Motorcycle Touring – Towns Near Great Smoky Mountains Park

Motorcycles at overlook in Smoky Park

Enjoying  an overlook on Newfound Road in Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Choose the right place to stay on your Smoky Mountain motorcycle trip

Great Smoky Mountains National Park is the #1 visited park in the nation. Needless to say there are plenty of places to stay in the surrounding area when you come. Those who make the trek by motorcycle not only enjoy the wonders of the park, but are rewarded with some of the most challenging and scenic motorcycle rides in the country at it’s borders.

Bullseye on the test place to stay

Bullseye on the best place to stay

I previously looked for the epicenter of great motorcycle riding, the central point in the middle of all the best motorcycle rides in the Blue Ridge Mountains. The prime location was Maggie Valley, NC on the southeast edge of Great Smoky Mountains National Park, with Waynesville and Cherokee close runners up. I listed the pros and cons of using each as a base camp for your motorcycle trip. (read about it here)

Truth is, there are so many great motorcycle rides to choose from in this mountainous region you’ll never get to them all. While being at the strategic center of all the riding offers more riding choices and opportunities, it’s worth looking at some of these other places which lay on the borders of Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

Map towns around smoky park

Towns which ring Great Smoky Mountains National Park and classic motorcycle rides nearby.

♦♦♦♦ Maggie Valley / Waynesville – located right in the heart of the best motorcycle rides. Waynesville has great food, but few rooms. Maggie Valley has lots of rooms, places to eat, and the Wheels Through Time Motorcycle Museum.  (previously covered, read about it here).

♦♦♦ Cherokee – It’s where the Blue Ridge Parkway meets great Smoky Mountains National Park. Culture, casino, and crowds.  (previously covered, read about it here)

Photo - Great Smoky Mountains Railway Train

Great Smoky Mountains Railroad train in Bryson City

♦♦ Bryson City – Places to stay, camping, good food and drink, the railroad, at first glance Bryson City has a lot to offer. It’s downfall is it’s isolation. It’s located adjacent to 4 lane US 74. It has a nice little downtown where US 19 comes in from Cherokee. Your choices to quickly hop on a good ride without hitting the 4 lane are limited.

– If you’re looking for a nice quiet place to camp on a swimming creek and do a little riding, Bryson City will do you well.

♦♦ StecoahStecoah is a small spot located off NC 28 not far from Fontana Lake. There are cabins available here, though it’s a really popular spot for campers. There are a couple motorcycle campgrounds. NC 28  leads to The Dragon at Deals Gap or you can cut through to Robbinsville and the Cherohala Skyway. There’s a roadside diner. It’s a pretty remote spot so you’ll have to be self-sufficient, the campgrounds have some supplies. The nearest grocery is in Robbinsville, it’s dry county. The Nantahala Gorge is close, the good section of NC 28 starts just a few miles up the road.

– Stay in Stecoah if you’re looking for motorcycle campgrounds near the Dragon.  

Fontana Village Pitstop

Cabins, rooms, camping, meals, Fontana is remote but has all you need.

♦♦♦ Fontana –  Fontana is a good option near The Dragon on NC 28. You ‘ll find camping, cabins, there’s are a decent number of rooms, good meals, a bar, all the comforts. The stretch of NC 28 that it sits on is one of my favorite rides curvy motorcycle rides. You’re only minutes from The Dragon.

– Fontana will serve you well if you want a remote location with all the amenities. Close to the Dragon.

♦♦♦ Robbinsville – There’s nothing but mountains and trees west of Robbinsville and well into Tennessee. The small town sits at the hub of several important roads. US 129 leads north to The Dragon, south to the Nanathala Gorge. The Cherohala Skyway meets it here just north of downtown, NC 143 takes you over the mountain to connect with NC 28. All the good biker roads lead here.

While the town of Robbinsville is small, it’s the biggest small town for miles. There’s a grocery store, a few restaurants, gas station / fast food, one big central chain motel, and lots of biker friendly options and businesses in the town. There are a couple good places to eat.  It’s not a convenient town for walking. There’s no booze here, it’s dry.  Motorcycle rentals in town.

– Robbinsville is the largest town in the area so it has the most to offer. It’s a good base when you want to travel light. Great rides in every direction.

deals-gap-resort-

Deals Gap Motorcycle Resort

♦♦ Deals Gap – Resorts, lodges, cabins, campgrounds are all available but limited. If you want to be as close to The Dragon as possible you’ll be pretty isolated from civilization. This is where you want to stay if you’ve come to focus on riding The Dragon. Do a couple runs through in the morning then head down to the Cherohala Skyway or cruise the lake on NC 28. Get in another run or two through The Dragon in the evening.

– If you want to get the full Dragon experience, stay at Deals Gap. There may be entertainment, night races in the parking lot. 

♦ Punkin Center – Located at the Tennessee end of The Dragon where TN 72 intersects, it’s an ideal spot for riding The Dragon / Cherohala Skyway loop ride. There is a popular motorcycle campground here, a restaurant, and a repair shop.

– If you’re looking for a motorcycle campground on the north side of the park, this one puts you on some of the best roads.  

♦ Townsend – Townsend gets you away from the congestion of Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg, but you’re still on a pretty major road. It get’s you close to Cades Cove in Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Townsend is a good choice if you want to ride The Dragon, The Cherohala Skyway, and poke around the park. It’s a popular base camp for dual-sport riders doing the unpaved roads in Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Motorcycle rentals available in town.

– Townsend is a good base camp for dual sport riding. 

Gatlinburg-motorcycles

Tourist attractions in Gatlinburg.

♦♦ Gatlinburg / Pigeon Forge

The primary attraction of Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge is they are so easy to get to. The primary downfall of Galtinburg / Pigeon Forge is everybody goes there.

There’s about 40 miles between the north entrance of Great Smoky Mountains National Park and the city of Knoxville, so this corridor has developed into a tourist vortex. Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge host all kinds of attractions. There are lots of bargains on rooms and cabins. The downfall here is the tourist traffic and the scarcity of good motorcycle rides. The mountains quickly become valleys outside the park.

There may be some compelling reasons to stay in Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge, but you’ll likely spend time riding around the park to get to some of the best rides.

– Stay in Gatlinburg if you’re looking for a deal or want a tourist expereince. Accept the traffic, enjoy the attractions, and learn the backroads that will get you through it all.

 Cosby – Cosby is at the “forgotten” eastern end of the park. You’ll find lots of campgrounds along the edge of the park, a couple motels near I-40, little else of note. This area is popular for the unpaved riding both in the park and out into the national forests.

Cosby is a good base camp for dual sport riding. 

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100 Great Motorcycle Rides mapin the Smoky MountainsYou can get a map of more than 100 Great Motorcycle Rides near the Smoky Mountains that will show you where the roads are hiding and how they link together into endless wonderful wanderings through the mountains.

Click Here Now
to see more about the map

 

If you enjoy photos of motorcycle riding in the Blue Ridge and Smoky Mountains, like MY BLUE RIDGE MOTORCYCLING FACEBOOK PAGE.Facebook

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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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100 Great Motorcycle Rides in the Smoky Mountains Map

100 Great Motorcycle Rides in the Smoky Mountains Map

America Rides Maps motorcycle pocket ride maps has a brand new map!

100 Great Motorcycle Rides  mapin the Smoky Mountains

New map! 100 Great Motorcycle Rides in the Smoky Mountains

This map mails out September 6, 2013. This is the first run of these new maps, supplies are limited! Reserve yours now.

Order online here – http://www.shop.americaridesmaps.com/100-Great-Motorcycle-Rides-in-the-Smoky-Mountains-SM100F.htm

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100 Great Smoky Mountain Motorcycle Rides Map

100 Great Smoky Mountain Motorcycle Rides Map – both folded (road use) and unfolded (wall display) versions. Waterproof and durable. Red Roads are best, Blue Roads are best connectors.

12 Classic Deals Gap Motorcycle Rides pocket map

12 Classic Deals Gap Motorcycle Rides pocket map

  • Size: 24 x 36 inches
  • Waterproof and tear resitant
  • Folded and unfolded versions available
  • Supplies are limited!
  • Click here to order

100 Great Smoky Mountain Motorcycle Rides is the “grown up” version of our most popular 12 Classic Deals Gap Motorcycle Rides pocket map. This new larger and more detailed map adds in all the great roads that are not featured on the smaller map, more than 100 of them.

Great Motorcycle Rides in the Smoky Mountains Map

Size comparison – pocket maps vs. new map unfolded. More detail, easy to read, tons more roads!

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100 Great Motorcycle Rides in the Smoky Mountains Map

4.5 x 8 inches folded

ABOUT:

Discalimer –

  • There are way more then 100 great motorcycle rides on this map
  • Most of these roads are peripheral to the actual geologic formation of the Smoky Mountains

This new larger format map (24×36 inches) combines at least 3 pocket maps (#6, #7, #8)  and sections of 2 more (#5, #9) into one larger map that encircles and includes all the best motorcycle rides surrounding Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

This map stretches from Tellico Plains, TN in the west to include the Cherohala Skyway, The Dragon,  and connecting roads, to beyond Asheville, NC in the east. It dips into Georgia and South Carolina, and reaches as far north as Knoxville, TN. Within these borders lie some of the best motorcycle roads in the nation.

  • For the first time visitor – all the great motorcycle roads are at your disposal.
  • For the return visitor – expand on what you’ve already discovered
  • For the local – I bet you find something new

Buy this map now

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And you’ll have to wait for it until September 6, 2013;

America Rides Maps notice

Maps will mail Sept 6

This maps just arrived from the printer and I’m about to leave on my motorcycle vacation. Yes, just like you, I need my motorcycle trips.

So all I can do is let you know when you can get them –

  • You can order now –
  • I will start mailing maps again on September 6, 1st Class or Priority Mail –
  • You should have your map by September 10, 2013

Order now

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Where can I buy these maps NOW?

I’ve had no time to get them out to sellers so these are the few places they are available and in limited supply at that. Once I return from my motorcycle trip I’ll get more out to the other vendors.

http://www.shop.americaridesmaps.com/100-Great-Motorcycle-Rides-in-the-Smoky-Mountains-SM100F.htm

America Rides Maps motorcycle ride maps

How the maps compare in size –

Click here to shop online and see all the maps –

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Top 10 Motorcycle Rides – The Cherohala Skyway

“One of the finest motorcycle rides you’ll ever enjoy”  –

Fall color on the North Carolina end of the Cherohala Skyway

Fall color on the North Carolina end of the Cherohala Skyway

The Cherohala Skyway takes the motorcycle rider on a long and sweeping romp through the mile high ridge lines of remote national forests just west of Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Stunning long range views can be enjoyed from overlooks and rest areas along the park-like road. Traffic is typically light and the curves are challenging and consistent for the 50 mile town-to-town ride through some of the most wild and scenic areas in the Blue Ridge mountains.

The Cherohala Skyway is near The Dragon at Deals Gap. It runs from Robbinsville, NC to Tellico Plains, TN.

The Cherohala Skyway is near The Dragon at Deals Gap. It runs from Robbinsville, NC to Tellico Plains, TN. Click on map for larger view.  Source – America Rides Maps Motorcycle Pocket maps – AmericaRidesMaps.com

Enjoying a summer motorcycle ride on the Cherohala Skyway

Enjoying a summer motorcycle ride on the Cherohala Skyway

The majority of motorcycle riders are drawn to this remote mountainous area to experience the thrill of riding US 129 a.k.a. “The Dragon” which skirts the western border of Great Smoky Mountains National Park nearby. A good number of them find the ride on the Cherohala Skyway far more enjoyable. It’s a relaxing contrast to the commotion and crowds that race back and forth through the Dragon’s legendary curves.

The Cherohala Skyway runs east to west connecting the small towns of Robbinsville, NC, and Tellico Plains, TN. Between them lies a large undeveloped mountainous section of the Cherokee (TN) and Nantahala (NC) National Forests. The made-up name “Cherohala” comes from a combination of the names of the remote forests it runs through.

Motorcycle flying through the mile high curves on the Cherohala Skyway

Flying through the mile high curves near the middle of the long wonderful ride

From either end the road makes a gradual climb to reach the 5000 ft heights near the middle section. Two broad lanes with sweeping curves arc through the mountain passes. Scenic overlooks, some with rest areas, yield views of a vast forests often free of visible human impact to the horizon. While the towns at either end have food, gas, and lodging, there is nothing but empty pavement on the 40 or so miles between them.

Springtime motorcycle ride on the Cherohala Skyway

Springtime on the Tennessee end of the Cherohala Skyway – nice long view of road, click to enlarge

Riding the Cherohala Skyway on a motorcycle you’ll find smooth pavement with good traction save a few bumpy patches here and there and the occasional bit of gravel dragged into turns by cars that run wide. The speed limit is 45 mph though there are many turns where a prudent rider will carry a bit less and the experienced rider will find satisfaction at speed. The overlooks and pull outs are well marked, paved, and have ample parking. Elevation signs along the road signal each 1000 ft change. It’s very much an experience like riding through a national park – similar to riding the the Blue Ridge Parkway (less than an hour east).

Stop to enjoy the views from the nice overlooks on the Cherohala Skyway

Stop to enjoy the views from the nice overlooks on the Cherohala Skyway

As relaxing as that “park-like” experience sounds, the road challenges the motorcycle riders’ skill. The Cherohala Skyway is  “big brother” to the nearby Dragon with it’s back-to-back tight turns. The Cherohala Skyway is a ‘super-sized” version of it. The curves open up and relax a bit but they keep coming one after another with the added dimension of long winding climbs and descents.

The Cherohala Skyway and the Dragon are often ridden together in a 123 mile long loop ride which runs north on US 129 to via TN 72, then to Vonore, TN, then south via TN 360 to Tellico Plains, TN, then across the Cherohala Skyway to Robbinsville.  When you ride both roads , the contrast is obvious -the need to be hyper alert and vigilant in the parade of bikes on the Dragon is relieved on the Cherohala Skyway. It seems empty by comparison, you can relax and it has all this gorgeous scenery too!

Great views, nice pavement, low traffic, and miles and miles of sweeping curves make the Cherohala Skyway a top motorcycle ride.

Great views, nice pavement, low traffic, and miles and miles of sweeping curves make the Cherohala Skyway a top motorcycle ride.

The best time for a visit is fall when the leaves are changing. Staying at the eastern (NC) end of the road places you near several other great motorcycle rides like the Dragon and NC 28. Robbinsville, NC is the larger town with more food / lodging options though many like the west end in Tellico Plains, TN for the camping.

The Cherohala Skyway is open all year (except when snow blocks) making it one of the first destinations for southern riders in the spring and a winter play spot for the hardcore adventurer.

Motorcycles starting up the grade from the North Carolina end of the road on the Cherohala Skyway.

Starting up the grade from the North Carolina end of the road on the Cherohala Skyway.

Tips and Advice – 

  • It’s about 50 miles with no gas. Fuel at either end. Be safe – top off.
  • 3000 foot elevation change – it will be cooler, more windy, and wetter at the higher altitudes. Dress for it.
  • It’s a long, long way if you need help. Ride with that in mind.
It takes a little effort, but visiting Bald River Falls on your Cherohala Skyway ride is worth it

It takes a little effort, but Bald River Falls is worth the trip

Make a side trip to Bald River Falls –

You’ll see a sign for Bald River Falls near the start of the Tennessee end of the Cherohala Skyway. Follow barely paved River Road for several miles, it’s obvious.

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wayne busch - Smoky Mountain Motorcycle Rider.com

Wayne Busch

– Wayne Busch produces the most detailed and comprehensive motorcycle pocket maps of the hundreds of great roads in the Blue Ridge and Smoky Mountains so you know where the best roads are and how to spend the bulk of your riding time on them.

You’ll find the Cherohala Skyway on America Rides Maps –

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Tips for Riding the Dragon on your Motorcycle – #4 Da Bike

4)  Ride the Bike you Brought

You can have a good time riding the Dragon on any bike you can ride there. If you’ve ridden there, you’ve got the basic skills to ride the road. In fact, you’ve already hit some decent curves on the way. So what makes the Dragon such a challenge? You do – it’s all about how you ride it. But…

A scooter on the Dragon

A scooter on the Dragon – a fun ride regardless what you brought.

The Dragon will not magically transform your behemoth cruiser into a Moto GP race bike. It will not make the mass of your passenger disappear. You will not miraculously find the ground clearance you never had before. If you’re dragging hard parts through every corner, hard on the brakes coming into each turn, you’re doing it wrong and it’s just a matter of time before the Dragon bites.

Chopper on the Dragon

Ride the bike you brought as it was built to be ridden.

Riding the Dragon well comes down to skill and technique regardless of the bike. Strive to be smooth, relaxed, and in control.
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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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Tips for Riding the Dragon on Your Motorcycle – #3 Consequences

3) Recognize the Consequences

Before you grab that handful of throttle and screech out of the parking lot to prove your manhood, consider the consequences if your motorcycle ride on the Dragon doesn’t go as well as planned. While surprisingly few accidents on the Dragon are fatal, be aware, it’s a long way to the nearest hospital and an expensive trip to get you there if it’s needed. Deals Gap is a remote and isolated area. If you need help, it will likely be an hour before it arrives. That’s a long time to be hurt, broken, or worse yet bleeding.

Photo-motorcycle crash

Rescues at the Dragon are neither easy nor quick.

Maybe, you low side into an embankment as you blow a turn. With luck, you miss a rocky face and slide into the hard and stoney dirt. With the right armor, gear, and luck, you walk away. Maybe your bike is rideable to the repair shop, or maybe they winch it up onto a flatbed on it’s side compounding the damage and expense. The “Tree of Shame” at the Deals Gap Motorcycle Resort is hung with the detritus of years of accidents, some quite serious. It’s no badge of honor to add your own.

Kiss your bike goodbye if you go off the sharp edge of the road, it’s most likely totaled. There are no soft and forgiving run-offs into the grass. The terrain is steep, the drops are long, and the mass of a moving bike carries it a long way as it caroms off trees and rocks on the cartwheeling tumble down into the dense woods. If it’s not totaled going down, it will be when the tow truck drags it back up with a long cable.

Motorcycle crosses double yellow at the Dragon

Crossing the double yellow is more common than you’d think – don’t be tempted

Worst case you meet another vehicle. Crossing the yellow lines is deadly. While there are times when visibility is good and you may feel it’s safe to cut that corner and straighten out the curves, don’t do it. It’s the #1 way to meet a law enforcement official, they do not tolerate it with good reason. Big brother has been known to station observers in the woods with cameras and radios. Live by the rule “Never cross the Double Yellow Line”.

Traffic enforcement at the Dragon at Deals Gap

The police are there to keep things sane. Maintain control and you’ll be fine. Cross the double yellow, and you will get personal attention.

Worse yet are those who stray across the line unintentionally. If it happens to you, you find yourself across the yellow line despite your efforts, you deserve a time out and a penalty break. Pull off and settle down at the next paved spot and take time to contemplate your mortality. You were riding beyond your limits, and fortunately this time you can tell the tale. Adjust your mind and ease off when you get back on the road. When the Dragon bites, it’s serious.
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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

Total Rider Tech Logo

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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Tips for Riding the Dragon on your Motorcycle – #2 Recon

2) Pre-ride the Road

Racers walk the track before they ride it to identify lines, note the subtle nuances, study the surface, and make mental plans on how to best approach each corner. While that’s not practical at the Dragon, it’s a fools venture to just roll out of the parking lot and get on the throttle. While you’re not going to memorize every turn on a slow ride through, you’ll get some idea of what to expect should you decide to come at it with more vigor. You may discover the 30 mph speed limit is way above what you can safely carry through many of the hairpin curves, especially the ones that unexpectedly close down on you and tighten up.

Motorcycles on the Draon

Take some time to judge the conditions – you’ll be better prepared for what lies ahead

Use the pre-ride to judge the conditions that day and adjust to them. Note the traffic, how the riders and drivers are behaving. Get a feel for the condition of the road – is there debris from a recent storm, are the shady spots wet, is there dirt or leaves in a corner? Is there a big group visiting or some event going on? Note where the photographers are so you’re not taken by surprise and distracted. Judge what the traffic enforcement is like that day – if there are a dozen troopers along the road it’s not the time for misbehaving. Sometimes, it’s better to head off to other roads and come back later.

The Deals Gap Motorcycle Resort at the Dragon

Spend a few minutes observing what’s going on that day. 10 minutes on the porch at the Deals Gap Motorcycle Resort will give you a wealth of information.

Pause for a few minutes at the end of the run and just observe. The Deals Gap Motorcycle Resort parking lot, the Calderwood Dam overlook, Tabcat Bridge pull-out are good places to spend a few minutes observing, chatting with other riders, and generally getting a feel for the rhythm of what’s going on. Listen and watch. Traffic tends to come in waves, judge your moment to start your run according to the flow.
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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

Total Rider Tech Logo

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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My Experience – Total Rider Tech Advanced Motorcycle Course

Photo-total-rider-tech

Dave Saam, our instructor, demonstrates one of the exercises.

So the first thing you’re probably asking is – Is this something I’m interested in?  You might have the impression it’s just for squids on sport bikes. You’d be seriously wrong. (honestly, do these guys look like squids?)

  • I’ve been riding for 37 years. I kinda thought I had most things figured out.
  • I can be fast when I want to be.
  • I  think I’m very smooth.
  • I’ve put one hell of a lot of miles under my wheels.
  • I really enjoy my motorcycle riding.
  • I was happy with what I was doing on, and with, a motorcycle.
photo-total-rider-tech

Altering your center of gravity while turning with correct body position is critical on any style motorcycle.

After this Total Rider Tech Advanced Motorcycle Rider Training I’ve got that same silly smile on my face I had the day after I’d just got my first motorcycle – I can’t wait to get out and ride.

No, it’s not like starting over.  Basic skills should be second nature before you consider a course like Total Rider Tech‘s Advanced Motorcycle Clinic. It’s a key to rising to another level in your motorcycle riding.

I’d already got a lot from Lee Parks’ “Total Control” book. At least I thought I had. I was seeing improvements in my riding.  I quickly learned it’s one thing to read a book.

Photo-total-rider-tech-motorcycle-class-me

Body position too in-line with the bike, rotate left shoulder forward and drop left elbow, lean forward and more to the inside, repositioning will allow me to turn my head more and look deeper through the curve, yes that's me.

What looked so simple in print is a “whole ‘nuther world” when you have an expert there to coach you and help you recognize things you could apply to be a better motorcycle rider.

I appreciate the way the instruction was done. The classroom laid the groundwork for the drills. What seemed so easy in class often proved quite the challenge when put to practice. There was a lot to think about, each step building on what came before.

Photo-Microtel-Robbinsville-NC

L-R Greg, SportBikes4Hire, Billy - Microtel, and Dave, our instructor made the magic happen

The instruction, criticism, and feedback from drills on the riding course were provided in a way that accepted my input, listened to what I thought and felt during the ride, then reinforced the fundamentals described in class.

In this way you compared your idea of how you performed with coaching on how to achieve the ideal you are after.  It’s a very powerful method of instilling an awareness of how you can move closer to a better relationship with your motorcycle riding.

The class doesn’t just demonstrate how to be better, you learn and understand  why and how you do what you do, and when you do it will make you better. That’s powerful knowledge!

Total Rider Tech

 Backstage Pass –

(I hope you’ve already gone to the Total Rider Tech page)  Here’s the honesty part – I knew this class was coming, you’ve seen previous posts about it.  I kinda had an “in” on the goings on.

Photo-SportBikes4hire.com

Sport Bikes 4 Hire.com did a superb job with professional service

Thank Greg at SportsBikes4Hire.com for bringing this class to Robbinsville, NC. He took it about 3 months ago.

This track racer of many years knew the value he’d received and coordinated bringing a class to the closest facility to The Dragon at Deals Gap. He sited the course and got us a discount from Billy at the Microtel Robbinsville. He provided bikes for the instructor. I was humbled when he invited me to come early and see the inside story.

Photo-the-Dragon-deals-Gap

I do believe Dave enjoyed our ride through the Dragon at Deals Gap

Dave Saam, our instructor, arrived the day before the classes to get things set up. Greg and I helped him evaluate the site and precisely measure out the course. After dinner, we went for Dave’s first run through The Dragon. The smile on his face tells the story.

Saturday I went through the class. That evening was spent making night runs through The Dragon with a few of my classmates. I’ll cherish those memories for a lifetime.

Photo-total-rider-tech-practice

Some of these riders had a lot of experience - everyone came away with a wealth of knowledge on how to become a better rider.

Sunday, I stuck around to shadow Dave and learn from a master how he works with the students to help them recognize and become aware of what is happening as they run through the drills.

In the classroom we learned the technical aspects of how the motorcycle relates to and functions on the road. The understanding of how suspension affects traction, how body position and center of gravity changes affect the motorcycle, and essentially how to allow the motorcycle achieve what it was inherently designed to do – how to work in harmony with the mechanics so they provide the maximum result.

I watched everyone progress through the day. Some made remarkable improvements in their riding, it was exciting to see it happen.

photo-total-rider-tech-drill

The principals we learned are universal - they work on a race bike, they work on a Harley.

The class wrapped up with one of the best explanations of suspension and how to set it up I can imagine. Previously, fiddling with suspension settings was so mysterious and complicated I didn’t dare touch it lest I make things worse out of ignorance. Let’s face it, dealers and most mechanics may know how to change parts, but have no clue how to adjust settings for the individual rider to get just the basic performance out of the motorcycle.

I now understand it so well, setting up my suspension correctly and doing the same for my wife’s bike is one of the first things I’m doing before we ride again. I can’t believe this isn’t done for everyone when you first get a new bike, but it’s treated like black magic. Total Rider Tech taught me how to get my motorcycle optimized for me so it can work at it’s best and how to make the adjustments that tailor it to my comfort and performance desires.

So is a Total Rider Tech course for you? If you’ve got a few miles under your wheels and cruising around is now all second nature, you’ll benefit immensely from this course. The knowledge and understanding you’ll gain helps you really recognize how a motorcycle is designed to work and relate to the road, the dynamics of cornering well, how the output is affected by your inputs.

You will improve your riding. They promised that. Total Rider Tech kept their promise.

Greg at SportsBikes4Hire.com is hoping to have another in October. This one filled quickly and we had riders who came out to the course to see if anyone failed to show trying to get in. Jump on the opportunity when it comes again!

To my fellow students – I have your photos. Email me and I’ll get them to you. wayne@americaridesmaps.com

SportsBikes4Hire.com , Microtel RobbinsvilleTotal Rider TechThe Dragon, Lee Parks’ “Total Control” book

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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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Ever seen the Dragon’s Breath on your Deals Gap motorcycle ride?

NC-28-motorcycle

The Dragons breath envelopes riders on NC 28 near Deals Gap

OK, so I made the Dragon‘s Breath thing up – at least the name. The phenomenon is real though, something you may encounter when riding NC 28 along Cheoah Lake on your way to or from The Dragon at Deals Gap.

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NC 28 - Cheoah Lake fog (or is it?) - Remember, there's a Dragon nearby.

The fog, which can be pretty thick at times, is a common occurrence on warm summer days. The water which drives the turbines at nearby Fontana Dam is drawn from the deepest coldest depths of Fontana Lake. When there is enough moisture in the warm air, it condenses when it comes near the cold water of Cheoah Lake.

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NC 28 - Sometimes the NC 28 bridge below the dam sits on a cloud

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Below the Fontana Dam

A nice side trip when you are in the area is a stop at the Fontana Dam. You can access the bottom of the dam once you cross the bridge over Cheoah Lake. Turn right and follow the paved road to the power station. To see the dam from the top, and you should it’s one of the highest in the east, use the road which intersects NC 28 just beyond Fontana Village. It’s easy to find, it’s the only stop sign on NC 28.

You find NC 28, the Fontana Dam, The Dragon, the Cherohala Skyway, other nearby attractions and scores of two lane twisty back roads which make for great Smoky Mountain motorcycle rides on America Rides Maps;

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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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How to Make a good Deals Gap Motorcycle Ride Better –

Adding these two roads to one of the four most popular Smoky Mountain motorcycle loop rides near the The Dragon at Deals Gap makes the least of them measure up to the others.

Photo - morning on the Cherohala Skway

Morning on the Cherohala Skyway. I'm parked on the state line between North Carolina and Tennessee.

Smoky Mountain / Blue Ridge motorcycle riders who flock to ride The Dragon at Deals Gap typically take in other rides when in the area. One of the best Smoky Mountain motorcycle rides is a loop through Vonore and Tellico Plains, TN to take in the Cherohala Skyway. Another popular circuit is to loop around Great Smoky Mountains National Park crossing through the heart of the Smoky Mountains on US 441. A third great loop ride links NC 28 at Franklin, NC to Nantahala Gorge via Wayah Road. All of these are great loop rides in the Blue Ridge with unique characters.

The fourth most popular ride is to take the Cherohala Skyway west to Tellico Plains, then go south on TN 68. You then use TN 123 / NC 294 to head east, and follow US 74 / 129 north through the Nantahala Gorge to return to The Dragon at Deals Gap. This loop ride starts out with the outstanding scenery and enjoyable sweeping curves of the 50 mile long Cherohala Skyway as it crosses the Snowbird Mountain Range of the Blue Ridge. It gets nice again once you enter the curvy sections a few miles south of Tellico Plains on NC 68. It’s gets better and better the further south you go, though NC 68 can carry a bit of traffic on weekends.

Photo - Field of the Woods

The 10 Commandments at Fields of the Wood - big enough God can read them

Once you turn east on TN 123 / NC 294, the ride is still pretty good, but the road opens up and the ride is not as scenic and challenging as you progress. Here’s how to punch it back up to outstanding.

Watch for Fields of the Wood, it’s the closest landmark to the turn off onto Hiawassee Dam Access Road. Fields of the Wood is worth a stop to see and a nice place for a break. Those with devout religious leanings will be inspired by the hillside with the ten commandments written out in stone, as well as numerous other Biblical icons and monuments. For those inspired more by hellacious and challenging roads, Hiawassee Dam Access Road is next leading to devilish twists and curves.

Photo - Hiawassee Dam

The Hiawassee Dam is a nice spot for a break.

Turn onto Hiawassee Dam Access Road to start the fun. You may encounter a little traffic approaching the dam on weekends as many come for boat access to the lake and river. Once past the dam, the excellent and challenging road continues a course around the west side of the lake. Turn right onto Joe Brown Highway when you reach the end of Hiawassee Dam Access Road.

Joe Brown Highway is hardly what any of us think of when the word “highway” comes to mind. This isolated and remote twisty two lane back road is packed with curve after curve and some pretty decent Smoky Mountain scenery, though you’ll be paying more attention to the road than the horizons. It’s a whole lot of fun, usually carries very little traffic, and may be the best section of the entire loop, a nice contrast to the sweeping curves of the Cherohala Skyway.

Photo - Nantahala Outdoor Center

The Nantahala Outdoor Center on the river is another great break spot with bathrooms, good food, nice views, and the place to arrange a river trip.

Joe Brown Highway runs you right through downtown Murphy, NC to intersect US 129 / 74 at the junction with US 64 East. Turn north to follow the four lane to Andrews where it funnels down to two lanes again for the ride through scenic Nantahala Gorge. You’re bound to run into traffic in Nantahala Gorge, but the scenery along the popular whitewater river makes up for it. Avoid the gorge on weekends when possible as the buses hauling rafters and kayakers tend to bottle things up.

Once through Nantahala Gorge, turn left onto NC 28 and back into the twists and curves to return to The Dragon at Deals Gap.

Photo - View from Hiawassee Dam Overlook

There are nice spots for a break both atop and below the Hiawassee Dam. The road runs across it then continues around the lake.

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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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New Map – The Best Motorcycle Rides SOUTH of Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Image - View of Map

Map #7 - The Best Motorcycle Rides South of Great Smoky Mountains National Park

I’m proud to announce the release of America Rides Maps latest compilation of great motorcycle rides in the Blue Ridge Mountains and the final map to complete a series of three maps which detail close to 200 good motorcycle roads surrounding Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

Map #7, The Best Roads South of Great Smoky Mountains National Park, covers the region west from Maggie Valley, North Carolina, to Tellico Plains, Tennessee, extending south to cross the borders into South Carolina and Georgia. More than 30 of the roads rate being listed as outstanding rides highlighted in red, and another 20 are shown as great connecting roads highlighted in blue to link them all together.  The Best Roads South of Great Smoky Mountains National Park includes a guide to 9 roadside waterfalls, numerous out-of-the-way gas stations, sights and attractions, and motorcycle friendly locations.

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Motorcycles flock to ride the Dragon at Deals Gap

This is THE MAP for motorcycle riders making a trip down the Blue Ridge Parkway then on to the Dragon at Deals Gap.

It includes the final sections of the Blue Ridge Parkway into Cherokee, North Carolina, the popular 125 mile long Dragon /  Cherohala Skyway loop ride, the Nantahala River Gorge, Wayah Bald, the Cullasaja River Gorge, a surprising wealth of hidden back roads near Franklin, NC, and variations on rides surrounding the Dragon at Deals Gap few ever discover.

The Smoky Park Motorcycle Map Series includes –

Nearly 200 roads are described in this map package which weave through some of the highest mountains in the east, cross extensive scenic national forests and park lands, see dozens of roadside waterfalls, including every ride within Great Smoky Mountains National Park, it’s the most extensive and comprehensive collection of great motorcycle rides in this area ever assembled.

 

 

 

Photo by Jim Miller Photography

Photo by Jim Miller Photography - This area is so remote and wild you'll find hundred mile views with no evidence of human occupation to be seen.

 

 

 

“This map takes my best selling map, combines it with another, and adds new roads I’ve discovered to make the ultimate map for visitors to the Dragon at Deals Gap, it’s all you need!”

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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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