Everything was shaping up to be a great day to slay the dragon. The morning was a little chilly in the low 40’s, but it was supposed to warm up into the 50’s! Not too bad for the first weekend in March. As Lanny would say, “The best time to ride the dragon is before the leaves are back and after they are gone.”
Here’s the route we took:
I met Lanny many years ago when I was building a home theater. There was a small AV store called StereoVideo in Greenville, SC that sold high end gear and custom installs. Lanny was my sales guy and over the years we got to know each other well, but I am also pretty sure that Lanny has never met a stranger. Flash forward to a little over a year ago and Lanny found me on the CarolinaRiders forum and we started trying to find a time to get together and ride. We attempted to plan a lot of rides over that year and for one reason or another they just never worked out.
We had a mutual friend that decided to get back into riding and he asked Lanny and I if we would take him out for a ride. All three of us were pumped about that! We had a friend getting back into riding and Lanny and I were finally going to be able to share a ride. That ride didn't work out so well. About 5 miles into the ride our mutual friend had a low side! That is a story for another time, but we had to get him back to the gas station to call a tow truck and we waited with him until the truck got there. I am glad my buddy was OK, but I tell this story to explain why it was a big deal that Lanny and I finally got to ride together. Every time we have tried to ride, something has stopped it from happening.
Lanny and I met up at “The Store” and we set out for Deal’s Gap, NC and The Tail of the Dragon. Lanny recently got a Suzuki VStrom 1000 and I was on my FZ1. The FJR1300 would have been a warmer choice for me to ride that day, but I really wanted to give those Pilot Road 4 tires a workout. (They did fantastic by the way.)
The roads had some wet spots and a few sandy spots, but overall they were in pretty good shape. Lanny is still getting used to his new bike so our pace was fun and a good warm up. By the time we were nearing the Dragon things were picking up and we were ripping those twisties up proper!
When we got to the store at Deal’s Gap we stopped to take a break and a few pictures. We bought our obligatory dragon stickers and admired some of the bikes people had up there. Before we left I attached a GoPro to each of our bikes.
We watched the traffic for a few minutes as we were suiting up, and when we found a good window for a couple of motorcycles to go, we took off. After a couple of minutes we were in the zone. On our north bound run there were almost no cars, the road was clear and smooth, and we were riding the Dragon with gusto! Lanny was grinding down his center stand some more and I was making those Pilot Road 4 tires sing! After our run we pulled over and started back the other way. Since we had just run the road, we knew the conditions were good and our pace was even quicker! Back and forth leaning into the curves, toes touching down, and a huge grin inside my helmet. There is nothing like that feeling of being in the zone. Everything melts away except you and your motorcycle acting as one. Sharing that ride with a friend is even better.
About half way through our return run we got behind a car that seemed to be going spitefully slow. I mean they were going really slow even for a car. There are a ton of pull offs through this section of road and most cars up there are pretty courteous, but not this guy. We passed what seemed like a hundred pull offs and this guy would not move. I know most of you who read my ride reports know this, but just in case somebody doesn't know, it is good mountain road etiquette to use pull offs to let faster traffic by. It’s not that big if a deal to do. Just let faster traffic by and we can all enjoy our day more. We eventually got around him and made it back to the store at Deal’s Gap for another break.
Lanny told me about this restaurant in Franklin, NC called Caffé Rel. That was our next stop. We got there about 2:00 for lunch and we were starving. True to Lanny’s style, he knew everybody there. He was telling me all the fancy places the Chef has worked and when he retired from being an executive chef he started this little café and the food was fantastic! From the outside you wouldn't think this place was anything special. I mean, it shares the building with a gas station. As soon as you step inside you no longer even realize the gas station is there. The atmosphere felt like a really nice restaurant and when you see the menu you know this is not your average café. The special that day included helix snails if that tells you anything. I proceeded to enjoy one of the best Cuban sandwiches I have ever had. After lunch we headed back towards home and enjoyed some more twisty roads on the way.
We had a great day and I think Lanny and I will be sharing more rides together in the future.
What I Learned:
- The Suzuki VStrom 1000 will drag a center stand regularly during spirited riding.
- Early spring is a great time to ride the Tail of the Dragon.
Galations 6:9 “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.”
Lanny and I have been trying to get a ride together for a long time and something always comes up, or in the case of my friend’s lowside, goes down. Persistence is important in life and along with this comes the hard learned lesson of patience as well. I am glad Lanny and I were both persistent on trying to ride together. He is a great a friend and I had a blast riding with him.
Have you ever had a goal or achievement in life you might have missed out on if you weren't persistent? On the flip side, have you ever missed out on a goal or achievement and wondered if you had just pushed one more time if it would have happened?
I would love to hear your stories in the comments.