Ride Report: Chasing Ash Up Mt Morrow

Written in Feb 2022

Riding along a mottled two-lane into the early morning sun between North Carolina’s bare February trees, the color of the land is reduced to the brown and ocher tones of old photographs.

It was 36 degrees when I left Winston, probably about the same when Ashish, Arvind, and Saurin left Cary. We met up at the Sunoco filling station in Seacrest. Seacrest is an odd name for a town in the middle of North Carolina, but it’s well known among the wives of motorcyclists for its independent pottery shops.

The night before, I had made the classic mistake of going out to dinner with friends instead of prepping my ride, so when I got to Sunoco, I had to inflate my front tire back to its normal air pressure. No matter how good your tires are, over the winter they lose air. Every winter. I suspect that as the temps drop below freezing, the rubber shrinks just enough to let a little bit of air leak out. In the other 9 months of the year my tires don’t lose any air. In Winter, they do.

Rumor has it, some guy named Behram is a master map maker. Apparently he’s plotted and ridden a whole lotta loops all over this part of the country. Ashish took us long one of those loops.

Motorcyclist Map

First stop, the Pisgah covered bridge. I had heard it was haunted, but I had never visited it. But I wasn’t too worried, since I’d read somewhere that only those who ride their motorcycles across it get haunted. I certainly wasn’t planning to.

Nevertheless, for reasons no one without a romantic soul can understand, covered bridges beckon us.

However, when the Pisgah bridge beckoned Saurin, it BECKONED him.

Saurin was not content with simply snapping a picture of the bridge. He felt that in the interest of Art, he should ride out through the bridge.

Good thing he did, because after some … um … creative riding, he got his GSA into position to snap an epic picture:

(picture taken by Saurin)

The color palette was so promising that even Ash could not resist blending in.

The roads between the Pisgah covered bridge and Mt Morrow are gentle sweepers through rural North Carolina. Because everyone with a grasp of common sense was sitting by a warm fire at home, we had the roads to ourselves. A delightful route along farms, fields, forests, and small towns.

Somewhere along the route we wound up taking Ashish’s Honda Gold Wing and Arvind’s BMW R1200RT down some dirt roads. I mean, when you have a full-dress tourer, who really needs a dedicated dirt bike, right? Lord Saurin and I were on BMW GS Adventures, rather incensed that the Gold Wing and the RT were kicking dust onto the beautiful paint of our stylish motorcycles.

After a great deal of sulking, we got over it, mostly because our filthy, dusty, dirt route landed us at a delightful rest stop by the Low Water Bridge near Ritchfield.

Even among the cool temps and bare trees of February, it was a serene spot to pause and reflect. Saurin spent most of his reflection time wondering where he had left his motorcycle key.

I spent most of mine wondering whether to tell him.

After a snack of girl scout cookies (is there anything better, really?), we rode off to Jay Patel’s Coffee Central in the town of Richfield. Talk about feeling immediately at home. And delicious Chai. I was having such a good time I’m not even sure I paid.

As we struck up a conversation, the four of us realized we were in unanimous and enthusiastic agreement that fear of women was a clear sign of intelligence in a man. Conversely, a man who does not fear women can be dismissed us woefully unprepared for the realities of life. Not to mention dangerous company, given the proclivities of the godesses Kali and Durga, may they both forgive the sins of their humble servants Ashish, Arvind, Saurin, and Rick.

From Richfield we flew at the perfect pace that Ashish set for us toward the small country town of Badin. Assuming that in today’s permissive environment a motorcyclist is allowed to use that word without losing his reputation as a man of substance, the town of Badin is charming.

Nestled against a lake conveniently named Badin Lake …

… and astride the Yadkin river, Badin is the resort town for the area that includes Mt Morrow State Park.

Somewhere along the route we lost Saurin, but we attributed that to either the haunted bridge or a mood swing by Kali, so there wasn’t much we could do about it. But we did miss him.

Mt Morrow State Park is charming– oops –Mt Morrow State Park is well marked, manicured, and paved. If we hadn’t had a car in front of us the whole way we would have made it there in half the time. Riding behind Ashish, I had the distinct impression that he was exerting a supernatural effort to restrain himself from riding straight over the top of the car holding us back so he could enjoy the twisties.

No matter, because once we got to the parking area by the lookout, we were greeted by two C7 Corvettes.

The red Z06 was a stunner.

We wiped off our drool, took several pictures, met some riders from Charlotte, one of whom rode a Triumph Street Triple that looked really good. After several failed attempts by yours truly to coax the rider of the street Triple and Arvind into a grudge match down Mt Morrow and back, we settled into pleasant biker chats.

We also engaged the Corvette owners in scintillating conversation, as a result of which they offered to help us convince our wives that we each needed a Corvette for when the weather got a little too cold or a little too hot to ride a motorcycle.

Sometime after 2:30 pm we decided we’d better stop socializing and hit the road or we wouldn’t be home in time for sopapillas. Since I’d save over an hour by heading straight home from Mt Morrow, I took my own route home, and Ashish and Arvind completed the loop back to their abodes.

I don’t use turn by turn navigation, preferring to memorize the next half dozen turns from my phone’s map and then try to figure out where the hell I am after I invariably wind up lost. As a result, I wasted that hour I saved by taking the direct route. Nevertheless, I got to meet some gentle souls who were kind enough to point out which way North was.

The route was serene, the pace was perfect, the company like old friends. Can’t wait for the next one.