03/26/2022 – Chapter Ride – The Roaring Forks Auto Tour Gatlinburg, TN

Date: 03/26/2022
Time: KSU @ 10:30 (9:30 if you are getting breakfast & seeking fellowship)
Location: Townsend Pancake House: 7767 E Lamar Alexander Pkwy, Townsend, TN 37882

Ride Report

Members in the saddle: (4)
Gregroy Stelly, Mike Coomer, Sheryl Coomer and Dean Madison.

A special thanks to Danny Jenkins, Billy Farnsworth & Jacquelyn Correl-Stelly for sharing breakfast with us and seeing us off.

The ride got off as scheduled, and the temperature @ KSU was as expected, in the lower 40’s.  Chilly, but not brutal. The strategy to run the loop backwards from the original plan served us well as we were in the sunshine early, with a promise of clear skies all day.    Rolling north on the foothills parkway, it was quite comfortable until we reached the series of bridges in the upper elevations.  Here we were exposed more to the stiff wind, and everyone felt that one more layer would have been prudent.

The roll through Pigeon Forge on into Gatlinburg was enjoyable and uneventful, however Gatlinburg quickly turned into a parking lot.  It took us nearly one half hour to traverse the four or five blocks required to reach our turn off.  The road captain should have had an alternate route prepared to get us out of this.  Additionally, he made last minute lane changes twice to keep us on track.  (it’s like he didn’t even know where we were going!) 

Eventually, the road captain got us out of that mess, and on to the motor tour.  Passing up the Ogle homestead, we continued onto the Rainbow Falls trailhead, where many riders took the opportunity to ‘rest’.  Standing in the parking lot exposed us to more of the persistent wind that would stay with us throughout the day.  Sheryl even commented that it was colder in the parking lot than it had been while we were riding.  I couldn’t help but notice that Mike was no longer concerned with blocking the wind for her as he had while they were in the saddle.

Leaving the parking lot, we quickly arrived at the turn uphill to the motor tour, only to discover that it was closed for the season.  Seriously?  We were exactly one week too early!  While I can’t speak for everyone, I for one, am extremely disappointed in the performance of our road captain!  Picks a bad route, gets bogged down in traffic, and brings us to a road closure that was the destination for our ride.  I say that when he eventually comes out of where it is that he is hiding in shame, that we lynch him on the spot!  While it will create a minor inconvenience for the chapter, our next road captain will take his duties a bit more responsibly!  Who is with me?

To salvage something from the day, we continued the short loop back out, and stopped @ the Ogle homestead as it was literally the only exhibit available to us.  I, for one, have always admired the craftsmanship in these old buildings.  With crude tools, readily available raw material, hard labor and sweat, men and women of previous generations scratched out a life for themselves.  No government assistance.  No bank loan.  No hired labor.  If that wasn’t enough, structures built in the late 1800’s, and in this case abandoned in 1925, are still standing today.  Structurally sound, as well as good shelter against the elements.

At this point, Mike & Sheryl picked their time to ‘cut-out’, leaving Greg & Dean to continue on.  Next stop, Sugarlands welcome center for a quick tour of the nature exhibit.  The tourist shop failed to tempt either of us to part with any money, and we continued on Little River Road.  Stopping lastly at the ‘Sinks’, we enjoyed watching the water cascading down under the bridge and pooling in the deeps.  From there, it was one hop to home for Greg, parting with Dean @ the left turn to Rocky Branch.

Many have heard me say that if inclement weather brought no one out for a ride, I might go anyway.  While this day’s turnout was relatively small, it was a great day to ride, and I thank the group for sharing it with me.  It gave us a more private opportunity to share thoughts and sentiments, and helped us get closer to each other.  I would not traded my day for anything else, save to have had my own bride’s company.
To those that didn’t make it due to life getting in the way, or the bitter weather, you were sorely missed!  We look forward to your company on future rides.

Thanks again, Road Runner
P.S.  I was serious about lynching our incompetent road captain when we find him!!

Ride Details:

Saturday morning might be a bit brisk, so I have reconsidered the upcoming ride.  We will be starting later than I might like, and running the route backwards than from the way I described it.  Hopefully, this will put us in some sunshine early.  We will also avoid the deep shade on Little River Road, and the deep chill that will likely blanket that area in the early morning.

We will head west on US321 back to the Foothills Parkway.  Come out on US321 and turn North to Pigeon Forge.  South on US441 and onto the tour.
Upon leaving the tour, US441 south to Sugarlands welcome center, Returning to Townsend via Little River Road.

Total saddle time 3hrs.  72.8 miles traveled.

Route to The Roaring Forks Auto Tour Gatlinburg, TN

Roaring Forks
If I should ever fail to include this disclaimer, please remember the following considerations for ALL chapter rides:

  • All rides are subject to rescheduling based on severe inclement weather!  (some liquid sunshine will not deter us)
  • If the starting point or time is inconvenient for some, I encourage you to study the route closely.  If you would like to join up with us en route, please suggest a time and place to your road captain.  All reasonable delays or diversions will be considered.  We want you with us, and we will figure out a way to scoop you.. (can I get an amen from 12 Volt?)
  • If the destination is inconvenient, I encourage you to create a cut out point that would help you out.  Again, please advise your road captain so we won’t ‘miss’ you.  Cut out points could be a break for the group, or maybe traffic permitting, you come up to through the group for a quick wave goodbye.
  • These routes will be adhered to in spirit only.  Some freelancing may occur on any one of them.  Especially when it comes to the way home.

See y’all Saturday!
Road Runner
aka Greg Stelly