The week after memorial day will be here before we know it; for longtime Moto Adventurer followers, you know that’s my annual week-long motorcycle vacation to Deal’s Gap for The Dragon Raid motorcycle rally. This year I’m hoping to see some new adventurous faces at the rally, so I’m going to threaten y’all with a good time. Don’t have plans the week of September 10th-16th? Awesome, let me give you a few reasons to make the trip to The Dragon Raid this year:
Tail of the Dragon
The rally is held just a few short miles from the infamous section of US-129, the “Tail of the Dragon”. For those unfamiliar, US-129 has 318 in the 11 miles from Tabcat bridge to Deal’s Gap, hence the menacing name of the road and the subsequent title of the rally. As many folks will tell you, US-129 through Deal’s gap is a motorcycle “must ride”. That said, some would suggest that it has become very commercialized in recent years, and it’s not exactly everyone’s flavor of riding. Fortunately, there are a number of other great (paved) roads in the area, namely the Cherohala Skyway, the Blue Ridge Parkway, North Carolina Highway 281 (NC-281), and my personal favorite, NC-28. I’ve obviously covered all of these roads in detail in the past, my point is that there are some incredible sections of twisty pavement in the area; the phenomenal roads combined with the leaves just starting to change at upper elevations makes this rally is one of the best on the east coast.
You own a Triumph (or any motorcycle for that matter…)
Way back before I was even riding a motorcycle, Triumph actually hosted “The Dragon Raid”. When Triumph North America dialed it back in 2007 (thereabouts), the local owners group in Dayton took over the reins; a trend that continues to today. While you’ll be sure to find a great number of Triumph owners in attendance, all other brands of motorcycles are highly encouraged to attend. Considering the locale, you’re also likely to find plenty of Ducati, BMW, and KTM owners mixed in the bunch.
Convenient Access to Green Lanes
While I catalog a number of my off-road adventures here on the blog, it goes without saying that my commute to and from the trails is pretty significant as a city slicker in Dayton, Ohio. While much of the Tennessee, North Carolina area is known for its notorious paved roads, there are a great deal of off-road opportunities nearby. In the past two years I’ve expanded my off-road adventures at the Dragon Raid, and hope to do even more this year. Getting exposed to March Moto Madness in Tellico Plains this spring showed me how expansive the forest trail system is throughout Tennessee; I’m looking forward to put the Scrambler on even more green lanes in the coming weeks.
The Iron Horse Motorcycle Lodge
Unquestionably the nicest place I’ve ever stayed, anywhere; seriously. A rustic lodge tucked back in the Stecoah valley, the Iron Horse understands motorcyclists, and has built the pinnacle of lodging for riders of every stripe (and every budget). Again, I’ve covered this in detail in the past, but the Iron Horse has accommodations for folks that want to camp, pull an RV, stay cheap in a bunk house, get a room in a cabin, or bundle the whole deal with a few friends and share an entire cabin. Campers will appreciate the cleanest shower house I’ve seen anywhere, and needless to say I’m quite happy with pampering myself in the Lone Star Cabin where I flop each year. The Iron Horse serves breakfast every morning, and typically dinner Thursday-Saturday the week of the Dragon Raid; you literally only need to leave to ride and get gas, that’s it. Assuming you decide you don’t want to brave the elements on a rainy day, the lodge has a movie theater, game room, a day room with a projector screen, and a second “day room” with a flat screen to watch sports, or you can just chill in a rocking chair on the back deck and listen to the rain.
This year the Dragon Raid volunteers are giving away over $3000 in prizes; it’s incredible. Every year, money collected from registration and sponsorships is rolled into event T-shirt, stickers, and ultimately a massive collection of door prizes combined with donations from all of the sponsors. In the past I’ve taken home no less than two motorcycle jackets, hats, chain lube, koozies, and an Iron Horse mason jar. Combined with those door prizes, the Dragon Raid team also raffles off several big ticket items. The big prizes are typically premium helmets, SENA communicator dual packs, and sometimes even a set of new tires.
Win a Motorcycle
Did I mention big ticket items? Yeah, how about taking home a new bike? If you’ve been tuning in recently, you’ve seen my buddy Andy talking about his Scrambled Bonneville project. He actually won that bike at the Dragon Raid last year; per his comments about spending $20 on a raffle ticket, that’s all you need to invest to get a chance to take home a new bike. This year the folks running the rally have also (finally) procured a proper British motorcycle to give away. This year’s prospective winner will be taking home gorgeous 2007 Triumph Scrambler. Rumor is, Scramblers are pretty reliable, versatile, machines. Not that I know anything about that, but it’s what I hear.
Dragon Raid Website: http://www.thedragonraid.com/
Iron Horse Motorcycle Lodge website (accommodations): http://ironhorsenc.com/