Join Date: Dec 2010
Location: northern Deep South
Bikes: Fuji Touring, Novara Randonee
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One option on the southern end would be to take the BRP to Cherokee, NC; go down through Bryson City on U.S. 19, then cut over NC 28 to U.S. 129 to Vonore, TN 72 west to TN 58 north into Kingston, then west on U.S. 70 to Crossville. Not sure what the best way would be to get from Crossville to Cookeville.
My biggest concern would be the racetrack south out of Bryson City, but it's 4 lane divided racetrack with generally good shoulders. Once you hit 28, the road narrows and twists, so beware of motorcyclists on the tail of the dragon. 70 west of Kingston was lightly trafficed except at rush hour last time I went through -- most people take I-40.
Second biggest concern is the mountains. How many times do you want to climb 3,000' at 6%? How about 5 times in North Carolina?? One alternative would be to get off around Sparta, NC, cut over to Mouth of Wilson, VA, then come down through Whitetop to Damascus and cut south to Elizabethon. Nice, scenic, roads without too much traffic, and lots of twists and turns to keep motorists' speed down. One of these days I've really got to take U.S. 321 north from Newport to Greeneville, TN, to see if that's viable; I haven't been on 11E since they finished the interstate 35 years ago, but there were lots of little towns that made driving that route a hassle back then. Might be possible to take 107 down through Unicoi to Newport and pick up 321 there, but again, I haven't driven that route in a very long time.
If you decide not to take the Parkway, get a hold of the Adventure Cycling TransAm maps either side of Christiansburg, VA. 11 and I-81 are the main routes; short of a maze of twisty little local roads, you'll be following those to get from Pennsylvania to Tennessee. U.S. 11 often has a lot of local traffic, and AC does a decent job of routing around those sections. I'd try to avoid 11 through Roanoke/Salem, and from Abington through Bristol to either Johnson City or Kingsport, and through Knoxville. (Chilhowee to Meadowview is OK, though.)