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Quest for the Dragon: 2002
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The Dragon is an eleven mile stretch of road that lies on the North Carolina-Tennesee border.  If the Lord, with all his infinite wisdom, ever decided to create a road for motorcyclists, I'm sure that it would be very much like US Route 129 which starts at Deal's Gap, North Carolina.  In the eleven miles of US Route 129, there are 318 curves.  No two are the exactly the same.  None of them are very far apart.  If you ride this road just for the joy of riding, you will find it joyful indeed.  If you like to play with minutes and seconds and think of beating your own or someone else's best time, you should be aware of one fact that is very well known to the people in the area:
 
 
The Dragon Sometimes Wins
 
 
  
 
 
 
2002-tree_of_shame.jpg
The Tree of Shame at Deal's Gap Motorcycle Resort--Souvenirs from those who lost to the Dragon

I guess it's fairly obvious to you that I am not a young man.  That does not necessarily mean that I am a mature man.  Or a wise one.  I was pumped to ride the Dragon, and the old adrenaline was flowing before I left the parking lot.  I rode the Dragon well.  But I was lucky.  I was riding beyond my skill level, and I have been around bikes for more than a couple miles and a few beers.  I didn't cross the yellow center-line.  I did have a good scare, though.  For some reason, my right footpeg came up and pinned my foot against the sidecase.  It was just a little surprise, but it was a distraction and when you are pushing it so hard that a little unexpected distraction can make as much difference as this one easily could have, then it's time to roll the throttle forward just a little.  The Dragon is a glorious road.  It is deserving of the reputation that it has.  But before you give it hell, you may want to ride it conservatively the first time.  Not just to get familiar with the road.  It might be an inspiration if you notice the memorials along the way.  Be careful. Don't miss the ride home.
 
If you guys are still reading to find out how fast I rode that day, you are wasting your time.  I will tell you that when I was done, I asked the people at Deal's Gap how fast most of the sport bikes did it.  When he told me, I smiled.  I did okay. For a gray-haired guy on a cruiser.  If you are really that curious, email me with your time, and I'll tell you how bad you beat me. 
 
For those of you that have never been to Deal's Gap, go if you can. It's as good as it gets.  The people at the resort are great. After you ride the Dragon, and get curious about what the little sparkling things are on the road, you won't have to ask them what they are.  I'll answer that question for you:
 

2002-footpegs.jpg
...at least some of the sparkles came all the way from Pennsylvania

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