't see your dash... IMHO.. these fog banks are the most dangerous aspect of riding the parkway.. More so than black ice. More so than zombies. More so than a ranger with an attitude. Generally.. If I run into one of these fog banks, If I'm NOT out of it within 1 mile.. I turn around and go back the way I came or get off if there's access. If you can't see the road.. cages on the parkway can't see you and will plow right over you unknowingly.. Be afraid. Be very afraid.

THick Fog.. Be Afraid!

1. It's safer than street riding. The peripherals that demand constant attention when street riding are limited on the parkway. Almost without exception there are no pot holes or gravel in the corners. The pavement is generally as good as your tax dollars can buy.  I'm not 100% sure but I don't recall more than a handful of decreasing radius curves. For the most part every curve is relatively predictable.

2. There are almost no side streets for people to pull out in front of you. Yes.. there are rest areas and overlooks where people are pulling in and out, but in all my years I've never seen an accident on the parkway related to one of the pull-offs.  Most are placed so there are no blind spots. The experienced parkway rider knows that you should always slow down at these pull offs just in case some tourist does something stupid or a park ranger may be sitting there eating his daily allotment of donuts.

3. When the temps skyrocket in Asheville... higher elevations and cool temps are less than 20 minutes away. God's own air-conditioning for the faithful. Mt Pisqua's temps generally run 10 degrees cooler than Asheville while Mt Mitchell's run as much as 20 degrees cooler year round.

4. Speeding tickets are Federal.. Meaning.. they don't go on your driving record or against your insurance. Ever. You pay them and forget about it. Get a dozen in a year.. not a problem. For a ticket magnet like myself.. this alone is worth the price of admission.
Just try to keep your speed to 10 or so over.

Perfect Spot for Clive Cussler!