Got back yesterday to Taiwan after riding from Flagstaff, Arizona to LA (over 400 miles) then jumped on a plane 3 hours later for Taiwan from LAX.
After Pennsylvania—I got new tires and an oil change I just used Pilots which are road racing tires since the incompetent Honda dealership (I found them all to be understocked and unhelpful) didn’t have harder tires. They were fine and lasted well after 5 days and 4,000 miles. We rode to Asheville, North Carolina one of my favorite cities in the US and birthplace of writer Thomas Wolfe. We left Asheville early heading for Deal’s Gap A.K.A (The Dragon’s Tail)
All along the way we were warned how hard it would be- 319 turns in 11 miles etc.
Some bikers would just shake their heads look at the ground and say, “It’s incredible”
others would say. “My buddy crashed there…etc.”
I was stoked but warned my Taiwanese friend Husker Du to take it slow—numerous times. Everyone in the area seemed to know where we were headed to.
Even the ride up to Deal’s Gap was fun, sweeping downhill turns and the great Appalachian mountains that I love so well. I got the boys to sit down to a southern meal, catfish, hush puppies, sweet tea in a pitcher put on the table.
We crossed a metal bridge (cement road) which was rated as one of the country’s most beautiful bridges.
It was very picturesque and the the other two stopped for pictures often.
I figured I’d store the whole thing in my memory and took off ahead to ride this baby.
With the luggage on and 150 miles on the odometer that day I was hesitant to go knee scrapping with “Buttercup” but I did push it a bit and was laughing in my helmet as my new tires stuck to the road.
The pavement was in great condition though there were grass clippings from where someone had recently cut the grass next to the road.
How to explain it?
Well nothing in my previous 20+ years of riding was able to prepare me for it.
It swooped, it banked, dropped, dipped, cut back and carreened in such an unusual way that previous experience couldn’t have helped me. My fastest speed was 70 MPH but most of the turns were 20MPH marked and were comfortable at 40MPH-60MPH. I saw a few guys coming the opposite direction aprroaching 100MPH.
I thread the clutch a few times, used mostly the back brake in my approaches (since my front rotars were not very good on that bike because of an accident from the previous owner) and did a few no clutch shifts in the lower speeds.
My riding my 954 to Hua Lien in the rain and the horrible roads in Taiwan did help me a bit. Getting a Blade to perform in some of the turns in Taiwan is like threading a 360 pound needle. I rode up to a midway point where they had restaurant and a motel for motorcycles. I pulled a very un-Bubba-like show off wheelie- luggage and all - before stopping, acting like a 16 year old on his first bike in front of a Catholic girl’s highschool.
Whew not so bad I thought. “I might do that again” I thought to myself, until I found out I was only half done!
There was an assorted crew of guys and gals at the restaurant. I chatted with a few. There was a big fat guy with a New York accent on a yellow Gold Wing who was videotaping people’s rides (for a fee of course) when I told him that I rode the CBR from Long Beach,CA. he just sort of grunted unimpressed as if to say “Big deal, I ride a yellow Goldwing up Deal’s Gap everyday.”
The Harley riders kind of rumbled into the restaurant staring at the sport bikers who passed them on the way in disbelief. Probablly wishing they had worn helmets and bought cheaper, better performing bikes.
I waited for the other two shutterbugs…and waited…and waited. Until I knew something was wrong. I tore down the moutain the way I had come.
The first moment I realy knew something was wrong was that Husker Du’s bike didn’t have a windscreen or mirrors.
He ate it in a sharp turn doing 40MPH. Stnky said that Husker was looking down at his camera in his lap!!! Taiwanese tourists and motorcycling don’t mix!!
He hit a guard rail pretty hard, bent his fairing, cracked the front fender, lost the mirrors and windscreen and scrapped up the sides well. The frame sliders saved the cases. The triple tree was jarred loose and the front rim might have been bent slightly.
He was brusied and sore but he had been wearing shin guards, a race collar, boots, heavy pants, a riding jacket and proper racing gloves he also bought a good helmet since his crappy Penguin helmet broke and we had to zip tie it to his head for 6 hours.
They have a 70 ft. tall tree up there called the “Tree of Shame” with bike parts from all the accidents over the years hanging from it. We hung one of Husker’s mirrors up and took pictures. After that Husker rode differently.
(read the next episode of the Filthy Three–Rain storms in Arkansas, Husker Goes Missing in Memphis, Bubba visits Graceland, Shooting guns at a gas station in Oklahoma, Stinky hits an Elk , Mojave Desert riding in the afternoon.)