Sport Touring in South Carolina

And How to Stay Out of Jail While Doing It

We recently had the chance to take a 700 mile trip across the great state of South Carolina on BMW's new sport touring K1200RS. Things are a little different in South Carolina. SC is a so-called "law-and-order" state, and its little towns strewn about the state support their police departments mainly with ticket revenue. So as one might expect, a little caution is necessary. Be cool and don't pull wheelies, do burnouts or other hooligan crap, or you will get arrested.

Our trip took us from Charleston in the southeast to Spartanburg in the northwest. Base camp was a great little place called the Fulton Lane Inn in Charleston. The downtown area is a beautiful slice of history, with many of its buildings dating back over a century. The food here is excellent, and we really enjoyed sampling the area restaurants. For upscale continental cuisine Anson gets our recommendation, or for good barbecue and beer you could do far worse than The Mill.

The Fulton Lane Inn, with its parking lot full of bikes Hashing out a route at one of SC's numerous little back-road gas stops
A typical Low Country curve - long and fast Finding out about caution the hard way

For more info for BMW's Zentrum check out their website
A well adapted Carolina resident
A well adapted Carolina resident
First step, of course, is planning a route. For us the first order of business was getting out of the "Low Country." This area is at the southern end of the state and is characterized by its flatness. In this portion of South Carolina, it's best to pick routes that avoid little towns as much as possible. When entering a town there will always be a posted sign: "Speed Zone Ahead." When you see this, slow down. If the sign says 45, go 45 - not 47. Once out of town, crank it up to whatever your cruising speed is, with caution.

When between towns, speed seems to be okay. Just make sure there aren't any other vehicles around, as any one of them could be a radar-carrying police car. Luckily, it's not unusual to be the only one on the road for miles. A good bet for fast sweepers is the national park northwest of Charleston. No cops and lots of 100 mph bends.

Unfortunately, we learned how to avoid the police through a hands-on approach. Coming down a straight, we cranked the K1200RS to an unchallenging 110. Upon seeing a white sedan coming the other way, we rolled off the throttle and squinted to ascertain if the car was a local constable. Well, to make a long story short, it was and we got nicked for doing 93 in a 55 zone. The very friendly officer reduced our speeds to 71 though, as he netted two tickets out of us. Result: minimum fine - $95.

If you ever tire of tree-lined roads, move away from the Low Country and into northwest SC. Here, planning a route is as easy as looking at a map. The country rolls a bit more, with hills that make for some fun riding. A possible destination up this way is the BMW Zentrum museum south of Spartanburg that houses both autos and motorcycles of the marque, including the first Boxer. They also give tours of their adjacent auto plant. The museum features a huge banked wall with BMW models through the years, right up to an R1100RS in Battle of the Legends trim. A great choice for a one to two hour stop to rest your flanks.

A last cautionary note for Dixieland travel is that wildlife abounds. We saw three deer, a couple hundred cows, and more roadkill than we cared to count. Watch the roadsides. Members of our party were hit by birds at least twice. One hit a dog, and quite a few took field mice out. We even found a turtle sitting in the road. After snapping a few photos, we carried him roadside so he wouldn't have to test the bursting strength of his shell.

While not our first choice for a sport tour, South Carolina does offer an appealing combination of history and scenery. Hopefully our travel experiences can help keep you out of the slammer if you plan to visit the area. While touring through South Carolina, turn off the interstate and go exploring - carefully.


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