Saturday, June 10, 2006

Deal's Gap, NC - Tail of the Dragon

It turns out Deal's Gap not only didn't have internet access, there was no cell signal, and no phone in the room! And the payphone wouldn't let me make collect calls. Talk about getting away from it all!
This is what I've been talking for the last couple days:
And this is the placed I stayed:

I got there after 7pm so, as promised, Room 1 was unlocked with the key inside. Directly next to me were a half-dozen crotch rockets, and a few doors up was a bunch of Harley tourers. I struck up a conversation, and it turns out they're the Gettysburg, PA HOG chapter. I'd hung out with some of them at NJ Bike week last year.

Friday morning was surreal. I got up at the crack of dawn, packed my gear (but didn't load it), and went to "check in." The office wasn't open yet at 7:10, so I cranked over the bike and set off into the twisties.

I can guarantee that I used up more front brake pad in those 20 minutes than I had all week. Wide open throttle, hard on the brakes, pitched over till the footpegs hit. Over and over again 100 times. What an awesome ride! The protocol is that if you get someone behind you, move over and let 'em by. That worked for me a few times, but I caught some guy on a Harley who would NOT let me by. There's no place to pass safely without some help. So I slowed to walking speed to give myself a little room, and was quickly caught by two sportbikes. They go by me, and I see the Harley give 'em some room. So, I nailed it, and slipped right through along with them ;-)

Like the song says, I'm not as good as I once was. This is supposed to look smooth and flowing; finding out you overcooked a turn and and grabbing a fistful of brake to save your ass is neither graceful nor fast. But if it works, it's better than bailing and hanging crashed parts on the Tree of Shame. By then, I had gotten into a little rhythm, though, and believe it or not, these guys didn't run away from me. Most of the time, it looked like ballet. Three of us, in sequence, dropping hard down into a turn, one, two, three. Then in an instant, snapping up past vertical, and settling into a hard bank the other way, flashing out of view, one, two, three. Not that they couldn't have outrun me on their FZ1's if they really wanted to, but we were definitely rockin'. My Sportster is by no means a fast sport bike, but if there are a set of conditions in which it can at least hang, those (relatively) slow, technical sections are it. If I could get into the corners just right, the wide torque range of the H-D engine is ideally suited to shoot me out of them in hot pursuit.

We reached the end, and the reward was a peaceful view over Calderwood Dam, with about 8 other bikes, in the crisp morning air with the fog breaking up over the water. One of those once-in-a-lifetime things. If I were a girl, I would have cried.

I turned her around and made another banzai pass past the motel and back to the other dam (Cheoah Dam, which Harrison Ford jumped off in the movie "The Fugitive") then went to have breakfast and check in/out. The next leg would be the Blue Ridge Parkway, which will be a separate post.

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