Here’s my honest review of one of the most famous motorcycle roads in the world. 11 miles with 318 turns - yeah it’s by far the most challenging road I’ve ever ridden.
So many people put such fear in me about the road, I was doubting that I could handle it even with my 18 years of riding experience. I had seen a few pictures and videos online and what I was fearing most was the pressure from the large crowds of bikers and/or being run off the road by riders trying to race. Friends said "Take caution, it's unlike anything you've ever ridden on. There will be lots of people going way too fast. Things happen really fast in some sections" Ok, I get it, way too much for me, or so I thought.
So Sunday May 31, we get to The Dragon and start riding. Let me just say, being nervous did not help. Not only was I pretty much panicking every turn, but the rider I was with, quickly left me in the dust. I was glad he was enjoying the road and riding his pace, but I was a mess. The first trip through felt like a nightmare. On my second trip back, my love stayed right in front of me, and encouraged me through the turns (thanks to our communication devices from Cardo Pack Talk Slim). It was an awesome experience, and I felt much better leaning into each turn having him tell me how solid I looked. Once back at the bottom (where large crowds gather at souvenirs shops and the cafe) I felt much better, and was able to take in my surroundings. I stocked up on some stickers and water, and was surprisingly able to realize that there were all types of riders, on all types of bikes (so I wasn’t as out of place as I suspected) but most remarkably, everyone was friendly, there weren’t any egos, everyone was respectful and no one was messing around doing anything childish or dangerous on their bike. The few women I talked to were supportive, and filled with compliments. And when a fellow woman gives you props, you know you’re doing something right.
So despite my initial fear, nervousness and uncomfortableness (yeah, that's a word after riding The Dragon), it turned out to be a day where I learned a lot about myself as a rider, pushed myself, was able to make remarkable improvements in my riding ability all within a community of supportive people. And hey, even Killboy (the area’s resident professional photographer who’s been taking pictures on the Dragon for twenty years) posted a picture of me on his daily highlights! Such an incredible experience! It was definitely worth riding that 11 mile stretch 8 times in a row - stopping only for refreshments and photo ops.
Finishing our ride on part of the Moonshiner 28 - we rode 20 miles of higher speeds sweeping turns along the river up the mountain - was the perfect way to enjoy the evening sunset. And luckily, we didn’t run out of gas.
6/3/2020 12:18:06 pm
Looks like you "slayed the Dragon" Megan and became a better rider in the process! The Smokey Mountains looks like an awesome destination!
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