This is NOT your ordinary Sunday ride!
318 turns in 11 miles! And I don’t mean wide sweeping turns, we’re talking sharp 90 plus degree turn’s and plenty of them! No time to look at the scenery, here comes another turn and HOLD ON!
Ride a motorcycle? Don’t like to ride in a straight line? Like to be with other motorcyclists? Enjoy an adventure? Well, the Tail of the Dragon might be for you! As an impromptu trip and fun time, my wife Leah and I decided to join my sister Peg, and her husband Steve on a trek to North Carolina. Our plan, to ride the Tail of the Dragon!
Just a little about our bikes.
I ride the 2007 Victory Hammer S with a Wide Open Plastics full fairing installed. It’s powered by a 100 c.i. V-twin engine.
Leah rides a 2009 Victory 10th Anniversary Edition Vision. This one is powered by a 106 c.i. V-twin engine. This in my opinion is a great touring bike! For both of us, not a single problem and the bikes designs allow for great clearance for good lean angles.
Nothing against any other bike or maker, just our choice. Ride what you want….JUST RIDE!
On the Tail!
We left at about 9:30 am and headed west on 74 out of Cherokee. 74 becomes 143 and the Cherohala Skyway. This is a nice ride and leaves us wondering what is in store for us. We turn right off of 143 onto 129 north. Once you reach the intersection where Deals Gap Motorcycle Lodge is located, heading north starts the Dragon.
The road is dry and in good shape. Here comes the first turn. Apply pressure and the bike leans into the turn. Whoa, need to downshift, and add more pressure! Here comes the white line on the outside edge of the road! Wow I made it. Holy cow here’s another turn. Too fast! Brake, pressure, and I lean over and make the turn high on the outside. Ok! Think. Enter the corner wide, cut the apex, exit mid lane. Here comes another turn. Was that Steve’s bike scraping? Slide outside, apply pressure, look where I want to go, exit mid lane. Whew, another one down.
I looked into the second left hand turn and thought ” I’m good!” Thats when my guard dropped. Starting wide by the outside of the road I planned my turn, applied pressure to the handlebars, left the white line for the apex near the yellow lines. Looking good! Then the sudden realization ” OH SHOOT! (not my actual words) TOO FAST, sweeping way to wide on the exit! I try to turn harder but it is too late. The wheels drop off the edge of the asphalt road! I try to keep control! Suddenly the bike bucks under me, the back tire goes slightly right, and the front turns slightly left. HOLY COW! I’m back on the road! The rest of the trip goes smoothly, and a little slower.
Later after we stopped for a rest before returning through the teeth of the dragon, I discovered that the bracket for my left foot peg had dug into the asphalt edge, sprayed me and my bike with road bits, but probably saved me from contributing to the tree of shame by kicking the back tire out just enough to put me in line to get back on the pavement. I am one lucky survivor!
That was just a sample of what went through my head as we entered the Dragons Lair. The rest was a workout of turns left and right, tight and tighter, all the while using 3rd gear to keep the rev’s up to stabilize the bike through the corners.
Leah took the lead, followed by Steve, with me bringing up the rear. As you could sense the turns are tight. I don’t know how many times Steve scraped bike parts, but I do remember sparks. I also can remember bikes going the opposite way scraping through the corners as we passed each other. Neither me nor Leah scraped any parts on our Victorys. The clearance these bikes have is wonderful.The other obstacles include other bikes, especially sport bikes, cars, trucks and the occasional RV. You may see people parked on the side of the road, some of these are the photographers like Zee Foto and Killboy. Don’t worry about how you look as you go by or you could be the next crash photo on the net!
This is not a ride for the inexperienced.
After we made it through heading north, we then (gluttons for punishment) went through heading south, back to Deals Gap Resort. Once there I took the time to look at my back tire. WOW, not much tread left unscuffed at the edges. I now know what my bikes limits are. I barely had a 1/4 inch of unscuffed tread left. Had I crossed that edge, down I would have gone and succumbed to the teeth of the Dragon.