During these year’s Dragon Raid, it goes without saying I rode many of the same routes that I covered last year. That said, while the roads didn’t change a whole lot, the way they feel under a new motorcycle certainly does. Right out of the gate this year my buddy Jon wanted to ride down to Oskar Blues Brewery near Brevard, North Carolina. I really enjoyed the ride and the brewery last year, so I eagerly got my gear together to come along.
Last year on the way out to Oskar Blues I found myself a bit white-knuckled on a few of the downhill sections of NC-281 and NC-215. This year was a completely different story. While I don’t think there’s a considerable difference (if any) in the single disc front brakes on the Scrambler vs. the Speedmaster, with the pegs directly below me and the overall geometry change, the bike felt astronomically more composed on the downhill. A buddy of mine that picked up a Bonneville New Church last year called it “Confidence Inspiring”; he’s dead on.
At any rate, with a slightly later than usual start (we wanted to be there in time for a late lunch, I may or may not have skipped off to ride the Hellbender while I waited…), we headed over to NC-281, a should jaunt across US-64, then back up NC-215 toward the Blue Ridge Parkway (BRP). We got spit on for a short bit as we got settled on the BRP, then down US-276 into Brevard. I revisited many of these roads during the Raid, so I’ll cover more of that later.
Ultimately we arrived just before the food truck started serving, so I grabbed a stool and found a pint of tasty suds. Folks that talk to me on a regular basis will attest to the fact that I feel that IPAs are a fad at the moment, much to my irritation. Yes, I know IPAs have been around forever, I’m just saying they’re disproportionally popular against the field of beers available. That said, I remembered that I liked the G’Knight Red IPA, so I decided I’d have a short pour while I waited for some all-American street food (I wasn’t disappointed; is this the start of a trend?). When the time came, true to form, I ordered the hot dog, with an side of “Big ‘Ole Fries”. Naturally it was a bit dark upstairs, so no photo for the foodies (sorry), but it was a good dog …maybe not $5 good, but the “atmosphere” made it worth it.
No sooner than I received my food order than the skies opened up. It was sunny and 70 when we left the Iron Horse, so against my better judgement, I wore the mesh gear, and didn’t pack any rain gear. We managed to wait out most of the steady rain and left Oskar Blues in a really light mist that dissipated shortly after departure. We made it all the way to NC-28 near the Lodge before any more rain drops formed. Pulling onto Gunter Gap Road, with less than a mile to go, it started coming down in buckets. I told myself earlier this year that after last year’s Raid, there was no sense in bringing mesh gear. Soaked to the bone, that was the last bit of my mesh kit I donned at this year’s Raid.
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