Day 15 – Knoxville, Tail of the Dragon (Deal’s Gap), Fontana Dam, thru Maggie Valley to Asheville, NC

I was surprised just how chilly it was when we mounted up to head from the motel (really nice Super 8 – nicest place we’ve stayed) to the World Fair park.  Remember back in 1982 Gregg invited me to ride with him and his brother Lance and Dad and family friend Chris down from Maine to the World Fair being held in Knoxville?  Well it only took 31 years, but we headed over to the park.    We pulled up and parked on the concrete apron right in front of the Security Office.  Nice officer by the name of James came out – Gregg explained that we were just there to take a few pictures.  James ended up escorting us up to the top of the tower.  Very cool.  And very fun to make it there with Gregg on our motorcycles after all these years.

1982 World Fair park - Knoxville

1982 World Fair park – Knoxville

James and me

James and me

 

We left downtown Knoxville and headed up to Townsend and Marysville to the southern end of the Tail of the Dragon to ride it from south to north.

from Marysville heading to Deal's Gap

from Marysville heading to Deal’s Gap

We are Dragon slayers!

Well, at least the Tail of the Dragon slayers. I led so as to insure no speeding tickets.  Gregg had the GoPro camera mounted on his helmet so lots of video footage was captured. It seems as though the foliage is peak here.

south end  entering the Dragon's lair

south end entering the Dragon’s lair

I had concerns about riding it on such a gorgeous Saturday morning as I’ve heard and read so much about it being a mecca for sportbike riders. Perhaps it was the cool temperatures that kept them home today. Once again we were incredibly fortunate and the weather was gorgeous. We pretty much had the road to ourselves.  During peak season (April-October) Blount County rescue parks a rig along the road to shave 30 minutes off response time to accidents and it seems there are too many.  So again, extremely thankful that there was almost no traffic and the only vehicle to pass us was  a  Buell Ulysses and well, that was too be expected.  Yup, that’s on the video footage.

gorgeous fall colors in northern TN

gorgeous fall colors in northern TN

I knew they were serious about the posted 35 miles per hour speed limit when I saw the Blount County Sheriff pull the car in front of us over. From what I could tell they weren’t going more than 40 miles an hour when they were pulled over in a 35 zone. 35 miles an hour was the perfect speed for me as the curves were twisty turny and frequent.

image101

first pull-out on Tail of the Dragon

first pull-out on Tail of the Dragon

us at the first pull-out

us at the first pull-out

great sticker on the trash barrel!  Take THAT all you shiny chrome hard-baggers

great sticker on the trash barrel! Take THAT all you shiny chrome hard-baggers

I was concentrating on my riding with great coaching coming in from my helmet from Gregg behind me.
Interspersed with the coaching was “ooooh,” “aaah,” “that was fun,” “I like that one,” “oh this is great,” and “I’m going to take pictures of the guys taking pictures!” And of course he did!  I wonder how many pictures the US129 Photos and 129Slayer and Moonshine Photo guys get of themselves?  They’ll get a few from Gregg for 2 November 2013.

Gregg taking pictures of the guys taking pictures!

Gregg taking pictures of the guys taking pictures!

The ride from the northern end of The Tail of the Dragon (North Carolina side) to Fontana Dam was amazing … the leaves were dancing around on the road and I felt as though I were in a gorgeous fall foliage “snow globe” but instead of snow I was in the middle of glittery leaves as they blew around in the sunlight.  The oranges and yellows were exquisite. We pulled into the Fontana Dam power station road and rode up to the base of the dam.  Damn that’s one big dam.  Then we rode up to the top.  As we were having  a snack and drinking some water I decided I didn’t like the looks of the big nasty and dark clouds and just as I said, “Let’s get out of here” it started to sprinkle.  I didn’t want to be on those leaves going back up and over to Cherokee as I feared they could prove mighty slippery.

Margarita and me at the bottom of Fontana Dam

Margarita and me at the bottom of Fontana Dam

Fontana Dam - looking up

Fontana Dam – looking up

Fontana Dam - looking down

Fontana Dam – looking down

Gregg' self-portrait using the reflection of my shades

Gregg’ self-portrait using the reflection of my shades

top of Fontana Dam

me at the top of Fontana Dam

checking under the bike or taking a nap - you pick

checking under the bike or taking a nap – you pick

And once again … not sure how this keeps happening – we rode for maybe 15 minutes in some very light drizzle.  We pulled in to grab a bite to eat in Cherokee and check the forecast and do some route planning. As we came out 20 minutes later the sun was shining again and we decided to head north and east to Asheville.

Added another state to the list – now at 21 states in 15 days for this ride!  Awesome and amazing day with an incredible friend.  We do miss Moo-Moo however and got word today that he sold his BMW 1200 GSA back to the dealer and they came and picked it up today.  Now he’s Jonesing for a KTM 990 Adventure R. The BattlePig’s not even been gone for 12 hours and he’s already thinking about what to get as a stable mate for his BMW 800! He’s got a bad case of MBS.

Night Moo-Moo!

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