Roanoke, Virginia Shamrock Tour®: Dirty Dancing Through the Curves

Text: Florian Neuhauser • Photography: Christa Neuhauser, Florian Neuhauser

As summer ends and autumn approaches, the days get shorter. While we get ready for winter 
by cleaning out the garage and servicing our motorcycles, trees use up the last of their food supply in a way that attracts millions of tourists. And what better way to see nature’s beautiful fall foliage than by rolling through on two wheels.

Every fall has a different leaf peep show, and it all depends on temperature and moisture. We’re on a hunt to see nature’s spectacle that is scattered around the byways and mountains of Roanoke, VA.

Glimpse of Autumn

After a long and hearty breakfast at the Hotel Roanoke, we roll our autumn assault machines onto the highway to get out of town. Roanoke is conveniently situated close to the Blue Ridge Parkway and numerous never-ending country byways. Today’s route leads us northwest of our home base through several national forests. Only a few exits off the interstate, we turn right onto 311 North. It immediately climbs a mountain ridge with mouthwatering sweepers that just beg us to twist the throttle. I’m riding the Kawasaki Concours 14, which sticks to its line like a freight train, and Christa is on the nimble Honda CB1000R. As I navigate up the mountain I see that fall hasn’t been everywhere yet, but we’re confident we’ll find some colorful spots. Making a left onto Upper Craig Creek Road, the dirt throws us into what can only be described as a fairy tale setting. We pass an old barn at rest in a meadow to the left and take a narrow bridge over sparkling water as the most beautiful yellow, orange, and bright green leaves line our path. Of course, the low morning sun illuminates the vegetation like a ‘70s lampshade. Even though this road isn’t leading us anywhere, it’s the perfect wrong turn for the start. Back on track, we follow 311 to New Castle where we turn left onto 42. I glance at my GPS screen and smile. It’s about to get curvy.

We shift into second, take the open switchbacks, and use all of the rubber Bridgestone and Michelin supply on the edge. The Honda zips through without effort, but I’m working the Connie hard. It takes a certain riding style, and I haven’t gotten down the tight curves yet. Luckily, I’ll have plenty of opportunities.

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For the complete touring article, including facts & information, map(s), and GPS files, please purchase the July/August 2013 back issue.