About the time wwe were about to arrive in the area of The Dragon, I realized that because our route was a clockwise one, we were going to be entering the road the Dragon was located on at the "top" of the mountain, rather than the bottom. So, this meant we would be riding DOWN the eleven mile, 318 curve road, instead of UP. "Oh, no......." I was thinking, as we began the descent on the multi blind-curved, no guard rails, roller coaster of a ride. I was squinting through my face shield (which was still raised), blinking at the rain that pelted my face, as we snaked our way, leaning left, right, left, right, over and over, down the mountain. I pretty much kept Britta in 2nd or 3rd gear, trying to let the engine handle some of the braking, so I wouldn't lock up the brakes and skid off the road into the ditch or down the embankment. It was, I believe, the longest, most terrifying eleven miles I have ever ridden in my life. I had a virtual death grip my my hand grips the whole way down.
After what seemed like an eternity, we finally reached the bottom of the Dragon and pulled into the Deal's Gap Store, where at least 100 bikes of all kinds were parked all over the parking lot in the rain. Dozens of riders were sitting and standing in front of the store under the overhang to stay dry. Every kind of rider, from those in full racing leathers to Harley Bad Ass chaps and leather vests, were milling about and talking, smoking and laughing as we got off our bikes and trudged up the parking lot to go inside. I was literally soaked, and exhausted from the stress of riding Britta down the hellish slalom course down the mountain.
The store was huge inside, offering a complete range of motorcycle parts and accessories, clothing and souvenirs. I was just too damn tired to look around, so I shuffled up to the cashier and said, "Where are the stickers you get after you ride this damn thing?" She pointed at the counter I was standing in front of and replied, "What color do ya want, hun?" I said, "Gimme three of the chrome ones", and she slid three stickers across the counter to me. I gave her a five dollar bill and told her to keep the change, and alked slowly back outside in the rain to my bike and waited for the rest of the club member to finish their shopping. At this point, all I wanted to do was get back to the lodge and into a hot shower.
The lodge was still about 20 miles away, and I found out that just because you were done with The Dragon, it didn't mean you had no more challenging roads to ride. We took off and after about 20 minutes, the riders in front of me slowly pulled away from me to where I couldn't see them ahead of me any more. I still had about for or five club members behind me, though, and I'll bet they were all cursing me under their breath as I rode slowly down the mountain toward the lodge. To top it all off, apparently I did not see the sign for the lodge and sailed right on by, and didn't even notice the other club members turning behind me. When I finally noticed no one in my mirror and realized what I had done, I had to find a road to turn around on to go back. Luckily, by this time, one of the club members was speeding down the road toward me, in case I hadn't noticed my error. Embarrassed? You bet.
Everyone was off their bike and standing around chatting when I pulled up. I just laughed and shook my head as the riders all gave me a round of applause as I dismounted Britta. I got several pats on the back and words of encouragement from the rest of the club, since they all knew what I had to deal with, worrying about my bike during the ride. PM was waiting for me and gave me a big hug and kiss, and asked, "Well, how was it?" "Let me tell you, sweetie", I replied, "You definitely made the right decision not to go today!" I walked with her back to our cabin and told her of the "not so excellent adventure" I had been on for the last six hours. During the day, she had ridden into a nearby town and picked up some Corona Mexican beer for me to drink to celebrate "taming the Dragon", but all I wanted at the time was a hot shower.
The rest of the day was spent relaxing and drinking several beers, while discussing the day's ride with the other Conebutts who went on the ride. The lodge cooked up a nice steak dinner for the club, which was most welcome and appreciated. I slept like a rock that night.
The next morning we awoke to a dry day (naturally), and we had a fairly relaxing ride back home, going all four lane roads back to our home in SC. I had enough curves for one weekend, I had decided. By the time we arrived in Easley, I had put about 350 more miles on Britta, bringing her up to almost 122,000. Despite losing her tail light and valve cover bolt, she performed like a champ! I've said it before, and I'll say it again...The R65 is probably the most underrated Beemer ever made!
So, that's the story. Am I glad I rode "The Dragon" and "The Skyway"? Yeah, I guess so. Did I enjoy it? Not really. Between worrying about Britta and fighting the rain, fog and slick roads, about all I remember seeing during the whole damn trip was the tail lights of the bike in front of me. It just wasn't what I had hoped for, but at least I can say "Been there, done it, got the sticker". We're already planning a return trip before winter so PM can have a chance to ride the Dragon and Skyway. Maybe it will be a more enjoyable ride for me the second time around!