The plan today was to ride some great roads from our base camp in Sweetwater, TN. Please click on the link above and zoom in a bit to see twists and turns in the route. It turned out to be filled with great roads including the Cherohala Skyway and the Tail of the Dragon. We only put in 151 miles, but it took all day to do it!
We started out by heading east on 68 until we got to Tellico Plains, and then turned on TN-125 to follow the Cherohala Skyway. The Skyway is a road connecting Tellico Plains, TN with Robbinsville, NC. It passed through the Cherokee and Nantahala National Forests thus the name Cherohala from the two parks. The skyway is only about forty miles long, but supposedly has great views. I say supposedly because about one mile into the road it started to rain. It rained hard.
We took refuge under a picnic shelter that had a sign: “Motorcycles Welcome” We were quickly joined by a Silverhawk 500 Scooter and a Triumph 1050 Tiger. We all took the opportunity to relax and have a snack. One by one we grew impatient and left. We put on our rain gear and decided to head out. The Triumph was the last to leave.
It rained all the way up the mountain until we got the high point around 5400 feet. From 3000 feet up the mountain was covered in very dense fog. We could hardly see the road in front of us much less the view. We stopped at every scenic overlook and took pictures anyways.
We’re not going to let a little rain ruin our fun! At one point, we nearly turned back. Both of us were cold and we were getting wet. I decided (to my wife’s disappointment) to press on anyways. We came down the other side and by Robbinsville, NC it was barely raining. Not much fog either!
We followed 129 west towards Deals Gap and the Dragon’s Tail.
The Dragon’s Tail is a famously twisty road that has 300+ turns in 11 miles. The speed limit is 30mph and none of the turns are rated at higher than 15mph.
I spent most of the time going between second and third gear. We had a fun time, but the road demands 100% attention. One mistake and you’re off into the trees, or worse, down a cliff.
Lucky for us the rain clouds were still hanging around, so we didn’t have any problems with bright lights in the eyes.
We were having a blast riding along, until we got stuck behind a car from Minnesota going 10mph. Ugh. So lame. We pulled over and waited a while. Then we started again. We caught up to him at the scenic overlook in the middle. We snapped a couple quick photos and got back on the road.
Before we did, a couple guys on Harley’s warned us of the impending speed trap ahead. No worries, we weren’t speeding. I was still glad they warned me, the cops were sitting in a sneaky spot that straightens out right after the dragon ends. Here they are pulling a car over:
The speed should go up, but it doesn’t until much later when it goes to 40mph. Be careful if you go there. Our arms were sore from waving at all the bikes going by. Most were cruisers, but there were a couple of sport bikes too. It stopped raining sometime on or before the dragon. We weren’t paying attention at that point. Too much fun! I am glad I spent some time at riding schools (ZARS) earlier this year. They really helped with all the turns today.
Further down the road we picked up 72 and ditched the rain gear. Then 411 which took us back to 72 again. More cops on the road. From 72 we picked up TN-322 back to Sweetwater.
By the end of the day, my wife was very happy I decided to continue. The views and roads were very, very fun. We even ended the day with beautiful blue skies.
Full Flickr Album here (100+ photos)
Here is a sample:
- Great River Ride – The Plan
- Great River Ride – The Bike Prep
- Great River Ride – Day 1 – To Park Rapids, MN
- Great River Ride – Day 2 – The Mississippi Headwaters
- Great River Ride – Day 3 – Leaving Minnesota
- Great River Ride – Day 4 – Iowa
- Great River Ride – Day 5 – Into Missouri
- Great River Ride – Day 6 – Five States in One Day
- Great River Ride – Day 7 – Memphis and Mississippi
- Great River Ride – Day 8 – Louisiana
- Great River Ride – Day 9 – Rain and the Gulf
- Great River Ride – Day 10 – Mobile & Pensacola
- Great River Ride – Day 11 – To Birmingham
- Great River Ride – Day 12 – Sweet Tea and Sweetwater
- Great River Ride – Day 13 – Cherohala Dragons
- Great River Ride – Day 14 – In Threes
- Great River Ride – Day 15 – OH-555 and AMA Museum
- Great River Ride – Day 16 – US-30
- Great River Ride – Day 17 – Leaving Indiana
- Great River Ride – Day 18 – Chicago and Sojourner
- Great River Ride – Day 19 – Madison to Minneapolis
- Great River Ride – Reflections