Sunday, October 24, 2010

Oct 24th - The taming of the shrew is easy as sunday morning

I've been staying up too late these days.  Not a good idea when you're about to ride the infamous "Tail of the dragon"

taken on the way to deals gap.
Be forewarned.  It's leaf season.  that's what all the hubbub is about.  people like to see the leaves change color. Not i.  It's nice to look at... but after a few hours of it, i got sick of it.
Anhow... lots of leaf pictures. lots.  it's what i saw all day... so it's what you're going to see all day.

on the interstate heading southwest towards Deal's gap.

I took a little side road that had a dam.  I rode over it and it's a dead end on the other side.  yippie.  road back.  a little waste of time...

Finally got to deals gap.  The speed limits are low and it takes time to traverse anywhere in the smoky mountains.  Good reason as there are a lot of turns on every road and highway.
I was starved as i didn't eat yet and it was 12:30 already.
unfortunately they weren't serving breakfast.  bah.

Got this instead

standard bacon cheese burger and fries...

went back out and chatted to a few people... one who has a 2009 KLR like mine and new to it too... he has the same panniers as mine, except his trunk is about 3 times larger.. i could have used that!
it's the blue KLR on the left in the pana below

of course who can forget the tree of shame!
for those who don't know... if you get bit by the tail of the dragon, you put your damaged goods in the tree.
a lot of non-lucky people there...

Everyone keeps telling me how insanely technical the Tail of the dragon is.  People die all the time, crash a lot, etc.
I nerved up, put on some music, and started off...

Maybe because i've been on the road so long... maybe because i've already ridden on some pretty spectacular roads, some highly technical roads, and some pretty horrible roads already...
Big whoop.
The same length of road near Ft. Bragg California was harder. The Dalton Hghway on the cruiser was more challenging.  The highway through the great basin in Nevada was more inspriing.

I will say that due to the high traffic, it is still quite dangerous.  It is a highly technical road, but not once did my tires touch the lines.  Another thing, as i was loaded up more than everyone else and more top heavy than dolly parton, i took it easy and stayed within the limits of myself and the bike.  a few times i gunned it in the corner and the front wheel bounced around. Ya... the ass is heavy on this thing.

It was an ok ride... but the ft bragg piece in Cali was at least 3 times the length, with sharper corners, more inclines/declines and all blind corners.  What the Tail of the dragon had, was people.  lots of traffic.

Due to the massive sag of the bike, i managed to drag the centerstand about 4 times... heh.
I took no pictures... well, because it would be mental to try to do that loaded the way i was...

I popped out on the other side

On this side of US-129 there's a harley gift shop and gas station.  I got fuel and took a break.  An older biker was sitting there strumming his guitar and singing softly and stopped to talk to me.  At first, i thought it was the radio or something.  sounded nice...

We spoke a bit about the Tail of the dragon and how it's just a rite of passage more than anything else.   I agree... I did it.  got the sticker. yay.

We spoke about different roads in the area, etc.  I told him my plans for going home and he said i might as well skip the Cherohala skyway.  Yes, it's a nice ride and this time of year with the colors, it's really nice... but the tourists will be out in droves.  I decided to skip it and make my way north to the Blue Ridge Parkway.  The parkway stops somewhere in Virginia.  It's about 450 miles long with nice scenery.
He introduced ourselves as we parted ways.  He said to call him Goat.  For good reason.  Big white Goatee about 5-6 inches long.  heh.  awesome.  Cool dude, not the typical 'Harley only' type... he was a rider, not a poser.

Off i went down a road he said i should take.
This was the Foothills parkway.

Bored yet?
Thankfully i had music, and it was a nice easy ride...

how about now? bored?

oh squiggly arrow, how i love you so
something different! water!

OK... I like this one... it turned out ok...

see those leaves in the bottom of the picture?  they were being blown off the trees.  This only helped to remind me how late in the season i was out.  Doesn't help we've had snow back in Ottawa already.

as shown in the picture above.. .crap loads of traffic.  it's high tourist season.  probably why i paid $100 for a $30 dollar room last night.

images like this is what all the fuss is about. i seriously don't get it.  Maybe i've been spoiled and recently saw mountains in Oregon, California, Nevada and New Mexico this year... and last year in Alaska, BC, Alberta, Yukon and Washingston... after a while.. a mountain is a mountain.

I found the entrance to the blue ridge parkway.
getting a bit boring eh?  i think so too.

it was rough in the tunnel... but with the KLR it would take more than a little rough road for me to worry.  When in doubt, throttle out.

I was riding the Blue Ridge Parkway for a while, getting chilly as the sun was setting and decided this was it.  This is the end of the trip.  Unless i have a change of heart of mind, i'm heading home.

It's fitting that on the last day of the trip i rode the 'tail of the dragon'.  It's the tail of my dragon.

I look back on the trip now and I am disappointed with many things.  Myself for lack of planning/preparition, not following my gut and other reasons i won't get into.
I wanted to get a ton of souvenirs.  Alas, i sucked at that too.  It's hard to buy souvenirs when you're off the beaten path.  When you don't go to those cities where they have a lot of different things.  It's also hard that anything i did want to buy was breakable or too large.  Meh.  sorry if you don't get anything when i get back home.  I suck.

I failed to follow my own rules that i created.  Like Rule #5
"Never pack more than 2/3rds full with all your gear in it."
I packed too much.  Many things i didn't use.  to all future travellers.  LESS IS MORE.  you can always find things along the way. always.  If not, you can order it online and get it shipped to you next day. hah.

I had made a short list of what i wanted to accomplish on the trip... this was a very short list and i checked off most of those, so i'm happy with that.

They say not planning is the best way to go.  I now disagree.  It's the best way to BE.  It's freeing to not be tied to a schedule, but there are times you miss things, have to back-track, etc.

Now i travel northwards... to the colder temperatures, to home... to my cave.

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