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Plan B: A Motorcycle Trip from Florida to the Smokies (almost)

We got up early again the next morning and headed south on 441 to Clayton, then east on Warwomen Dell Road. This is a great road that winds through a long valley until it dead-ends into Highway 28. We turned south and rode a few miles into South Carolina in order to see the famous Chattooga River. Who can forget the famous love scene in the movie "Deliverance"? We then rode north on 28 towards Franklin, North Carolina. About ten miles south of Franklin, the road rises dramatically and climbs up through the Blue Valley. Stop at the overlook and check out the waterfall on the other side of the valley.

We had breakfast at a drugstore lunch counter in Highlands, then rode north on US 68 through the Cullasaja gorge. This road winds through the bottom of the gorge and follows the Cullasaja River. The river is wild and beautiful and there are dozens of waterfalls. We pull over to admire one of them and suddenly it starts to rain. We put on our raingear and get back on the bikes. US 68 is a fairly busy road with lots of commercial traffic. We piss off dozens of truckers by riding slowly out of the gorge. Actually, I didn't mind because Bill was riding behind me and took all the flack.

The rain continued all the way through Franklin, North Carolina and back down to Dillard. We pulled into a Pizza joint in Dillard that had a covered deck. I'm ready to eat and get out of the rain, but it's closed of course. We hang out under the deck for an hour or so, waiting for the rain to stop. It wasn't a total loss, however. We run into a local who recommends a restaurant down the road in Clayton. We suit back up and ride to Momma G's Italian Restaurant. Momma G's was the best find of the ride so far. The food was great, the beer was cold and Poppa G was a good host. We head back to Sky Valley after having our first good dinner in two days.

Our plan for the next two days was to ride to Tellico Plains, Tennessee and ride the Cherohala Skyway and end up at the Deal's Gap resort that night. We were to ride the Dragon the next morning, then take the Foothills Parkway to Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Once in the Park, we would ride Little River Road to Newfound Gap and over the mountains to Cherokee, North Carolina and back to Dillard. The bikes were running well and we were ready to test the Dragon.

We left early, running west on US 76 from Clayton until we got to Highway 11. We turned north and rode 11 to US 64 in Tennessee. Although the traffic was heavier than we had been used to the previous three days, it was still a very pleasant ride. After riding about 120 miles, we stopped for gas at a station in Ducktown, Tennessee. We stopped and took a water break and checked the next leg of our ride. We were going to ride north on Highway 68 to Tellico Plains and from there we would pick up the Cherohala Skyway.

Highway 68 turned out to be a very good road. It was twisty but not so tight. After a few miles I down shift to second gear to negotiate a turn; when I straighten out and roll on the throttle, the engine coughs a little.

It was only for a second, and I ignore it. The next time I downshift, it happens again. Still not too bad. After a few more miles, the bike is coughing and missing every time I shift or accelerate. By the time we ride the 35 miles to Tellico Plains, it's running like crap. We pull into a convenience store and Bill tells me I've been blowing white smoke since Ducktown. I shut the bike down and can hardly restart it. I diagnosed my trouble as fouled plugs because I recently put some baffles in my straight pipes without re-jetting. I bought the least restrictive baffles I could find and had about 300 miles on them so I figured they were just slow to foul my plugs. (As many of you have probably already figured out, I'm not a mechanic. I don't do any of my own work.)

We consult a telephone book and discover that the nearest Yamaha dealer is in Alcoa, Tennessee, about 60 miles away. A local tells us that there's a bike shop several miles up the road. Since I believed this to be a minor fix, I decide to give them a try. By this time, my bike has had enough and almost refused to start. Once I get it started, I have to rev the crap out of it to keep it going but we do manage to get the 5 or 6 miles down the road to the shop.

Travel Pictures


wcd1960 says:

bad gas
Tue Jun 14, 2016 at 9:06 AM

farmboy555 says:

Tue Nov 19, 2013 at 12:13 PM

BikerB50 says:

Great story, hope your next trip is a good one!!!!
Sun May 26, 2013 at 10:01 AM

DonJ says:

Being from around your area of the country I would guess carb adjustment from atmosphere pressure change.
Thu Nov 26, 2009 at 2:55 PM

TequilaJohn says:

Yep, sometimes those little out of the way places have some pretty old tanks. Had a friend fill up with diesel on the way out to Sturgis last year. Suffered similar symptoms. We had to drain his tank on the side of the road, and siphon enough from another bike to get him to the next exit. He finished 4500 miles of our 5500 mile ride with no ill effects from it. Needless to say, he earned a new nickname that day. hehheh
Thu Aug 23, 2007 at 7:38 AM

roadstar says:

Close enough. Bad gas in Ducktown. My riding buddy filled up at the same place and had no problems. Go figure.
Thu Aug 23, 2007 at 5:17 AM

TequilaJohn says:

Filled up with Diesel in Ducktown?
Wed Aug 22, 2007 at 9:18 AM

roadstar says:

No wiring short. Try again
Fri Aug 17, 2007 at 1:07 PM

prnc81 says:

Short in your wiring (probably caused from the rain). This resulted in your regulator/rectifier getting fried and your battery getting weaker leading to your misfires - which ultimately left you stranded. You might have noticed your gauges starting to go haywire while you were riding (not sure if you have a tachometer or not)...
Thu Aug 16, 2007 at 11:51 AM

roadstar says:

No it wasn't. Try again.
Tue Aug 7, 2007 at 12:51 PM

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