Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Day Three: Ride the Tail of the Dragon


Al & Eileen haven’t done the Tail of the Dragon (http://tailofthedragon.com/)  yet. They’ve only had their trike a little bit and have been getting used to it. They’ve put “disco lights” on it. Cup holders. New pipes. New windshield. Etc., etc. More in a month than we’ve even thought of with ours!
We picked a ride that include Tail, plus 28, back up to 129 (there is a part of this that we haven’t done – that includes the dam from the Fugitive – Tony and I like seeing moving sites) then back down 129 over to the Cherohala Parkway (we can’t pronounce it and Tony calls it Chernobyl, and I call it Cheerios) and then back up to home. That’s the game plan. We gas up, grab a bite at McDonalds and off we go, stopping at the Harley Davidson dealership (http://harleydragon.com/ ) right outside the Tail for a pee break.





The Tail of the Dragon is much more enjoyable the second time. We don’t have crutches, we don’t have a chair, and we aren’t loaded up with everything we need for Ashville cabins. Tony and I head out first, then Al and Eileen. Want to make sure they go as fast, or as slow, as they want. 318 turns in 11 miles is a lot. Tony goes a lot fast this time since he’s more comfortable and there isn’t as much weight on the bike. It’s really not that “big of a deal” now that we’ve done it. And, as I read on a blog earlier, getting the Tail done before 11 am is key (we started out around 9 am) before the traffic picks up in both directions.

And then I hear “I think we lost a bell.” (we have two bells on our bike – one that Al & Eileen got us and one that Mike got us when Tony lost his other bell – you aren’t supposed to buy your own). That’s not a good thing since your bell is supposed to protect you from bad things. [Note to self: read up on the bell story.]

And then not a minute later, I hear, “I think we lost our back brakes.”

Tony slowed down for the rest of the Dragon. While there isn’t a lot of elevation, there are a lot of curves. And around the curves there aren’t many guard rails. No back brakes, lots of curves, no guard rails – not good.

We get down to the end of the Dragon without incident to Deal’s Gap (doesn’t have a repair place, but you can buy t-shirts and stuff). Al & Eileen made it down shortly after us. New game plan: there is a repair shop on 129, Wheelers (http://www.wheelersperformance.com/ ), and we can take it there. Means bypassing some of the route, but avoids us having to redo Tail of the Dragon with bad brakes.






Off we go. The Cheoah dam is more impressive in the movie “The Fugitive” with Harrison Ford than in person. Tony thinks that his brakes are feeling better and may have just overheated (something to that affect since I don’t know car/motorcycle terminology) and we don’t really need to stop. We pull over anyway to tell Al & Eileen at Wheelers (gets a lot of business we think – and may have been a really long wait, and possibly expensive).

Off we head to the Cherohala Parkway, it’s about a 50-mile ride and has plenty of curves and elevation. And, it’s chilly. The first stop is only 2000+ in elevation, but it’s going to get to over 5000+. We read about the flying squirrel posts on a sign at our first stop. They can’t fly across the parkway, so they’ve installed these telephone pole looking things so they can fly from one pole to the next (no, we didn’t see any squirrels, but we saw the posts). Nature note: flying squirrels only live at high elevations, which is why they live here.
See those telephone-looking poles. Those are for the flying squirrels.



The North Carolina roads on this ride are in better condition than the Tennessee side, but all in all, pretty nice and smooth ride. Al & Eileen are getting the hang of all of these curves and keeping up (kinda). On my map (yes, the paper kind) shows a deli towards the end of the road, in Tellico Plains, Kat’s Deli (http://tellicokats.com/). We stop there for lunch. It’s nothing special, really small, and the service is pretty slow. But, if you’re not packing a lunch, that’s pretty much it. We enjoy it sitting alongside of a creek.

When it's sunny, always good to have a towel to keep your seat cool.

And then we gas up at the Shell, after getting stuck behind some sort of “Amish” parade (horses and carriages) and head towards Smokey Mountain Harley – we’re going to see if they can look at the brakes and get them fixed late on Friday, so that we don’t have to worry about them on the rest of the trip. The ride to the dealer is relaxing. Weird that you’re riding in hills, then come across lakes with people jet skiing next to farmland.




We get to the dealer and they take us! Have a couple of beers. They are getting set up for a concert that evening. We’re supposed to go, but being at the dealership for a couple of hours, we sent Al & Eileen home while we waited. And then when we got home, bailed on the concert. It was a long day. But, we found out that we only burned out the brake oil and a flush job fixed it. No new pads needed. We’re good to go (and they accidentally did the front brakes as well so we’re even better).

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