Monday, April 28
Waking up and figuring out if the clock is reading CST or EST is confusing. Either way, I'm running late getting a jump on the day. I load the bike and hit the wet roads, although the rain was all but done falling from the sky.
The clouds loomed overhead for most of the morning. I was nervous about heading towards Deals Gap - US 129, known to riders everywhere as the Tail of the Dragon. 318 curves in 11 miles that makes motorcycling hearts go pitter patter at the thought of scrubbing tires through each winding twist and turn. For me, it's a nervous anticipation, and with the threat of wet pavement I wasn't "feeling it".
I was also cold, and cold = tense. I stopped to add a layer of clothes, opting to include my ducky pajamas and my TWT tee.
The sky was getting brighter, but the clouds stuck around.
After a late breakfast/early lunch break, the sun started to work its way out to dry the roads an restore my spirit.
The first few miles before the Tail started wandered around the water and gave scenic views of the surrounding hills.
We'll have to wait and see what ZeeFoto and Killboy got of me out there, since my hands were NOT coming off the bars for pictures on the Dragon. I tried second gear for the twists but felt like the bike was lugging up, down, and around the turns. I dropped down to first and stayed there for most of the ride, which made input on the throttle jerky at best.
I managed to pull off for the North Carolina state line sign:
And turned around to get the Tennessee sign since I'd missed it the day before.
Once safely at the Crossroads of Time, I picked out a few souvenirs and scoped out the riders hanging out at the cafe.
I got my dragon sticker! I certainly earned it.
Heading out. One dragon slayed, a thousand miles left to tackle (give or take)
US 28 was still twisty, but not nearly as much as the previous 11 miles had been. I started to relax, and the curves started getting smoother and I was able to flow from one to the next.
Lots of riders out on the road, but not in overwhelming numbers.
By early afternoon, Mother Nature had provided an amazing backdrop.
Fontana Dam and recreation area
One of the locks at the dam
More twists and turns. Lots of pics from the saddle.
The sun and the trees made mosaics that lay before me
Towns, fields, farms, and barns. It's what this country is made of.
Once out on the highway, I thought I would be bored with straight, flat, traffic-filled main lanes - but I was pleeasantly surprised by the winding ribbon of pavement that presented itself. I'd stumbled onto the Great Smoky Mountain Expressway. This is what I call a road!
I finally made my way towards Fletcher, just south of Asheville. I was near the airport but tucked away on a back road. I had to get a smoking room in order to get a first floor with outside access.
After seeing folks of all shapes and sizes come and go while I unpacked the bike, I decided I wasn't all that sure about the safety and security of my beloved Strom.
I did the only thing I could think to ensure his safety.
Yup, I popped the panniers off and powered it up over the curb and straight into the room. It was a close fit at the bard, but a little wiggle got it in without having to remove the bar ends.
I walked over to the Mexican restaurant for dinner to go. It was the only thing within walking distance, but the desolation inside the restaurant wasn't saying much for their popularity.
The food was good though. I was surprised to find decent Tex Mex this far from the Rio Grande.
I tried to settle in and get caught up on the ride report, but the internet access wasn't cooperating and I couldn't manage to get pictures uploaded. Oh well, it can wait.
Tennessee, North Carolina