These days, I’ve become so enthralled by all the great motorcycle roads around the world and on my bucket list that I forget about the ones close to home. For this ride, I retraced steps from my early riding days with a 140‑mile Tennessee motorcycle loop around my hometown of Dover, which is located on the Cumberland River about 30 miles west of Clarksville and, as the crow flies, a little over 60 miles northwest of Nashville.
I was joined by my husband, Jake, on his Can‑Am Ryker Rally, and I was aboard a Honda Rebel 1100T DCT test bike.
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We started out at the Dyers Creek boat ramp, just across the river from downtown Dover. Then we rode across U.S. Route 79 and onto Bumpus Mills Road. This road has some of the best curves of the loop – the perfect way to get our blood pumping at the beginning of the ride.
When we got to the end of the road at the junction with State Route 120, we turned north and stopped at the family‑owned Bumpus Meals Diner. We had hoped to pop in for a bite of their handmade desserts and a cup of coffee, but the diner was closed that day as the family and staff were enjoying the Thanksgiving weekend.
Oh well, onwards we went. The next stretch of the ride took us into Kentucky on State Route 139. It can be tempting to pick up the speed on this road, but we knew we couldn’t get too carried away. Much of this land is farmed by Amish communities, and you never know when you’ll run up behind a horse‑drawn buggy just over the next hill.
An optional spur is to take a right on State Route 164 and visit the Oak Ridge Country Store. We love their homemade cheeses, deli sandwiches, and local canned and pickled foods. There are other stops along the road where you can purchase smoked meats, honey, fresh produce, and other goods.
We continued our Tennessee motorcycle loop north until we came to U.S. Route 68, where we turned west for 15 miles and rode over the Cumberland River and into Land Between the Lakes National Recreation Area. We turned south at the Woodlands Trace National Scenic Byway, also known as The Trace (not to be confused with the Natchez Trace Parkway, which runs between Nashville and Natchez, Mississippi).
The Trace is a beautiful road that runs right through the center of LBL. Along the way are the Golden Pond Visitors Center and Planetarium, picnic areas, a bison range, campgrounds, the Turkey Bay OHV Area, and the Homeplace 1850s Working Farm and Living History Museum.
We continued through LBL and back toward Dover. At the end of The Trace, we turned west on U.S. Route 79 and popped in at Brien Dill’s Piggly Wiggly. I worked at this grocery store throughout high school and college and still enjoy stopping by to visit with past coworkers and the owner, Brien, who rides a BMW R 1250 GS Adventure and loves chatting about motorcycles.
Down the highway about 6 miles, we turned south onto State Route 232, also known as the “Baby Dragon.” Unlike the famous 11‑mile road in East Tennessee with a similar name, the Baby Dragon doesn’t have tight, technical curves, but it has plenty of long sweepers with good visibility. By the time we got to the end of the Baby Dragon, we were getting hungry, so we stopped at Southernaire Motel & Restaurant for a meatloaf plate with turnip greens and black‑eyed peas.
After a tasty lunch, we continued east through the towns of Stewart, Tennessee Ridge, and Erin until we got to Cumberland City, where candy‑striped steam stacks from the TVA power plant stretch up into the sky. We rode down to the ferry, paid 75 cents (tickets are $1 for out‑of‑state motorcycles), and hopped over the river.
The last leg of this route goes through Indian Mound, the part of Stewart County where I grew up. Maybe I’m biased, but this is my favorite portion of this favorite ride. The roads through the Mound rise up over ridges and snake down along creeks and past fields of cattle. The last road is Old Highway 79, the curviest road of the loop.
At the end of Old Highway 79, you’ll find yourself back on U.S. Route 79 and just a stone’s throw away from the boat ramp where we began this route. Revisiting these roads and stops that have always been a part of my life gave me a renewed appreciation for my community and town. Sure, there are places in the world with more dramatic views and more exciting roads, but at the end of the day, these are the roads I’ll always come back to.