I left Hot Springs and found a Waffle House a few miles down the road. Pretty cool place, and I tried grits there. They aren't really that good, just a corn-based malt-o-meal essentially. I guess if you put tasty flavoring in them they would be good.
Then I spent many minutes making wrong turns in some smallish town, trying to get to an interesting-looking road that I wanted to go on even though it headed NE while I would rather go straight east. I took a crappy loose gravel road with switchbacks but finally made it. Turns out that the road was the Blue Ridge Parkway. So I set in and had a nice cruise for a while.
But then I came around a corner and was presented with a 3" high ridge running parallel to the road for about 15 feetright in the middle of my lane. My attention was momentarily distracted as I glanced at an oncoming car, and seemingly instantly I found myself sliding on the ground. First off, I am 99% fine and healthy. It all happened very fast so here's as well as I can remember it: I hit the ridge, the handlebars whipped back and forth once or twice, I was sliding, I think I tried to lift myself up while I was still sliding (a common phenomenon reportedly), and then I rolled once and came to a stop on the side of the road about 10 feet from the bike. I think my speed was 45-50 mph as I was accelerating out of the curve (I hadn't been trying to "drag a knee" or even been doing much that would have earned me a speeding ticket, but evidently a little slower would have been safer). I slid about 30 yards. It was a really good test of my protective gear!
So the old lady who's car I had glanced at turned around and came back to check on me. By the time she got there I stood up and turned off the bike and was double-checking myself for injuries. She was pretty surprised how good of shape I was in after what she watched. A group of other riders helped me pick stuff up and make sure the bike ran fine (nothing functional was broken). The side-case on the road side had popped off but only the latch that holds it on was bent so one bungee cord worked to secure it. I rode to a nearby pull-off spot and called insurance and police (only got a warning!).
My right thumb is pretty sore but it will be fine. My left knee has a pretty shallow wound the size of a nickel, and my stomach has a 2 square-inch light abrasion. That's it, which I think is pretty good considering the speed, and a bit lucky because not much would have had to change for me to go over a guard-rail or get some impact or crushing injuries.
All-in-all, I wish I could place the blame on a crappy road but obviously thousands of other motorcycles have ridden through there safely. So it is a lesson that some more caution would be good.
I made it 60 more miles to Hickory, NC, and went with a motel for the night so I can hopefully sleep a little better as I'm sure some soreness will really start to set in tomorrow.
Also, I shit you not: the song playing on my Bluetooth headset at the time was Chumbawumba…I get knocked down, but I get up again, etc….