The 11 mile stretch of road on US Highway 129, which crosses the Tennessee and North Carolina state lines, is a popular site for motorcyclists. It is known as The Dragon because of its 318 curves. Motorcycle riders come from around the world to try their hand at taming The Dragon.
Riding The Dragon is unlike any other experience. Traffic is minimal because it has become known as the motorcyclist’s domain. Those that aren’t on bikes are people in cars looking for a rush of adrenaline. As the popularity of The Dragon grows, so will the traffic. Be aware at all times. Generally, the route is fairly unpopulated, as it is surrounded by land owned by the Great Smoky Mountain Park Service, Alcoa Aluminum Company, or the US Forest Service.
The Dragon starts at Deals Gap, North Carolina. This is the highest point of the ride at 1962 feet above sea level. 318 curves later you are at Tabcat Creek Bridge in Tennessee. You can expect the ride of your life.
Some tips when taming The Dragon:
*Be cautious, and no stunts. Recognize your skill at motorcycling and do not pass over that threshold.
*This is not a time to sight see. You have to stay focused at all times on The Dragon. Eyes on the road.
*You need to stay in your lane close into the right. If you try to straighten the curves on The Dragon, it can kill you.
*Be ready to slow in case of wildlife or other road hazards.
*As always, keep a good distance between you and other vehicles and cyclists.
*If a faster biker is coming up on you, move as far to the right as you can. It is better, and safer, to let them go, then to try to keep them behind you. Keep your ego in check and don’t let it get the better of you. Some of these motorcyclists have ridden hundreds of times.
*It is best to ride The Dragon when it has the least amount of traffic. The hours of 11 a.m. and 5 p.m. are when the most motorist and sightseers will be on this road.
*Wear all protective gear, including full facial helmets and leather.
*Do not ever relax on The Dragon. You never know what is around the next curve.
*Go when you can make several trips. Take the first one cautiously until you get used to the ride.
*Down shift when possible and try not to wear out your brakes.
*Don’t goof off and pop wheelies, etc. on The Dragon. You could be ending your ride by helicopter to the nearest hospital.
*If you are in doubt, don’t ride.
The Dragon is a thrilling adventure, and a must for an experienced motorcyclist. Just don’t let it get the best of you. Respect it and you will be all right. Don’t respect it, and you can die.
If you want more information on The Dragon, you can visit this site http://www.tailofthedragon.com. This is a wonderful place to get all the latest news on events, weather, maps, accommodations, merchandise, history and first hand accounts of The Dragon.