An opportunity recently afforded the TLE productions crew a day of ridding in the Smoky mountains bordering Tennessee and North Carolina. Therein lies dozens of unbelievably scenic and twisty roads that are sculpted to rival a hot wheels track and not carelessly laid down by engineers who drive cars. The sleepy little towns sporadically laid out in between mountain passes advertise of motorcycle parking and their affinity towards the two wheeled brethren as surely the thousands of people that come from all over the country bring the towns main revenue. As luck would have it, we arrived the weekend after all the motorcycle resorts had closed for the season and we where among only approximately 50 other riders in the area.
The Tail of the Dragon
This brings me to the most famous little section that was the focus of our journey, the “tail of the dragon”. No need to count, there are plenty of signs and tourist memorabilia boasting about the 318 curves in 11 miles. While gassing up a local even confirmed the number saying that he had counted them all. For at least 10 years I have been told about how great the tail of the dragon truly is, however this is just something that needs to be seen to be believed. The area has achieved cult status among anyone who has been fortunate enough to “slay the dragon”. Not everyone is so lucky though, there is a tree of shame at the entrance of the dragon’s tail with parts off bikes that have crashed in battle.
Because of it’s popularity and benefits to the local economy, the dragon’s tail is maintained to a very high standard, not only for potholes and fissures but also in design and engineering. The curves are so sharply banked that our first pass in the pickup truck with a small trailer had the frame creaking from the stress of being twisted by the uneven surface. This road was clearly designed with 2 wheel pleasure in mind, in fact it is quite the feat of engineering that reminds me of the orange plastic hot wheels tracks of my youth.