06-24-2010, 09:12 PM
The road less traveled.
Joined: Sep 2009
Location: Pottsville, AR
Day 3 Continued...
After securing the cabin we unloaded the bikes and discussed about our next part of the adventure. You see, the only reason we came this far eastward was because we wanted to ride the “Tail of The Dragon”. I’ve read about it, seen pictures of it and even seen video of it. When planning this trip we noticed that it was just to close to pass up. So here we are trying to decide if we want to ride it today or wait until tomorrow. I check the weather on my phone and it shows rain in our path to the Dragon but it should clear up before we get there. So we decide to go for it. As per a suggestion from a friend of ours from work (Jim W) we ride over the Cherohala Skyway to get to Deals Gap. It was a neat but wet ride to the top of it due to rain, but definitely worth it.
There really are some spectacular vistas from up here at 5,300 feet of elevation, but when you’re surrounded by rain clouds they're just are hard to see.
Just as the weather radar indicated, the rain finally quit just as we started our decent from the Cherohala Skyway. We finally get to Hwy. 129 and head north to Deals Gap with excitement but we got behind a group of Harley’s that were riding so slow I was about to pull my hair out from under my helmet. I have nothing against Harley’s, just these particular riders. My excitement eventually turned into acute stress and I actually considered hoping into the ditch and riding around them, after all, I’m on a dirt bike. They actually had a chase truck driving behind them with it’s flashers on to prevent others from passing them. But I bit my tongue and somewhat patiently followed. Anyway we finally make it to Deals Gap and some of that stress was replaced with excitement again. I felt a bit relieved.
There were so many different types of bikes here from mini bikes to Harley’s to full race sport bikes, very diverse. It was about on a Sunday at this time and we weren’t sure if we would find a place open to eat when we got back to Tellico Plains, so we opted to eat at Deals Gap before riding the Dragon.
So we start our trip up to the top of the Dragon and I can see where it gets its reputation. There are a lot of curves on this road. But what I don’t understand is the 30 mph speed limit. I mean…really? I guess it would be safe to assume that there are a lot of speeding citations handed out around here.
We did catch up to traffic on the way up but at least they weren’t riding as slow as the Harley group we followed before. And some of them actually let us go by (Thank You). We get to the top and check out the view from the overlook. Nice!
The view of Calderwood Dam from above.
Big Bro’s camera had some issues with the humidity in the air. But believe me, we’re smiling under those helmets.
Due to the road being closed further to the north because of a rock slide, we had to go back down the dragon to get to Tellico Plains (darn the luck, LOL). So we wait around at the lookout for a bit to give the traffic a chance to get a head start so we would have a chance to enjoy it a little more. As we were heading back down I realize that I had a helmet camera that I brought specifically for this part of the trip. So I pull over and dig it out of my tank bag and fire it up. But by this time quit a bit of traffic passed us. I wanted to wait again but Big Bro reminded me that it will be getting dark soon. OK then, let’s ride.
Dragon on a KLX250s from David Carothers on Vimeo
After I got to the bottom I was pumped full of adrenaline, OMG that was fun. I dragged a peg (I never would have imagined doing that on this bike), had the front tire air born briefly, hit the Rev limiter multiple times and a top speed of 78.1 mph. I know, 78 mph is nothing compared to the guys on the sport bikes and the like but hey, it’s a KLX250 with a stock jug and on knobbies. I was very pleased with how the KLX performed. Big Bro was a few minutes behind me and it was a good thing, it gave me time to calm down after that ride. I didn’t want it to stop. We conversed about a minute or two then take one last look and say goodbye to the Dragon. It was worth the trip.
As we start our way back to Tellico Plains, I had to stop and admire Calderwood Dam from the Bottom. I look’s so much like the Hover Dam (another trip I plan to make). After I start the bike back up to leave the Dam, I noticed that my bike sounded different. It seemed louder and had a deeper tone. As if I blew part of the baffle out of the exhaust silencer. Oh well, lets ride.
We make our way back over the Cherohala Skyway and this time there weren't as many clouds hanging over us. So we got a few more pictures.
Just as we reached the summit we ran into to serious fog. I could only see about 50 feet in front of me which caused us to slow down considerably. Buy the time we got out of the fog it was starting to get dark. But we managed to get some pictures before it did.
We finally made it back to the cabin just as it got dark. (Yes this picture was taken previously). While I was getting off the bike, Big Bro also mentioned that my bike sounded louder. I guess all of the high rpm's on the Dragon blew some of the baffle out of the exhaust or compressed the fill material enough to create more of a void in the exhaust silencer. Oh well, it was still worth it.
One of our neighbors at the resort was sitting on the porch with his wife as we rode up. So we chatted about the run to the Dragon and back and swapped stories. A few minutes later two more dudes rode up on a couple of dual sports. Dave and Cliff. Dave had the cabin next to us and Cliff had his tent pitched in front of it. Then the owner, Buck, showed up and we had an all-out social gathering. Dave and Cliff even gave Big Bro and I a beer. Sweet! We had a great time hanging out with these guys swapping stories and talking shop. We learned that Cliff actually has family near Fayetteville, AR. Funny how Big Bro and I were riding near Fayetteville just the week before at the SLAP 2010. Dave and Cliff live around Nashville, TN.
And get this, Dave actually operates a dual sport tour guide service called Dual Purpose Tennessee. If you want some dual sport riding around Nashville give Dave a shout. You can contact him through his website at www.dualpurposetn.com.
As much as everyone enjoyed hanging out with each other, fatigue finally set in and we all called it a night.
Day 3 was over and I was tired. We covered a lot of ground today, a total of 304 miles.