RoadRunner Magazine Event in Maggie Valley – the Wet and the Wild

RoadRunner Magazine Event in Maggie Valleythe Wet and the Wild

I’ve posted in the past how I’m not much of a motorcycle rally kind of guy. I’ve just witnessed an event that’s my ideal of what one should be – all about the ride.

RoadRUNNER event in Maggie Valley

RoadRUNNER event in Maggie Valley – 8 AM start, pouring rain, day after day.  The riders took it in stride and came out to spend the full days riding in the Blue Ridge Mountains.

Picture this – you come to Maggie Valley, NC and check in to your motel. The next morning there are rides scheduled leaving every 10 minutes from 8 AM till 9:30 AM or so.

Choose a loop ride you’d like to do. Pick the kind of riders you’re looking to ride with – i.e., a leisure ride, an adventure ride, etc.

RoadRUNNER Magazine Event in Maggie Valley

RoadRUNNER Magazine Event in Maggie Valley – Choose a loop ride you’d like to do. Choose the pace of the ride you’d find comfortable. Follow the guides. So easy.

The rides are some of the best you may ever experience. The faster groups have additional side loops added in as a bonus. They use some of my best and favorite back roads and people raved about riding these unknown great North Carolina and Tennessee motorcycle roads.

Ride all day. Lunch is arranged along the way. When you get back in the evening, a huge tent awaits with a great meal.

RoadRUNNER event in Maggie Valley

RoadRUNNER event in Maggie Valley – You can see the big tent in the background where dinner is served while riders assemble for their respective groups in the morning.

Wash, rinse, repeat.

T-shirt, hat, all provided and prizes to boot, don’t need to deal with vendors. Very few there anyway, everyone is out riding all day and the fairgrounds is deserted.

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I don’t know about you, but this is my dream of what a motorcycle event should be – ride, ride, ride!

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The location was ideal. Rooms are plentiful and affordable. Maggie Valley, NC sits on the south side of Great Smoky Mountains National Park and is the hub of the best motorcycle rides in the Smoky Mountains. My big map of this area shows more than 150 outstanding motorcycle roads.

The people who came, around 200 of them, came to ride. The weather could have been much better – after about 2 weeks of hot and dry weather in the Smoky Mountains, the moisture returned with a vengeance. It didn’t seem to matter – these riders donned the gear and took it in stride with hardly a whimper.

RoadRUNNER Magazine Event in Maggie Valley - Rental bikes of all sorts were available

RoadRUNNER Magazine Event in Maggie Valley – Rental bikes of all sorts were available – dual-sport / cruisers / sport bikes / sport touring bikes. I got a KLR 650 from GSMmotoRent.com for the dual-sport adventure ride.

I got to tag along on the dual-sport ride on a bike provided by GSMmotoRent.com. Lt. Dan led us on 100 miles of unpaved riding through the national forests and Great Smoky Mountains National Park. It was more fun than I’ve had in a long time. I’ll have a post soon which will tell that tale and show the great photos.

RoadRUNNER Event in Maggie Valley

RoadRUNNER Event in Maggie Valley – There are so many roads to ride – paved and unpaved. Ride to the mountain tops, the waterfalls, and the places most riders never see.

It’s the easiest motorcycle vacation you’ll ever make“just show up and ride”. You can spend all-day every-day riding and return to a god hot meal each evening and a nice Asheville craft brew.

RoadRUNNER Magazine event in Maggie Valley - the adventure ride

RoadRUNNER Magazine event in Maggie Valley – the dual-sport adventure ride was a blast!

For more information, subscribe to RoadRUNNER Magazine herehttps://www.roadrunner.travel/order/subscription - the best motorcycle magazine for the dedicated motorcycle tourer.

For online info, go to http://www.roadrunner.travel/, and don’t forget to LIKE them on Facebookhttp://www.facebook.com/RoadRUNNERmag.

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wayne busch - Smoky Mountain Motorcycle Rider.com

Wayne Busch

- Wayne Busch lives in Waynesville, NC, where he produces the most detailed and comprehensive and up-to-date motorcycle pocket maps of the Blue Ridge and Smoky Mountains to help you get the most of your vacation experience. See them here - AmericaRidesMaps.com

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Learn Total Control

Wayne is an advanced motorcycle instructor for Total Rider Tech teaching Lee Parks Total Control Advanced Rider Courses. Isn’t it time you looked into advanced rider training to ride more confidently and safely? It can transform your mountain riding experience.  Total Rider Tech

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Motorcycle Friendly – Tapoco Lodge @ The Tail of the Dragon

Photo-Tapoco Lodge Sign

The Tapoco Lodge

The most luxurious and convenient motorcycle friendly lodging nearest the Tail of the Dragon at Deals Gap, the Tapoco Lodge is historic, unique, classy, and about as close to The Dragon as you can stay.

Greg McCoy from SportBikes4Hire.com had often mentioned the fine dining at the Tapoco Lodge near the Dragon at Deals Gap, but I’d never stopped in to check it out. Honestly, it’s so close to the Tail of the Dragon, I usually blast right past it enjoying the curves on this section of US 129. This week I had the chance to pay a visit and I was impressed with what I found.

Photo-Tapoco-Dam

The Cheoah Dam - a.k.a. "The Fugitive" Dam, where Harrison Ford's character takes the big leap in the movie "The Fugitive".

The Tapoco Lodge was built in the 1930′s by the Alcoa Corporation which was subsequently involved in building the many power generating dams along the Tennessee River to provide power for the aluminum plants in Maryville and Knoxville, Tennessee. At one time as many as 2000 people lived in the area working both in construction of the many dams nearby and substantial timber operations in the surrounding mountains. What is now the Tapoco Lodge saw service as a hospital, theater, residential and operations headquarters for the company, and you’ll find the lodge filled and adorned with historic artifacts from this era.

Photo-The-Tapoco-Lodge

The Tapoco Lodge - exclusive, luxurious, AND motorcycle friendly

Visting today, there is little evidence of the thousands of people who lived and worked here in those times past. As the many dams were completed the lakes which formed behind them submerged the roads, railroads, and small communities, and the area seems remote and isolated, pristine and natural, as if it all never happened save the dams which and lakes which remain as a legacy and still generate power.

Riding through the area you may come across the Chillowhee Dam on US 129 north of The Dragon, the Santeetlah Dam just north of Robbinsville, the Calderwood Dam viewed from the popular overlook at the Tennessee end of The Dragon, but the most impressive and notable are the Fontana Dam on NC 28 (a.k.a. The Moonshiner 28) and the Cheoah Dam just up the road from the lodge.

Photo-historic-gas-station-at-Tapoco-Lodge

Visiting the historic Tapoco Lodge is like visiting a living museum!

The Fontana Dam is one of the highest and most impressive, and is a popular stop for riders in the area. The Cheoah Dam is commonly referred to as “the Fugitive Dam” as it was the structure Harrison Ford’s character in the movie “The Fugitive” jumped from (the movie was shot in the surrounding area).

As operations in the area wound down, the Tapoco Lodge property transferred to private ownership and for many years after was used as a corporate retreat center for the company and others. In 2010, it was sold to the current owners who have renovated, upgraded, and restored  the property to a glorious and historic lodge with outstanding accommodations and fine dining in an exclusive setting.

photo-tapoco-lodge-interior view

History surrounds you at the Tapoco Lodge

Unfortunately my untimely visit happened just as the Tapoco Lodge was shutting down operations for the year. I’ve not yet had the opportunity to sample the sumptuous 5 course dinner at Jasper’s Restaraunt ($44 per plate, reservations required) nor the more casual fare in served in the Slickrock Riverside Grill. I trust Greg’s recommendations the food matches the quality of the rest of the establishment.

Photo-Jaspers-Restaraunt-at-Tapoco-Lodge

A quick peek at Jasper's Restaurant

Nor have I had the opportunity to enjoy the luxurious rooms, though I did get the quick tour of the lodge and they are outstanding. I passed on the opportunity to see the cabins this time.

Photo-the-bar-at-the-Tapoco-Lodge

A treat in a dry county! Save me a seat.

I’m particularly interested in the very comfortable looking bar, a unique feature in the last dry county in the State of North Carolina. It looked well stocked and I noted a good variety of wines. I love having a comfy place to enjoy a libation after a hard days riding and this bar will serve the purpose well.

Photo-room-at-Tapoco-Lodge

Spacious and comfortable rooms

I’m really looking forward to a stay at the Tapoco Lodge as it’s the ideal location for riding some of the best motorcycle rides in North Carolina and Tennessee. it’s on the popular Cherohala Skyway / Tail of the Dragon loop ride. Roll out the driveway, and you’re on the ride.

photo-Tapoco-Lodge-view-of-river

Enjoy sitting along the Cheoah River which flows beside the Tapoco Lodge

They are already booking groups for next year, it’s an ideal location for gatherings and they can accommodate a lot of people. Initially, the price of a stay seems high, but once you factor in the cost  of the 5 course dinner and cooked to order all-you-can-eat breakfast, which are included in your room cost, it works out to be an affordable way to enjoy a luxurious, convenient, and comfortable stay in the area.

You won’t find better food, you won’t find anything like it for accommodations, and you don’t have to ride to the next county to enjoy a cold brew at the end of the day.

 The Tapoco Lodge

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Wayne Busch

Wayne Busch - Cartographer

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Learn Total Control

- Wayne Busch lives in Waynesville, NC, where he produces the most detailed and comprehensive and up-to-date motorcycle pocket maps of the Blue Ridge and Smoky Mountains to help you get the most of your vacation experience. See them here - AmericaRidesMaps.com

Wayne is an advanced motorcycle instructor for Total Rider Tech teaching Lee Parks Total Control Advanced Rider Courses. It’s time you looked into advanced rider training to ride more confidently and safely, it will change your mountain riding experience. It worked so well for me I became an instructor! Total Rider Tech

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 I’ll be adding The Tapoco Lodge to America Rides Maps Map #7 - Best Motorcycle Rides SOUTH of GSMNPMap #8 - Best Motorcycle Rides NORTH of GSMNP and map - 12 Classic Deals Gap Motorcycle Rides
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US 129 Motorcycle Pit Stop at The Dragon

Photo - US 129 Pit Stop sign

The US 129 Motorcycle Pit Stop

I had a couple outstanding passes through The Dragon at Deals Gap yesterday with a short stop at the US 129 Motorcycle Pit Stop in Punkin Center at the Tennessee end of the ride.

With temps that rivaled the punishment awaiting below, the US 129 Motorcycle Pit Stop was a heavenly break to cool off, get a cold drink, and just hang out and shoot the breeze with Todd & co. while I savored the best moments of my ride and planned my strategies for my return assault on one of the top motorcycle rides in the world.

Photo - US 129 Motorcycle Pit Stop

Easy to find, the US 129 Motorcycle Pit Stop is at the junction of US 129 and TN 72

Easy to find, the US 129 Motorcycle Pit Stop is located at the well marked junction of US 129 and TN 72. It’s the only place near The Dragon which provides service for your motorcycle. They have tires, batteries, oil, etc., can get parts overnight, and a mechanic is on duty to tend your motorcycles needs while the Pit Sop Store services your hunger, thirst, and lust for Dragon souvenirs.

It was late in the day when I arrived and they were starting to close up shop so I didn’t stay long. I plan to return and try the food, maybe add to my collection of Dragon T-Shirts as they offer ones of particularly high quality that will hold up for years.

Photo - inside the US 129 Motorcycle Pit Stop

Get a cool drink, a bite to eat, and your Dragon souvenirs inside

Pay a visit to the US 129 Motorcycle Pit Stop on your next visit to The Dragon. Nice people are waiting for you there.

Visit the US 129 Motorcycle Pit Stop stop on the web here:

US 129 Motorcycle Pit Stop

It’s the only place to get service when you really need it at The Dragon.

Photo - Service available at the US 129 Pit Stop

The ONLY place to get mechanical service at The Dragon

Other News from the Tennessee end of The Dragon – The Motel and Restaurant are under new management, the names have changed, things are shaking up a bit and coming alive at what was the quiet end of the ride. Devastation from the recent tornado is still evident, especially along the lake. One of the huge power line towers in the lake was twisted into a crumpled heap, trees are blown down and branches still hang from the wires in places.  There were two forest fires in the area when I visited and the scars left from the fire breaks will be visible for some time to come.

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Wayne Busch
Wayne Busch – Cartographer
- Wayne Busch lives in Waynesville, NC, where he produces the most detailed and comprehensive and up-to-date motorcycle pocket maps of the Blue Ridge and Smoky Mountains to help you get the most of your vacation experience. See them here - AmericaRidesMaps.com 
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The Birthplace of Tennessee – Best Seen on a Motorcycle

Photo - marble campfire

Who knows where this is?

It was the middle of nowhere yet it was the center of everything. I’d stumbled upon the birthplace of Tennessee.

I had low expectations. My research told me most of the roads I’d be riding today would hold little interest to the typical motorcycle rider who had come to ride The Dragon at Deals Gap and the Cherohala Skyway. None of the roads I’d ride on my 450+ mile travels would come anywhere close to those legends. Still, the morning held a surprise I never expected and made the efforts worthwhile.

Photo - Cherokee National Forest Road

Parked along Pleasant Mountain Road. It's typical of other roads nearby - of little interest to most. Still I check them all.

Arriving in Tellico Plains, Tennessee, after an early morning motorcycle ride where I’d had the whole of the Cherohala Skyway to myself, I pointed my wheel north onto TN 360 and my workday began. Within a few miles I’d reach the point where I’d previously abandoned my search for great motorcycle rides and the explorations would resume. Rounding a curve a green street sign flashed past with a name I recognized and I clamped on the brakes to swing around.

I could rule this road out as soon as I saw it, it was doubtful it would be of any interest. Consulting my map, I saw it connected to another I wanted to investigate, so I snicked into first gear determined to make quick work of White Plains Road and move on.

Photo - Tanasi Monument

The Tansi Monument - Tennessee gets it's name from here

It met Smoky Branch Road in a few miles where they both intersected Citico Road. I’d eventually loop back through Smoky Branch Road, also of little interest. Obviously Citico Road was the daddy in this area, the main thoroughfare of better quality, decent pavement, and sporting a faded double yellow line, a proper road.

I expected it would quickly peter out, but after several miles it continued to wind and snake through the mostly bland countryside and I started to wonder if it actually went somewhere in the big empty white space on the map. Curiosity aroused, I couldn’t resist investigating the Tanasi Memorial Site when the sign appeared.

Photo - Tanasi Monument

The empty and isolated setting quickly fills with visions of what must have been

Never heard of it. Turning the motorcycle onto Bacon Ferry Road I ventured out into the nothingness on the barely paved bumpy and potholed  single lane that led out onto a low finger of land surrounded by Tellico Lake. I rode past the pull-off, but a quick glance towards the lake had me circling back when I saw the shoreside monument.

Photo - Tanasi inscription

Inscription transcribed below

Tanasi

Capital of the Cherokee Nation

1721-1730

Origin of the Name for the State of Tennessee

The site of the former town of Tanasi, now underwater, is located about 300 yards west of this marker. Tanasi attained political prominence in 1721 when its civil chief was elected the first “Emperor of the Cherokee Nation”. About the same time, the town name was also applied to the river on which it was located. During the mid 18th century, Tansi became overshadowed and eventually absorbed by the adjacent town of Chota, which was to the immediate north. The first recorded spelling of Tennessee as it is today occured on Henry Timberlakes map of 1762. In 1796, the name Tennessee was selected from among several as most appropriate for the nation’s 16th state. Therfore, symbolized by this monument, those who reside in this beautiful state are forever linked to its Cherokee heritage.

Pho

Cherokee Tanasi to Tennessee - State. A heritage preserved and honored.

I don’t much adhere to theories of “vortexes” or spirituality, but there’s something about this site that is powerful enough to make it worth a visit, it will be on the new map. It’s worth the ride out to it. See it if you have the chance.

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Wayne Busch
Wayne Busch – Cartographer
- Wayne Busch lives in Waynesville, NC, where he produces the most detailed and comprehensive and up-to-date motorcycle pocket maps of the Blue Ridge and Smoky Mountains to help you get the most of your vacation experience. See them here - AmericaRidesMaps.com 
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