Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Dragon Tales:10/13 Visit, Post 4

So, it turned out on Saturday that the Dragon was even more crowded than it had been on Friday (surprise!).  My experience, and that of others, is that if you want unobstructed passes, it's best to be at Deal's Gap in the middle of the week.  But on this trip I wanted to meet Darryl "Killboy" Cannon, who, at present, shoots on the Dragon only on Fridays.  And I wanted to watch the "fiddy races" at the DGMR on Saturday night.

To make a long story shorter, I bagged the Dragon after lunch on Saturday for a 45 m.p.h. run on the Cherohala Skyway over to Bald River Falls and back.  After the intensity of the Dragon, it was relaxing.  I used pulloffs to get out of the way of bikers on cruisers!  I'd had a chance to chat with Darryl on Friday, but ran into him again on Saturday.

To repeat myself, I admire Darryl not only for his photography, which captures the feel of his subjects so well, but also for his affection for the Dragon itself.  He came (from Middle Tennessee), fell in love with the road, and stayed.  He wants others to enjoy it too.  This is clear from the Tips For Riders And Drivers and his Twelve Minutes videos on his website.

I discovered the Dragon during a family reunion in Gatlinburg in 2011.  I've been back four times since then, and hope to go again as often.  Thanks, Darryl, for making a great driving experience even better.

Chez Killboy, on the Cherohala Skyway.  Darryl is patient with fans who want to gas on (and on) about this or that.  He
is also a walking encyclopedia of performance car knowledge.  Some of his mastery comes from buff magazines, which he consumes and digests like food while waiting for potential customers to drive by.  Some of it comes from personal
experience.  From Darryl I learned that a brake job on a Ferrari 458 Italia costs $28,000!  Not only must the carbon
fiber pads be replaced, but also the ditto discs.  Where else are you going to get the discs but from Ferrari?  The 458
has a reasonable sticker price as supercars go.  Talk about a Loss Leader!

Tellico Lake from the Cherohala Skyway.  The Skyway's overlooks are a fine alternative if you want to decompress
from the intensity of Dragon passes.  For that matter, it's a good alternative if you brought a big car with big power.
Just remember that those fast sweepers have drop-offs too, and that people are strolling around at the overlooks,
not expecting you to bomb around the corner at a high rate of knots.  The speed limit is 45 in NC, 40 in TN.

What I miss most about the east, where I grew up, is the reds.  We get changes of season in Minnesota and northern
Illinois, too, and people make "leafer" trips to Lake Superior and along the rivers in Illinois.  But we get shades of
yellow, not much red.

I miss the mountains too.  But I'll be back.

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