Derailed

When you go through life aspiring to get a STi.

Motorcycles

A Motorcycle Is Only As Fast As The Rider

On some occasions it’s enjoyable to take the bike out for a relaxed cruise, to simply meander down a sweeping country road or slowly roll past the city limits along the lakefront. Sometimes, it’s fun to go slow.

But sometimes, it’s fun to go fast.

Going Fast

Speed is an exhilarating sensation which has become my vice and my motorcycle is the tool that I use to feed my addiction. There are two ways to satisfy the craving: pinning the throttle to go fast in a straight line, and leaning over to go fast through the bends. The first options is easy to achieve almost anywhere as straight roads are a plenty; however it is dangerous and, after a while, boring. Unless you’re drag racing and attempting to shave a few tenths of a second off your time, just snapping your right wrist back and watching the speedometer climb while you face the onslaught of stationary air in your path becomes repetitive. Now, throw a corner into the mix and the situation instantly becomes more interesting.

Heading towards the Tail of the Dragon on a ZX-6R following a CBR1000RR and R6

Unfortunately Ontario does not have the most exciting roads for riding as it’s a relatively flat province. The only reason for the asphalt to veer off its typical straight course is to detour around a lake or swamp. Oh, and highway ramps. Lots and lots of ramps to really nail down your right turns.

The Trip

Parked at Deals Gap at the start of the Dragon.

Fortunately I recently visited a region full of twisty roads where I got to practice not only my right turn, but also my left one. The location: Tennessee and North Carolina near the southern tip of the Appalachian Mountains. The roads: Tail of the Dragon, Cherohala Skyway, and Moonshiner 28. The Dragon is the most famous of the bunch and is highly technical with a claimed 318 turns spread throughout its 11 mile stretch. My favourite turned out to be the Cherohala Skyway which features 4,500 ft of elevation changes over its 43 mile stretch and has long, fast turns with breathtaking views.

Every rider should go on this pilgrimage in order to experience not just the roads but also the culture. The place is crawling with bikers, and due to their sheer numbers drivers are very courteous as well. There is a massive variety of bikes: sport bikes, nakeds, cruisers, huge tourers, even two-stroke dirt bikes. Anything goes and everyone is welcome.

I Learn That a Motorcycle Is Only As Fast As The Rider

I don’t want there to be any false pretenses: I don’t think I’m a fast rider. I’m fairly new to the world of motorcycles and know that there’s a lot to learn.  Perhaps there’s no better place to learn than on the winding roads in the Appalachians, and, as evidenced by the video below, I got schooled more than once.

My ‘eureka’ moment was when one of my riding buddies told me this seemingly obvious hint: “to go faster lean in more”. Makes perfect sense, right?! I had received the same advice in different forms before but this is the sentence that brought it all together for me. My last two days were the most fun as I felt my pace significantly pick up after that.

Track Day In The Works

Where do you go after a trip like this one? The local roads just don’t cut it anymore so that leaves one option: the track. Smooth pavement, lots of corners, and a beginner-friendly environment. I wanted to go this year but life had other plans. I hope to make it out to an event at the start of the next riding season and eventually pay another visit to the Dragon.

The Dragon watches over riders who may be going fast.

1 Comment

  1. The tour guide

    Great post Valsidalv!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! You are a true inspiration.

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