Monday, May 10, 2010

Ride the Dragon

Originally posted 7/1/2008

Ever since I've moved out East everyone here's been telling me how great of a ride the Dragon is and I have to go and experience it. So, when our friends at Twisted Throttle asked us to help them out at Deals Gap during Honda Hoot, I jumped at the opportunity.

The SV at the Gap.

I left at the crack of dawn on Thursday figuring that it'll take me about the entire day to ride to the Gap from New York, and that I'll hit the Dragon before the sun goes down. Sounded good while I was planning it but didn't turn out that way. I hit some traffic in Pennsylvania, where they were doing some road constructions and that held me up for some time, then, I didn't realize that I-40 didn't connect through Knoxville and I had to take a detour, and when I got there, I took a wrong turn and ended up missing Highway 129. After getting myself back on track onto Highway 129, I missed a turn off and ended up on Highway 411. By the time that I found my way back to Highway 129 again, the sun had gone down and I realized that my first encounter with the Dragon was going to be in the dark after about 800 miles of riding.

So, my first encounter with the Dragon wasn't under ideal condition by any means, and I knew that I was getting tired, so I told myself just take it easy and don't do anything stupid, especially with my poor night vision. So I entered the Dragon and took the turns easy. I see single tire skid marks on almost every sharp turn, and they were reminders to myself not to go too fast. After what felt like an eternity but maybe just about 5 minutes in reality, I was getting really, really tired, cold, and hungry, and wanted the ride to be over with. But no, there were more turns, and the Dragon just seemed to go on and on and on. Finally, after who knows how many more turns, I finally made it to the Gap. By then, it was around 10:30, and I was greeted by Erik and Matt of Twisted Throttle with pizza slices and cold beers.

The following day, I was tired from the ride and knew I had a long day of work, so I was off the bike. But on Saturday morning, I was rested up and went on a couple of runs on the Dragon. Man, did the Dragon ever live up to the hype! There were good mixtures of sharp, blind curves with tight sweeps that really made the ride fun. Not to mention the perfect weather and beautiful scenery, and riding fresh during the day was definitely different and better than riding tired in the darkness. I was totally enjoying it.

What made the trip even better was the outstanding staff over at the Gap. Brad, Ben, and all the guys there are all riders and not only do they take care of their customers, they are also a fun bunch. Make that a crazy bunch. If you enjoy roller coaster rides, try to find an excuse to have Ben take you through the Dragon in his Crown Victoria. It's well worth it. Just make sure you don't do it on a full stomach.

It was a fun weekend and I'm glad I finally got some fun riding under my belt. I would definitely recommend anyone a fun filled motorcycling weekend at the Gap. You can camp there or stay in their clean and reasonably priced rooms. They've got a great restaurant and friendly staff to go with it, and not to mention camp fire under the stars every night.

Oh, and the TPX? Sniffed out cops not only on the Interstates, but also on the curves. Yes, there are cops all over the Dragon to remind you to not to ride beyond your limits. They are not really there to spoil your fun, but really to keep the few squids in check as crashes come fairly regularly. There's even a Tree of Shame at the Gap, featuring destroyed bike parts and x-ray photos, to remind you not to go too crazy on the Dragon.

The infamous Tree of Shame.

Anyway, final tally for the trip: 1,752 miles, 6 passes on the Dragon, and no ticket!

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