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Thread: The Dragon

  1. #1
    pedrocasper
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    The Dragon

    I just returned from NC/Tenn. Purpose of the trip was to explore the great roads of the Smoky Mountains. I had read all the hype about the Tail of the Dragon (Route 129) and didn't necessarily believe it. Hell, just getting to the "Dragon" presented so many awesome turns that I had a smile securely fixed to my face upon arrival, and I queried out loud, ǣwhy dont these roads have businesses and web pages dedicated to them? I arrived at the Dragon via NC Route 28 and felt my heart begin to pound (was I nervous?). After a few drinks of water, I said just take it easy and have a great ride. I hit the start button and headed for my first run of the day on the Dragon. After turn 3 of the 318 turns in 11 miles, I knew I had found a road that deserved all the ǣhype. If you have ever been there, you know that a small community has sprung up supporting the motorcycle tourists who visit to ply their abilities on the ǣDragon. I imagine most of the owners as being transplanted motorcycle geeks (like myself) who started businesses near Route 129 just so they could be close to the road (not a bad idea). At about turn 30 you really hit the funǪthe Tennessee side is where it is atǪ I shifted out of second gear only onceǪ.enjoying riding my r100 boxer caf? at 5,500 -6,200 rpm range carving corners. Pretending I was Nate Kern blasting by the competition, I enjoyed the road while playing at the upward end of my comfort level, but never leaving it. After a weeks stay and exploring many great roads (Route 28, 441, Wayah Road, etc) I had to do the Dragon one final day. A total of 6 trips that day finished my week on the Dragon. After saying good bye to several good people who I met throughout the weekǪI headed north and home. I must now add my bit to the ǣhype. The Dragon is a road that must have been designed by a very talented rider. He/She knew where to put a reduced apex turn(s) because it would make for a great ride, not necessarily because engineering and road design principals required it. I still have a smile on my face and will likely always crack one when I think of the week that I danced with the Dragon.

  2. #2
    Rally Rat EastTNBeemer's Avatar
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    Not only the Dragon, but..

    Hey Pete,
    Next time you come down, PM me. There are some other roads that are "dragonesc", but we keep them a secret. We'll blind-fold you and take you out to them, though..."Can yore tars squeel like a pig?" (Deliverance music playing in background)

  3. #3
    Rally Rat RTRandy's Avatar
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    Petey,

    I rode it July on my way to Nova Scotia and really enjoyed it along with other roads in the area. Did you happen to notice any commercial photographers along the way? If so, you can try: Dealsgap.com and go to "Your Gap Photos".
    Look for the date and category of bike you ride and you can order the shots on disk of you riding it . There's also another service called:Killboy.com with the same service as well. I got some from both. Very cool !

  4. #4
    pedrocasper
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    Dragon

    Thanks for the invite. I'll shall return! The one bumper sticker I like the best was "Paddle harder, I hear banjo music". I live in upstate NY so that sticker fits in well up here too. Pictures - Yes, Killboy was out in the afternoons...I was out in the mornings. Zee snapped several good shots. www.zeefoto.com. If you go to August 4, 2006 I am the guy on the blue "cafe" r100 with the white helmet. Page 1 and Page 6. Once I get the photos from Zee, I'll post one of them.

    Petey

  5. #5
    Registered User R75_7's Avatar
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    Nice pics!
    Thanks,
    Michael

  6. #6
    Braz J Brase's Avatar
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    Hey Petey,

    I was there Aug. 4. I saw you filling up at the gas pump in the morning while I was having coffee. I was on a blue/frost R1150RS.

    John

  7. #7
    Cannonball Rider #52 darrylri's Avatar
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    I, too, went to see the Dragon on my way home from the National. It's a fun road and I can see why there's so much hoopla over it.

    However, I was also surprised at the number of cruisers out there scraping that expensive chrome off their bikes. Bad riders blowing turns. The Deals Gap Resort was full of cruiser bikes.

    I came up behind one guy with his wife/girlfriend on the back, who, though he wasn't going faster than about 35, was spending as much time in the oncoming lane as on his side. I backed way off, as I didn't want to be a part of his accident. His wife kept whacking him on the back every time he'd blow another turn. The lessons didn't seem to be "taking". ;-)

    And quite a number of tourists towing boats and trailers through it, too. Doesn't Tennessee require slower vehicles to move over when they have some number of vehicles lined up behind them?

    I guess I was kind of glad I had toned down my act when I passed the Tenn. trooper going the other way, near the bottom.

    I had also heard quite a bit about the Cherohala Skyway. It's a very pretty drive, not dissimilar to the part of the Blue Ridge Parkway I rode on my way down there. But I was quite surprised to find that the speed limit on the Tennessee side is 30mph. This is a road, with big sweepers, long sight lines and large shoulders, that would be quite comfortable at double that speed, if not more.

    I had a lot more fun and lot less traffic on some of the small roads in the eastern Tenn. area. I seem to recall enjoying the J.E.B. Stuart Highway quite a lot, though there was some gravel in some of the corners.

    And if you like small roads with lots of turns and practically no traffic, I highly recommend NW Arkansas. I spent several hours not seeing any traffic there until I came into Huntsville, where they were having a Rodeo. Even that wasn't too bad. I will have to go back there and see some more of the Ozarks...
    --Darryl Richman, forum liaison
    http://darryl.crafty-fox.com

  8. #8
    On the Road audioelliot's Avatar
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    30mph thing

    The dragon is a fabulous rode you just have to hit it at the right time. In the morning or right before sundown are the best times and definitely during a weekday. About the Cherohala skyway, yes the speed limit on the Tennessee side says 30mph but it is only posted once, and many arguments have risen up that since it is not posted frequently enough, the speed limit is the '55mph is nothing posted' type of deal. I've ridden this road numerous times and never had any problems, and in my opinion is way more fun than the dragon. Oh and by the way there is a road is Southwest Virginia/Southeast Kentucky that puts the dragon to shame, it's just not as long

  9. #9
    pedrocasper
    Guest

    Yeah...I remember

    Quote Originally Posted by John Brase
    Hey Petey,

    I was there Aug. 4. I saw you filling up at the gas pump in the morning while I was having coffee. I was on a blue/frost R1150RS.

    John

    John: I remember your bike.

  10. #10
    Gary99
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    Have ridden the Dragon several times, and agree it is a great novelty ride. However, think there are many more pleasant roads in that area to ride that are also great fun. Incompetent and inconsiderate traffic on the Dragon is increasingly a problem.

  11. #11
    Plasterman tgf429's Avatar
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    Heading for the Dragon

    Leaving for the Dragon on Sept 16th from Iowa City, IA. Would love to meet people on the way down or when I get there. What are the "must see and do's" when I get there?

    Thanks

    Tom

  12. #12
    pedrocasper
    Guest

    Going to the Dragon (Response)

    Tom: Go to www.Dealsgap.com or www.thetailofthedragon.com. These websites provide some good recommendations for local roads that I found to be very fun to ride. Or offer to buy "EastTNBeemer" lunch and he may show you the secret TN roads.

    I found riding the dragon in the morning to be the best. I'd get there at 8AMish, have a cup of coffee and then run it for a few hours. (with lots of breaks to chat with folks) If you want to get your picture taken by Zee or Killboy, you will have to go closer to noon time. I recommend you stay away from the Dragon on the weekends -- unless of course you go to watch some of the more aggressive drivers... On Friday I saw increased car and bad motorcycling. One of the VMax crowd guys (they were there Aug. 5-7) was cutting yellow lines without a care in the world. I really thought he was going to kill someone. Just ride at your ability and enjoy!

    Pete

  13. #13
    pedrocasper
    Guest

    Fontana Damn

    Quote Originally Posted by tgf429
    Leaving for the Dragon on Sept 16th from Iowa City, IA. Would love to meet people on the way down or when I get there. What are the "must see and do's" when I get there?

    Thanks

    Tom

    Check out the Fontana Damn off of Route 28 in NC. It is worth the drive "over" (across) the Damn, which is the biggest dam damn east of the Rockies!

    Petey

  14. #14
    Stuff2c
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    I went to the Boone rally this weekend and discovered another awesome set of roads in north east Tenn. Also hwy 58 out of Boone is a fantastic road.

    Another weekend to remind me FLORIDA SUCKS! (I can say it as a 3rd generation native)

    www.shadyvalleycountrystore.com

  15. #15
    Rally Rat RTRandy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Stuff2C
    I went to the Boone rally this weekend and discovered another awesome set of roads in north east Tenn. Also hwy 58 out of Boone is a fantastic road.
    My take on the Dragon was certainly fun, but I think highly overrated. If you think about riding 11 miles at 40 mph, your ride is over in a little over 20 minutes. It's seems like more of a big deal for cruisers since many of them have poor riding skills making this road a big deal. I rode it on a Thursday around noon and first caught up to several cruisers taking bad lines or no lines into their turns. I remained patient behind them having heard all the horror stories and after a mile or so they pulled to the right and waved me through. The rest of the way was clear sailing and quite fun. The road by they way is in excellant shape. Super smooth surface all the way and well marked.

    The next day I ended up riding Boone, NC to Bristol, TN (or VA?) on a Hwy 421 and found this one was much more challenging than Deals Gap. From memory, I climbed and decended down two mountain passes and many of the turns were switch backs with turns marked at 10 and 15 mph. While slow speed, some of these were a very steep climbs in sharp turns making this one a wild ride for a long distance.

    Here's some shots I got back from riding the Dragon.
    The guy in the first shot is taking his shirt off so he won't mess up his T-shirt while riding.








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