HOW TO RIDE the Tail of the Dragon
The Tail of the Dragon is not a difficult road to ride. And with a few tips and tricks, it can be an unforgettable experience.
TRUCKS ON THE DRAGON. It is now illegal for trucks longer than 30 feet to operate on the Tail of the Dragon. However, it is not uncommon to see trucks that are either lost or using US129 as a shortcut. Read the history of this long battle to ban trucks on the Tail of the Dragon.
Trucks are usually traveling slow allowing you time to take precautions. Watch for signals from traffic coming at you. Many times they will escort a big truck over the Dragon and wave a warning to you to pull over. Ignore these warnings at your own peril.
#1 STAY IN YOUR LANE
This is our most important tip that applies to all vehicles.
- STAY IN YOUR LANE, for that matter stay in the right half of your lane. The challenge of the Dragon is to take the many curves in the best line possible and both lanes is not “the line”.
- KEEP RIGHT. Riding the double yellow will get you in trouble and possibly a ticket. Stay in the right half of your lane when entering blind corners.
- AVOID THE PAINTED LINES especially when the pavement is damp. They are extremely slippery.
- HUG THE WHITE LINE. If you see another vehicle coming at you in your lane, hug the white line in your lane. In all likelihood you can avoid trucks and trailers if you take the white line in the corners. Do not cut the corners too tight and run off the road on your side. You will go down if you do.
#2 RIDE AT YOUR SKILL LEVEL
- RIDE YOU SKILL LEVEL Don’t try to push it, there will always be faster riders than you.
- FOCUS. Watch the road, your mirrors,and other vehicles. If you want to sight-see, pull over at one of the many paved pull-offs or stop at the Calderwood Dam Overlook and enjoy the show.
- SAFE ZONE. Keep a safe distance between you and the vehicle ahead of you. Watch your rear view mirrors for faster vehicles. If you see a faster rider/driver coming up behind you, use one of the may paved pull-offs. Or pull over to the right half of your lane, slow down, and wave them around. It is illegal to pass on the Dragon, even in the same lane. But consider letting the faster rider get around. They will be cited, not you. And, don't stay in the left side of your lane to keep other vehicles from passing.
- BRAKE EASY. Trust your tires and lay into the corner rather than grabbing your brakes hard. Most accidents on the Dragon are due to speed and then over-braking.
- DON'T BE SPOOKED. Do not make sudden avoidance moves. You might have to adjust your line to avoid a car, truck, or bike, but do not grab a bunch of brake or turn off the roadway unless that is your only choice.
- SQUIDS ARE NOT WELCOME. Show off your wheelies, stoppies, and other tricks someplace else.
- MAKE SEVERAL RUNS, the first is always a nervous one and have fun on the second and third runs.
#3 USE CAUTION
- BE ALERT. The Dragon is to ride, not to watch the sights. The roadway ahead is your scenery
- WATCH FOR WILDLIFE. We have seen deer, bear, turkeys, and wild boar on the roadway.
- WEAR GEAR, especially armored gloves, boots, leathers, and full-face helmets. Helmets are required in North Carolina and Tennessee.
- TIME TO RIDE. Avoid riding hard on the Dragon in heavy traffic times. Weekends from 11 am to 5 pm are the busiest. These are the times to lay back and watch the "show". The early mornings (before 11 am) and the late afternoons (after 5 pm) have the least traffic.
- MECHANICS. Make sure your bike is mechanically sound and that your tires are good.
- START EASY and let your tires warm up. There is a reason the first turn on each end of the Dragon are named "Beginner's End"
Medical help is 30-45 minutes away. The emergency room is at least an hour away. This is no place to be injured.
99% of the accidents on the Dragon come from the following:
- Too much speed
- Too much brake
- People who should not be riding in the first place
Blount County Rescue Squad is a 501c3 non-profit agency that has been serving the citizens of Blount County and the Dragon since 1958. BCRS is staffed completely by volunteers, and there is no charge for our services. All funding for BCRS comes from generous donations from our community. We receive no funding from government agencies.