Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Miles of Smiles

Journey to the ST.N National Meet
Day 4 - Deal’s Gap, TN to Boone, NC
~286 miles

Lessee…

Deal’s Gap …check
Great Smoky Mountains National Park …check
Blue Ridge Parkway …check

Almost 300 miles of twisting, turning, gaping (at the views), and vrooming.

What can I say? It was a great ride!

I started off the morning with breakfast in the grill at the campground before heading into the gift shop to “buy the t-shirt.” I’m not usually one for souvenirs, but I thought this one was important. I also walked around and took some pictures.

The resort is famous for it’s “tree of shame” consisting of a tree hung with rashed fairings and battered motorcycle parts. Intended as both humor and a deterrent, the tree is a good reminder that it’s all too easy to get carried away on a motorcycle.

After taking down my still slightly damp tent, I loaded up and headed out to “tame the dragon.”

For those who are not familiar with it, Deal’s Gap (US129) is world famous for 318 curves in 11 miles. It consistently makes it to the top of “Best Roads in the US” lists.

My Impression:
It was really short. You barely started to get into it when it was over. I think I’ve been on some badly paved Santa Cruz mountain goat trails that give it a run for it’s money in the twisty-ness department. That said, it was a very twisty road with lots of other riders on it. It was fun, but I didn’t feel the need to turn around and do another lap.


To me, sport-touring is about riding far away to discover new turns in the road. There were many twists and turns ahead of me that day, so there was no need to retrace ground already experienced. So long, Deal’s Gap. I’ll be back.

From there I turned on to Foothills parkway toward the northwest entrance to Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The parkway was deserted, but as soon as I entered the park, I started coming up on lots of slow moving cars out sightseeing. That is usually the case in national parks, so I patiently slowed down and enjoyed the scenery. I did my usual national park experience, stopping at the visitor’s center and many of the turn-outs to enjoy the creeks, trees, and characteristic layered views of the Smokies.


After several long delays for road construction on the way out of the park, I didn’t feel that I had time to really enjoy the Wheels through Time Motorcycle Museum in Maggie Valley. Instead I got gas and grabbed a quick bite to eat before going back to the Blue Ridge Parkway and more twisty “roads with a view.”

The scenery was much the same as I’d seen all day, but the weather was starting to turn. I put on my jacket liner and flipped on the grip-warmers. It wasn’t extremely cold, but mist was rolling through the mountains. In the high country, there were several places where fog made it difficult to see. I slowed down and used caution, shaking my head at all the cars that weren’t turning on their lights in the fog.

Between visibility problem areas, I had a great time on the parkway. Again, the speed limit was slow (45), but twisty enough that most cars couldn’t handle it. I had no problems and was able to enjoy myself without worrying about the LEO around the next corner.



With the slower speed limits, I was glad that I hadn’t overloaded my day. The short mileage gave me time to slow down and stop often for pictures while still reaching my destination, Boone, NC with some daylight left.


2 comments:

Jerry James said...

Sorry about the mishap with the car, but I love the fact that you are going forward, not letting it put a large downer on the trip. We were just up at the gap, great riding up there.. Be safe and we look forward to more ride reports

Biker Betty said...

Those are some awesome photos. If my husband and I can ever get out that way, we will have to do that drive.