Trackday Barbie goes to WSR IXV at Deals Gap

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by TrackdayBarbie, May 10, 2020.

  1. TrackdayBarbie

    TrackdayBarbie longtime lurker Supporter

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    SATURDAY 9/7/19
    We ride Little Cherohala and the Rattler

    It's kickstands up the next morning at Tapoco at 0900. Between the six of us there are 2 BMW S1000R's, 2 Tuono Factory's, 2 Duc 848's - with at least 3 Akrapovic exhausts -so there will be some beautiful noise. Our new friends keep their bikes in Asheville and fly in to ride when schedules allow, which is to say they're a lot more familiar with WNC than we are. Also, we're jealous. But not today because Dan is going to show us some roads he thinks we'll like. The plan begins on 28 to Franklin and then Highlands.

    Once again, sorry for the lack of photos. Wasn't thinking of a ride report at the time!

    The road to Highlands is not for the faint of heart. It's narrow and carved into the edge of the mountain, with sheer rock face on one side and nothing more than a rusty guard rail on the other standing between you and an epic Peter Pan off the cliff. We hadn't done it since my introductory tour in 2015, when it scared the snot out of me during the evening commute. Between the locals slaloming around the corners intent on dinner, commercial traffic and me being tired... well it left an impression on the new girl. We haven't been back. The barbeque joint closed too, can't pretend that wasn't a factor ;-)

    But holy cow I enjoyed it a LOT more this time around, at 10-something on a spectacular Saturday morning. I loved the way the road snaked around the corners, the elevation as the valley fell away. It did not feel narrow or vertigo-inducing. This is not to say I was fast, or nailed every corner but I loved it. It flat out gave me joy.

    We did the tourist thing at Bridal Veil Falls:

    upload_2020-5-15_22-36-26.png

    Dan then led us over some obscure roads whose names I didn't know (except they were fantastic) and then we hit 215. “Little Cherohala” is right, it's going on The List! As in the list of roads we need to be sure to revisit next year.

    Lunch was in Canton at the Juke Box Junction. Feels very much like the Hub, right down to the milk shakes. Yes I ordered one. No I didn't slam the whole thing. There were still plenty of corners to ride.

    upload_2020-5-15_22-42-37.png

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    After lunch it was on to 209 aka the Rattler. Over lunch Rick had accurately described it as twisties punctuated by a couple straights through farmland, that provided a breather before the next set of twisties. He also warned it had a tendency to be dirty in spots, and it was, but being prepared for it is entirely different than blasting around the corner and having a moment!

    We took another breather at our gas stop at the end of the Rattler. We met a pair of old Harley riders from NY, one of whom was Fire & Iron and Scott being a firefighter got the “Do you know so-and-so” question. This is what fascinates me about riding motorcycles. People from Maine are out riding the southern Appalachians with people from Chicago, bump into dudes from Syracuse and what do you know, there's a common acquaintance. Not to mention a rider getting gas has a completely different demeanor than the driver of a car getting the same gas. We make eye contact and smile. We're happy. And yes we know those cagers wish they were us.

    It's now pushing 4pm and time for the two groups to go their separate ways. Dan, Rick, and Lee have flights to catch out of Asheville and we three need to be back in Robbinsville before the dark (those useless Ducati headlights) and well, the Hub closes at 7.

    We bid adieu and rode back over 209 to Ferguson Supply, one of those vanishing general stores that have everything from cold drinks to plumbing supplies and hunting rifles. It's been standing on the same corner for a hundred years. There's an old JD out front but I can't hold that against them (see first post, my dad is an Oliver man). I think I'm running in to quick use the loo, grab a bottle of water and split... but end up having a conversation with a South Carolina woman who currently decorates her husband's HD but admits she's always wanted a Ducati. For herself. I then buy a t-shirt and the clerk processed the sale on a dusty CRT monitor the likes of which I haven't seen on my desk in twenty years. It is reassuring to know this place is still here, a distinctly human experience in the midst of a sanitized, big box, transactional world.

    We roll in to the Hub about 25 minutes to close. I cannot put away another milkshake, but I do enjoy the heck out of a pulled pork sandwich. Can't believe it's our last night in Gaplandia... and zonk I am out.

    NEXT: Sunday morning Gap runs and the Boys try to Catch a Two-Up Gixxer
    #21
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  2. skibum69

    skibum69 slave to gravity Super Supporter

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    I've only ridden the Dragon twice, once in each direction on different bikes, I had fun and hope to get back one day. Keep up your RR, you're doing an excellent job. Good writing style and enough pics makes for good entertainment for us hangers on.

    not quite as fast as your little duc:lol3
    [​IMG]
    #22
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  3. TrackdayBarbie

    TrackdayBarbie longtime lurker Supporter

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    not quite as fast as your little duc:lol3

    I don't know about that Skibum, your lean angle kinda gives you away ;-)
    #23
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  4. TrackdayBarbie

    TrackdayBarbie longtime lurker Supporter

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    SUNDAY 9/7/19

    Last morning at the Gap **with Killboy photos**

    Riding the TotD on a weekend isn't usually part of the script. If you're here to ride, heed the advice that says Stay Away. But from a cultural perspective, it's THE time to be here. Once again the day dawned cool (50's) and I stuffed a layer under my A-Stars jacket for the ride up.

    Obligatory Overlook pic at 0919

    upload_2020-5-16_20-34-34.png

    Let the record show Killboy caught all three of us in the same frame on the way to the Overlook. I'm out of focus but I'm there!!

    upload_2020-5-16_20-21-27.png

    It's a screen shot bc the file itself was too big to paste in (on top of everything else I'm techno-illiterate). But I did buy the image. As a conscientious objector to Facebook, I don't steal another person's hard work. Off soapbox.

    Sighting lap complete, the guys turn and burn. My own run back to DGMR is a good one. I was using the throttle well and visually the road opened up for me. I usually struggle with the rights on this side of the road. If it was my last trip over the Dragon for calendar year 2019, I'm pretty happy with it.

    I take time to caffeinate and demolish a stack of pancakes (and bacon & eggs). The parking lot is filling up but the road isn't super crowded yet, so I decide to go again. And ride even better. I executed a nice efficient pass in a place you think isn't conducive to that sort of thing, but the sight line was perfect. It was absolutely safe and non-dramatic, and it's those two things that I'm proud of.

    upload_2020-5-16_21-5-47.png

    I really like this shot of my bike. She's definitely not hard to look at, but it's the motor that makes a Ducati such a visceral experience. I loved my Kawi, grateful for all the amazing places it took me, but I am a slave for this Ducati. The Kawi didn't need me, where the Duc demands commitment. And the committed are rewarded, even if they are not worthy.

    By now, late morning, DGMR is packed and everyone is represented: sporty bikes, motards, dual-sports, cruisers, tourers. You've got leathered-up, textiled, Carhartted, vest with jeans. There's a steady stream of photo ops by the sign, the dragon statue, the Tree of Shame. Stories are everywhere, some may not be entirely true but no one is picking a fight, this is what we're here for. The river of moto-life is flowing strong.

    Scott and Stuart have an incredible run attempting to catch Flash Gordon with pillion. There are few riders they can't stay with but then sometimes you meet someone who's on another level. In the Go Pro footage you can hear the I4's power coming on just that fraction sooner than the V4 or twin. Mad props to the pillion too.

    I get the idea I can do one more run before we have to leave, and gear back up. Unfortunately about halfway through I find Stuart turning around at a pull-off, having gotten the news the fun was ending. I'm slow so figure what the heck... then I end up behind the 'Burban and cruiser on their way in for lunch. Snick up into first and that's that. Another fantastic week at Deals Gap is over. The guys are going up to scope out West Virginia tomorrow, but I have to be back at work in 36 hours.

    I put 375 miles and many mountains behind me, then find a hotel with a hot tub to soak my weary bones under the last balmy 76-degree night I'll see for a long time. But stay tuned for the epilogue – where I find a fellow Sportbike Girl in my own backyard.
    #24
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  5. skibum69

    skibum69 slave to gravity Super Supporter

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    Ok you got me, I was having a good run and I was stoked to see I got all the way over on the chicken strips on the front and about 1/4" away on the rear. If I'd taken the time to do a few runs I'm sure I would have been a lot smoother but I was on my way to the BMW MOA rally that morning.
    [​IMG]

    looking forward to the epilogue...:lurk
    #25
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  6. TrackdayBarbie

    TrackdayBarbie longtime lurker Supporter

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    EPILOGUE

    Sorry to leave you all hanging yesterday (because you’re on the edge of your seat, right?) but I ran out of steam last night.

    I gotta be honest, doing a halfway credible RR is hard!! Those of you who provide updates from the road have my highest respect. I enjoyed this project immensely but there will definitely be more of a plan in place when I do the next one. FWIW I work for an essential manufacturer so Covid19 just means my office smells like a hangover (distillery sanitizer) and putting up with a daily temperature check. I didn't have any extra time on my hands. But now it's done and as Phineas says, the internet is forever.

    [​IMG]


    So, besides reaffirming my love for the WNC/NGa area, what were the takeaways from this trip? Simple really. I learned when it comes to finding your tribe, there are no genders – or even skill sets. It boils down to the type of riding you enjoy and finding others who are wired the same way. There’s a cool ending to the whole quest of finding “girls like me” and oddly enough, it occurred during the search for four wheels a few weeks later.

    upload_2020-5-18_20-19-47.png

    Because my 16-year-old is now a driver, the Pony Car had to go. But apparently they make fun cars with automatic transmissions and AWD!

    upload_2020-5-18_20-36-9.png
    I found this Audi 3.2 on CL and went to take a look. Mentioned to the woman selling it that I’d driven the 1.8T and it reminded me of my Ducati, and she says… wait for it…

    “I have a Ducati.”

    And before you start thinking Monster 696 or maybe a Multi, yeah we walk into the garage and she pulls the cover off a BCM-built 1098.

    You just never know.

    Thanks for reading! :-)

    Attached Files:

    #26
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  7. budsboy

    budsboy I crashed the swing too. Supporter

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    I really enjoyed this report, your "style" made me smile - many times!
    Thank you for the effort, couldn't have come at a better time . . .
    #27
  8. i4bikes

    i4bikes Been here awhile

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    Great RR, I enjoyed it. Sounds like you do have riding buddies. It's very hard to find people who eat the same, ride nearly the same, want to start at the same time, like the same area and ride bikes that are compatible. I could go on but you get the idea. Good luck with your future travels and ride reports.
    Are you riding with your new friend?
    #28
  9. skibum69

    skibum69 slave to gravity Super Supporter

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    I said it before, you did a great job with this RR, thanks for taking us along!
    #29
  10. sgio

    sgio Been here awhile

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    Thanks I enjoyed your write up. :clap
    #30
  11. TrackdayBarbie

    TrackdayBarbie longtime lurker Supporter

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    Not yet... but our riding season is finally here so I'll be checking in with her soon.

    Thanks everyone for the kind words. At some point I think I'd like to do a "Beginner's Guide to Sport Touring" type of report, about my first long-distance trip five years ago. The learning curve was steep on that one LOL.
    #31
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  12. skibum69

    skibum69 slave to gravity Super Supporter

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    Do it!

    edit: and make sure you put a link to it up here
    #32
  13. 531blackbanshee

    531blackbanshee Adventurer

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    skiatook ok.
    thanks for the read.

    leon
    #33
  14. cidi

    cidi cidi Supporter

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    Great job! Thanks for the report. Really enjoyed it.
    #34
  15. klaviator

    klaviator Long timer Supporter

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    Great report:thumb

    I "discovered" Deal's Gap back in 1990. It didn't become the "dragon" until years later. Your report made me think back to the 90s when the area was still somewhat new to me. I still ride it a few times a year but I guess I am spoiled from 30 years of riding it. It's still fun but not what it used to be. Thanks for taking me back.

    Back in 1990 I rode up to the area from Florida. I just happened to come up 129 and saw a bunch of sportbike riders hanging out in front of a store. Back then DGMR was just a store, gas station and motel called the Crossroads of Time. I stopped and talked to the riders then followed them to the overlook. I even took a pic:

    [​IMG]
    #35
  16. i4bikes

    i4bikes Been here awhile

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    I'm from that time frame myself so I'm not a big fan of what it's turned into.
    #36
  17. TrackdayBarbie

    TrackdayBarbie longtime lurker Supporter

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    Love the photo, Klaviator... thanks for sharing!! Agreed it’s a bit of a circus now, but I’m glad to be there and I guess that makes me part of it.

    I do feel my path is somewhat organic though. Stuart was introduced to the Gap pre-internet by a real rider, then recruited Scott in 2010 and me in 2015. In 2019 we brought a couple more Mainiacs... we’ll see if it “takes”...

    I was told a track day was mandatory before I went on the first trip ;-) Probably the best piece of advice ever.

    Klaviator - the riders in your pic, were they more or less local? Just curious bc I imagine it was pretty much word of mouth at the time, yes?
    #37
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  18. skibum69

    skibum69 slave to gravity Super Supporter

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    I can see how a little track time helps up there.
    #38
  19. i4bikes

    i4bikes Been here awhile

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    I don't know about anyone else but I found it just because I was riding in the area on many of the great roads. We stopped at the gas station to buy fuel and the old owner had a deli counter. He made us home style sandwiches and we had a nice conversation. If memory serves me correctly speed limit was 55. After the internet was popular and 2 sets of folks decided to make a living off that route the circus started. Not often you will find me there even when I am in the area.
    Don't take this opinion as a judgement on you or your report. There are better options IMO.
    #39
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  20. Tuono1100f

    Tuono1100f n00b

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    I sometimes wonder if the lowering of the speed limit has caused some of the issues on the Dragon. I've followed many bikes with sparks showering off them at 20 mph.
    #40