This was my first summer trip to the Tail of the Dragon in three years. The reason for it was our triennial family reunion, on which I discovered the Dragon in 2011. Mrs. Cuz's Triumph TR-6 is still not finished, and Cuz was unable to bring his Shelby GT 350. The rain predicted for KY and TN on Saturday and Sunday turned out to be Biblical, so I was relieved that I hadn't tried to bring my own Mustang. This left us with only one toy to play with: Old Reliable, my Civic Si.
On Monday my grandson (8) and nephew (10) were introduced to the Dragon. They were unimpressed until I stepped it up a notch. Then they said "Oh... I get it now: it's like a roller-coaster." You got that right, boys... Their favorite corner name was Gravity Cavity. Alliteration is memorable.
On Wednesday I went with my Cuz. We had to cut the day short because he wanted to buy a fishing license. Apparently some people actually fish--or play golf--and enjoy it. Cuz made one pass himself at a sedate pace. I learned that we share a Rule: you don't make hard passes in somebody else's car. And being a passenger during a hard pass is a "been there, done that" experience. That's why I encourage Hotshoe to bring his own car when we make our spring runs. I don't mind being his passenger for a pass or two, but a full day of trading the wheel can get old. When you're driving, there's a steering wheel to hang onto. A panic handle is a poor substitute.
While I'm on the subject of my Cuz's Rules, here's my favorite: Family Members Don't Sell Lotuses To Family Members. This came up years ago when he told me he'd sold his Lotus Elan with twin Webers, which he couldn't get running right or often. "I wish you'd told me it was for sale," I said, "I'd have made you an offer." That was when he cited his Lotus Rule. I've learned enough in the past 40 years to understand that it's a Very Good Rule.
All-in-all, I prefer the spring or fall for a trip to the Dragon. There's less traffic and fewer LEO's. That said, the traffic was not especially heavy. The crowd at the DGMR and the Tail of the Dragon Store is different in summer. There were lots of cruiser bikes with two up, and trikes. Not many sportbikes or cars, let alone interesting cars. But, as usual, the crowd was mellow. I managed to block a Ducati 1098 rider on a northbound pass, getting close to the Overlook, because the pulloffs were limited. I apologized to him at the Overlook and he waved it off. It turned out that he was from Florida and has crewed at Sebring many times. He went down Memory Lane with Cuz about great Sebring races. He was a fast, capable, knee-dragging rider. He also had silver hair. His tolerance for risk is a lot higher than mine.
Cuz and I had a chance to chat up Killboy at the TotD Store and Kamal at his "location shoot."
Talking gearhead and Dragon lore with them is almost as much fun as making passes.