||I love to ride.
I put over 16,000 miles on the bike in a little over
a year. I don't go very far from home and I ride mostly on the
weekends. A quick ride to Oklahoma or down to Santo, Texas
which is one gas tank away. I wanted to ride somewhere. I
was looking for a destination and then I thought, "How about Deals
Gap, North Carolina?" It is one of the best motorcycle roads
in the country and it is about the same distance from Rochester, New
York as is it from Fort Worth, Texas. I decide to
invite my Brother In-Law and copy my sister since they both ride.
My sister was a little offended since I didn't really invite
her. I tell her that I'd love it if she would come but I
didn't think she would want to ride a couple of thousand miles in four
She tells me she would love to do it so we have a destination, US 129
in the Smokey Mountains of Tennessee and North Carolina .
She is a teacher so it will have to be in the dead of summer.
I figure that it isn't going to be hotter than Texas so I'm up for it.
GPS showing my starting mileage and a much dirtier GPS showing my
ending mileage. 2,255.3 miles at an average speed of 60 mph
with thirty-seven and half hours in the saddle. Starting the
trip with a "Brake Failure" warning would bother some people but BMW
can't test the system until you get the bike moving, stopping is so
overrated. My son commented on my 93.8 mph max
speed but I explained it must be a glitch in the software.
He didn't notice the "Reset Max" button which I have a tendency to push
when I see blue lights flashing in my review mirrors.
I drive 500 miles the first day and
park my bike outside my hotel window. I put my alarmed disk lock on it
and head across the street to the "Texas Roadhouse" for dinner.
I try to go to sleep around 9:00 p.m but wake up at 10:00
p.m. to find some guy parked in the handicapped spot next to
my bike checking it out. He jumps on his cell phone and starts to talk.
I watch a little TV and the next time I look out the window
he is sitting in a folding chair, next to my bike and
his car. He is still on the phone. I try and get some sleep
but wake up every 45 minutes, look out the window and see him on the
phone or see his empty chair. I give up about 4:30 a.m turn
on my light and get dressed, by the time I get out to the parking lot he
is gone. I really don't know what he was doing. Maybe he was a
security guard and was keeping a eye on my motorcycle. If he was, he
didn't make me feel any safer.
run down Interstate 40 and see a great shot of the sunrise framed by a
overpass, of course if I stopped to take it I would have been killed by
all the trucks coming out of Memphis. I take this shot a few miles down
the road. I'm making good time. I planned on
stopping in Memphis 502 miles from my house as you can see on the GPS
in the first photo. I have another 428 miles to go before I
get into Deals Gap. I should be there by 3:00 p.m., even with
a lunch break and stopping for fuel.
don't have many pictures of me riding my
motorcycle because it's hard to ask someone to stand
on the side of the road and take your picture. I also worry
that if someone is taking my photo I might do something stupid to
impress them. I get to the Tail of the Dragon around 2:30
p.m. and this road is covered with photographers. I see at
least five and they take so many photographs that even I get bored
looking at them. Of course between my sister, her husband, and me, we
spend about $200 on photos so I guess it's worth
their time. That also means that this blog will be kind of
heavy with photos.
Photo by Killboy.com
129 is pretty long. When I first turn on to it, it's called airport highway since it runs past the Knoxville
airport (McGhee Tyson Airport). I figure it will get very
twisty once I get off the main drag. It gets more rural and
has some nice turns but nothing to write home about and certainly not
worth driving a thousand miles to ride. I get to Punkin Center
and I'm wondering if this is going to be a big disappointment. It has a sign saying "The Dragon
US 129 T-Shirts, Caps & more" I
ride right pass it and I'm still not too impressed. I hit
Caldenwood and the road goes nuts. It is like riding a roller coaster
except you know that the only thing keeping you on the rails is your
own skill and the big black asphalt colored streak on my cylinder
covers is a pretty good reminder that my skill hasn't always kept my
They talk about "Slaying the Dragon" I survived it, but I
definitely didn't slay it the first time through. I was
thinking about turning around and making another run but I was
suppose to meet my Sister and Brother In-Law at the hotel which was
about an hour away. I figured that we might hook up then
come back and run the Dragon. I pulled off the Dragon and
rode "Hellbender 28" back toward the hotel not knowing that is a pretty
serious road so I was surprised by some of the twisties. I got
to the hotel about 4:00 p.m, stripped off my bags, locked the bike, go to my
room and fall asleep. It was a long day. I get a
knock at my door around 5:30 saying, "Room Service." It is my
sister but they are a little too tired to drive the hour down to the
Dragon so we walk across the street to the Casino and I make them buy
We call it an early night and decide to meet for breakfast at 7:30 a.m.
That seems a little late to me but I'm happy they want to
ride with me so off to bed I go. I sleep really well since
they parked their two Harley's next to my bike and I assume anyone
wanting to steal them would steal the Harley's before they took my bike.
is a little nervous about riding the Tail of the Dragon so I take the
lead, since I'm the old pro with one whole trip under my belt.
lasts for about the first two miles until I almost kill myself watching
the review mirror instead of the wildly twisting road in front of me.
put Nancy up front so she can set the pace. I hang back so
they won't see any of my mistakes and also so I can slow way down
during the straight bits which allows me to accelerate in the
turns. I have an advantage since my GPS shows me what the road
looks like in front of us. It doesn't help much when you're in
the middle of the Dragon since it is just one turn after another but it
is very nice later when we are on the Cherohala Skyway.
This the Tail of the Dragon
Oh my gosh, I'm on a Sport Touring Bike and Tim is pulling away from
If you look closely you can see the sparks coming off his Floorboard
We make it to the end of the Dragon and stop for a drink.
you click on the photo above you can see a full size image. I
a kick out of two bikes from New York and one from Fort
pulled out this map at the Punkin Center Store and decide to do the 120
mile loop. We came in on Hellbender 28 so we will have
covered most of this map before we stop to eat. We get to the
Tail of the Dragon Store and I suggest that we run the Dragon once
more, which really means twice more since it is faster to run the 11
miles up and turn around then it is to do other 120 mile loop.
I don't think my sister is too keen on the idea but she has
already survived her first run. She tested
the road more than it tests her on her second and then she "Slays the
Dragon on the third." I told her we could head back to the
hotel, get some lunch, then run the Highway 441 through the Great Smoky
Mountains National Park. She points out that it is now five
o'clock in the evening so it might be a bit late for lunch.
We grab some dinner and call it a night. I don't like riding
at night since I can pretty easily outrun my headlights.
They are heading northeast in the morning toward Baltimore and I'm
heading west so we will have to run Highway 441 some other trip.
I could have run it, but I wanted to run the Dragon at least
once more. It starts to rain as I pull on to Hellbender 28,
which will wake you up. I ride the Dragon and almost run straight into
a flock of turkeys, not Texas size turkeys but at least a dozen of them
and the road is still moist. I lose traction on my rear tire
on a oil spill that wasn't too bad the day before but is kind of
slippery now because of the rain. I get to the end and think,
"Well that was a little scary, avoiding turkeys and sliding through a
turn. Should I run it once more, which really means twice more since I
have to head west not east? I figure if I rode a thousand
miles to get here I might as well ride it at least a couple more times.
race through it a couple more times since it too early for LEO to be
out. (Law Enforcement Officer) I head back up airport highway
and point the bike toward Nashville. I get there around noon so
it seems kind of silly to stop. I call the Marriott and cancel
my reservation. I keep the bike pointed west on my way to
Little Rock where I have a reservation for the following night. I
figure I can talk them into letting me stay tonight and charge me for
tomorrow. It rains a few times but I just ride through it.
Just before Little Rock it really starts to come down.
I watch a car on the other side of the freeway careen out of
control and slide into the muddy median. I take it
as a sign from God and decide to pull up under an overpass. I
put my flashers on and then hop over the concrete barrier just in case
an 18 wheeler decides to run over my motorcycle. I call my
sister and they are already in the hotel in Baltimore.
They struggled with the rain as well but at least they are
dry and comfortable now. I call Cheryl and mention that I am
thinking of riding straight through tonight. She tells me as
long as I plan on sleeping with the bike in the garage it sounds like a
good plan to her, because if I'm stupid enough to ride in the rain in
the dark I will never sleep with her again.
I decide to spend the night in a hotel. The rain has stopped
for the moment so I jump back on the bike and head toward Little
Rock. I get there at 5:00 p.m. it's still light and the rain has
passed so I decide to keep going. I figure that I can make it
to Texarkana, Texas while it's still light and isn't it a much better
story to say I road from North Carolina to Texas in one long run than
to stop in Little Rock, Arkansas?
I had it timed out pretty well, I would pull into Texarkana just before
sunset but then I saw a motorcycle on the side of the road and it is an
unwritten rule that if you are riding a motorcycle you have to stop and
help a fellow motorcyclist. He had a flat tire and I have a
tire plugging kit, really the only thing I could have helped him with
since none of my tools would have fit his bike. It didn't
take me too long but I was going to get into Texarkana a little after
dark. I could have stopped in Hope Arkansas which isn't a bad
story but not at good as making it to Texas so I rode on. I
was thinking that maybe I should try and make it home since that seemed
like a much better story to me, Deals Gap to Fort Worth., Texas but
then this huge bladder came off the truck in front of me and scooped
along the two right lanes. I thought, "I never would have
seen that in the dark maybe I should spend the night in Texarkana?"
I pulled into a Motel 6 which is not my normal hotel but since it was
8:30 p.m. and I was planning on leaving no later than 5:00 a.m. I
wasn't looking for much more than a bed and at this Motel 6 I didn't
find much more than that. I did have a truck parked under my
window with the stereo blasting out tunes until about midnight and I was
a little nervous about my motorcycle since it was all alone in the
parking lot. I did get a little sleep but was on the road in
time to make it home by 9:23 a.m. (If you look closely under
the dirt you can see the time on my instrument panel.)