If you just want to ride curves over and over again, try this Snake Sportbike Route. When we stay in Johnson City, TN over the Summer and Fall, we ride this almost every Sunday to practice riding curves. A lot of sport bikers use this route as their race track to practice getting their knee down and going fast around the curves. You most likely will see some of them especially on weekend afternoons when the weather is good. If they come up behind you when riding, just move to the right side of the road, signal them to pass, and slow down a touch, and they happily will ride on by. The US-421 Track Boys have a fun poster in the Shady Valley General Store and use the store as their hang out when riding this road.
When we ride this route, we like to stay to the right side of the road (like riding a bicycle) when going around the curves just in case a biker or car driver driving in the opposite direction goes over the yellow center line. It is a good practice, staying to the right side of the road, because it is pretty common for a car or motorcycle to ride over the center line on this road. In addition, staying to the right side of the road will increase the degree of difficulty when riding the curves, making for much better practicing. Plus if you misjudge a curve and take it too fast or too early, you will be way over on the right side so if your screw-up causes you to swing out to the left, you have less chance of going over the center line yourself! Forget about perfecting hitting the apex if you stay to the right side though; that is for track days on a track.
There are three other Snake routes posted in this blog, The Snake Figure 8, US 58 East of Damascus and The Snake and Going Over Whitetop Mountain. Check these three posts out for additional information about the Snake.
US-421 from Shady Valley to Mountain City has been resurfaced (as of July 2017) and widened slightly (16 more inches) and riding it would be heaven except gravel was added to build up the sides of the road. Therefore watch out for gravel around the blind right-handed curves. I have included an additional 50 mi route if you want to skip riding US-421 from Shady Valley to Mountain City. The additional route starts in Shady Valley and directs you to Konnarock Rd via US-58. Then you turn around and take the same roads back into Shady Valley. This 10-mile part of US-58 is total bliss on a sportbike but challenging too. You can ride it up and back more than once too.
The road surface on US-421 from Shady Valley to South Holston Lake is starting to get pretty beat up especially just north of Shady Valley (Sullivan County side). We have heard that that part of the road will be re-patched Summer 2017 and then repaved some time in Summer 2018. No patch jobs have been started as of the second week of Sept., 2017.
In the detailed ride route shown below, I have pointed out easy turn around points. That way you can ride to north of Mountain City, turn around, ride through Shady Valley, turn around (on Jacks Corner or U-turn just after that) after finishing up the majority of curves on the Snake and head back to Shady Valley.
Please beware of Jacks Corner if you decide to ride past this curve heading towards South Holston Lake. The majority of riders have the ability to take this curve really fast and I have to admit that it is a super fun curve to take fast…BUT…there is a side road in the middle of the outside of the curve (see figure below). Cars and trucks with trailers turn-in to this side road often, and if there is a turn-in while you are riding fast around Jack’s Corner, you won’t be able to stop in time. Plus, riders may also be turning back out onto US-421 from this side road. Plus, people in cars and trucks including photographers and motorcyclists hang out on Jacks Corner and a rider riding either way on US-421 could get easily distracted, look at the group of socializers on Jacks Corner instead of the road they are riding and ride right into them (it has happened).
It is always nice to take a break at the Shady Valley Country Store, to get a drink and bathroom break, and to chat with and watch all the motorcyclists with motorcycles visiting the store. It can get pretty busy on the weekends.
After a rest, you can get back on the bike and head north on US-421 N, go through the fun curves again and then stay on US-421 N to TN-44 which will take you back to Johnson City if you follow the detailed route plan below.
The Snake Sportbike Route
The Snake Sportbike Route – 115 mi
From BP Gas Station at intersection of TN-36/Roan St, Boones Creek Rd/TN-354 and Pickens Bridge Rd,
Head northeast on S Pickens Bridge Rd Go 0.4 mi.
Curve to the Left to stay on Pickens Bridge Rd Go 6.4 mi to stop sign.
Right onto Allison Rd Go 0.2 mi crossing over Bristol Hwy at stoplight.
Straight on Piney Flats Rd Go 0.8 mi to stop sign in Piney Flats.
Left onto Main St Go 0.3 mi.
Curve to the Right onto Tank Hill Rd Go ~300 ft.
Curve to the Left onto Tank Hill Rd. Go ~0.1 mi then cross over RR tracks.
Left onto Mountain View Dr Go 2.2 mi to stop sign.
Right onto US-19E S Go 7.1 mi.
Exit Right onto TN-91 N/Shady Valley/Stoney Ck exit Go 0.2 mi to stop sign.
Left onto Lovers Lane/TN-91 N Go 22.1 mi to Shady Valley stop sign/blinking light.
Right onto US-421 S towards Mountain City Go 8.8 mi.
Continue straight into Mountain City, TN for lunch and/or gas (another 2 or 3 mi) OR
Turn around at school buses before Mountain City to head back on US-421 N.
Head west on US-421 N Go 8.8 mi back to Shady Valley blinking light.
Continue straight on US-421 N Go 6 more mi to turn around corner (Jacks corner).
Or you can turn around by making a U-turn just after Jacks Corner.
After your turn-around, head back for 6 mi on US-421 S to Shady Valley blinking light.
Turn around in Shady Valley and go for 16.4 mi on US-421 N.
Left onto TN-44 S Go for 1.9 mi to stop sign.
Right to stay on TN-44 S Go for 7.3 mi.
Left onto Chinquapin Grove Rd (instead of taking right to stay on TN-44) Go for 3.9 mi.
Continue straight onto Bunker Hill Rd Go for 1.1 mi to stop sign.
Right onto US-19E Go for 1.9 mi.
Left onto Mountain View Dr Go 2.2 mi.
Curve to Right going over RR tracks onto Tank Hill Rd
Curve to Left onto Main St Go 0.3 mi to stop sign in Piney Flats.
Right onto Piney Flats Rd Go 0.8 mi crossing over Bristol Hwy at stop light.
Straight onto Allison Rd Go 0.2 mi.
Left onto N Pickens Bridge Rd
Go 6.8 mi to BP station on corner of Pickens Bridge Rd, N Roan St, and Boones Creek Rd.
Alternate Route that includes US-58
Alternate ride that includes riding to Damascus and 10 mi on US-58 east of Damascus to Konnarock and back
From Shady Valley intersection of TN-91, US-421, and TN-133,
Head northeast on TN-133 toward Damascus Go 11.4 mi passing through Backbone Rock tunnel
Enter VA and straight on S Shady Ave/T-716 Go 1.9 mi to stop sign.
Right onto E Laurel Ave/ E 3rd St/ US-58 E Go ~0.3 mi
Right onto US-58 E/ Douglas Dr Go 1.2 mi
Left onto US-58 E Go 9.5 mi
Go straight onto Konnarock Rd (not takingUS-58 E when it turns right) Go ~1.0 mi and turn around in Konnarock or before
Southwest on Konnarock Rd for ~1.0 mi
Straight onto US-58 W Go 9.5 mi to stop sign.
Right onto US-58 W Go 1.2 mi
Left onto E 3rd ST/ US-58 E Go ~0.3 mi
Left onto T-716/ S Shady Ave Go 1.9 mi entering TN
Straight onto TN-133 S Go 11.4 mi to Shady Valley