2009 NEWS ARCHIVES

November 7: A few 18 wheelers continue to come through the Dragon each day. Traffic has slowed, but the weather is still good for riding with daytime temps in the 60s.

October 29: Six or seven 18 wheelers on the Dragon today. Several got hung up causing traffic delays. Be extra careful in the next few months due to the closing of I40.

October 27: The season is winding down as the colors peak in the mountains. It has been rather busy the last two weeks with a wide variety of visitors to the area. Lots of touring bikes, cruisers, dual sports and some great looking cars. This past week-end saw a lot of Corvettes, Vipers and classic older cars. There were also a number of smaller groups that made for a steady parade.

There has been some discussion about a political dispute between two adjoining counties in western North Carolina over emergency responses in a small area near the Dragon (not on the Dragon itself). The issue deals with emergency coverage on 10 miles of NC 28 and US 129 located in Swain County, North Carolina. This particular area south of the Great Smoky Mountains is an isolated section of Swain County which actually adjoins Graham County. It is 21 miles by road (NC 28) from the nearest point in greater Swain County.

Graham County has been providing emergency services to the area under a mutual aid agreement with Swain County for a number of years at no charge. With the increase in tourism traffic there has been a proportional increase in emergency responses to the area covered under the agreement. Graham County has asked for financial assistance from Swain County to cover the increased expenses. Swain County so far has made no offer acceptable to Graham County. A request to annex the land into Graham County has been tabled by the Graham County Commission. There are also a number of tax issues, subsidies and government grants involved.

There is much more to this matter than many might think. Don’t let some uninformed bloggers who ignorantly rant and resort to name calling sway your thinking.  
No decision has been made in settling the question of who will cover this area in the future. Tail of the Dragon has been monitoring the various political moves but will wait for the final decision before offering our opinions to the public. Any opinions that we have now will be offered directly to the commissioners who will be making the final decision. And we will be professional in stating our position. It is never productive to attack and resort to name calling.

We have seen posts that blame Graham County Commissioner Odom for the BMW fiasco of 1997. Melvin Howell was sheriff at that time, not Odom. And BMW has recently featured Graham County as a motorcycle destination in their 2009 ROA rally book. They have also approached Fontana Village with plans for future rallies.
Graham County is one of the best motorcycling areas in the United States. Graham County also features some of the most motorcycle friendly accommodations and businesses that any rider could imagine. Don’t let the current disagreements keep you away.

We have heard a lot of unnecessary uproar over this issue even though the events have had no effect on the current emergency services for the area in question or for the Dragon itself.

Nancy and I do want to share some of our positive thoughts on safety wherever we ride.

  1. We always assume that medical care will not be available in time to save us in case of serious injury. That keeps us alert and riding as safe as possible. The Dragon and Cherohala Skyway are remote areas with long response times even in the best of conditions so you should ride as safely as possible.
  2. We assume the risks involved with riding and everything else we do. We have ridden on rocky trails knowing that help was hours away, but we assumed that risk.
  3. We prepare ourselves for emergencies. Both of us have had EMT training and know what to do in case of an accident. Take first aid training if you can.
  4. When riding unknown roads we always “lay back” a bit preferring to be overly cautious rather than take any chances.
  5. We always try to stay positive in everything we do. Life is too short to be negative.

Some new signs have been installed by North Carolina DOT. Tail of the Dragon provided input to identify some of the problem areas on the Hellbender and Cherohala . The new signs hopefully will help riders be more aware of dangerous corners. Remember !!! WHEN YOU SEE A WARNING SIGN SLOW IT DOWN AND BE ALERT.

October 6: The 49 year old rider who was severely injured in an accident at the Hump on August 13 has died. The Lenoir City TN man never regained consciousness. Our condolences to friends and family. This is the fifth death on the Dragon in 2009.

October 2-4: A busy week-end until rain moved in Sunday afternoon.

SEPTEMBER 23: Another sad day for motorcyclists. A trike went off the road on NC 28 just minutes from the Dragon. The Florida rider suffered fatal injuries and wife is in serious condition after being airlifted to UT with multiple broken bones. The accident occurred at the same corner as the recent Solstice accident that claimed a life. This is the third fatal trike accident in three years on area roads.

SEPTEMBER 18-21: Rain, rain and more rain. Still saw a lot of bikes coming and going in spite of the nearly constant downpours. There were a few breaks here and there on Friday and Saturday but other than that it was Frog Toggy time.

THP continues to astound us. A single female rider recently received a ticket from THP Trooper Garrett for passing another motorcycle after the leading rider pulled over, slowed way down and then waved her around. She was not speeding and eased past the other bike never crossing the double yellow. Any other rider/driver would have done the same.

Trooper Garrett cited her for illegal passing even though he witnessed the entire event. When she mentioned that the other rider had waved her around Trooper Garrett harshly replied, "he (the other motorcycle rider) didn't make the law". This is great PR for the state. The female rider visits the area several times a year and brings another ten of twelve riders with her. She is none too happy with the Tennessee welcome she got this trip.

We can understand tickets for serious offenses in an effort to promote safety, but this was just a way to cite someone for the heck of it. LEOs always say they have to enforce all the laws ..... then why don't they cite every car, motorcycle, and truck that crosses the Dragon for not sounding their horn at "every corner". It is a Tennessee law just like the crazy passing law.

On the other hand we have information concerning another trooper who who was extremely friendly and helpful at a minor accident scene. Why can't THP get it together?

SEPTEMBER 13: Fairly busy weekend with rallies in Cherokee and Maggie Valley. Also heard that Pigeon Forge had a good weekend with car shows bringing in the much needed crowds.

THP continues to astound us. A single female rider recently received a ticket from THP Trooper Garrett for passing another motorcycle after the leading rider pulled over, slowed way down and then waved her around. She was not speeding and eased past the other bike never crossing the double yellow. Any other rider/driver would have done the same.

Trooper Garrett cited her for illegal passing even though he witnessed the entire event. When she mentioned that the other rider had waved her around Trooper Garrett harshly replied, "he (the other motorcycle rider) didn't make the law". This is great PR for the state. The female rider visits the area several times a year and brings another ten of twelve riders with her. She is none too happy with the Tennessee welcome she got this trip.

We can understand tickets for serious offenses in an effort to promote safety, but this was just a way to cite someone for the heck of it. LEOs always say they have to enforce all the laws ..... then why don't they cite every car, motorcycle, and truck that crosses the Dragon for not sounding their horn at "every corner". It is a Tennessee law just like the crazy passing law.

On the other hand we have information concerning another trooper who who was extremely friendly and helpful at a minor accident scene. Why can't THP get it together?

SEPTEMBER 10 BULLETIN 1030am: Thursday morning truck incident on NC143 caused large oil slick near Stecoah Gap. Oil slick is located approx. 6 miles east of Robbinsville on NC143. Authorities on the scene with traffic control and crew. Hopefully they will clean the road. We advise motorcycles to find an alternative route.

SEPTEMBER 1: The 4th fatality on the Dragon in 2009 early afternoon near mile marker 8. A north bound Goldwing ran off the road into the ditch killing the 66 year old rider from Wisconsin. Be aware that THP will be out in force this holiday weekend.

AUGUST 28-30: Friday looked like a rain-out but by early afternoon the skies cleared and it was good riding the rest of the week-end. Crowds were small on all of the area roads.

AUGUST 21-24: Great week-end with perfect weather. Cool temps in the morning (60 degrees) and warm in the afternoons (high 70s). We rode the Cherokee, Little River, Townsend, Foothills, Dragon Loop on Monday and were surprised by the light traffic. Townsend TN looked like a ghost town while Robbinsville, Bryson City and Cherokee on the North Carolina side looked pretty busy. Made us wonder how much the LEO actions of the past couple of years have hurt Tennessee tourism. We plan to check-out the tourism in Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge next week.

AUGUST 13-16:
Another busy week-end with lots of bikes and cars on all area roads. TN 73 AKA Little River Road remains closed after a landslide. Call this number 865-436-1200 and then extension 631 for updates. Saturday and Sunday afternoons brought a couple of brief showers which quickly moved on. Thursday a rider was seriously injured at the Hump on the Dragon. THP painted the bike outline on the road as part of their investigation.

AUGUST 6-9: A fun and busy week-end with lots of bikes and cars. However there was a tragic accident on NC 28 Saturday night involving a Solstice with two occupants. The female passenger suffered fatal injuries and the male driver is in critical condition. Our condolences and prayers to family and friends of both.

AUGUST1-2: The third motorcycle death on the Dragon Sunday. A female rider from Ontario went off the road and hit a tree near mm 5.0. The roads on Sunday were wet part of the day making for tricky riding. The weather generally has been good in spite of what the weather channel and web sites might be saying. It is normal to have 30% or 40% chance of rain and see none or just a brief afternoon shower and then clear skies again.

JULY 24-26:
Miatas blanketed the Dragon and other area roads over the weekend. It was great to see the cagers return. There were still a large number of motorcycles varying from cruisers to motards. We did see a couple of Florida Salutes, but for the most part riders and drivers got along just fine. Remember ..... the Dragon is for everyone .... except 18 wheelers of course. Heard there was a Bigfoot sighting on the Dragon. Anyone got a photo?

JULY 23: BULLETIN -
Another motorcycle fatality this morning on NC 28 near 20-Mile Ranger Station between Fontana and the Gap. Motorcycle vs car in the 10 mph corner. This is the third death this year in this particular corner. CAN NC DOT DO SOMETHING TO HELP WARN RIDERS ..... PLEASE.

JULY 17-19:
Busy weekend with mostly BMWs on the way to the Bristol Rally. Only a couple of LEOs here, but we heard there were six keeping an eye on Shady Valley where all the lawless BMWs were headed. We have also seen NCHP on the Cherohala Skyway on Friday, Saturday and Sundays. Watch your speed and passing.

JULY 10-12:
Much busier than the 4th of July weekend. We also noted more LEOs than normal. Watch your speeds at the two places we have been telling you about radar for years .... the short straight just across the state line (MM 0.4) and coming down off the Dragon approaching Tabcat Bridge (MM 11.0). THP seems to be back on a ticket kick with unmarked black Charger and black Explorer.

JULY 8: The second death on the Dragon occurred on Tuesday July 7. A 49 year old woman HD rider from Texas suffered fatal injuries in a crash at mile marker 5.

JULY 6:
It was a slow week-end on area roads for a holiday. Guess many were celebrating at home.

JUNE 29: We sadly report the first fatality on the Dragon since September of 2008. A 54 hear-old HD rider from Miami went off the road on Saturday for no apparent reason. No one witnessed the crash and friends and LEOs searched for hours before finding the accident. Reason for the accident is not yet known, but a heart attack was suspected.

Another rider died suffered severe injuries after wrecking at Beginner's End (mm 10.7) on Saturday. He was north bound on a sportbike and went off the road.

The weekend was fairly busy here with many bikes seen all over western North Carolina. With so many riders in the area accidents were numerous. We heard of quite a few on the Dragon and Cherohala and at least three riders had to be flown out (very exspensive flight). Please take all precautions when riding these mountain roads. Perhaps the most important thing to remember is to STAY FOCUSED. This means maintain control of your speed, both acceleration and braking. Look ahead and slow down before you get into the corners.

JUNE 25:
Yesterday a semi wreck on I-40 near the TN/NC line involving hazardous materials shut-down the Interstate for an hour and a number of semis decided to take the next closest route, US 129. One became stuck on the Dragon and a second one tried to pass. Traffic on the Dragon was held-up for a while. SEE PHOTOS AT BOTTOM OF PAGE

JUNE 20:
What a day for local events!! The Dragon and Cherohala as always attracted a lot of motorcycles and cars, the Cherohala Challenge brought bicycles into the mix, the Cheoah River brought kayakers and rafters into the whitewater, and the hiking trails were packed with naked hikers honoring National Hike Naked Day. If you weren't here you really missed a great day of riding and gawking at the sun burns.
The new paved pull-offs have really improved the Dragon making it much easier to pull over to allow passing or to stop to watch the show go by. So far about two-thirds of Dragon has been improved.

JUNE 14:
Saturday was busy, but not as many riders as last week. The weather was good even though a few sprinkles fell here and there in the afternoon which is typical here in the mountains. Don't let the rain forecasts keep you away.
We are sad to report that there have been four recent deaths as a result of separate accidents on
NC 28 between Fontana and the Dragon. Three motorcycle riders (one a passenger) and one car driver died within a short distance of each other at 20 Mile Bridge and 10 MPH Guardrail Corner. PLEASE SLOW DOWN !!!!!
JUNE 13:
Nancy and I returned from a week off riding the roads of Virginia. Found some really good twisties north of Roanoke along the BRP this trip and made a quick run over to Richmond for Saturday night. The roads were boring, but Richmond has a lot going on. We'll be posting the highlights in a few days. We have a winner who correctly guessed that we were in Richmond to see the live Glenn Beck Show. Congratulations to Mike Herndon.
JUNE 6:
TOD ON TOUR - We are in Natural Bridge Virginia for a few days of 2-up riding. Once again we'll be exploring the roads up and over the Blueridge Parkway. Also lots of Civil War sites to visit. Follow us on TWITTER and TWITPICS.
JUNE 2:
TDOT is busy paving the pull-offs on the Dragon. They are working their way southward from Tabcat Bridge and have already paved half a dozen areas. This will make it much easier to pull over to let traffic pass.
TDOT Paving
We followed a semi over the Dragon taking both lanes much faster than it should have but luckily there were only a few motorcycles on the road at the time. A THP car stopped him at one point but did not issue any ticket.
Truck June 2

MAY 15-17: Those who stayed away because of the weather forecasts missed a couple of good days riding on Friday and Saturday. The sun was out most of both days. Sunday it rained a bit more. By Monday the weather was perfection. Lots of riders in the area taking advantage of perfect weather on Monday and Tuesday. The rest of this week is looking great. Come on out !!!

MAY 18: There was a motorcycle fatality on NC 28 at the Fontana Bridge Monday about 10:30 am. Rider went off the bank and hit a boulder. There was also a crash on the Cherohala at Mile Post 5 in the afternoon. Rider suffered possible back injuries. PLEASE RIDE SAFE

MAY 13: Nancy and I took the day off to ride for the first time in weeks. We took the backroad KLRs (with Continental knobbies) and headed up the Old Wagontrain Road, crossed the Cherohala Skyway and then motored down New River Road to Green Cove. From there we took Bald River Road, jogged up to Waucheesee Bald and back and then raced home across the Cherohala. Parts of the route were a little difficult after the heavy rains, but any average dual sport rider should have no problem.

MAY 8-10:
The weather has been coming and going with heavy rains and then clear blue skies for much of the day. Many of the weather forecasts call for 30 percent rain. This is common in the mountains and showers are widely scattered with roads drying in an hour allowing for good riding the rest of the day. Don't assume that 30 perent rain means a washout for the entire day. Good crowd on Saturday with plenty of two-strokers,T-rexs and Mustangs.

MAY 1-4: Rain, rain and more rain. Very slow weekend because of the weather. It broke on Monday, but skies remain cloudy with widely scatterd showers predicted. Note that many of the weather forecasts call for rain, but much of the time it is 30 percent. This is common in the mountains and often widely scattered, ten minute showers come and go with roads drying in an hour allowing for good riding the rest of the day.

APRIL 23-26: Thursday Nancy and I were treated to an airplane ride over the area. The Dragon is unbelievable as seen from the air and the Cherohala is surprisingly twisty. You don't realize how remote the area is until you see the wide picture from 5,000 feet.

Friday and Saturday were the busiest days yet at the Dragon in 2009. The rallies in Cherokee and Maggie Valley attracted many cruisers and there were a number of smaller car and bike rallies. We saw a large group of original Minis heading up the Cherohala on Friday. The weather was warm with highs in the upper 80s.

We have had a wait and see attitude about reporting the LEOs activity on the Dragon this year. It looks like the THP has finally seen the light and is providing a more professional approach to enforcement. We have no problem with tickets for those who deserve them, but we can't understand the heavy handedness that we have seen in the past. Hopefully we'll see that no more. A special thanks the the THP officer who recently chased a wreckless driver who it turned out had a revoked license for DUI. He was escorted to jail in cuffs.

APRIL 17-19: Friday and Saturday brought good weather and lots of riders/drivers having fun on the Dragon and other area roads. Sunday was drizzly and chilly, but many braved the elements. The scenery is great again this week with Dogwoods and redbuds in full color and the other trees just greening-up. Remember that the LEOs are out and about. We saw a few cars stopped by THP on the Dragon Saturday.

APRIL 10 - 12: Saturday the weather turned bad again with a steady drizzle and temps in the low 50s. We were surprised to see so many riders braving the dampness. Sunday the weather turned back to the good .... sunshine and temps in the 60s. The Dragon was not crowded, but a good many riders turned up looking for Easter eggs. This will be one of the most scenic weeks of the year on the Dragon as the Dogwoods and redbuds are in full color and the other trees are just greening-up.

APRIL 9: The weather has improved and forecasts look good for the coming weekend. Still use caution on the Cherohala and other roads of higher elevations.
SPRING IS HERE:
Be very cautious if you plan on riding the Cherohala Skyway where you might find damp roads well into April.  TWO WHEEL INN, IRONHORSE MOTORCYCLE LODGE, DRAGONS REST  are open for the season.  Other area businesses ready and open for the season include WHEELERS, THUNDERMOUNTAIN GENERAL STORE,  and the new SKYWAY CONVENIENCE at the corner of US129 and NC143.  And if you really want to something special, check out the big discounts at SNOWBIRD LODGE on the Cherohala Skyway where the innkeeper Robert parks his own BMW GS. Enough of winter, LET’S RIDE !!

APRIL 3-7: Friday weather kept many away, but Saturday was near perfection with many riders taking advantage. Sunday was slower and Monday was a rain/snow-out. Snow began on the Dragon at about 4 pm Monday and continued most of the night. Even more is falling Tuesday. Hopefully Wednesday will warm enought to improve riding. The roads are clear at lower elevations, but certain areas can be tricky. Stay off the Cherohala unless you have 4-wheel drive.

BULLETIN: Honda Hoot has canceled the June 2009 event in Knoxville. No reasons were given, but we suspect the low attendance in 2008, the economic slump, and perhaps the attitude of TN LEOs toward motorcycling. The entire state will suffer losses in the millions of dollars with the canceling of this event. Tennessee will need to be on wellfare soon. By the way, we hear bed taxes are going up in some areas to help compensate for the state and county's lack of funds. Don't change your vacation because of the Hoot, just come on anyway and plan to do some extra riding instead of hooting.

MARCH 27-29: Saturday was a rain-out and Sunday was on the chilly side. Slow weekend overall.

MARCH 20-22: Good weather and a good turn-out at the Dragon and other area roads. Lots of cars and a mixed bag of bikes. Things should be picking-up on the Dragon in the coming weeks.

MARCH 6-8: We finally had some good weather and many drivers/riders were taking advantage of it. We rode the Wayah Road/NC 28 Loop on Saturday and found good road conditions. The Dragon was fairly busy on the weekend. The remaining sand/salt didn't interfere with most of the riders. TDOT is preparing to make some upgrades to the Dragon. Plans that we have seen call for paving many of the pull-offs, improving the berms where most accidents occur, and installing some additional warning signs. There are no plans to install speed bumps.

JANUARY 21, 2009: We just returned from the Washington DC and New York City International Motorcycle Shows. We had a great time and saw many friends that we have made over the years. We were glad to hear a lot of people say they were planning first time trips to the Dragon in 2009. And the smiles on faces gave away those who had been here before.New York IMS

DC was in the preparation stages for the inaugeration with some streets closed and security high. We got to see the complete practice including ceremonies at the Capitol and the parade down Pennsylvania Avenue.

The New Yorkers were wonderful. People were friendly, operations efficient, and we got used to the crowds. Our visit to the 911 Memorial at the site of the World Trade Center was a moving experience. We also got to witness the US Air crash into the Hudson River right from our hotel room.

The economy didn't seem to have a negative affect on the attendance at either of the shows. CLICK HERE for complete details on our trip.

 


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Tail of the Dragon at Deals Gap brings you motorycle and sport car touring information and maps on all of the exciting touring roads ,accommodations, motorcycle repair, and motorcycle rentals in the area including the Cherohala Skyway, Moonshiner 28, Foothills Parkway, Devils Triangle, Six Gap north Georgia, Diamondback, Devils Staircase, the Snake, Blue Ridge Parkway and places of interest in the Great Smoky Mountains of western North Carolina and eastern Tennessee: also places of interest such as Fontana Dam, Wheels Through Time Museum,  Carolina waterfalls map, Cherokee Casino, Asheville attractions, Biltmore House, Smoky Mountain Railroad, whitewater rafting, zip line tours, Grandfather Mountain, Chimney Rock, Joyce Kilmer hiking, Cherokee National Forest, Nantahala National Forest, Cheoah River, Nantahala River, Lake Santeetlah, Fontana Lake, Robbinsville, Graham County, Bryson City, Sylva, Waynesville, Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge, Townsend and more.