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Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Impromptu Ride...

Headin' out to Mount Pilot...

This past Saturday was supposed to be noticeably cooler, and it was! After months of above average temps and humidity (its felt like its been a hundred degrees since April) I was ready to take advantage of the cooler temps and low humidity.
Unfortunately, due to chores that needed attending, I wasn't able to actually get away till after 1pm, but its still only 72 degrees - yay! But its looked like rain all day. Determined to get out for a ride, I suited up and packed the laptop, and headed out to the local coffee shop for a cup of decaf and a look at the weather (I purposely do not have high-speed internet at home. I intend to always keep work AT work).
I had intended on heading up to the Parkway, less than 2 hours away, but the radar showed showers, heavy at times, all along the route headed north. But the way west was clear, so I decided to head for Pilot Mtn, really not feeling like riding in the rain today if I don;t have to.
Having made North Carolina home since 1989, I had never actually been to this signature landmark, only having ridden past it. Now looked like the perfect time for a visit, or, it at least gave me a destination for a ride starting so late in the day.
Soon after heading west, the skies began to lighten from their ominous low deck of grey, and after about an hour, I began to actually see bits of blue peeking thru.
In short order, I was at the overlook for Pilot Mountain (or, "Mount Pilot" for Andy fans).
Kiosk at the overlook off NC52
Once into the Park proper, its a nice tight winding 2 mile road that gains altitude quickly to the top of the parking lot for Pilot Mtn. The FJR allows me to take this faster, and leaned over harder, than I think I've ever been able to do before, and its a hoot - with me arriving at the top with a big stupid grin on my face. And its actually feeling chilly up here. Wow, an absolutely perfect ride so far.
Temps are in the low 70's at this point - come on Fall!
From the parking lot at the top of Little Pinnacle, its a short (300 feet?) walk to an overlook of the actual Pilot dome (Big Pinnacle) itself. Pilot Mountain is a quartz monadnock left over from the innards of the ancient Sauratown Mountains. Having brought my little Olympus along, I was able to make some photos as the weather cleared:
Looking down into the valley from Little Pinnacle (1400 feet)

Big Pinnacle from the Little Pinnacle overlook. Sauratown Mtn and Hanging Rock are on the horizon to the left.

This panoramic came out quite nicely, stitched from 7 vertical photos I made without tripod

Perhaps a little too euphoric from the view, and the cool weather, I decided it was clearing up so nicely that I'd try heading up to the Parkway after all. Having no map with me, I guessed it couldn't be too far up NC52 before I hit it. Well, while it wasn't TOO far, it was farther than I would have wanted to go, as it was getting pretty late in the afternoon.
By the time I made it to the Parkway, in Virginia, it was already about the time I had told the Missus I thought I'd be home (about a 3 hour ride back at this point). With no cell phone signal, what was I to do? Keep riding of course!
I thought I'd ride to a Diner on the Parkway, that I thought was at Doughton park. Turns out that would be at mile marker 241, and I had gotten on near marker 199 headed south into North Carolina. At Parkway speed limits (wha?) that would be about an hour each way to reach it. Turns out, I find out after my return its closed anyway.
Reaching in to get my camera at some point on the Parkway, I found that the saddle bag latch was acting wonky and wouldn't latch. Some investigation showed one of two screws that should have been holding the lock assembly together was missing. I repositioned the remaining screw to (hopefully) hold the latch together for the ride home.
On the Parkway near NC89

I realized that at this point I'd be lucky to make it home by 9pm, so I dove back down into Mt Airy, called home and explained my whereabouts. After a quick bite at "Aunt Bea's BBQ", I made the burn home on the slab and arrived safely home.
Since my wife seemed a little miffed to have missed out on a rare cool weather ride in the midst of this year's heat (we both really love fall), I stopped raving aloud about how great the air felt, how neat Pilot Mtn was, and how nice it was to have still made it out to the Parkway, how sorry I was to be so late, and simply promised to take her back out that way as soon as the cool weather sets in for good.
As it is, Hurricane Isaac is blowing in warm, humid and wet weather for the time being, so it looks like we'll have to wait just a little bit.


  1. Looks like a good ride, but you should have taken your wife with you. I am surprised that Barney allowed you in town riding that bike. I'll bet he went to Andy and got his bullet in case the motorcycle gang caused any trouble.

  2. Wifey had several events to attend that day, so she was indisposed till about 6pm - when I shoulda been home....