August 30, 2003: Dragon Redux -- The Litany Against Fear
"I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain." --The Bene Gesserit Litany Against Fear from Dune by Frank Herbert
Through a series of wrong turns and miscalculations I've found myself in TN with the shortest path between me and my hotel taking me through the Dragon. I rode the Dragon two weeks prior and I did ok, but today I'm spooked. I did it two weeks ago, but it wasn't my kind of riding. But here I am in TN and looking at a lot of miles out of my way if I want to avoid it, and beat the rain I know is on its way. I've been a fan of Frank Herbert's Dune books for many years. One of the things I've always remembered from them is the Litany Against Fear.
Like I say, I was really spooked. I really didn't want to ride through the Dragon again, but it was that or go a long way out of the way to get to my destination. I began to recite the litany and headed for the gap. I rode it two weeks prior. I can do it again. I got myself under control and it turned out to be one of my best rides of the whole trip. I was on. My last time through I got passed by a lot of people. This time through people were waving me through. I guess I've learned a lot in two weeks.
The trip through the pass took a lot out of me. I don't know why I let feelings of self doubt sneak in, but I did. I had to face them and work through it, and I'm glad I did. I was so reticent about riding through there again, and I am so glad I did. I faced my fear and mastered it. In the end it was a great run.
The weather turned pretty nasty after I arrived at the Fontana Resort where I'd be meeting Buck, Candi and the members of their group. They showed up around 9 o'clock after riding through some nasty weather. I'd met Buck and Candi at Mayhem, and it was great to renew the fellowship and meet Buck's brother Tod and their friend George.
We got dinner, swapped ride tales and renewed our friendship. No Glenlivet this time though.
August 31, 2003: The Cherohala Skyway and the Sign of the Covenant
We headed up to Deals Gap to see if anyone else from the board would show up. Mr. Pou was there and one other person who had seen the posting. Buck, Mr. Pou and Tod ran the Dragon a few times. Then we headed for the Cherohala Skyway, my favorite road.
Mr. Pou led on the NC to TN leg. What a ride. Two weeks ago this pace would have had me white knuckled and tense. Today I was relaxed, leaning and just having a blast. What an amazing piece of road.
Mr. Pou had to head back home in TN so he departed from Teleco Plains to go grill for the family. Buck, Candi, Tod, George and myself headed back toward NC. There had been intermittent rain all day, nothing that would be considered a down pour, but not quite dry. The skyway is basically an east west road. A storm had come in from the north west and passed over the skyway and was retreating toward the east as we headed up. The sun was at our back and it was an incredible view. Seeing these huge dark, brooding storm clouds over the road. We'd been in and out of our rain gear, so if we had to put it on again, so be it. We were here to ride and we were going to ride. The weather wasn't going to stop us.
And God said, "I have set my rainbow in the clouds, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and the earth." -- Genesis Chap. 9
We stopped at the mile high over look and took a group photo, mounted back up and rounded the next curve to see the most amazing rainbow I've ever seen. We had to pull over. Buck took a picture which he's already posted.
I'll just paint my picture with words because the photo doesn't do it justice. The rainbow didn't go away. It wasn't a flash in the pan. We chased this rainbow for pretty much the rest of the skyway. I would venture to say a half hour or more. It just hung in there. We would round a curve and it would be extending up from the valley floor arching over the mountain to the south, so close you felt you could reach out and touch it. Then it would be reigning from mountain top to mountain top. Then it would be rising from the valley floor again and extending off over the mountains to the north on the other side of the valley. Then it would double up and there would be two rainbows. It was a mystical experience. I wish you could have been there.