Last week I described our journey to the Tail and setting up camp (you can read about that here), today is the day that I ride the infamous Tail of the Dragon, ignorance is bliss. Had I known that it was such a challenging ride for a novice, I may not have done it. I put my big girl panties on and took the plunge. Let’s just say I took it at a comfortable pace for me and probably pissed off every biker behind me…
May 23, 2005
McGyver was of course up before me, got his shower and was getting coffee ready. After my shower and coffee we put on our leathers, cuz it get’s cool in them mountains.
WOW! The Tail was unbelievable – no kidding 318 curves in 11 miles – speed limit 30 mph- strictly enforced. I was scared but I made it through, this was a big challenge for me and I made it!
[am I on the wrong side of the road????]
We finished the run at a place called Deal’s Gap. Once the bikes were parked, McGyver asked me how I felt – I told him “I am still scared” – scared and exhilarated – what an awesome accomplishment for a novice rider.
We picked up a few souvenirs and McGyver asked me if I wanted to go back the same way – of course I said “HELL NO!” I just wasn’t ready to face the Tail again, so soon. After a little map checking we decided to head towards North Carolina and cut across the Cherohola Sky way, little did we know that this route would take almost 3 hours and more lives have been lost on the Skyway then the Dragon.
Once again, ignorance is bliss and so we took off. This has to be some the most beautiful countryside in the U.S. – with the exception of the Northwest.
We enjoyed our ride, watched various motorist (car and bike) do idiotic things [like drive on the wrong side of the road]and made our way back to the camp.
After the ride we thought we’d check out the Rally – I chose to ride behind hubby, I was mentally and physically exhausted from the ride, I never realized how much it could take out on a person. I had new respect for McGyver and what he went through when we drove through the Alps.
We arrived at the Rally site just in time to catch the wet T-shirt contest; T-shirt being the optional word here. Darn the luck, true to the mountain girl stereotype most of the girls should have kept their shirts on and dry but I didn’t hear a single guy complain…guess they like them all.
Afterwards we walked around the sight, bought some damn good BBQ, saw some really cool bikes, like the hubless bike built by AMEN cycles – speaking of which he came to the campground (the owner/builder) and we got a personalized poster. To: “Ronnie and Rhonda”. Lonnie (that’s McGyver’s real name) said that just proves that no one listens to him .
After knocking around a bit at the rally, which was sparse and had nearly been wiped out by severe rain storms, we decided to get dinner. We ended up at this local café – I forgot the name “The Pit Stop” or something, anyways they had the oldest guys in the world playing some bluegrass – and they were good!
Oh I forgot, we arranged to meet one of Lonnie’s LGF blog buddies (who lives in Knoxville) for dinner. So Ironfist followed us to this café. What a meal, home style cooking and lots of it. I got liver and onions, which I never get to have since I’m the only one who likes it, and mashed taters as good as my own.
McGyver got the meatloaf and it was okay – you know- just like it is at home. After Ironfist treated us to dinner, he went back home and we headed back to the rally see Steppenwolf. They put on a good show but we were wiped and decided to leave a little early – just as we were leaving Steppenwolf breaks into “Born to be wild”, could it have been more perfect?
As I was writing this post, I thought what an adventurous day…I’m exhausted just writing about it. Next week, it gets wrapped up with our ride back home.
I’d like to do a shout out to Killboy. com. Darryl hangs out at The Tail of the Dragon and takes photos of motorist riding this curvy challenging road. He sells his photos and gives you full rights to reprint and distribute as you like, his only request is that if you post them on the web, that he gets credit. Darryl, you deserve the credit.
It’s tough for biker’s to get action shots of themselves and I for one am grateful for Killboy.com, if any of you ever decide to tackle the Dragon, make sure you check out his site for snaps.
Just a side note, this morning before I was getting ready to post I went to the Post Office and picked up my mail, there was this months HOG magazine and in it was none other than a feature story about The Tail of the Dragon and the surrounding area, so I snapped an instagram shot just to prove it.
Next week: the ride home and a wrap up.