Maggie Valley, NC to Tellico Plains, TN – 187.4 miles
The day had a slow start because the aches have finally caught up with us. Something the wonder drug of coffee can’t even cure. As expected, my rear is pretty sore despite the padding I carry around on a daily basis. However, my shoulders, back, hands, wrists, knees, and basically the rest of my body have taken a bigger beating than I thought. I’d gladly pay twice the going rate for a masseuse which would surely make a happy ending to my day.
Naomi was up with the sun as usual and gave the bikes a quick once over to make sure they weren’t as beat up as we were. She noticed a decent amount of yellowish fluid on my rear rotor that looked like it may be brake fluid. She put her fingers in it to inspect it, sniffed it, and even though she won’t admit it I think she probably tasted it just to make sure…she is very thorough. Just about that time the hotel owner’s Great Dane came walking up, lifted its leg, and peed on a tire of a car close by. He turned and looked at her as he smirked and then sauntered off.
The weather was absolutely perfect with clear skies and we pulled out to make some miles. It is seemingly impossible to find a boring road in the Smoky Mountains, whether it’s paved or gravel. We did a bit of both today as we hopped on the Blue Ridge Parkway continuing west. The views from the road were incredible and we could see down the valleys for miles. Our planned route had a detour that took us on a gravel road which wound us through the mountains and spit us out onto a Cherokee Indian Reservation. Along the side of the road was a fenced in compound with several pools of water set in the ground. When we stopped to take a closer look we saw that it was a trout hatchery and hundreds of fish were in the pools doing their part to keep the population strong.
The amazing roads continued and actually got even better. We intersected US 129…and entered the lair of the legendary Tail of the Dragon. This section has 338 turns in 11 miles of road. We pulled in behind a long line of bikers wearing leather vests proudly displaying their colors and dubbed ourselves the eighth and ninth members of the Seven Sabers Motorcycle Club. They led the way at a surprisingly tame pace, ending at the rally point where we grabbed a burger and a sticker to remember it by.
Tellico Plains was about another two hours away and we arrived shortly after 7 pm. This is the official start to the original edition of the TAT. We should now be done with the majority of paved roads and be in for the real deal. We’ll need a bit of luck tomorrow to avoid a bath on our first water crossings…and a steady hand to get a good picture of the splash.
Today’s lesson: A girl on a dirt bike can outride a burly dude on a Harley any day…but they both get a sticker.