What a day, what a day.
In all, I rode a little over 300 miles today. There's not much that I can say that won't be better with pictures. So allow me to present the abbreviated pictorial version of my journey to Deals Gap.
And yes, I know the photos are huge and spilling off of the page. I don't know how to make them smaller. Sue me.
The first road I explored NC 28, from its junction with US 74 and US 129. There was very little traffic and the temperature was cooler than I had expected. The road was draped with tree branches for much of the way, and got quite technical towards the end. It was a good warm up for what was to come next. Here's a photo of my SV650 at the start of NC 28; well the good part.
Then I reached the Gap. From what I could tell this was a light day. The famous dragon sign caught me by surprise when I saw it. For some reason I was expected to see it off in the distance a bit before I got up the resort. Obviously I had to stop and take some shots of the staging area for the Gap's entrance.
Outside of the lodging section of the resort there is a tree adorned with the wrecked bits of motorcycles that have met their demise at the Gap. It's called "The Tree of Shame". None of my bike's parts are on it. :)
After I grabbed a bottle of water and checked out some of the other bikes in the parking lot, I decided it was time for me to do what I came here to do. So I mounted my trusty steed and we putted out of the parking lot.
This road isn't for the faint of heart. The first thing I noticed was that most of the corners were incredibly banked, much more than I had imagined from pictures and videos. Some of them must have been 25 or 30 degrees. It took me a while to get used to how I should turn into them; most of the twisty roads I've ridden have been much flatter. But after a mile or two, I got the hang of it and developed a good rhythm. It really wasn't all that bad as long as I wasn't riding like a hooligan.
I eventually caught up to a slower group of riders, so I decided that was a good time to pull over and get a shot of the SV on the road itself. I mean, I need proof!
Here's another picture towards the end of the road. Many of the riders will stop here at this overlook to rest and/or turn around to head back the other way.
I kept going north on 129 until I found myself riding along side this marvelous body of water called Chilhowee Lake. I couldn't pass this place without getting some shots. It was quite beautiful.
Now, my homie Matt told me about a road I needed to see called the Cherohala Skyway. I believe "magic" was the exact word he used to describe it. So I guess I had to go check it out. After having a disgusting and delicious chili, jalapeño, and cheese burger, I shot over to TN 165 (the beginning of the Skyway) to see what I found. Here's a picture at the beginning of the road.
If you look carefully, you can see the tail of a Dodge Viper heading away from me. I had to pull over to wait for a whole gang of them to get out of site. They were holding me up.
"Magic" is absolutely right. This has to be the most wondrous 43 miles of road in the Eastern United States. There were all types of features; twisty sections, long sweepers, undulating straights, and breath-taking views. I can't imagine a road being more perfect for riding or driving. Now I know why that horde of Vipers drove up this way today. That's about the only road out this way worth traveling. And in case you're wondering, yes it's better than Deals Gap; by a long way.
I was feeling pretty worn out about halfway down the Skyway. My legs were shaking, my attention wasn't what is was this morning, and my earplugs kept popping out due to changes in altitude. Yea, it was time to head home.
I took the Skyway back to Hwy 28, then made my way back to Michelle and Jason's crib in Asheville. I think I did about all I could do, and I was satisfied with my fatigue. I had visited one of motorcycling's holy grounds, and I didn't fall. That was cool with me.