Carolina Challenge

Today I continued my story about my Carolina Challenge ride last week. Sorry, it’s a little long, but this leg of my trip took me through my hometown and ‘old stomping grounds’ so I had to reminiscence a little. Hahaha.

Thunder Road Harley-DavidsonIt’s Friday morning, and I’ve just gotten my stamp from Thunder Road HD in Danville, Va. My next decision is how I’m going to get to Tobacco Road HD in Raleigh, NC.

Sitting in one of those Adirondack chairs at Thunder Road, I bring up Google Maps and punch in Tobacco Road to get its location. Not in a particular hurry, I look first to see, if using interstates, what the travel time would be. Google Maps says if I ride south down hwy 86 to Hillsborough, NC and then I-40 to the hwy 401 exit; it will be 89 miles and 1 hr 37 minutes. Not bad I thought, but I didn’t really want to use interstate no more than I needed. My premise on the use of interstate has been to avoid twisting through large cities, well like Raleigh.

So, now I’m checking the travel time if avoiding the interstate. Well, well, well, same mileage, but now the time is 2 hours 8 minutes – about 30 extra minutes. Not bad, I thought, but I didn’t like how Google Maps was routing me around Raleigh. So, I followed Google Maps until Rougemont, NC. Here I parted ways with Google Maps and relied on my knowledge of the local highways to Durham and Raleigh. Being I grew up in South Boston, Va, this was my old ‘stomping grounds’ so to speak.

My Carolina Challenge route now decided, I had lots of memories around here and was fighting the temptation to hang around a little. With a sigh, I continue down hwy 58 east towards South Boston, Va. Taking a right on to hwy 62, I head south into NC where the number changes to hwy 57 into Roxboro, NC. Again, LOTS of memories on this road. As I ride past the road to Virginia International Raceway (VIR), memories of my dad taking me here and making sure to point out the Mini Coopers are blowing the doors off the Corvettes on the track. Now in Corvette’s defense, they were superior in speed down the straight sections, but the Mini Coopers ruled the track on the curves.

Reaching Roxboro, NC, I’m now getting on to hwy 501 south. A road I had used countless times as a teenager to travel to Myrtle Beach, SC. From here on, I would go down 501 to I-40 then I-40 east to the 401 exit to Tobacco Road HD.

Along the way, I travel through a little community called Rougemont and briefly stop at my Aunt’s little cafe she owned decades ago. I don’t remember the name of it back then, but the building was the same. Stopping there for what I fondly call a ‘b**t break,’ I take time to remember the good times we had visiting my Aunt and the little cafe. Now, on to Tobacco Road for my next stop on my Carolina Challenge Ride!

Continuing down 501 towards Durham, I briefly head west on I-85 to get to the 501 bypass. Once on the bypass, I head south on 501 until I reach I-40 and head east to Tobacco Road. The interstate traffic was not bad, so, I get in the far right lane and hold a steady speed of 65 MPH to keep out of the way of the faster traffic.

Tobacco Road HDReaching the hwy 401 exit, I’m now parking BJ under the shade trees you’ll find around the Tobacco Road dealership. Something you will find at a few HD dealerships.

The staff was friendly enough, but I’ve encountered friendlier. Tobacco Road is one of the more popular dealerships around Raleigh, but from my travels, not one of my favorites.

My card stamped, I’m taking a little time to rest and plot my next leg west towards Cox’s Harley Davidson in Asheboro, NC.


Learn more about the Challenge Ride.

Read more of Rick’s stories.

Visit our Events page.