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Friday, 09 November 2018

Cherohala Skyway/ Deals Gap (The Dragon) Ride 2018 (August 31, 2018)

Cherohala Skyway -

The Cherohala Skyway was opened and dedicated in 1996 and cost over 100 million dollars to construct.  The road has been designated a National Scenic Byway and crosses through the Cherokee National Forest in Tennessee and the Nantahala National Forest in North Carolina. The Skyway connects Tellico Plains, Tennessee, with Robbinsville, North Carolina, and is about 40+ miles long. The elevations range from 900 feet above sea level at the Tellico River in Tennessee to over 5400 feet above sea level at the Tennessee-North Carolina state line at Haw Knob.

Friday morning started out nice with partly cloudy skies and warm temperatures. My wife and I along with a friend and his wife boarded our Goldwing's and headed out from Knoxville Tennessee to ride the Cherohala Skyway. The road was clear of traffic with only a few motorcycles venturing out to explore the road. I have rode this road before and it was just as I remembered it, beautiful scenery, nice sweeping corners and 4,500 feet in elevation changes. The nice part of riding the Cherohala from west to east is that it leads to US 129 in North Carolina and the "Tail of the Dragon".

Some of the beautiful views of the ride.
Shadows of the clouds on the valley below.
More senic views.
and more....
Connie enjoying a rest from the ride.
Views from the road.
Leaning into the corner.
motoring along the Skyway
High above the The Overhill Cherokee valley.
more The Overhill Cherokee views.
The Overhill Cherokee
My wife and I enjoying the wonderful ride and sunshine.
A few more clouds moving in.
On the road again....
I think there is a song in there somewhere.
Cherohala Skyway map
Deals Gap - "The Dragon" -

Designated US 129, the road is bordered by the Great Smoky Mountains and the Cherokee National Forest. The road features 318 curves in 11 miles and is considered by many as one of the world's foremost motorcycling and sports car touring roads.

As we made our turn off the Cherohala Skyway north on US 129, the weather started to take a turn. The skies darkened, and rain could be seen in the distance. By the time we arrived at the Tail of the Dragon resort, liquid sunshine had started to fall.

We decided to grab some lunch at the resort and explore the gift shop and try to wait out the rain. But after looking at the local forecast and radar images, we would be waiting for quite some time. So on went the rain gear and we started our journey north through "The Dragon".

The first couple of miles provided only light rain, but it picked up by mile 4. By the time we got to mile 7, we had a full on downpour and fog had started to encase the mountain. Speeds slowed to 10-15 mph as I negotiated the many curves and elevation changes with my rain-soaked windshield and helmet visor.

Having made it through "The Dragon" unscathed, we stopped at US 129 Dragon Harley-Davidson to wring out the gloves and wipe the visor dry before we completed our trip back to Knoxville. This was not the way I wanted the first ride on the dragon with my wife aboard the Goldwing to go, but I've now added a new skill set to my resume.

The resort.
Rich and Darci taking in the scenery.
Rich and Darci with the Dragon
The metal "Dragon"
The Tail of the Dragon shop. Great place for T-shirts, buttons, patches and pins.
Shots from the road.....
Hi Mr. photographer.
no traffic at all...
beautiful winding corners
Connie saying hello to the photographers
no roads like this in Michigan
The rain gets heavier
and darker
only a hundred or so more curves to go.
now the fog starts to move in
the new LED headlights look great and works well in the rainy conditions.
off to finish the rest the The Dragon.....



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