18th July 2018
And it’s is finally time to chase the Dragon.. I am about 22 miles from the start of one of the most dangerous short stretches of road maybe in the world. I’ve decided to go really early to beat the traffic… on the Dragon that is, it’s extremely popular.
I have been thinking, if I go early I can leave most of my luggage in the hotel room, as long as I’m back for 11am check out then I don’t see there would be a problem… however, on reflection it might be better to ask reception if they have a bag room then I’m not under any pressure. I ask, but they don’t, the guy on reception says I can leave it behind the front desk.. ‘Oh, that would be great, but are you sure? It’s a very big bag and some smaller ones’ he says yes it should be fine. That is such a relief. Once I have sorted out all my luggage, (I decide to leave the saddlebags on, he was looking a bit surprised at how much crap I have), I am on my way.
The morning is very overcast and quite cool… I have my denim jacket on.
And as I get higher…
I love the smell of Dragon in the morning…. cold but absolutely stunning.
And here it is…. the start…
Well almost… the actual start is a little further down the road…
I switch on the GoPro.. I remembered this time… and start off, am almost instantly into hairpin bends… it is very exhilarating.. just a couple of miles later there is a pull in for a photo op of the scenery.. I take the opportunity to have a wee break as I know there won’t be another one until I arrive in Deals Gap at the other end.
The mist is slowly beginning to evaporate.. at the layby there is a low wall, where Dragoneers have left their mark..
So, needless to say, I pick my spot… lucky I’ve got a pen with me…
I quickly come up to the Tennessee/North Carolina state line…
I have to say, I really enjoyed the ride… it was tiring having to concentrate and focus on the road ahead… many, many hairpins and there’s were a couple of moments where I lost concentration and had a bit of a wobble… I was pleased that I wasn’t too early to have my photo taken by the photographers stationed at various points along the road…. and here is an action shot.
Another one… you can really see the concentration in this one,
And surprisingly quickly… it seems… I arrive at the end
And there be Dragons… natch…
There is a cafe and a couple of shops, so I do get some memorabilia, of course…
a tee, some stickers etc.
I also got this for the DoB London clubhouse…
And, I woz ‘ere too…
One thing tho, my GoPro memory card is full, not sure when that happened so might have missed most of the ride… grrr… and I don’t have the spare with me. While trying to delete some old vids I run down the battery and good old me also forgot the spares so very, very lucky one of the shops has GoPro stuff and I’m able to get a fully charged battery and spare memory card.. obviously this has happened to others.
I get a coffee and some breakfast… oatmeal, but it’s not very nice… sigh!
One of the famous sights, if you like, is the tree of shame… this is where people who have come off leave a part of their motorcycle as a momento, however there are also some very poignant tributes to those who have died on the road… in fact there was one on the actual road itself… very, very sad.
After this chilling reminder, it’s back on the bike for the return journey. The road is really busy now and it’s much more dangerous, I take my time and am a bit anxious about the cars approaching as some of them are going a bit… there are also sports bikers overtaking me and I can see why there are so many accidents… some people are just fucking stupid.
more action shots…
Just as I’m exiting the tail an ambulance followed by a motorcycle police officer, both with lights and sirens blaring, pass on the other side of the road heading into the tail… obviously there has been another accident, I just hope it’s not fatal.
Believe it or not… and I do… there’s a Harley dealers just at the start of the Dragon… it was closed when I went down, but now it’s open… of course I did.
Straight back to my motel to collect my luggage and then back on the road. But first…. yep Harley beckons again, I pop along to the Maryville shop, get my poker chip, and promptly get lost!
I have booked a motel in Gatlinburg, just next door to Pigeon Forge for tonight ready for the next adventure, the famous Blue Ridge Parkway. The motel is just 5 miles from the southernmost entrance to the parkway.
I have entered Gatlinburg into the gps and am routing off interstate as usual, however, the gps is routing me down some back streets.. suddenly I run out if road, I missed a turn and now I am stuck. The road is a dead end and a downward slope, I can’t even budge the bike. I’m surrounded by houses, but no people… suddenly a woman in the last house comes out and asks if I’m ok.. she is from Indonesia, I later discover, and tiny. I explain I have gotten myself stuck and can’t move the bike. She says she had a Harley in Indonesia before.. she’s probably about my age… and suggests I try pushing it in neutral… oh please.. duh! She tries to give me a push, so sweet. Next thing a woman from across the street comes over… oh that’s Mrs X, I didn’t catch the actual name. Inside I’m smiling because my mum was the same.. her best friend in laters years was Mrs Evans, never her first name…
Anyway, Mrs X just seems to worry there are no men around… here we go… but then a large 4×4 pulls up and Mrs X says they are her visitors… 4 women pile out if the car. So now there are 6 of us and I have already begun to take the heaviest luggage off the bike. That done and Mrs Indonesia and I persuade the others to help turn the bike around… everyone pitches in and it’s a breeze.
I pack the luggage back up and am ready to go. I noticed that Mrs I keeps dabbing her leg… then she says ‘so many mosquitoes here..’ poor woman is being bitten to death.. I have a bite on my elbow and when she sees me scratching she immediately dabs some gel on.. it smells like witch hazel and stops the itching instantly.
I make my angels line up for a photo… and here they are
So, back on my way at last… Mrs I tells me how to get back on the road to Dollywood.
On the way I spot Dolly herself, hanging around outside the courthouse in Sevierville; maybe she was born here??
I didn’t bother to look up any info about Pigeon Forge and so wish I had… it’s hell.. I mean really… it’s like Blackpool or Atlantic City on steroids. From Ripleys Believe it or Not to the Hatfield/McCoy Fued Restaurant??? to a life sized gorilla climbing a plastic Empire State Building at the Hollywood or some such exhibition and crazy, crazy golf to Dollywood, which it turns out is a theme park… I thought it would be similar to Graceland, but guess she ain’t dead yet. I can’t think of anything worse than this place. I mean if our granddaughter were here and wanted to go that would be one thing but for me it’s absolutely not, no way, never. What’s worse is that where I am staying is in Gatlinburg the other side of Pigeon Forge… it’s actually the, albeit quieter, Siamese twin to here. There is only one road in and it’s rammed. There are hundreds of people on the pavements and every 50 yards or so, there is a pedestrian crossing where they have right of way that means the traffic is moving at a snails pace and I am burning my leg off.
At last I reach my motel… not very impressive and when I get in the room I instantly think… omg bed bug city. I check around but it seems ok… I don’t have any choice anyway so have to get in with it. It would be one thing if this was a cheap place, but it’s not, so am a bit peeved to say the least.
Anyway, quick shower then to find something to eat… I not going back to that neon hell I want something I can walk to. I have a look down the street and everything is closed! Except one Mexican place.. it looks pretty seedy but what the hell… I’m dog tired and need to eat so in I go. There is a shop and then a bar area with a couple of booths. In one is a young couple, there’s a woman sitting at the bar and two men playing pool. A guy comes over with a menu… it’s all the usual Mexican fayre but there’s also an Honduran section.. oh might be interesting… mmm not really, however there is a Honduran Steak so I go for that.
The food comes pretty quickly… the ‘steak’ is very thin slices of beef, it’s accompanied by a brown Goo that I assume is refried beans, some avocado, a few red peppers and all in a sauce the taste of which I cannot describe. It’s pretty awful to be honest and I only eat a bit of it.
Back to the motel and I fall asleep fully dressed with all the lights left on.. I’m just that tired. Zzzz