Tuesday... 1:25pm... 11 miles... 318 curves.
As the light turned green, I lean King in to the left... and followed the Mythical Highway 129 South. We were followin' her all the way to Georgia... but the Dragon lie in Smokies before us.
King... that's what I call him now. It fits. With the new metalic black paint... the red tires... and the wicked red C.O.B.R.A. symbol on the windshield. King snakes are some the largest snakes in Dixie... and they are known to eat lesser slithery types. Yes... King Indeed.
Now... the road leading into those mountains gives little hint to the chaos that awaits. Its a smooth, easily flowing two lane country road. "Don't mind little ol' me." it might say. But I've been here before... No foolin' this ol' boy.
The first real hint of what lay ahead is the ever increasing frequency with which motorcycles are seen. Further down... the road is still calm, but the occasional S curves are showing up now. We take them at the standard posted-speed... well... ahem... give or take. We pass Fourth Creek... which is odd... because we never passed First, Second, or Third Creek... but hey...
Now we're at our typical country road cruising speed... roughly 80mph. Nothing exciting... just movin' on down the road... thinking of the battle that I know is coming.
Another hard S curve. Coming out of the sweeping left I notice the first motorcycle specific tourist trap. I thought about stopping... but the new tunes that Kristy had loaded up on the MP3 player were a little to inspiring for that... Kickstart my heart indeed.
King is raring to go. I can feel it beneath me... begging... pleading... It was something I knew I had to resist... today... the bike just wanted to go. But not here... not now... I was travelling... I had no time to stop and make a donation to the Tree of Shame.
The curves were picking up. I knew the Dragon was close... A steady stream of motorcycles now poured by heading north. It's Tuesday... People work on Tuesday...
WARNING. LANE CROSSING KILLS
Now it ain't every day you see a sign directed specificly at motorcycles... and this is one that I knew for a fact was worth payin' attention to. Four people have died on this road already this year.
Up ahead I see it... the first insane right turn.... number 1 of 318... The low slung groove of Rage Against the Machine came to a screaching halt as I reached in my pocket and silenced the tune. No time to screw around here. This is no movie. The only soundtrack is the 998cc's between your legs. You consentrate... you give this road every ouce of your attention... JAC bit here just last year. I couldn't afford to make a similar mistake.
The Dragon is a series of extremely hard right turns, followed by some lazy S curves, then a big left sweeper... then the pattern repeats... over and over and over... with slight variations.
The first hard rights I found myself pushing King way down into the corner.. entering way to early. When I would hammer it to pull out of the turn, he would drift ever closer to the dreaded center line. Repeat after me. We do not cross the center line.
I was making the standard rookie mistake of a two-point turn... you turn hard at the begining, then settle.. then hard at the end to fix your line... this is pretty much how average joe rides... but I know better.
After few I diagnose the problem... and go with my typical "Kenny Roberts Method" where I slow down, and set up the turn really well... so I can make a hard 1-point turn, then use the King's power to drive out of it. That's that... now we're flyin'.
No one in front... no one behind... No pressure.
I pulled off at the mid-point lookout... just to see who's there... I was happy to find that someone had burned a smiley face in the pavement with their rear tire.
Only at the Dragon.
I finished the Dragon... kicked sand its face... and pulled on into the Tail of the Dragon Motorcycle Resort... the home of the Tree of the Shame. Now the one bad thing about this place... is that when your normally a rockstar... here... a guy on a sportbike is just a guy on a sportbike... I mean... everyone has one.
But here... apparently I was still a rock star. See... not everyone has the King.
A crowd of folks walked around King... Diggin' the tires... wondering allowed at exactly what kind of bike he was. Hey... when the Aprilia boys are talking about your bike... you're doin' ok. You know what I'm sayin?
Anyway... I grabbed some t-shirts, new shades, and hydrated up... then it was time to mount up and hit the road again...
The Dragon was down... but little did I know... I'd be crossing Mount Blood before the sun went down...
To Be Continued...