The annual Norris Lake Couch Riders Cove Tour (NLCRCT) featured three kinds of weather, some sparky new rides, lots of outdoor grilling, great friends, and miles of clear, smooth water.
Every May this disorganized, unorganized international group of riding enthusiasts gathers at Shanghai Resort on beautiful Norris Lake in LaFollette, Tennessee. The ride originated as Jet Stream Fest in 2000 at Lake Cumberland, Kentucky, morphing into The PWC Jamboree on Percy Priest Lake, before finally settling into its current digs at Shanghai in May of 2005.
The Founding Fathers (as they are known), literally found a house on Norris one year and rented it. The overflow took shelter at nearby Hickory Star resort, and The Couch Riders Cove Tour began.
From morning to sunset, whether the mercury said 85 or 58, sun and clouds, wind and rain, we rode. The Sea-Doo #Sparksomefun tour showed up just as the drizzle ended on Thursday, and we were able to test out the new watercraft. (Big thanks to Andy and Sea-Doo for bringing the tour to us!)
The Spark is a fun ride, and while not a long-range touring craft, it could be a good fit for new riders, or as a companion ski to a larger boat. It is stable enough we were able to do in-water trades, bouncing back and forth between the two- and three-seater to test both.
After long days of riding, we hike the hill from the dock to our rooms at Shanghai for grilled dinners and nightly Texas Hold ‘em games in front of a blazing fire on the cabin porch. The whole week has a summer camp kind of feel about it.
Even with all that, the riding takes first place here. Clear water, as flat and reflective as a mirror, stretches for miles.
Norris Lake is made from the damming of the Powell and Clinch Rivers, creating two connected bodies of water with over 800 miles of shoreline, and nearly 34,000 acres of water.
Narrow, winding creeks make fun single-file speed runs. Wide open main lake allows us to spread out and ride side by side, throttles pinned, like some new age wild-west posse.
Ride too far up the Clinch River, and you’ll find rapids and shallows, hopefully not too late to turn around! Head the other direction, and you can ride some truly rural water up the Powell River. Make sure to fuel up at Blue Springs Marina – if you go past this last chance stop, the Powell runs for at least 20 miles past it.
Whether it’s Bubba Brews, Stardust or Twin Cove, the marinas dotted along the shoreline are destinations in themselves, offering the biggest drinks and nachos, to the wildest wings.
This year, the water is down about 10 feet, exposing rock walls and little caves and crevices made for exploring all over the lake, and making the Jumping Rock and Jumping Bridge a bit more of a challenge for those who like heights.