Ride story. Photos here
To tell the truth I had fear of Devil’s Drop until the rally last year. The first ride of 2004, my first large group ride, was Devil’s Drop. I had only about 13k miles under my belt total, and I learned quickly that there were many better riders than I. I still remember the wet parts of the road; crossing the yellow line; and worse of all going slow through those curves when the person in front slowed down. I kept that road in my memory for 2 years.
In 2006 Devil’s Drop was again the first ride of the rally, this time however I had a few more miles and curvy roads under my belt. But I still had that memory from two years earlier or crossing the line and the fear of someone coming the other way to knock me off. When it came time for all of us to suit up another member mentioned a ride for the less experienced members going around Devil’s Drop. There wasn’t much interest however, but then I said I’d tail gun it. I think about 15 of us decided to go the other way and meet the group on the BRP. Maybe my presence made people feel comfortable because CC was showing it wasn’t being afraid if you live to ride another day. I’m sure no one expected at all that I wasn’t too sure of myself – and actually I wasn’t. I knew I could ride that road better than most, but it haunted me. It was the first time I had ever been scared on a motorcycle. The other group beat us to the top, and our smaller group made it safely. No one had any problems. And we finished the ride in good style.
The next day I led another small group up to the dragon. A few of us have led large groups before, but for those of you who haven’t it is no easy chore. Longbow knows as my wingman last year and leader of that ride this year, that the leader has to make sure that everyone rides at a comfortable pace and also that it’s not boring. We took it nice and easy on the way up there, stopped for gas and chatted at the Dragon’s store, and suited up. I made sure to tell the group that I would be leading the fast ride and everyone should run the Dragon at their own pace. Everyone is responsible for themselves, and only do what is comfortable. I probably could have run the Dragon a little faster; we didn’t set any speed records; but it was no grandma speed.
I had a secret however. Two years earlier I had gone off the road and slid into a ditch on the Dragon. I still held that memory because it was my first time to go down ever, and my first time to be back on the road. I was a much more confident rider that the last time, and did well. No incidents at all – everyone made it through just fine. In fact that wasn’t even the hardest part of the ride for those of us that remember. In Smokey Mountain National Park it began to rain something fierce. We saw it coming and suited up just in time. But the next 5 miles were straight up and wet. There was no point in stopping, I’d ridden through more water than a submarine captain, and most of the others followed me. When we reached the top we were pleasantly surprised that the clouds were breaking, and the ride home would be drier. And it was.
That night Sharon, slinky on this board, flew in to meet me. She wanted to see old friends and most importantly we were trying to patch things up from some time apart. I picked her up at the airport in a car, thanks to spokeschick. It was wet and Sharon had a pretty dress on. It was the night of the pizza party, and everyone was happy to see her. Even the pug who I made sure kept his dirty paws off her. Sharon and I didn’t make the group ride on Saturday. We slept later than the group and had to make plans for ourselves. After showing a few others on a map where some good roads were Sharon and I headed off. It was lunch time and she treated me to some good fish out by the Biltmore. Then it was the BRP.
We headed on that wonderful road for a while. I knew that Devil’s Drop was coming up but wasn’t sure what to do. I had another route planned to bypass it. Until, until it started raining. We had already passed Devil’s Drop and were approaching some high points in the mountains – with beautiful views by the way – and now we had to chose. Ride into the rain? Go back the way we came? Or take Devil’s Drop.
Truthfully I had expected it to rain on top of that mountain, but I didn’t know what I would do. We didn’t want to ride back the way we came. So I decided DD was the way to go. I hadn’t told Sharon what was on my mind but now I did. “I’m a little afraid of this road; we’re going to take it slow” She understood and didn’t say anything. She had never been on a road like it before. Of course we passed shady wet spots, gravel running across the road, and sticks everywhere. I took it easy, and we made it to the bottom with no trouble. I had finally done it, second time actually, survived Devil’s Drop!
When we finished Sharon told me she could have ridden a little faster. I thought to myself “I could have too.”
There is no road I am afraid of anymore. I’m proud to say that. :biggthumpup;