Tail of the Dragon

By aaron.axvig, 11 September, 2013

I've been cooking oatmeal every morning using a small backpacking burner and this morning I burned the bottom so it didn't taste very good.

I cruised through Oak Ridge and was at the Tail of the Dragon by 12:30. Unfortunately so was a rainstorm. My first run started out with some drizzle and then a downpour for the last five minutes. This left me soaked from the waist down but since there was no easy fix for that and the rest of me was dry I popped inside the store at that end, bought a mug, and went back the way I came. There was some thunder and lightning, a few minutes of heavy rain, and mostly drizzle again on that run. I turned around and did it one more time, and the rain was done for the rest of the day.

I still enjoyed the road, even though it was wet. Bike tires have more traction in the wet than most people assume, and the tires I have are widely reviewed to be the best you can get for rain. So given that and that I don't ever corner close to the limits anyways, I did not feel held back by the weather.

But, I did find all the tight switchbacks, poor visibility around corners, and a decent amount of oncoming traffic to be stressful. I just don't really enjoy corners at 10-20 mph as the bike is much less stable. So I had a lot more fun on other roads in the area for the rest of the afternoon. The Cherohala Skyway was one I especially enjoyed. It is 50 miles of sweeping turns up and down and around--big elevation changes, good visibility, and almost no traffic.

After that I tried to find a campground. My phone showed me this which looked pretty cool so I took off, GPS directions chattering in my ear. The roads I turned onto kept getting smaller until it was just some crappy gravel mess, and what I'm guessing used to be the sign had been painted solid white. I had to see what the deal was so in I went. I found the office but it looked dis-used. Down the hill was a gravel cul-de-sac so I walked down to talk to a guy (the only guy) who had an RV and tent setup. He was throwing logs around (weird) and had some grouchy dogs. "I guess so" he answered when I asked if this was a campground, "Mark--the owner--will be back in a while." I said I wanted laundry facilities for the night (true, but also a convenient reason to leave) and fled. A KOA twenty miles away did the trick for tonight.

I had fried okra as part of supper and it was pretty good. Overheard at dinner was a discussion about whether "grits 'er good."