Tips for Riding the Dragon on your Motorcycle – #5 Dance

5) Relax and enjoy it – do the Dragon Dance

Relax – don’t ride scared. Don’t push beyond fun. While it’s OK to feel the thrill, if you’re not relaxed, you are compromising the function of your motorcycle. Worse yet, you may be on the verge of panic when you slip out of your comfort zone. Everything you do when you panic makes the situation worse – you tense up, sit up, roll off the throttle, and hit the brakes, all of which makes the motorcycle stand up go in a straight line while reducing traction. There are no straight lines in the Dragons’ corners.

Sport Bikes on the Dragon

Control the corners – slow in, fast out.

The right attitude is to dance with the Dragon, not fight with it. Find a pace where you flow into the curves in control with a little in reserve. It’s supposed to be fun. If it’s not, you’re doing it wrong. Seek out that rhythm where you are rolling into the curves at a speed where where you’re getting on the throttle as soon as possible, not the brakes. Gently power through them and you’ll find you have more ground clearance and better traction. Strive for a slow approach to the corners, gently power through, and you’ll end up with a smooth quick controlled exit AND a margin for error or the unexpected.

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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 – #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

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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

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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