New friends, great motorcycles, & iconic pavement
I headed north-east from Chattanooga towards Deals Gap, a famous stretch of incredibly sexy pavement on the boarder of TN and NC in the smokey mountains that firmly holds the title of being the most popular motorcycle road in the US. One 11 mile stretch called the Dragon’s Tail has over 300 curves and another stretch called Cherohala Skyway is soon becoming the second favorite with its high-altitude vistas. At any one point if you were feeling daring enough to challenge Deals Gap you would witness motorcycle of all kinds screaming on the narrow slit of asphalt sneaking through the forests, riders of all levels eager to test out their skills. Many end up decorating the trees with the broken plastic remains of their mangled machines, as is the custom. There are a few beastly sports cars as well but out of the 3 million annual visitors 80% are bikers.
Right before the beginning of Cherohala I pulled over to a motorcycle store to ask about a seat cushion because by now my butt was so numb I couldn’t enjoy the ride itself anymore. So I stopped by the ”Tellico Motorcycle Outfitters” where seeing the extensive selection in the place it immediately became clear that my butt problems were from then on part of the past. The owner Mike immediately jumped to help me find what I needed and after stealing a glance at my ridiculous packing job replete with garbage bags for rain-proofing, he started bringing out all kinds of modern gear. Without even a pause he started opening new boxes of very nice touring gear and luggage pieces fit for a king. Sooner than I knew what was going on Mike was showering me with equipment, showing me, the rookie how its done. And after all this he was even generous enough to invite me to his home for dinner with his lovely wife Cherie and brother in law, where I ended up spending the night.
I was simply overwhelmed, I couldn’t have expected that level of generosity from a man who simply shares my love of motorcycling. A complete stranger I was to him but nonetheless I walked out of that store with a ton of new gear, invaluable advice, and an invitation that would have been a shame to pass up.
So that evening slowly turned into the highlight of the Project so far. I met Mikes lovely wife Cherie and brother in law Jeff, all avid bikers, and after helping me install the new gear we ate dinner together on the terrace of his beautiful estate, talked a little and called it a night. The next morning we rode together to town and I was off to test my skills on Cherohala Skyway.
I wish to thank Mike, Cherie and Jeff for their amazing hospitality and for the advice and gear that has made this trip that much easier. It is thanks to individuals like this that The Pegasus Project can exist and I am very grateful for my new friends in Tellico Plains. If you ever visit the area do your self a favor and go meet Mike at his store and Cherie at the ice cream shop across the street.
As for Cherohala; the curves were sexy alright but that day they were hidden deep under a cloud of fog and rain that left me cold and unsatisfied however the SR28 from Almond to Franklin is a great alternative. No matter, it simply means I have an excuse to revisit the area and my new friends soon which is quite fine with me.