Vita Rara: A Life Uncommon

Part III: Tail of the Dragon and Cherohala Skyway

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Sunday, August 17, 2003: Rendezvous and Ride

We planned to meet in Franklin, NC at 10:00 AM and head to Deals Gap. I arrived at the rendezvous point and Chris K and Mark Davis (madavis) were there waiting, and shortly Shawn (Lone_RT_Rider) appeared. Four RT's from three states, two from Georgia, one from Detroit, MI and mine from Troy, NY. Just a typical BMW group as someone pointed out.

We head north on NC-28. This was my second ride on it. Chris and Shawn went first, followed by myself and Mark. Chris and Shawn quickly disappear when we hit the twisties. Ride my ride. I'm maintaining what I think is a brisk pace, but nothing like what those guys are maintaining. I have a lot to learn. The whole day taught me that. The RT will lean farther then I'm comfortable with at this point. I intellectually know there is a long way to go, but I get to a certain point and I think I've reached the limits. I think some of this is left over from my days of riding my Yamaha V-Star cruiser. That bike would drag pegs at a very slight lean angle. Looks like it's time to work in the parking lot and find the bikes limits.

A Tale of the Tail

We arrive at Deals Gap and meet some others from the board. Sorry to say I don't recall everyone's name. I wish I did, and I need to work on this. I know Itchybro was there though. We browsed the shop. Mark showed me the tree of shame. We broke into two groups. One went and road The Cherohala Skyway, and one group of us ran up and back on The Dragon.

Riding The Dragon is what I'd come here to do. I'd started hearing about The Dragon when I found this board. I'd heard all about it. I'd read the web site. Sitting at home I'd felt I was ready. Now that I'd seen what real twisties were, well I was reserved to say the least. Well, like I learned to ski, you just have to do it.

Two guys from our group went out first, followed by myself and Mark. I ride my ride. This is an amazing road. I understand why people come from all over to ride it. It's an incredible test of skills. It's visceral. I was passed by several guys on sport bikes who just disappeared. Mark and I finish our run, turn around and head back. Mark pulled off at an overlook where some others from our party were taking a break. I head on. I'm working the curves and don't want to break the rhythm. A ways later the guys from our group catch up and pass me, one of them on the outside of a curve. I guess he trusted me to hold my line. He's got more faith then I do. I complete my run. I can now say, been there, done that, got the t-shirt.

Not it's time to ride my favorite road from this trip. We head out to ride the Cherohala Skyway, Chris, Shawn, Mark, myself, and I believe Bill (Mr. Pou). Chris lead us through some back roads to get there. Lots of twisties, SUV's pulling fifth wheels crossing the center line on blind curves, gravel on the road. Quite the adventure!

The Cherohala Skyway is... well I'm running out of words. Ride it. Make the time. Do it. This road is far more suited to the RT. Big open sweepers. Just an amazing road. The views. The elevation. For me this was more fun then The Dragon, but each has its place.

Near the intersection of The Skyway and TN-68 we slit into two groups. Shawn and Mr. Pou are headed west and Chris, Mark and I were ultimately headed back east. So, Chris, Mark and I head south on TN-68 to US-64 East. TN-68 was a nice break after the intense riding we'd done all day. As I said earlier this was the hardest most intense riding I've ever done. I could feel myself getting tired. It was time to drop it a notch or two and get home safe. Chris and Mark split off of 64 and headed back towards Atlanta and I continued on to Franklin and a good rest.

Amazing day. Thanks guys!