Trip Start Jul 17, 2012
41Trip End Aug 22, 2012
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What I did
Tail of the Dragon, Fontana Lake
Well what a difference a day makes! Rode some fantastic roads today through some beautiful mountain and valley areas. Got up at 05.30 after a wonderful 7hr deep sleep, had bf and were riding by 7am which gave us a great start to the days riding. And the roads were fantastic, from sections of high speed sweepers sitting in the top two gears at about 60mph (100kmh) to tighter corners with light braking and using 3rd & 4th gear to the Tail of the Dragon (Google it) where it was hard braking and using 2nd to 4th gear. The road surface and condition were awesome and we were buzzing when we stopped at the end of the run and bought lunch at a hotdog stand which happened to taste really good. The guys running it actually ended up sitting with us and having a great chat, must say that our Aussie accents have opened the door to some great interactions with the locals and that Australians are pretty well liked over here
Trying to keep up with Cliffy is hard, both in the blog sense and on the bike. He has been riding bikes for over 25 years, it's hard to capture that experience and pass it on....but he has and it's been great chatting to him over the bike intercom as we critique corners, lines and other riders.
Anyway, we had a really good night's sleep in Anderson and got up early in order to make a good start, and that it was - with the heat wave going on over here, temps have been soaring. The early morning air as we left Anderson was crisp, cool and slightly overcast as we took Route76 North-West through Townville and Clayton before turning North to Almond. All rural countryside with nice roads and very little traffic at 7am. I thought it may have been a reverse good omen (my phrase), as we were leaving our accomodation in Anderson, another early morning riser who was departing, looked at the sky and said "Looks like you boys are going to get wet today" - that was the last thing we needed, if it rained I would have faked a hamstring and not ridden the dragon
We then enjoyed the great twisty and windy roads leading NW again on Route28 as it meandered along the shores of Fontana Lake and Cheoah Lake......bike heaven and we hadn't even begun the "Dragon" yet. We paused at Deals Gap Motorcycle resort (accomodation is for bikers only) and soaked up the atmosphere and looked around. If there is a biking mecca, this was it. Bikes of every variety were neatly parked, cruisers, tourers, sports bikes, nakeds....just as we pulled in there was a group of hard-core moped/Vespa riders who slotted in just behind us. They were all wearing cardigans and plaid shirts of course.
Okay, back to the 'Dragon'. This is Route129 and is quite famous amongst the biker fraternity and for good reason, it's a great road (condition) - it goes through some great country and it has 318 corners in 11 miles. Unbelievable. It is also a very dangerous road as some bikers push their limits, or have a mechanical malfunction or fall foul of a bike or truck coming the other way - whatever the reason accidents happen and sometimes people do get hurt(http://www.tailofthedragon.com/maps/map_deaths.pdf).
Okay, but to cheerier subjects - the lighter side of riding the 'Dragon' is the "Tree of Shame" - tourers, cruisers and sports bikes alike all adorn the tree and it keeps growing. I was kind of a bit shocked to see a H-D Heritage Softail front fender adorning the tree, it was the result of a head-on bike vs. bike crash (no fatalities) - sobering thoughts just before we begin the ride. I feel prepped, I am ready and I am going to ride within my limits.
Ride complete. Two riders safe. Two hotdogs and two beers consumed. I am elated - this was the best ride I have ever done...yet :)