Blue Ridge Parkway-Winston Salem, North Carolina (249 miles)

Conveniently enough, the 10th best motorcycle route in the US, the Skyline Drive, joins the 3rd best, the Blue Ridge Parkway (http://www.motorcycleroads.com/75/616/Virginia/Blue-Ridge-Parkway.html). I wasn't quite sure how much better the Blue Ridge could be...until I rode it yesterday but it's hard to describe exactly why. Like the Skyline, there was barely any traffic save for the odd car and motorcyclist. However, the road felt more natural as there were less guard rails and lots of cool overhanging trees. There were lots of nice long windy curves which were a lot of fun cornering around. Not to get ahead of myself but I was really started to get the hang of the bike on these mountain roads. 

I've started to notice a lot more bikers on the road which is a welcome sight. Something I've come to learn lately is when you own/ride a motorcycle, you enter into a brotherhood since there are so few riders out there(cue Sons of Anarchy comment). One of the ways of which riders like to show solidarity to complete strangers is through 'the wave' (http://www.bikebandit.com/community/guides/when-not-to-do-the-motorcycle-wave). It's a simple acknowledgement or gesture that I've personally noticed is initiated/reciprocated by 90% of riders I've encountered. It's like being in a childish club where you know the secret handshake but I have to admit it's pretty cool and I get a rush out of doing it(hopefully not looking like an absolute noob).

These last few days have been great for building my bike skills and giving me that much needed experience before I break the border and head south. The Blue Ridge Parkway is 4 times as long as the Skyline at 469 miles so I would leave the beast, in order to finish slaying it another day. Since I had to peel off the parkway, I also wanted to avoid highways which took me through some pretty scenic parts of Virginia where farm lands seemed to stretch out in every direction from small, pokey villages. Lots of barns, even more tractors and a tangible sense of much simpler life. 

Next stop was Winston-Salem, North Carolina where I'd be staying with my cousin and godmother Clare. Bit of detour but worth it just to call somewhere home for a day or two and spend time with Clare, Brad and their adorable kids Calum(5) and Thea(3.5) who insisted on calling me uncle, not first cousins once-removed (confusing to me, nevermind a 5 year old!). It was great to recharge the batteries, repack all my luggage and plot the remainder of the route to Austin, Texas. ETA in Austin is now looking like next Tues/Weds so there'll be plenty more motel-ing to come.  I'm working on uploading some of my first Go Pro footage so watch this space :). Latest batch of pics below though...