Living among the mountains makes it easy to become unappreciative of their beauty, but Glen Abbott offered a reality check when he rolled into Johnson City on his Harley-Davidson Road King Classic. The travel writer based out of Orlando, Fla., has toured on two wheels for thousands of miles through the U.S. and Mexico and recently chose one of the Southern Dozen routes as part of his journey.
“It’s well worth the trip to get to this area,” he said. “The roads are great to ride. I just put my feet up on the highway pegs and just relax and enjoy the scenery.”
Abbott took off on the “Vinegar Pie” ride early Saturday that leads to the Clinch Mountain Lookout Restaurant in Thorn Hill, Tenn., known for its vinegar pie. He had a hard time choosing just one of the 12 scenic rides to experience for himself.
“I’ve had the famous pie before and I want to incorporate that experience into my story,” he said.
Abbott is a freelance writer for several motorcycle publications, including the Harley Owners Group, or HOG Magazine. He’s currently working on a piece that features the “parkways and byways” of Tennessee and North Carolina. He left Orlando on July 4 and clocked in 1,200 miles cruising the Blue Ridge Parkway, the 11-mile “Dragon” ride through the Smoky Mountains on the Tennessee/North Carolina border and finished with the Cherohala Skyway before reaching Johnson City. His two-state travels ended with the “Vinegar Pie” ride and a tour toward the Cumberland Gap on Saturday.
Longtime Tennesseans may not realize that this mountainous area appeals to motorcyclists everywhere. Abbott says he fell in love with Tennessee after taking a trip on the White Lightning Trail from Knoxville to Cumberland Gap last year.
“My ideal ride is any of type of two-lane curvy roads with not a lot of traffic and plenty of natural beauty and scenery,” he said. “People here are friendly and warm and the area has its own unique character and culture.”
Abbott incorporated the local “Vinegar Pie” ride into his trip after finding out about the Southern Dozen through promotions by the Johnson City Convention and Visitors Bureau.
“Any time the states or city tourism organizations can package rides for motorcyclists, it’s very appealing,” he said. “Sometimes if you’re from another area you don’t know the best places to ride. You have to hear it through word of mouth or magazines, but honestly the promotions are effective with riders.”
When Abbott’s planning each two-wheeled adventure, he’s sure to space out the hours and the miles.
“I’m not into the endurance of it,” he said. “I’m a leisurely rider. If I go on a trip that’s 1,000 miles that’s cool, but I would rather spread those miles out over enough days that I’m not constantly on the bike. I want to take time to stop and take pictures and talk to people.”
The travel writer also blogs about his routes via “The Travelin’ Gringo: Tales from the road,” which gives Abbott the opportunity to connect readers with the friendly faces and delicious foods he encounters along the road. Besides writing, the 54-year-old captures photographs of anything and everything he finds interesting during his travels and also works as a freelance videographer in the Orlando area providing news coverage for several networks. Most recently, however, Abbott has found himself more interested in print.
“The writing is more satisfying to me,” he said. “Plus, getting to ride a motorcycle and getting to cover what I want to cover and being able to travel is an ideal way to make a living.”
To read about Abbott’s motorcycle adventures, visit his blog at www.travelingringo.com and to learn more about the Southern Dozen motorcycle rides, go to www.southerndozen.com.