Tag Archive: tail of the dragon


Day 2: 5/18/2014

Start / End Point: Townsend, TN to Valdosta, GA
Distance: 432 miles
Time: 7hr 32 min

Last night I was in bed around midnight after planning my elaborate route for today’s trip.  I wasn’t going to take the highways from TN to southern GA, oh no, that would be too easy, and I would miss out on some really nice roads, so I planned back roads until I was south of Atlanta.  Now, because I rode in the cold for so many hours the previous day, I had a bone chill, so I turned on the heat in my room, setting it to about 72 degrees.  Well around 6am, my mind told my body that I need to turn the heat off and throw some cool air on, but my body decided it was too early to move and ignored my mind.  Well, not totally ignoring my mind, I did shuck off the covers. Well not an hour later, I was awake again, and there was no going back to sleep.  The alarm was set for 9am, but I was up at 8am, after tossing and turning for an hour.  Did a check of the weather, and all the bad stuff was sitting south of TN, just over the GA border, and that is something I will deal with later.

Getting ready.

Getting ready.

Out the door and on the road at 9:30am, heading towards Route 129, better known as the Tail of the Dragon.  It was chilly, but not cold, and was overcast, but no prediction for rain.  This is good since the last time I did this road, I ended up in a monsoon. Would like to avoid that mess this go around.  At 10:00am, I was at the base of the “switchback”.  I took off and was completely thrilled.  Some of these “turns” were a turn in the opposite direction.  You would have been proud, I had the footboards scraping on the ground on a couple of the turns, UNTIL I caught up with some slower folks.  Was stuck behind them for a mile or three, and they pulled off at a scenic overlook.  I was off again, posing the best I could for the various cameras on the trail. I caught up with another slower group, and remained behind them until I hit Deal’s Gap.  I conquered the mountain.  I stopped and got me a t-shirt and a pin, and I was off again.  Just a note, don’t befool that this road is the only extremely curvy road in the area.  Seems that most of my way to Atlanta was spent leaning through turns, mind you doing this while it is raining, on the Smoky Mountains.  Adds a new level of difficulty, but I managed and really enjoyed the ride.

At the base of the Tail of the Dragon

At the base of the Tail of the Dragon

Riding the Tail

Riding the Tail

On another curve

On another curve

Tree of Shame - No contribution from me.

Tree of Shame – No contribution from me.

Dragon Sculpture

Dragon Sculpture

Dea's Gap

Deal’s Gap

Stop 1: Murphy, NC – It was a little after noon, and I stopped because reports say that the large front sit 5 minutes over the GA boarder, which is about 10 miles from Murphy.  Ate my Burger King lunch (yuck), chatted with another Harley riders (kewl), and donned my brand new rain suit.  An hour later I was back on the road.

Stop 2: Atlanta, GA – I pulled into Atlanta, and passed the location for the ’96 Olympics as well as the stadium.  I was planning on stopping for a little bit, but once a guy rode up on me with his bike and asked for change, I knew it was time to move on.  I mean, I just pulled to the side of the road and was still taking off my helmet when he asked.  This place is a trip.  I was going to visit my nephew, but it was still raining, and I couldn’t find a “safe” place with cover, so I decide to get out of the weather and down the road.

Stop 3: Forsyth, GA – Not much I can say, my fuel light blinked on, so I pulled off at the next fuel station.  While I was there, I watch a guy jump out his lifted 4×4 truck, shoeless, pump his gas, perform the tobacco spit, jump back in and drive off.  He drove off playing some rap music really loud.  I stood there in utter confusion, but I digress. It was still raining, and I really wanted to get out of the rain.  I’ve been driving it for over 150 miles.

Stop 4: Perry, NC – Mother Nature was throwing up clouds in my path.  Once I got out of the large storm over Atlanta, this bright yellow round thing appeared in the sky.  I was worried, but it was warm.  Unfortunately, it disappeared in a few minutes as another storm sat over the road I was on.  I mean, REALLY??!!  I drove a while longer and when I made it to Perry, the storm was gone and the temperature jumped up 20 degrees.  It was time to eat and remove this rain suit.

Hotel Stop: Because I didn’t stay in Atlanta as originally planned, I decided to get as close to the Florida border as I could before night fall.  I ended up in Valdosta, and stay in the Best Western just off Route 75.  I made a reservation while at Stop 4 and when I got there and walked into my room better known as an apartment, it was huge.  The lady behind the desk said it was the smallest room.  I was like, I hope my room in Florida can compete with this room.

Dinner is done, and I am in for the night.  OH, just a small point.  If you take a ride and carry an extra luggage bag, make sure you tie off any and all loose strap.  If not, you run the risk of them tangling up in your bike.  One of my straps was lodged in my rear brake.  I didn’t notice until I tried to take the bag off.  Thank goodness I packed my tool set, I had to loosen the brake to remove the strap.  Live and learn, at least it was corrected.

Day 2 Ended in Valdosta, GA at the Best Western at 9:30pm. Overcast, to Rain for ¾ of the ride.  Rain ended and warmed up after Macon, GA.  Another great riding day.  Riding 150 miles in the rain really improves your confidence, especially when riding on switchback roads in the rain.  Tomorrow should be arriving in Orlando, FL.

Go to Day 3 ->

Day 1: 5/17/2014

Starting / End Points: Germantown, MD (Home) to Townsend, TN
Distance: 526 Miles
Time: 8 hr 26 min

I was up at a reasonable hour, dressed and loaded my bike.  I did most of the packing last night.  Of course, no matter how hard you try, you invariably forget something essential.  Overall, I think I did a pretty good job.  I started the ride at 0930hrs on Saturday.  It was a chilly day with the temperature around 50 degrees with a slight wind.  I threw on the chaps, and I was on my way.

Stop 1: Eating up all but 30 miles of fuel in my tank, I made a pit stop for lunch around 11:30.  I covered about 200 miles, maybe a little less.  Hit the KFC, and filled up the take.  A $30.00 stop in all.  After about 45 minutes, I was back on the road.

Stop 2: My bike was complaining it wanted more fuel, so I needed to make another stop.  It is about 3:30pm and the only place near me is called Rural Retreat.  OMG!! I found a group of people who failed to keep up with the times.  This is one of those times when you wonder if you should have gone to the next exit.  Anyway, I filled up, grabbed a candy bar and Gatorade.  The temperature has been dropping, so I put on my heated jacket.  Yes, I am a wimp, who wants to be cold if they got gear to avoid it.  Packed up and on the road again, this time I turned on the music. OH YEAH!!

81 South at the start of my trip.

81 South at the start of my trip.

Stop 3: I’ve made it to Pigeon Forge.  It is about 4:40pm.  There is a lot of activity, unfortunately, my hotel seems to be on the outskirts of town, so not sure if I’ll have the energy to come back 20 miles just for some activities.  On second thought, I may.  I will get some gas before I get to the hotel.  When I stop at the pump, I realize there is a new problem. I can’t find my Bank Of America debt card.  Is it possible, I left it in Rural Retreat. This can’t be happening.  This is still the first day. OMG!! I called the bank and had the card cancelled, now I have to revert to alternate cards until Monday.  GRRRRRRRR – I hate when I do something like that.  However, if that is the bad part of the trip, then I am glad it is over with.  Just hoping.

Hotel Stop:  I found my hotel, somewhere miles away from the city.  There are good and bad about it, but the hotel is very clean, inexpensive, and filled with old people.  It will be a quiet night, except for the thin black guy on a loud Harley.  Who’s your Daddy!! Gonna unpack the bike, find a place to eat, grab dinner and plan out tomorrow.

Townsend Best Western.

Townsend Best Western.

Smokey Mountains from my room.

Smokey Mountains from my room.

Day 1 End in Townsend, Tennessee at the Best Western at 6:15pm.  No rain, great ride, except for losing my card, and it could have been a little warmer.  Tomorrow should end somewhere in Georgia after I ride the Tail of the Dragon.

 

Go to Day 2 ->