LIE: The Tail of the Dragon owners have moved to Ohio and gone out of business. You can no longer buy their products. VARIATION: We don’t know where you can find the Tail of the Dragon products. This lie was started by our major competitor and variations of the lie continue to be told to people who ask about our products. Obviously it is not true. We are here and and our competitor knows where we are. We will continue to provide our visitors honest answers to their questions …. including where to find our competitors T-shirts and souvenirs.
RUMOR: Motorcycles are about to be banned from US129. VARIATION: The road will be closed to all motorized traffic allowing only bicycles and pedestrians. We have heard this one for years and now it’s back. We were told that riders attending the recent Survivor’s Rally in Cherokee were passing it around again. It likely originated with people fearing that the increased motorcycle traffic and accidents would precipitate a reaction from officials to ban the cycle traffic completely. US129 is a Federal Highway and major connector between Tennessee and North Carolina. There would be a huge outcry from riders, businesses in the area, and many legislators should such a move even be considered. Eighteen wheel trucks cannot even be banned so worry not about such ridiculous statements.
MYTH: The Tail of the Dragon is closed at times to allow racing We have heard this myth repeated many times over the years. The road has been closed at times, but for 15 minutes maximum . This was to allow filming of ads or movies. The road has never been closed to allow any kind of racing.
In 2011 the Chasing the Dragon Hillclimb came to Robbinsville, North Carolina. Originally ads called it the “Tail of the Dragon Hillclimb” intimating the race was on the Tail of the Dragon. The race is actually held on Maple Springs Road 16 miles from the Dragon at Deals Gap. Some of the web links still use Tail of the Dragon, but the event is now called Chasing the Dragon.
LEGEND: The record time for riding the Dragon is nine minutes. True to some extent. There are riders past and present who can run the Dragon from the Overlook to the Crossroad of Time (9.3 miles) in nine minutes and change. These riders have been riding the Dragon for more than 10 years and know every nuance of the road. This was the original timed section for records back in the 1990s when Deals Gap Riding Society was formed. To be official one had to make the run from the Overlook to the Crossroads, turn around, and return to the Overlook. The total time was divided by 2. WARNING !!!! DO NOT TRY TO SET A NEW RECORD ON THE DRAGON —- SERIOUS INJURY MAY RESULT, YOU ARE LIKELY TO BE HEAVILY FINED, AND YOU WILL NEVER BE THE FASTEST RIDER THERE ANYWAY.
RUMOR: Once there was a missing rider and girlfriend in the area. After a week of searching they were found down a steep enbankment on the Dragon. The motorcycle had them both pinned. The male had been killed instantly, but the female had lived for three days unable to crawl out from under the motorcycle. This story was told to us by a Tennessee Highway Patrolman who frequently has duty on the Dragon. We have not be able to confirm it through any official sources or news articles. We often hear variations of this “lost and found” biker, but know of no such case in the past ten years or so. There was a father and son riding two-up who went off the road in 2005. The father died instantly and the son was severely injured. He managed to crawl up to the road by the next morning and was rescued.
RUMOR: Variation of the above where a motorcycle accident is being investigated and a skeleton from a long past motorcycle accident is discovered . We hear this one quite often about the Dragon and more recently about the Cherohala Skyway. We have not been able to document any such event.[/div][div class=’content-2-col’]LEGEND: There are ghosts on the Dragon and you can hear them at night. Enough has happened in these parts that this very well could be true. There have been deaths on the Dragon long before the white man ever set foot on this continent. And there were many more after the white man came. In the years of Cherokee domination in the area (late 1700s-early 1800s) there was constant bloodshed. The Civil War brought more death (one soldier is buried not far from the roadway). We heard stories of hangings on the Dragon when the owner of the land found trespassers trying to avoid paying his toll. And there are the many bikers who have lost their lives here. We would not like to spend the night camped at Toll Booth …. we just might hear those ghosts.
MYTH, LIE, and RUMOR: Riders die every week at the Dragon. For some odd reason this myth/lie/rumor is perpetuated by local sheriff deputies as they are issuing citations. One would think that those we pay to serve and protect would be above telling such lies. Surely they know it is not true. We have kept an accurate count of the deaths on the Dragon since 1995. The average is about 1.5 deaths a year. That is too many, but compared to the number of riders who come each year it is very low. We know of no deaths in cars or trucks. It is not even accurate to say someone dies every week on the roads in close proximity to the Dragon. But the other area roads do have a much higher death rate than the Dragon itself. More riders die and suffer serious injuries on the Cherohala than the Dragon. Local newspapers also mess-up the facts. A local paper claimed that 3 deaths in an auto crash in 2011 was on the Dragon. It was actually 18 miles away.
RUMOR: Tennessee is going to install rumble strips or speed bumps on the Dragon. Talk about making the road dangerous !! This is a federal highway and we doubt than any such alterations would be allowed.
RUMOR: A new Interstate is being proposed to take the place of the Dragon. This is actually true to some extent. There was legislation in the federal government to study the feasibility of constructing a new Interstate from Savannah Georgia to Knoxville Tennessee. The planning stages call for it to follow existing US 129 through western North Carolina. There are several reasons for Dragon lovers did not need to be too concerned. First and most importantly – US 129 borders the Great Smoky Mountain National Park which has a “HANDS OFF” policy toward any alterations to any part of the wildlands. Tennessee DOT even has problems trying to get the dead trees removed from the side of the road. Second – The other side of the road has been designated as a protected wildlife sanctuary. There are several endangered species in the area that would bring the tree huggers out of the woodwork if any new roads were proposed in the area. Third – At the pace that these federal proposals and studies move it would be twenty years before any such road could even be approved, much less built. As a sidelight. Some people think the only reason for the new Interstate is to provide easy access for transporting nuclear materials from Savannah to Oak Ridge Tennessee. Many opposed it for this reason alone. The plan was shelved in 2012.