With the Deals Gap Rally just 2 weeks away, I thought Iíd mention something that some of the regular attendees and our first timers might not be aware of... You may or may not want to plan your trip around this info...
FYI.. Iíve been to Deals Gap the last 2 weekends in a row and things have changed from a year ago.. or for that matter from as recent as 6 months ago.. A year ago the Tail of the Dragon was getting crowded on weekends, but if you got there early on Sat or Sunday you could usually run it until noon-1PM without too many obstacles.. (read: Harleys) and you could usually get a bite to eat in the restaurant in less than 15 minutes or so.. Itís not like this any more.
With, in my opinion, all the national and international press, Sat and Sundays on the Dragon are almost un-rideable at any hour of the day. The weekend before last I got up there VERY early on a Sat and the parking lot of the Crossroads of Time (where the Dragon starts) already had 200 bikes in it.. Iíd guess 90% Harleys.. It was hard to find a place to park. I asked the store owners and they said there was no rally in the area.. this was now normal.. Geezz.. I spoke to a few sport-bike guys and they said the Harleys were clogging up the Dragon making fast runs nearly impossible. I stayed a full 2 minutes, turned around, and came home.
Yesterday (Friday) I went back and at 10am there was almost 150 bikes in the parking lot... and on a WEEKDAY...not good for us.. great for the local businesses.. I made 3 passes (thatís 1866 curves in 3 hours!! WooHoo) and called it a day around 1pm. Thatís about all I can handle anyway, but I must have passed 40-50 Harleys in the 3 hours there.. Thatís a lot of passing on a road with few places to pass.. Iíd guess 90% of the passes were done in curves.
A year ago you might have to get by 2-5 bikes on a run. Harleys, touring rigs, new riders, etc. For those of you not used to passing other bikes on a tight twisty road.. keep in mind that if you donít.. youíll be stuck behind these noisy guys for agonizing mile after agonizing mile. But also keep in mind.. these guys/ladies also have as much right to be there as we do so show them a little respect and try NOT to scare the shit out of them by simply blowing by them.. Try to make sure they see you in their mirrors first, flash your lights (NOT your horn which can scare), before making your move. More often then not theyíll move over a little and wave you pass. I like to throw a hand up after the pass to let them know that I appreciate the gesture.
After I had quit for the day, I went in to get a Dragon burger and there must have been a line of 30 people..What the [email protected]
#*? Not good if youíre hungry. The good news is.. the Topoco Lodge is about 5 minutes away and their dining room serves lunch until 2pm and they have the best burgers and fries in the area.. I rode down there and there wasnít one person in the dining room. It was empty. I had food in front of me in 5 minutes...Good food.
BTW.. they just paved that rough patch of road between the Crossroads of Time and the Topoco!!
My point is..(you were wondering if I had one, admit it.. ) .. If anyone is coming down for the rally to specifically burn up the Dragon, Iíd suggest you make the Dragon runs on Thursday and Friday and ride the other wonderful roads on Sat and/or Sunday.. The Cherohala, Hwy 28, etc... Those are MY plans..
See ya there..
PS... You first timers to the Dragon may want to check out my How To Survive the "Tail of the Dragon" at Deals Gap page at http://piratesk12site.net/Dragon.htm