Wednesday, 8 May 2013

Tail of the Dragon!

Tail of The Dragon is a part of Highway 129 in North Carolina and Tennessee:  318 curves in 11 miles!!  Whether you are a car or a motorcycle enthusiast, new, old or vintage, on your own or part of a club, at some point you will heed the call of The Dragon.

Once again so much for my map estimate.  My 10 minute ride turned out to be an hour!  So starting at the mid point of Hwy 129 you head north, after about 15 miles the Dragon starts, right at Deals Gap Motorcycle Resort:  The gathering place for everyone to share their stories, take a photo, have lunch, and get a t-shirt and decal.

I have heard it is bad luck to get your decal before heading up the route, so I blow by Deals Gap and head onto the route.  You are immediately baptized on one of the first corners when you realize a blind corner is going to be REALLY tight!!!  In 11 miles at let me say a "brisk" pace you spend the majority of it in first and second gear.  The road was damp so it paid to be a bit cautious.  Heaven forbid riding it for the first time in the dry on a racing bike!!

I have to admit to riding a "bit" over the speed on a fully loaded off-road oriented touring bike I was amazed at how well it handled and how well I was riding.  Taking the off-road tires off before the trip and putting street tires on was a great decision.  "Chicken strips" are the edges of your tires that you never ride on since you are too chicken to lean your bike over that far in a corner.  Mine are now measured in millimeters!!! 

So after racing to the end of the Dragon, I turned round and did it again back down, making the customary stop in Deals Gap.

Most years someone is killed on the Dragon.  Sometimes it is just driver error, but there are also head on collisions as people cut corners etc.  Huge semi trucks also occasionally take the route and get stuck trying to make some of the corners.  At Deals Gap there is the Tree of Shame: where broken and smashed bike parts are hung up.

Along the route there are 4 photographers set up that upload all the daily pics to the internet so you can pay to download a high resolution copy.  Once they are updated I will upload one to my blog.

So having done Tennessee, North Carolina, and a brief stint in Georgia I am back in Tennessee close to the Alabama state line.  I am back in a hotel as after a week I needed to do laundry.  So from here I blast west to Carlsbad New Mexico, covering the US equivalent of the Prairies.  the weather looks good so the next few days will be highway miles and camping.  So unless something unexpected happens it might be a few days for an update.

1 comment:

  1. Sounds like a fantastic ride, Dom! I can't believe that semi's would choose that route -- ridiculousness for a trucker trying to make quick miles.

    Have a grand time crossing the mid-west prairies; watch for cross-winds and stray animals. Hope you've got multiple foot/leg positions on that fancy bike of yours to make those long straight miles bearable.

    Talking about chicken strips -- try leaning into a corner when there aren't any for thousands of miles!

    M (D and S)