Tennessee has a landscape that is simply hard not to like and it covers a large swath of the Eastern US through some of the most interesting landscape found including the Appalachian Mountains. While it is easy to relate to the East side of the state to being chocked full of beautiful scenery from water falls to mountains its necessary not to under estimate just how beautiful the Middle TN Southern region can be. I caught a glimpse of this as I took the TN TAT back a few years ago and was surprised then just how beautiful the area was. Creeks throughout, Amish country with large beautiful horses, and dirt roads that went on endlessly, this place really has it all. And, its only about 1-2 hours south of one of the largest cities in Tennessee, Nashville.
Casey Hampton, fellow rider and ambassador for KTM, put this event on and has done so for several years perhaps since its start. Casey did a great job having several ride options available, fantastic routes, and multiple groups so the 160+ riders weren't running all over each other. While this ride was designed for both big bikes and small bikes alike, the overwhelming majority of bikes here were small bikes.. In fact, my BMW GSA, to my knowledge was the only one there. LOTS of KTM's, many Africa Twins, smaller BMW's, KLR's everywhere, and Super Tenere's rounded out the stable found at the ride. No matter what you rode however, you were welcome.
Honestly, as cold as it was when we all got there, I doubt we would have had any brand rivalry anyway as just huddling closer together be it in the restaurant or the 1 propane fire pit made us all instant friends. Let's just say it was uncommonly cool for April. For those who tent camped, the heat from coffee and gloves on hot engines were common sites and needs. Many of us were in RV's or motorhomes but there were also a large number who were tent camping. No matter what our sleeping arrangements, our desire to ride was the same. After all, the forecast didn't magically change right before we arrived so we knew what we were getting into.
It was raining when we got there on Friday and the temp was frigid hitting around 34 that evening maybe lower and as low as 29 Saturday night. The off and on rain most of Friday made riding difficult but for many not impossible. Casey had a night ride planned for Friday that would have been cool but the wet combined with the cold temps caused most of us to choose fireside chats as opposed to night riding.
Saturday, however, was a different story. Still cold and damp for sure with a bit of drizzle up into the morning but the excitement from a bunch of guys and gals ready to rip it up was overpowering the weather. We had about 5 groups head out at staggered times based on expected travel times to keep the 160+ bikes from cramping all over each other. For the most part it worked out very well.
There is one thing I can say as a big bike rider that the small bike riders love to ride fast! I can understand the excitement when beneath you is about 2-300 lbs vs 600 and power to weight ratio is off the chart.. But still running with these guys was a blast.. The sounds of the 10-15 engines all "Brapp-ing" (technical term) at once or going through creek crossings, facing different types of surfaces all led to be a spirited ride with lots of excitement along the way and at least in our group, no one dumped.
Probably the highlight of the ride at least that we got to take a picture of was the waterfall toward the end of the route. The whole area looked like you could see Frodo heading toward Mordor at any turn. It was a bit surreal. I wished that someone had been able to take a picture or better yet video of us all going through the creek for about 100yds as well as the crossing that just about swallowed my bike due to being loose gravel. It's clear I'm going to have to hook up my go pros again for future rides as i miss not having a way to record epic areas like that. Being out in touch with nature is really what adventuring is all about. At least part of it anyway.
After a long day of riding it was great to get back and enjoy a hot dinner from Fall Hollow Campground restaurant. I had the BBQ Ribs and they were amazing but many were eating the smoked meatloaf which I heard was fantastic as well.
Sunday ended up being short for me and likely a better riding day than Saturday was but I had to leave to go to another event where I was speaking in the afternoon. I'm told the Sunday route was great as well. To Casey Hampton and all the volunteers who made the spring rally possible, I thank you as I'm sure all the other attendees do as well. I look forward to seeing you at the fall rally!
Until then, ride on!
Adventurist at heart, David Mays looks to inspire others to live their life with focus and purpose. Experience and expansion is why we are here.