Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Tail of the Dragon -- But Nearer By

I have never been to the famous Tail of the Dragon at Deal's Gap, but many bikers go there to experience what is claimed to be 318 curves in 11 miles.  I've heard that it can be very busy with auto and motorcycle traffic, with the occasional semi tractor-trailer thrown in for an element of increased danger. 

I may get there some day, but I have found a place that a few have said is better.  And it starts about one third of the distance to the Tail of the Dragoon from home.  The best-paved section is 5.6 miles long with seventy-four curves, if I have my count right, or 13.2 curves per mile.  Tail of the Dragon has 28.9 per mile. Higher density on the latter, but I made up of the lack of curves per mile by taking seven passes at it before I left.

I couldn't help myself. 

It was a bright, clear day.  The temperature was in the high fifties, and there was no traffic to speak of.  The road surface was almost spotless with only a scattering of gravel in a couple of places, and a little half-lane patching that could create an edge trap in a few places.  The sight distances around the curves are adequate in most places, too.  There were some piles of pine needles that can act as little rollers for tires to slip on, but they were easy to see and avoid. 

The route is also rather scenic, but you have to watch the road unless you are just putting along.  I did a little putting, just to see the purdy leaves and to scope out the road, but I also took a few runs at higher speeds, though not as fast as I am sure many others can go on a road like this.  By the way, the speed limit is 35 miles per hour.  The fall colors were a little beyond their peak, but there was still enough to be inspired.

A view from the road.  

Views of the road. 

The curves are nicely spaced so the rider has enough time to prepare for each as it comes, for the most part.  I had the road almost to myself for the entire time I was on it.  Only a couple of cars were seen.  What a great opportunity to practice and to enjoy the curves! 

Once I had fed my addiction to this road, and time had flown away, I reluctantly headed back to more familiar -- and much busier -- roads to get home again.  

What a great day of riding and discovery!  I will have to go back again soon.  Winter, stay away a little longer. 



Doug said...

Sounds like a fun stretch of pavement and looks lovely. I'd guess it is not patrolled as heavily as ToD is either and that's a big plus!

Tom said...


Bucky said...

Sorry, but no.