Every year off-road motorcycle enthusiasts from small cc dirt bikes to large big bore adventure bikes descend on a small town in East Tn named Telico Plains. This event has become known as the mother of dirt bike rallies as March Moto Madness is now a common theme in other cities and event countries around the world. Bottom line is, if you want to experience some of the best dirt, gravel, single track, off road experience around; March Moto is the place for you. Plan ahead however as there is no cell service in the area so you will find guys in really weird places from side of the road to the grocery store trying to check in when needed :).
This was my first experience at March Moto but I went with Tracy Henshaw who was a veteran MMM participant and even chose to participate in the infamous Trials event held on Saturday. This event is a difficult event but was made more so with the deluge of rain that came overnight prior and the light rain blessing the event during the trials. To say it was slippery is an understatement. While taking photos of the event I was slipping in my boots which said a lot for the guys running the course.
This is a first come first serve event where everyone comes with whatever resources they have as there aren't a ton provided although the updated instant heat showers were a welcomed site for the many who decided to tent camp while there. Others as well as myself brought our facilities with us in the form of motorhomes and fifth wheels. Did I mentioned it rained? Yep.. There was a certain amount of off-road mudding that some motorhomes and fifth wheels got to experience as well. Some faired well, others.. well, there were tractors available.
The evenings still crisp in East TN created a fantastic riding environment especially in the higher elevations. Off-road riding can work up a sweat so while it was chilly none of us were complaining. Thursday Tracy, Donovan, Mike, and myself set off for a ride after we got setup at camp and really got to get ourselves ready for the weekend ahead. Tracy was riding his Oil head GS (yep, the same one I crashed into about a month ago, now repaired), and Mike and Donovan were on their small bikes. We had a great time taking in about 50/50 dirt to pavement. We even took time to take in a few great sites including some brave kayakers (ice water, seriously!) as well as the beautiful Bald River Falls. Ended up on more pavement than we had hoped but it was a beautiful ride regardless.
Friday they were riding small bikes so I decided to join a big bike ride unknowing it was set for "easy". 35 bikes showed up making for nothing short of a complicated ride then adding off road and varying skill levels it was going to be an interesting day.. Well, not far into the trip a good friend Evandre also on a GSA was bopping to the left passing people in the line (I was stuck somewhere in the middle of the pack). This was news to me that passing was "ok" so I jumped behind him and followed suit. Didn't take long before he veered off and stopped. I pulled over to see what was wrong and he stated his throttle body was still acting up. He ultimately had to turn back. Drew, the sweeper (rider in back), came up along with Jason Hill and all the other bikes in the long train had long ago passed me while were were pulled over.. Drew, who works for Knoxville BMW and whom I met in Denver, CO in 2015 at the BMW dealer there (we didn't figure this out till the last day lol) said, let's head on and we will catch them..
The ride was on.. The three of us were good riders and so were moving at a pretty quick clip.. We continued this and I kept thinking, surely we are going to catch the gang any minute. Well, we never did. We didn't find out till we got back as to why. Apparently Drew's GPS was set for curvy roads (seems appropriate) although following a track so we missed where they were all sitting and waiting for us.. So, while thinking they were ahead of us or perhaps chose a different track, they were actually now behind us... Way behind..
The original track took us up to the Cherohola skyway via dirt/gravel road which has an elevation of around 4000 ft give or take. This led to some decision making by many because snow and ice was still all over the roads on the top area of this track. It was crisp and beautiful and I loved it. We helped a fellow GS who had a dead battery get going again and by the time we decided to head up the hill the ice was worsening. Some were turning around others were heading forward. I decided to push ahead as well. So glad I did!
At the top of this hill I accidentally joined up with those who decided to take the Cherokee Challenge led by Matt Kelly (GS Trophy qualifier and great rider to follow - smooth is fast). What a great route. We ultimately went all the way to Deals Gap, enjoy a ton of off road as well as on road and my odo for the day ended up around 200mi... Great day of riding. The guys on the Cherokee Challenge were all great and they kept a great spirited pace. We took the pictures as required to get the sticker to show you completed the challenge (remember I accidentally ended up on the challenge so although I took the pictures I never went back to get the sticker, oops). Regardless, it was a great day of riding and I met some new friends as well.
My hat's off to Hugomoto.com for producing an off-road capable Harley Motorcycle. The most impressive rider up the hill in my opinion was a GS rider who except for the final run made it up the hill I believe without ever taking his foot off the pegs. That was pretty impressive to watch. Regrettably I didn't have photos of either of those riders but I'm sure they are readily available in the typical circles.
Needless to say, the whole event was a success and I'm already looking forward to coming next year! Now? Well, now I'm getting ready for next weekend where I'll be at the Tennessee Dual Sport Southern Discovery which is shaping up to be a fantastic weekend as well. Hopefully will see you there! Until then, ride safe and ride often!
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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.