US 129 is 318 turns in 11 miles through the mountains between TN and North Carolina. The story is that it is an old foot trail and if you have ever seen it you would believe it. Most know it as Deal’s Gap but it is also known as the Tail of the Dragon.
I scheduled a trip to to Deal’s Gap to coincide with a Desmo Motorcycle club trip but the week before I was going to leave, Blue was stolen so I didn’t go. By later that summer (2002 I think) I had another bike and I decided to make the trip. This time I didn’t book a room at Deal’s Gap I just packed my bike and left for the weekend.
The first Day I made it about half way there, I stopped for a few hours at Gettysburg and explored some of the sites like little round top.
Towards the end of the second day I was in the mountains; it was dark, I hadn’t seen a gas station or frankly any sign of life for miles and I was running on fumes. Bugs the size of pidgeons were bouncing off my jacket and helmet, smearing the view through my face shield. I didn’t have any idea if there was gas ahead or even how close I was to the hotel where I planned to stay. I had directions but hadn’t been keeping track of the miles or the gas either it seems. Before long I started to imagine scenes out of Deliverance by the side of the road. If I ran out of gas I was seriously going to be screwed; the Monster isn’t a really heavy bike but the road was a series of hills that were steep as hell so if I had to push the bike I wasn’t going to get very far, very fast so hence the over active imagination about scenes out of Deliverance.
So one minute I am really starting to sweat the lack of fuel in my tank and then next minute I round a bend and there was the hotel and several hundred Mazda Miatas. I make my way into the hotel and at the front desk the woman asks if I have a reservation, when I say that I don’t she shakes her head ‘It’s Miata Week’. ‘What??’ Apparently some Miata owner’s group comes to the Gap every year and takes over every hotel in the area. According to the woman at the front desk there wasn’t going to be a hotel room for miles. I ask her if anyone hasn’t showed up for their reservation and she mentions that she has one. The room was above the kitchen, a shared bathroom and the the reservation hasn’t shown up yet. ‘It’s 11 PM now, how late do you have to hold it?’ I didn’t care if it was a fold out cot in a back hallway, I was tired, dirty and all I wanted was a relatively quiet place to put my head down. She smiled and offered me the room. The kitchen is closed but we are serving steak tomorrow night, would you like me to put you down for one? We always run out. I nodded my head and asked her if there was a bar or a place I could get a beer. She told me that she would get me some beer out of the kitchen as we walked through it towards my room. Suddenly the evening was getting a little better.
Thirty minutes later I was sitting on a lawn chair with a cold six pack of beer, watching all the Miata nerds jack off over their cars; the idea of pushing my bike through the mountains in the dark a faint memory. The hotel owner’s son was sitting next to me and we were talking motorcycles and making fun of Miata’s.
For the next two days I shredded those hills and canyons and had a blast.