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

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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 – #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

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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 – #1 Attitude

1) Come with the Right Attitude

The biggest challenge to riding the Dragon at Deals Gap  on your motorcycle is in your head. It’s the expectations and beliefs that this road is the place to prove yourself, test your skills, and take it to the limit. After all, that’s what all the hype and publicity is about. No arguments it’s a challenging stretch of road with some very tight and tricky curves. Odds are, you’re going to see something that surprises you, something you think is just plain reckless or crazy, and perhaps, something (like another vehicle straying into your lane) that scares the poo out of you. Go in expecting it, ride as if it is going to happen, and always keep a healthy margin of safety in your favor.

Motorcycles on the Dragon

Ride your own ride at your own pace and maintain a healthy margin fo the unexpected.

Check that ego and don’t get caught up in the hype that you’ve got to attack it with all you’ve got. Ride your own ride, at your own pace, and stay within your own limits. Accept there will always be someone faster, crazier, or more aggressive than you and just let them pass on by. If somebody is on your tail, put on your turn signal, give them room, and pull off at the next opportunity. There are plenty of paved spots to pull off or do a roll-through so the maniacs can safely pass. Much better to let them safely pass than get caught up in the carnage if they try to bolt around you on a blind corner and it goes badly. Don’t fall into the trap of following someone quicker – they may know the road better, be more experienced, or riding beyond their limits.

Motorcycle on the Dragon

Riding on the very edge leaves nothing in reserve for the unexpected. You’ll get away with it 9 times out of 10, but then….

Always be ready to just let it go. It’s just a motorcycle ride, there’s no trophy waiting at the end. If you find yourself riding somebodies tail, back off, find a pull off, and take a break until the traffic lets up. The road isn’t going anywhere. Wait for things to clear out and calm down, then ride your own ride. Getting a clear, unhindered run through the road at your own pace is rare. Don’t feel disappointed when it doesn’t happen, odds are it wont.
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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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Smoky Mountain Motorcycle Spring Road Report April 2013

Smoky Mountain Motorcycle Spring Road Report April 2013 – Current conditions for motorcycle touring and Blue Ridge Parkway riders;

Roads affected:

  • Blue Ridge Parkway
  • US 441 through Great Smoky Mountains National Park
  • Cherohala Skyway
  • Fires Creek Road near Hayesville, NC
  • US 276 / NC 215 south of Waynesville, NC
  • US 70 / 25 north of Hot Springs, NC
  • NC 28 north of Franklin
  • NC 197 near Bakersville
photo - Spring on the Blue Ridge Parkway

Spring on the Blue Ridge Parkway

Blue Ridge Parkway – One by one the incidents of road damage sustained over the winter are being or have been repaired. One significant situation remains – the closure of the Blue Ridge Parkway near Mt. Mitchell. Most recent reports indicate it will be resolved mid-May.

Photo-mt-mitchell-highest-in-east

The observation tower atop Mt. Mitchell is worth the trip, but you have to approach from the north until the road is fixed. Pick a sunny clear day.

A section of the Blue Ridge Parkway on this long high lonely stretch of road has been subsiding and slipping down the mountainside for several years. Frequent riders will remember the noticeable dip in the road just south of the entrance to Mt. Mitchell State Park at NC 128. A slide occurred here several years back, it was important to address this situation before another took out the pavement again.

Photo-Peaks-of-Otter-Lodge

The Peaks of Otter Lodge on the Blue Ridge Parkway will reopen soon.

The Peaks of Otter Lodge north of Roanoke is currently closed, though a new concessionaire has taken the contract and it is expected to open soon. Bluffs Lodge at Doughton Park in NC  will remain closed this season, looks like the campground will be open. The Pisgah Inn opened early south of Asheville. Crabtree Falls visitor center is closed this year.

For a detailed list of Parkway facilities and schedule go here – http://www.nps.gov/blri/parknews/blue-ridge-parkway-releases-2013-season-opening-schedule.htm

Download a free printable detour map here – http://smokymountainrider.com/Downloads/parkway-closure-2013.pdf

US 441 through Great Smoky Mountains National Park – Open

photo - reapir on US 441

The newly repaired section of US 441 in Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Work to repair a landslide on the North Carolina side of the only paved road crossing the park was completed a month ahead of schedule. The remained of the road is open though  a few of the roadside attractions like Chimney Tops are closed. Several of the unpaved roads in the park may not open this year due to cutbacks including Heintooga Ridge Road and Balsam Mountain Road.

photo - View of the slide damage below the repairs.

View of the slide damage below the repairs.

Cherohala Skyway – one lane closed, work continues

photo - Cherohala Skyway repair work

Work at the landslide on the Cherohala Skyway is progressing well.

Work on the landslide on the Cherohala Skyway is progressing well. Located on the North Carolina side close to the state line, one lane is closed with traffic regulated through the construction zone with temporary traffic lights and a short delay. Expect to encounter trucks hauling fill on the North Carolina side of the ride. You’ll find a little gravel on the road near the detour, but it is generally clean and in great condition.

photo - truck on the Cherohala Skyway

You will run into trucks hailing fill on the North Carolina side of the slide.

Fires Creek Road – closed for bridge work

A little known road north of Hayesville, NC, and one of my personal favorites to get away from the congestion on US 64, the road is closed for bridge work through October. Such a nice ride. If I scout a better detour, will post.

NC 215 / US 276 – conditions 

These two classic roads south of Waynesville / Maggie Valley both intersect the Blue Ridge Parkway at their midpoints. Each was repaved last year and are very popular rides.

Great Motorcycle Rides in North Carolina - Pisgah Triangles - US 276

Great Motorcycle Rides in North Carolina – Pisgah Triangles – US 276 junction with the Blue Ridge Parkway. As both NC 215 and US 276 connect, you can always hop up and take a quick break with the best of views.

US 276 got a decent paving job and is in good condition. Be wary of gravel in the tight turns on the steep section climbing to reach the Blue Ridge Parkway on the north side. The roadsides were lined with fresh gravel, and it gets kicked into the road by cars and trucks on some of the sharpest curves. Not bad, but be alert.

NC 215 got a “tar and chip” coating which leveled and filled the potholes and cracks, but the surface remains loose in the higher sections. It has improved significantly over the winter. Still watching this road closely as there has been paving equipment parked on the roadside for a few weeks now. A top coat of new asphalt would make this road so much nicer, it could be the destination ride of the season. Will continue to monitor closely and keep my fingers crossed.

The higher you go the better it gets on NC 215.

The higher you go the better it gets on NC 215. The road crests where it meets the Blue Ridge Parkway, then plunges down the other side of the gap.

US 70 / 25 north of Hot Springs, NC

photo-wolf-creek-bridge

They don’t make ’em like that anymore! Look at that beautiful 1928 architecture. Detour via Fugate Road. The best thing about the detour is you get to see the bridge!

The bridge across the French Broad River will remain closed this year at the state line between North Carolina and Tennessee. This section of road connects Hot Springs, NC to Newport, TN. Use Fugate road as a detour. More info / photos here – http://smokymountainrider.com/?p=4239

NC 28 north of Franklin, NC –

One lane closed, sometimes short delays until May 1 as road is widened in this section north of town.

NC 197 near Bakersville, NC –

Bridge replacement through June 30. Detour marked.

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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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Best Motorcycle Events for Riders in the Smoky Mountains

There are all kinds of motorcycle events though few focus on the best thing about your motorcycle – riding it.

Best Motorcycle Events for Riders in the Smoky Mountains

Best Motorcycle Events for Riders in the Smoky Mountains – I’ve attended many events, often as a vendor, but few focus on the best thing about your motorcycle – riding it.

Most shows, rallies, and gatherings center on one thing – getting you off your bike so you can reach your wallet. Park it here, pay to get in, visit our vendors. OK, so they have a place in the big scheme of things. You get to ride there and back, maybe play a few riding games in the grass to entertain the crowds, but mostly you and your bike part ways for the duration. I seem to end up at them too often, and I’d rather be riding.

Best Motorcycle Events for Riders

Best Motorcycle Events for Riders in the Smoky Mountains – typical rally scene. Surrounded by some of the best riding in the world, the bikes sit idle, the riders milling about wondering what next? Riding opportunity wasted.

Looking back on this year, two events hit the mark for me. Well run, well organized, and all about the ride – the RoadRUNNER Magazine event in Maggie Valley and The Smoky Mountain Motomarathon in Asheville / Fontana. Both were firsts for the Smoky Mountains region and both impressed someone who believes motorcycles are best enjoyed when riding them. Both endured weather conditions that kept most bikers in the lazy-boy watching the tube, yet the riders who came went out on the road every day and had a blast.

Best Motorcycle Events for Riders

Best Motorcycle Events for Riders in the Smoky Mountains – Well organized rides made for an outstanding RoadRUNNER Magazine event in Maggie Valley, NC. The weather did not stop the riders from having a great time on their bikes. Lining up for the days adventures one wet morning. The weather cleared, and it was a great time.

The RoadRUNNER Magazine Event in Maggie Valley drew several hundred riders. Each morning they set out in small groups led by a guide to show them the way. There were a variety of destinations, skill levels, lengths of ride, even some dual-sport routes. At the end of the day, riders returned to a catered dinner and swapped stories beneath a circus-sized tent. Off to bed, then back on the road the next day. The handful of vendors were there to give support to the riders, to address the needs that came up when you get so many bikers together. Despite several days of rain, the groups went out each morning and came in happy every evening.

Best Motorcycle Events for Riders

Best Motorcycle Events for Riders in the Smoky Mountains – I got to enjoy one of the dual sport rides at the RoadRUNNER magazine event, one of the highlights of my year. There was something for everyone at this well run gathering, all had a great time.

The Smoky Mountain Motomarathon drew only a couple dozen riders, but those that attended were the hard core enthusiasts that go unsung in the magazines and print. These men and women came in from all over the country and Canada, most riding from home to participate in an event designed to challenge their skills and fortitude. When greeted by Hurricane Sandy with the winds, rain, snow, and ice, they cheerfully saddled up each day eager to get out and ride whatever came up. They enthusiastically went out in conditions that kept cars off the road, and every one of them returned safe and sound each night, ready to embrace the next day.

Best Motorcycle Events for Riders

Best Motorcycle Events for Riders in the Smoky Mountains – Photo from one of the Smoky Mountain Motomarathon riders during the event as Hurricane Sandy added to the already challenging routes. It slowed them down, but didn’t stop these hard core riders. Awesome event, pretty sure the weather will be better next year.

As you hunker down for the all-to-long winter season and your thoughts turn to riding goals for next year, consider these two events for your calendar.  They were both firsts, and if you’d like to see them back let the organizers know it’s what you want to see more of. I know it’s my kind of motorcycle event, and I’ll lend my support again next year if you want to see more like them.

Best Motorcycle Events for Riders

Best Motorcycle Events for Riders in the Smoky Mountains – bagging a checkpoint in the Motomarathon – Each rider is issued a badge. Route sheets are dispersed at the last minute. As you ride the routes you verify your checkpoints with a photo of your badge at each location. Points scored for each checkpoint. Cool idea.

If this is your idea of what makes a great motorcycle event, let these organizers know you want more of it. Contact them, show you are interested, and I’ll do what I can to help make it happen for you.

RoadRUNNER Magazine – http://www.roadrunner.travel

MotoMarathon –  http://www.motomarathon.com

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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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Blue Ridge Parkway to Tail of the Dragon Map

Blue Ridge Parkway to Tail of the Dragon Map

Three roads are consistently on the top 10 motorcycle rides list – The Blue Ridge Parkway, the Dragon at Deals Gap, and the Cherohala Skyway. This map shows how connect them.

Blue Ridge Parkway to Tail of the Dragon Map

Blue Ridge Parkway to Tail of the Dragon Map – how to connect 3 of the best motorcycle rides – click for larger view

Many who ride motorcycles on the The Blue Ridge Parkway when motorcycle touring then go on to ride The Dragon at Deals Gap. If you can afford the time, you can make a nice loop ride which connects The Dragon and the Cherohala Skyway using TN 72 / 360.

Best Blue Ridge Parkway Overlooks - highest point

Best Blue Ridge Parkway Overlooks – highest point. The long sweeping overlook compliments the great sweeping views

The southern end of the The Blue Ridge Parkway is near Cherokee, NC. The map includes Maggie Valley / Waynesville as it’s one of the best locations to stay to enjoy the wealth of great motorcycle rides in the surrounding area.

Blue Ridge Parkway to Tail of the Dragon Map - riders come from around the world to experience the Dragon at Deals Gap.

Blue Ridge Parkway to Tail of the Dragon Map – riders come from around the world to experience the Dragon at Deals Gap.

Time / distances are from the eastern junction of the roads for riders starting from Maggie Valley / Waynesville. US 74 is the principal 4 lane road – scenic for a highway, the most direct route east / west. US 19 leads west from Maggie Valley, passes through Cherokee and Bryson City. It’s more curvy, passes through the Cherokee Indian Reservation, and takes a bit longer due to traffic.

Blue Ridge Parkway to Tail of the Dragon map - Cherohala skyway

Blue Ridge Parkway to Tail of the Dragon map – The Cherohala Skyway offers sweeping curves and views to match with scenic overlooks at 5000+ ft.

Approaching Deals Gap and The Dragon, NC 28 is also one of the top rated roads in the area a.k.a the Hellbender or Moonshiner 28 and leads you to the start of the best section of The Dragon near the NC / TN state line.

Blue Ridge Parkway to Tail of the Dragon map - NC 28

Blue Ridge Parkway to Tail of the Dragon map – NC 28 leads you to The Dragon. It traces the shoreline of Fontana Lake and is both beautiful and challenging.

So long as you are in the area, don’t forget about another well known motorcycle ride in Georgia – The Gauntlet. It’s only a short ride to reach it, and you’ll have experienced the best of the southern Blue Ridge motorcycle rides.

The Gauntlet Motorcycle Ride in Georgia

The Gauntlet Motorcycle Ride in Georgia – rounding a curve on GA 348

Several America Rides motorcycle pocket maps cover the Dragon / Cherohala area – see them here;

#7 The Best Motorcycle Rides SOUTH of GSMNP –http://shop.americaridesmaps.com/7-The-Best-Motorcycle-Rides-SOUTH-of-GSMNP-NC021.htm

#8 Best Rides NORTH of Smoky Park – http://shop.americaridesmaps.com/8-Best-Rides-NORTH-of-Smoky-Park-NC020.htm

12 Classic Deals Gap Motorcycle Rides – http://shop.americaridesmaps.com/12-Classic-Deals-Gap-Motorcycle-Rides-NC007.htm

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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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Dual-sport Motorcycle Rides in North Carolina and Tennessee

Dual-Sport Motorcycle Rides in North Carolina and Tennessee

Dual-sport Motorcycle Rides in North Carolina and Tennessee

Dual-sport Motorcycle Rides in North Carolina and Tennessee – over the rivers and through the woods!

As the adventure bike segment of the motorcycle market explodes, I get more and more requests for maps of unpaved dual sport rides. There are loads of them in the Blue Ridge and Smoky Mountains. Much of the mountainous area is National Forest or wildlife management land criss-crossed by unpaved graded roads. While I know of many good unpaved rides, and am often inclined to point my wheels down one, I don’t have a dual-sport bike to do the mapping from the saddle and that’s the only way I’ve found to accurately evaluate a good motorcycle ride – you’ve got to ride it.

Dual-sport Motorcycle Rides in North Carolina and Tennessee

Dual-sport Motorcycle Rides in North Carolina and Tennessee – The roads were easy as we started out in the morning. Good warm up to let the group find it’s stride.

I‘ve been fighting the urge to get another dual-sport adventure bike because I’m afraid I won’t get anything else done – I love riding the wild back roads and trails. After this ride, I’ve got the fever again.

Dual-sport Motorcycle Rides in North Carolina and Tennessee

Dual-sport Motorcycle Rides in North Carolina and Tennessee – Lt. Dan from GSMmotoRent.com has a large fleet of dual-sport bikes in the heart of some outstanding riding.

When Lt. Dan from GSMmotoRent.com invited me to come along on a dual-sport ride with the group from the RoadRUNNER Magazine Event in Maggie Valley, I jumped at the chance. He had a spare KLR 650, the workhorse of this class of motorcycle, a bike I’d been wanting to ride for a long, long time.

Dual-sport Motorcycle Rides in North Carolina and Tennessee

Dual-sport Motorcycle Rides in North Carolina and Tennessee – The trickiest riding for some wasn’t the logs, puddles, nor pot holes, but the thick deep gravel in some places.

We left Maggie Valley and made our way north on NC 209 to Fines Creek. From there we continued north to Max Patch Road and began the climb through the national forest capped by the 6000+ ft. high bald mountaintop. While it was wet with morning rain, the roads are pretty tame gravel and well maintained. Even so, they are plenty tight and twisty.

Dual-sport Motorcycle Rides in North Carolina and Tennessee

Dual-sport Motorcycle Rides in North Carolina and Tennessee – beautiful deep dark woods even when the sun poked though the clouds. So nice!

After playing around on some of the back roads near Max Patch, we emerged on Big Creek Road to take lunch in Hartford. As we were near the Interstate, a few riders had had enough of the unpaved challenge and headed back. The remainder were eager for more.

Dual-sport Motorcycle Rides in North Carolina and Tennessee

Dual-sport Motorcycle Rides in North Carolina and Tennessee – These roads are great for those on the big adventure bikes, though we also found a few more technical rides as the day wore on.

Heading south now, we followed TN 32 around the twisty northeast border of Great Smoky Mountains National Park, then continued into the park on Mt. Sterling Road when the pavement ended.

Dual-sport Motorcycle Rides in North Carolina and Tennessee

Dual-sport Motorcycle Rides in North Carolina and Tennessee – The view from Buzzard’s Roost is spectacular, but it helps to have a good guide like Dan from GSMmotoRent.com to find it.

We took a side road off Mt. Sterling Road to visit Buzzard’s Roost. A chin of rock juts out 1000 feet above the Pigeon River overlooking the gorge where Interstate 40 connects North Carolina and Tennessee.

Dual-sport Motorcycle Rides in North Carolina and Tennessee

Dual-sport Motorcycle Rides in North Carolina and Tennessee – blasting along these back roads is a lot of fun!

We returned to the pavement when we passed Cataloochee Valley, home to the parks famous herd of elk. We covered more than 100 miles on unpaved roads. We crossed streams, logs, rocks, and gullies washed out by the heavy rains. It was wonderful.

Dual-Sport Motorcycle Rides in North Carolina and Tennessee

Dual-Sport Motorcycle Rides in North Carolina and Tennessee – I can’t wait to do this again! The next time you’re in the area, spend a day enjoying the cool refreshing rides through the woods.

If you’d like to challenge some of the best dual sport motorcycle roads in North Carolina and Tennessee, contact Dan at GSMmotoRent.com in Townsend, Tennessee. He has a great variety of dual-sport motorcycles and there are so many great roads for you to enjoy. Don’t forget to follow GSM MotoRent on Facebook – http://www.facebook.com/pages/GSMmotoRent-Dual-Sport-Adventures/57878901570

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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 training: Tell all the Harley riders this really works!

Motorcycle Training – Comment from one of the participants in a Lee Parks Level 1Total Control Advanced Riding Clinic this weekend – “Tell all the Harley riders this stuff really works!”

Motorcycle Training

Motorcycle Training: Learn to take a lowered bike through the curves without scraping the hard parts

Total Rider Tech held it’s first class in the Maryville,Tennessee location this weekend and we had a diverse mix of both bikes and riders. The advanced rider training in a Total Control Advanced Riding Clinic focuses on cornering skills with an emphasis on traction and control.

Motorcycle Training: Gain confidence handling a big bike in tight conditions

Motorcycle Training: Gain confidence handling a big bike in tight conditions

Regardless of what type of bike the riders brought, they all saw a specific and measurable improvement in their riding by the end of the day and challenged themselves to take their riding skills to a higher level.

Motorcycle Training: Get more enjoyment out of the performance your bike can deliver

Motorcycle Training: Get more enjoyment out of the performance your bike can deliver

Total Rider Tech provides instruction for the experienced rider who has progressed well beyond the basic techniques learned in an MSF or similar courses, but is not ready or interested in a full blown high dollar race track school. The emphasis is on street riding in real world conditions, though those with racing aspirations certainly gain valuable skills which are applicable for them as well.

 

Motorcycle Training: Several women came to improve their riding skills.

Motorcycle Training: Several women came to improve their riding skills. This experienced rider has been to Alaska and back!

The diversity of this class truly demonstrated how the techniques taught work on all bikes. We had all types of motorcycles. There were cruisers, big touring bikes, sports tourers, sport bikes, and even a motard bike that participated in the class, and everyone benefitted and gained skills applicable on the road on every ride.

Motorcycle Training: This woman wanted to sharpen her street and track skills and get more out of her riding

Motorcycle Training: This woman wanted to sharpen her street and track skills and get more out of her riding

Total Rider Tech teaches riders the technology of how their bike works and how what they do on their bike affects its ability to maintain traction and control. Learning the  science behind the riding techniques gives students the understanding of what specifically they can do to maximize their motorcycles built-in cornering capabilities while being safer out on the road.

Riders leave with the knowledge to identify riding problems while out on the road, know the solutions, and apply them on the fly. Classroom presentations provide the foundations for each skill, followed by live demonstrations of proper and improper technique on the course. Riders then practice applying these skills on their motorcycle with coaching that helps them learn how to perform them on their bike when out on the  road.

Motorcycle Training: This rider wanted to get better at managing traction

Motorcycle Training: This rider wanted to get better at managing traction

The way the material is presented and the coaching provided is designed to embed these principals and techniques so they will be remembered and incorporated once the riders leave the class and go out riding on their own. They can then take these skills an adapt them to their motorcycle, their style of riding, and their physical capabilities to become better and safer riders.

Motorcycle Training: This woman wanted to improve her skills and confidence in tight conditions

Motorcycle Training: This woman wanted to improve her skills and confidence in tight conditions

It’s the ideal skill set for improving your enjoyment and saftey of mountain riding, though they apply regardless of the terrain and situation. That Harley rider on a lowered bike was so glad to learn the skills to corner faster, smoother, and without scraping the floorboards in tight corners, he implored me to pass it along to others. It really works!

Motorcycle training: Static exercises help riders become more confident at high lean angles

Motorcycle training: Static exercises help riders become more confident at high lean angles

 

The next Total Rider Tech courses in the mountain area will be in Maryville, Tennessee  on June 5-7, then in Robbinsville, NC on July 14 -15. See calendar of courses here –

 

Motorcycle Training: This racer was so impressed with what he learned he may pursue becoming an instructor!

Motorcycle Training: This racer was so impressed with what he learned he may pursue becoming an instructor!

http://www.totalridertech.com/calendar.html.

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If you want to get the most enjoyment out of your motorcycle and appreciate the performance of a modern sports bike, cruiser, tourer, adventure bike, bagger, motard, dresser, dual sport, or custom, AND be safer on the road, this class will take the experienced rider to a new level of riding performance and enjoyment. If you typically ride with a passenger, bring them along and develop your skills together.

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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. 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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Wolf Creek Bridge TN US 25/74 Closure – Motorcycle Rides

Wayne’s Alternative Detour Rides for Motorcycles – a better biker road  that is shorter and more scenic than the TN DOT route  – with map

Photo-Wolf-Creek-Bridge-Junction

Ignore the signs and ride to the bridge. It's an easy detour and brand new pavement!.

It came out of the blue. Not one hour after I’d sent out my monthly road report of the best motorcycle rides in the Blue Ridge Mountains, I got an alert of the announcement – a 2 year long closure of the Wolf Creek Bridge near the Tennessee / North Carolina state line.

photo-wolf-creek-bridge

They don't make 'em like that anymore! Look at that beautiful 1928 architecture. The best thing about the detour is you get to see the bridge!

Honestly, US 25/70 ( TN Route 9 ) is not a road the majority of Blue Ridge motorcycle riders ever see unless you’re from Tennessee. It is a good way to get to some great motorcycle rides along the NC border. The bulk of the traffic now keeps to Interstate 40 to the west, so it doesn’t carry heavy traffic.

Photo-Fugate-Road

Fugate Road is freshly paved, winding, and narrow, squeezed between the river and the railroad.

Directions:

From Hot Springs –  Ignore the signs that tell of the road being closed ahead as you follow US 25/70 north of town and ride all the way to the closed bridge. Fugate Road is on the left. Follow it 4.8 miles until you reach TN 107. Turn right and follow to reconnect with US 25/70.

From Newport: Turn south on TN 107. Fugate Road will be on the left, turn left and follow it until you arrive at the Wolf Creek Bridge. Follow US 25/70 into Hot Springs, NC.

photo-Fugate-road

Squeezed between the river and the rail, Fugate Road gets too narrow for a painted line in a few places.

Fugate Road follows the railroad tracks along the French Broad River. Recently paved, half of Fugate Road is squeezed on an narrow strip between the water and the railroad tracks. At times it gets too narrow for a painted line and cars slow to sneak past one another. You cross the tracks in the middle of the ride and spend the rest of it married to the other side of the rails.

photo-fugate-road

River, road, and rail. Fugate Road makes a nice alternative detour for motorcycle riders.

Because it’s too narrow, big trucks can’t use this detour. Local and commuter traffic will quickly discover it, though most of the commercial and tourist traffic will be led to the longer official DOT detour route to the north. Fugate road should cut your detour time in half.

image-map-of-wolf-creek-bridge-detour

Click for larger view

If you do take the DOT recommend detour, you can use Rollins Chapel Road to take a short cut and save yourself a few miles.

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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. 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 Detour for I-75 Slide near Jellico, TN

If you’re headed south to Daytona from the midwest, here’s a alternate route for motorcycles that will help you avoid the traffic – 

Coming home from a Total Rider Tech instructor training in Chicago yesterday, I ran into the roadblock on I-75 near the Tennessee / Kentucky state line. On the ride up I noted the rushing streams and rivers from recent storms and apparently Sinking Creek washed out and undermined a section of I-75 causing the southbound lane to subside and be closed at exit 160.

Even at 4 AM my cartographers instincts compelled me to look for an alternate route for my 2 wheeled friends that would get them away from the traffic that would now choke the “official” detour route which leads you down US 25W through La Follette.

Screenshot of Google Map

The "official" detour routs you east through La Follette. I've identified another way to the west that you should enjoy more.

Link to Google Map Route – http://maps.google.com/maps/ms?msid=211107090297552226361.0004bb0ddf208a14a207c&msa=0&ll=36.408573,-83.946533&spn=0.584666,1.489334

Pass through Jellico, keeping left at the intersection in town with US 25W. Follow TN 297 south as it twists and winds through Newcomb and Elk Valley. Turn left onto TN 63 (Howard Baker HWY) to reconnect to the interstate just below the slide area at exit 141. There are a couple gas stations at this exit. It’s actually a pretty engaging ride for the motorcycle rider that you can enjoy, plan on 30 minutes or so without other traffic.

I did not scout the “official” route, though it looks like it too has some tight and twisty bits at the north end. Get a few big semi’s on this road and traffic is bound to slow to a crawl.

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Wayne Busch

Wayne Busch - Cartographer

Total Rider Tech Logo

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. 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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