Friday, May 8, 2015
Spring 2015 Dragon Run: Devil's Triangle (Post 6)
Hotshoe and I decided to add a day to our trip to try this road, which was (sort of) on our way home. More correctly, we drove 2/3 of it: Highway 116 north and east of Oliver Springs, TN. It was very challenging, especially the switchbacks at each end. It is very scenic in parts. I would try it again.
But it's not a Dragon kind of road. The switchbacks are very tight: Alpine-like. There is no shoulder. By this I mean there is a one-foot drop from the road surface in many sections. Your margin for error in misjudging a corner is zero. And if you go off, you may stay off until a tow arrives.
It had rained hard the night before, and the road was littered with downed branches, some sizable. There were numerous "crossings" where runoff had left gravel or standing water in the road. The Triangle is populated for nearly all its length, with driveways that require a walking pace to turn into. We got stuck behind a Ford Explorer towing a trailer with sketchy tires at low speed. There are no pull-offs. There's no room for pull-offs.
All of this means the Triangle cannot be "attacked" like the Dragon can. Even the straight-ish sections are a challenge at 30 m.p.h. Only a few times did we get up to 40-50 m.p.h. The switchbacks are 10 m.p.h. tight. Ron Johnson (owner of the Tail of the Dragon Store) told us that, southbound (which is tighter than northbound), the Triangle is so slow that it's hard to maintain forward momentum on a motorcycle. Having driven it northbound, I believe him.