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Old 07-10-2012, 05:21 PM
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Epic Road Trip...CSB

Well maybe not that cool of a story, but more of a summary of my vacation last week....

Ever since I drove by the area last year going to Road Atlanta for Petit Le Mans, I've wanted to come back to the area of Great Smokey Mountain National Park area to just enjoy the roads in the area. A coworker who was living down in NC goes to the area regularly to ride his crotch rocket, so when he asked if anyone want to come along, take some vacation days and do exactly that, I asked when are we leaving?

So another coworker(and his wife), joined the first guy(and his wife) and we left for Robbinsville, NC on the July 4th from Detroit area. I am in my GTI, they are in a Pontiac G8 towing 2 bikes(Kawasaki Ninja ZX6R, and a Ducati 749s)...embarking on a 600 miles drive down....

http://goo.gl/maps/WDVg

My mileage at the beginning of the trip:


The Convoy:


We got there in the early evening, including a drive through the Dragon as it just so happen to be the closest route to Robbinsville...

The cabin we stayed at, called Dragon's Rest, is just outside of Robbinsville. When shared with 5 people, it comes down to ~$140 for 4 nights per person. The cabin is fully furnished with 3 bedrooms and kitchen, cable, gas BBQ, covered parking, even hose to wash the car/bike....

We got a little creek behind the cabin, and open field by the cabin:


Even some cow for good measure....



The next morning begins the fun. The weapons of choice:
GTI:

Ninja:

Ducati:


We start the day with a few blast through the Dragon:
http://goo.gl/maps/pDsd
11 miles, and 318 turns....


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Old 07-10-2012, 05:23 PM
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To prepare for the trip, and knowing the area, I've swapped my pads to Carbotech XP10 track compound pads. They are loud, they are dusty, but they work and work and work at temp.....useful in an area with lots of hills up and down, and lots of braking....

Sometimes you do slow down and smell the roses(and hot brake...)



After some running we retreat back in town to hide from the hot time of the day, we went out to run the Dragon again, though we probably should have quit while we were ahead on the first day...a massive storm hit the area, and actually knocked down several trees...we were actually stuck on the Dragon itself, between 2 downed trees miles apart...

we were waiting at a relatively wind-less corner to avoid the flying branches of tree...



No cell signal and no way of getting out, we just kinda waiting it out....

With the wind eventually dies down, we moved on ahead to find see the actual downed tree that blocked our path...



The park ranger eventually showed up, but he has no way of removing the tree neither. At least he has radio though....


A local managed to get home, grabbed a few chainsaw and returned and cut the down trees apart so we can all leave. We were stuck in the woods for about 1.5 hours. It was only until later I found out that 2 people died in the area from the storm. And the power were knocked out for 24 hours...
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Old 07-10-2012, 05:24 PM
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The next day knowing the Dragon would be not quite cleared, we decided to take a day trip elsewhere in the area...
http://goo.gl/maps/0BPj

The roads we took takes us through some interesting twists and turns, especially the bit between where 74 and 28 meets to Franklin, NC. Lots of curves, narrow, fairly good pavement, and very banked curves. From Franklin to Highland is ever narrower and here you are pretty much stuck behind slow traffic if you caught them. There are some scenic spots on the way to take in though...



After a lunch in Highland we backtracked to Franklin, to go through Wayah Road, another relatively well known stretch of pavement in the area. The road here is relatively bumpy and coarse pavement. And a bit dusty with some loose gravel in places. But the road itself twists and turns through the hill and run along side river....portions of it feels like doing some hillclimb course as tight hairpin leads to steep incline up the hill. It was a lot of fun trying to keep up with the bike on this road.....

Half way through we did take a ice cream break...


Back to the cabin for a rest, then we were out in the early evening/late afternoon to run the the Hellbender 28(http://goo.gl/maps/DY75), then the Dragon again.

Hellbender 28 winds its way up and down hill side towards the Fontana Dam, then run along side the dam til you get to Deal's Gap, the beginning of the Tail of the Dragon.

We stopped at Dragon's tail for a break, then continued on to the dragon..


Including some stop at the scenic overlook:



Then we backtracked our way home to call it a day.

The last day was going to be with some more run up and down the Dragon then maybe a run through the Cherohala Skyway in the afternoon.....



(Car is considerably dirtier now...lol)


But as we run through it and stopped at the overlook, cops rolled in....as it turned our, NC and TN cops from 4 counties, 40 cops, decided to setup a sobriety check at the state border...
(not my video): http://youtu.be/-4k8HMetWQ4

Seeing this, we decided to take an impromptu detour and return to Robbinsville through the Skyway....the entire route:

http://goo.gl/maps/mlwJ

The Cherohala Skyway(the stretch between where 360 meets 165 all the way to Robbinsville through 143) itself is amazingly scenic, riding over the spine of the mountain joining Cherokee Forest to Natahala Forest(hence Cherohala). A top of the spine the air is cool compare to the 90-100degree heat at the base. The road is fast and twisting and relatively wide. As I've lost the bike amongst the traffic(they pass when they feel like...lol, whereas I typically wait for passing zone), I took a stop to snap some pic...





Ironically, on the way down the NC side of the Skyway, I managed to be pulled over by a couple of motorcycle cops(BMW Sport Touring bikes...)....the speedlimit on the Skyway is 45, I think when I drove by the first one I was doing maybe 60-65, then maybe 3 min later I saw a 2nd cop turning around....at this point I wasn't too sure they were cops, but 5 mins later they caught up to me then pulled me over. Luckily they gave me only a warning(whew)....I drove as slow as I can managed down the rest of the way to go back to the cabin(seriously, gravity can accelerate you to past 60-70 mph on the down hill.....so that requires some trying....)
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Old 07-10-2012, 05:24 PM
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The late afternoon was filled with another run through the Dragon and the Hellbender 28, and go back to the cabin and pack to ready to head home the next day...



After another long day of driving we were back in MI.....

The mileage after the trip(the next morning)...



Total mileage for the trip was 1871 miles. 600+ miles each way for the transit, and 600+ miles for the fun drives in the area.....all in all a fun trip...The car averaged about 31MPG on the transit part(we were going between 65-75 on the Interstates), and about 22-25MPG while I was there.

TL: DR version: The area is fun, go drive there!
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Old 07-10-2012, 05:57 PM
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Looks like a lotta fun! I must drive the Tail someday.
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Old 07-10-2012, 08:46 PM
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Yeah, that must have been a nice trip. A pretty scenic area alongside the already obvious nice drive.

What was there to do at the cabin (other than drink) to keep you guys amused?
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Old 07-10-2012, 09:08 PM
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TV...there was cable....and most importantly air conditioning....it was probably pushing 40C most of the time during the day...

I think Spike TV was showing Star Wars in the evening, and Syfy was showing Indiana Jones. And I just found out that the dam we drove by everyday to the Dragon was THE dam that they shot The Fugitive, where Dr. Kimble jumped off....so we had a Harrison Ford centric vacation.....
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Old 07-10-2012, 10:16 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RacingManiac View Post
....so we had a Harrison Ford centric vacation.....
Quote:
Originally Posted by RacingManiac View Post
Harrison Ford centric vacation.....
Quote:
Originally Posted by RacingManiac View Post
Harrison Ford centric
Quote:
Originally Posted by RacingManiac View Post
Harrison Ford
...

Tell me the real reason you went on this trip?
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Old 07-11-2012, 04:40 AM
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Nice trip log!

I considered a trip there back in the spring as ZDayz event was based at Fontana Dam where I had done a mtn bike race some years ago.

I heard about the storm and the trees being down on the Dragon. You didn't lose too much run time on the tail due to the trees, that's good. I'm sure your brakes and tires are still trying to catch their breath.
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Old 07-11-2012, 05:29 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kitdy View Post
...

Tell me the real reason you went on this trip?
Gotta let the nature take its course......it just kinda end up that way....
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Old 08-19-2012, 03:49 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RacingManiac View Post
Well maybe not that cool of a story, but more of a summary of my vacation last week....

Ever since I drove by the area last year going to Road Atlanta for Petit Le Mans, I've wanted to come back to the area of Great Smokey Mountain National Park area to just enjoy the roads in the area. A coworker who was living down in NC goes to the area regularly to ride his crotch rocket, so when he asked if anyone want to come along, take some vacation days and do exactly that, I asked when are we leaving?

So another coworker(and his wife), joined the first guy(and his wife) and we left for Robbinsville, NC on the July 4th from Detroit area. I am in my GTI, they are in a Pontiac G8 towing 2 bikes(Kawasaki Ninja ZX6R, and a Ducati 749s)...embarking on a 600 miles drive down....
how do they like the G8? by all accounts it's a shame it did not sell well.

heard nothing but great things about the dragon, definitely on my to do list if i ever visit the states..
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Old 08-19-2012, 04:17 PM
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how do they like the G8? by all accounts it's a shame it did not sell well.

heard nothing but great things about the dragon, definitely on my to do list if i ever visit the states..
They love the car, I rode in it a few times and it is a roomy, comfy car...Compare to even the new Dodge Charger/300 family of cars, the car is still quite a bit roomier...Its coming again as the Chevy SS(in longer wheel base also), so hopefully 3rd times the charm?(GTO, G8, then SS)...

Best thing about the Dragon also, since its not Nurburgring(ie a race track), you can drive in your rental all you want...
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Old 08-19-2012, 04:34 PM
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They love the car, I rode in it a few times and it is a roomy, comfy car...Compare to even the new Dodge Charger/300 family of cars, the car is still quite a bit roomier...Its coming again as the Chevy SS(in longer wheel base also), so hopefully 3rd times the charm?(GTO, G8, then SS)...
haha yes GM hasn't exactly had the midas touch when trying to sell these..
i think if i ever am in the position to travel over there, i'd take advantage of your excellent used car prices and just buy something worthwhile and ship it back with me! after a baptism of fire on the dragon..
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Old 08-19-2012, 09:01 PM
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You bought the Purple People Eater in the States, didn't you?
Was it hard to get it back to Oz?
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Old 08-19-2012, 09:55 PM
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You bought the Purple People Eater in the States, didn't you?
Was it hard to get it back to Oz?
no, some ansett pilot did that before it ended up locked away for many years.
it can be easy, sometimes a red tape nightmare... it depends!
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