Days 57 to 59 – Blue Ridge Mountains
The Tail of the Dragon is a legendary road among motorcyclists. People come from all over the continent and the world to ride this road and see the countryside. The whole blue ridge mountain area is beautiful, with lush rolling hills, dotted with lakes and snaking through it all some of the best roads in [...]
The Tail of the Dragon is a legendary road among motorcyclists. People come from all over the continent and the world to ride this road and see the countryside. The whole blue ridge mountain area is beautiful, with lush rolling hills, dotted with lakes and snaking through it all some of the best roads in the country. I stayed in Maggie Valley, just east of the Cherokee Reservation and about an hour from Deals Gap. The rainy weather that has been following me since Michigan stepped up its rainfall, but still left lots of time each day with clear skies so I could enjoy the riding. There were several hundred motorcyclists parked in deals gap that Thursday morning when I arrived. I chatted with some Canadians on a tour, both of them had spent many summers on motorcycle seeing north America and this was one of their favorite areas. The famous road itself was great, but I had been spoiled by the bay areas fantastic motorcycle roads, so the twisty, technical road just felt like home, specifically highway one from Stinson Beach to Pt. Reyes. Obviously the scenery was different, the pacific ocean was replaced by the tree covered hills of Tennessee and North Carolina. The skies opened up as I was nearing the hotel and gave me quite a show. Giant bolts of crystal clear lightening arced across the sky, winds picked up and finally a wall of water fell from the sky. I began seeing leaves and branches on the road, soon larger branches, some of which posed serious hazards. Cars were pulling off the road, and so did I after visibility dropped to about 20 feet. I warmed myself in a Cherokee crafts store. I noticed it on my way out that morning but didn’t stop to look. I’m glad fate brought me there as I was able to buy some neat handmade gifts for myself and to give away when I returned home. The people were super nice and made me promise to drive carefully when the storm let up. I was chilled to my bones by the time I got back into Maggie Valley. I grabbed a flask of Burbon at the ABC store across the street and ordered pizza, settling in for the night.
The next morning I visited a great motorcycle museum called Wheels Through Time, one of the larger collections of American motorcycles (and cars) I’ve ever seen. The fact that everything in the collection is drivable and can be ridden makes it special. At one point a crazed looking man jumped on a vintage bike and kick started it, then drove it though the museum and out the front door. It was their mechanic/restorer. I was told that he had picked up the bike, which looked like a collection of leftover water heater parts, then ridden it cross country in a week, then parked it in the museum.