Red River Gorge and Natural Bridge Parks, Kentucky

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IMG_2905IMG_2906This weekend constitutes the inaugural motocamping trip on Raven.  I was doing a full load out, even though it was only going to be for one night.  I wanted to see how she would handle the weight and make sure I could handle the extra weight on long trips at speed and in twisties.  I was joined on the trip down by two other riders, David on his NC700X and Kelly on his BMW RS1100.  I set my GPS to stick with the Scenic Routes only, forbidding Freeways and larger highways.  We went all over the Kentucky countryside and cruised through the more remote areas of the horse farms and back country.  We pulled out from the our starting point of E.P. Tom Sawyer State Park, located near my house at just barely after 9:15 AM.  We pulled into the loop at Natural Bridge Park just at 12:30 PM.

IMG_2909IMG_2910We went into the loop, with David leading, then myself, and Kelly bringing up the tail.  The whole of the loop took just about 45 minutes, and I did record the whole run on my GoPro, the video is rendering, including the ride through the Nada Tunnel.  It was a treat.  I only got a few actual photos, I will try and get more on the next run.  After running the loop, we decided to grab a bite to eat at a small “get all your camping, climbing, beer and food” store.  They even have hostel services on their 2nd floor for $17 a night.

IMG_2912IMG_2911Once done grabbing a beer and some food, we decided to head up on the Nada Tunnel Overlook road.  This road was just off the loop and over a bridge that crossed the Mountain Parkway.  Once across, however, it turned into a packed gravel road.  While packed, it still had quite a bit of residual water and there were some mushy spots and some fairly large holes.  These spots were easily avoided, however, and we had a great ride.  There were a couple spots to look out into the gorge area and they were breathtaking.  This is a trip I want to do again where there is more color in the trees.

IMG_2916IMG_2915When we got done with that ride, David took his leave to head back home, he was not going to be able to camp.  Kelly and I went and hit the camp site and decided to get everything set up while we still had plenty of light. While I set up my site, Kelly went into town for some ice and a few brews and some wood for the campfire.  Took me 25 minutes to get the bike unpacked, tent fully set up and my chair put together.  Kelly got back, we got the fire going and got to trading stories of previous camping trips, biking or hiking.  Had some brews and food (Mountain House still makes good freeze-dried camp food.)  I think we went through most of the beer, a few snacks, had an interesting conversation with one of the neighbors who lives on and off the road a lot of the year, but has still maintained a full time job at the Georgetown Toyota factory for going on 20 years.  There are some interesting characters out there.  We finally got to bed around 11:00 PM or so.  The night passed uneventfully, and while it was cool, it was not outright cold.  I did get up at a point to take a wizz and was mesmerized by the “moving tree” near the tent.  Not really moving, but the hundreds of hand-sized moths covering it were making it appear to move.  Very weird, but cool.

IMG_2914IMG_2907This morning we broke camp after coffee and a quick breakfast and were on the road by 10:00 am.  Could have been quicker, but no need.  We were in no hurry and had plenty of time to get home.  I put Danville into the GPS and selected Scenic Route again.  This time, coming back west, I swear we were so deep into the back country we could hear banjos around every bend.  But we got to see some amazing countryside.  From Danville, we came into Louisville via another whole lot of twists and turns and a few more one lane roads.  Finally though Taylorsville and into Louisville and home by 3:00 pm.  In all, we spent over 15 hours in the saddle between the 2 days and put just over 400 miles on the bikes.  It was wonderful and a great start to the motocamping season.

IMG_2913I was able to give a good test of the equipment and tweak my list for this coming weekend’s trip. I need a new sleep pad, my existing one is shot and gives no support at all.  I need to get a tarp as well for under the tent.  Not a large one, just enough so an errant stick or rock doesn’t poke through the bottom of the tent.  I don’t need to pack everything I took for an overnight, but I don’t have much to change between a 1 night stay and a 4 night stay; more food, extra socks undies and shirt, more snacks.  In all, the whole of the trip was a success.  The RAM mount for the phone worked flawlessly and stayed in place leaving the phone secure and easy to see.  The bike itself was a blast.  For the slower and straighter roads, Drive mode was just fine, mellow enough to cruise.  For the twisties, Sport mode was ideal, giving me more power in the turns and more control over the speed without getting on the breaks too much.  As I am still learning to ride, I am still learning to visualize my path through the turns and choosing the one that will be safest.  It is coming quickly, though, the more I ride. I am stoked for this weekend to come with another outing with the ADVRiders group down in Cave City, KY.

I hope to get more photos on subsequent trips, however the videos have been great from the GoPro on the chest mount. There will be a video of this ride coming shortly.  Please check back for it and more rides as they happen!

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