The Tail of the Dragon at Deals Gap, North Carolina was no match for the simply amazing cornering prowess of Honda's Gold Wing.
No motorcycling trip to eastern Tennessee is complete until you've ridden the legendary Tail of the Dragon at Deal's Gap, North Carolina. So on Friday, we decided to take a break from the regularly scheduled Hoot
activities and take a ride out to the Dragon. After a couple of swift fly-bys we rode over to the Bikes and Boats at the Lake event in Lenoir City, Tennessee. Later on we cruised on by Chilhowee Park to check out some vendors and Honda motorcycle demo rides. In the evening we ventured out to Volunteer Landing where we boogied down to the sounds of a live band, ate some more great BBQ and kicked back with a few beers.
With GPS coordinates entered into our Gold Wing's navigation system, we each headed south through Foothills Parkway which took us all the way to the intersection of Highway 129, and from there it was on.
The Dragon features 318 turns in just 11 miles. The road itself is paved perfection. No joke, it's as smooth as a bowling ball lane and marvelously marked with bright lane stripes and proper signage. The Dragon features all kinds of twists and turns motorcyclists dream about: tricky decreasing radius turns, off-camber thrillers, and a few quick switchbacks. Speed limit on the Dragon is 30 mph but for experienced riders it's possible to travel much faster. However, remember that it's a public roadway with limited run-off, so make sure you ride within your limits and pay attention for other traffic, police, etc. We've been fortunate to have ridden great roads all across the U.S. and the Dragon is definitely one of our favorites.
After working up a sweat slaying the Dragon, we figured we'd cool off at the lake so we headed north to the Bikes and Boats at the Lake 'Hoot event. Once we arrived there was a tasty lunch catered by Calhoun's. Our cab driver who picked us up from the airport was quick to point out the restaurant and much to our delight it was as good as he claimed. While we ate, a local blue grass band cranked out some killer country tunes. Afterwards, Honda Marine offered up boat rides around the lake.
The infamous Tree of Shame. Its the place where your smashed up motorcycle parts are kept if you crash on the Tail of the Dragon.
With our stomachs full we headed to Chilhowee Park and took a look at a lot of cool stuff from a bunch of vendors. Dunlop was out there making sure everyone's tires were in good condition, and there were a lot of other companies selling everything from insurance to riding gear to cool electronic systems for those Gold Wing owners. There were also demo rides on a bunch of brand-new Honda motorcycles that let riders try before they buy.
After a full-day in the saddle it's nice to simply get off the bike and just go for a walk. And another one of the many great things about the city of Knoxville is just how easy it is to get around. Whether you're on foot, on a motorcycle, or even in a car, the city itself is really easy to navigate. So in the evening we strolled on down the Tennessee Rivers' edge to Volunteer Landing. A live band was rocking out on the roof of the docked river boat while all of us Honda aficionados ate, drank, and had a chance to socialize next to the water with the beauty of the city of Knoxville in the background.
Garmin was also onhand with a super tricked-out stormchasing SUV. It had all kinds of radar and display systems inside and really highlighted some of the new technologies they offer for consumers. Once the sun went down, a fireworks show put the raps on the party and we headed back for some much needed rest before tomorrow's final day of Honda Hoot action.
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