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Wants a C7, Bad!
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For those with a type of bucket list, these roads rank as some of the very best that I've ever driven. NC 106 leading up to Cashiers was one great road, too. These roads have elevation changes, different cambered corners and very few straight stretches. In many cases, there is little to no shoulder and slipping a tire off the pavement could be dramatic. In some cases, I found myself wishing the gearing was a bit taller. Second gear was mostly fine but, there were times where a few more miles an hour could have prevented a few of the second / third upshifts on exit. The downhill run from the gate at the state line, heading north on 129 presents a great piece of road to work on being smooth and setting up a rhythm. This is the classic Tail of the Dragon. I found the uphill, return to be a bit more difficult, for whatever reason, to get into that rhythm. I may have been a bit faster as gravity was working with me. I never timed any run. I just drove it at my pace and often pulled over for different reasons at different times. The entire Dragon is some 23 miles in length, one way, or at least that is how some of the locals treat it. I actually found the Deals Gap to four-lane portion of Moonshiner 28 to be as challenging as the Tail. It was a pretty run, paralleling the river for a good section of the drive. Running the entire ~72 mile length brought you through some of the NC hill country and maybe a little bit back in time.

For some reference, I grew up in the Ozark Mountains of Missouri and drove MO 7 dozens if not hundreds of times. MO 7 was ranked as one of the 10 best driving roads in the United States by Road and Track in 1990.



I suggest some preparations before tackling these roads. I took my car in for a complete service (oil change / tire rotation / brake check, etc.) just before heading out. I am fortunate that my tires are filled with nitrogen (came that way from dealer). From my 10 feet above sea level to over 1 mile above sea level and with an over 50 degrees in temperature changes, I was glad that I didn't have to continually keep filling tires with air.
 

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Three things

1) jealous
2) this is on my bucket list as well. But I have heard it is VERY heavily trafficked with gold wings and slow Harley's not to mention Johnny law. Was this the case with you?
3) just a friendly FYI, nitrogen will contract exactly as much air does. It even expands as regular air does too, it is just slightly more predictable than air. Considering air is almost 90% nitrogen anyways. The benefits are negligible. :)
 

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Wants a C7, Bad!
Joined
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445 Posts
Discussion Starter #3
Three things

1) jealous
2) this is on my bucket list as well. But I have heard it is VERY heavily trafficked with gold wings and slow Harley's not to mention Johnny law. Was this the case with you?
I did my Dragon runs either early or later. I made a couple of passes before cameras were even filming. Cautionary note: Wet and leaves.

There are all kinds of motorcycles and cars out. By 10:00ishAM you may be out of play time on the weekends. I made runs on a Monday and a Tuesday, too. The Tuesday passes were around 4:00ish and there was light traffic. I tended to pull over and just wait out the slower drivers / riders. I also pulled over when the crazies were ahead of me. Bikers or drivers that were drifting into the other lane or IMHO, driving beyond public roads limits would cause me to pull over and just wait them out. Plenty of pull-offs.

My more aggressive passes were south to north starting. I would make the full run (~22-23 miles) to the lake and then put in to one of the pull-offs / rest areas. I would then idle for a minute, shut down and pop the hood. I'd shoot some pictures, have a drink of water and inspect the vehicle. I would then pull the dip stick (old habit). After 15-20 minutes, I'd fire the toy back up and head south.

I didn't stay hooked up for the longer stretches of Moonshiner 28 or the Cherohala. I might hook up for a few miles, then I'd put in for pictures or just slow down to a more relaxed speed.

3) just a friendly FYI, nitrogen will contract exactly as much air does. It even expands as regular air does too, it is just slightly more predictable than air. Considering air is almost 90% nitrogen anyways. The benefits are negligible. :)
You are correct about the expansion. However, it doesn't leak / leach out as much as air. It doesn't have the water potential either. Also, it is a better choice for me as I don't drive my car that many miles and in this case, this applies:

Nitrogen assures more consistent pressure increases due to increases in operating temperatures in a racing environment because of the absence of moisture. This is especially good for participants in track days, high-performance drivers education schools and road racing.

http://www.tirerack.com/tires/tiretech/techpage.jsp?techid=191&s_kwcid=AL!3756!10!6125235480!30423978486&ef_id=VUul9gAABOydvCj0:20151020172341:s
 

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As a longtime Dragon vet with hundreds of runs under my belt, I can attest to the joy of driving the roads in & around the area. (I also help to plan & run the MINIs on the Dragon event every May- biggest grassroots MINI event in the country.) I also almost prefer the Hellbender/Moonshiner 28, simply because it is a higher speed road. The Dragon itself is more challenging, to be sure. But the Cherohala is a great, more relaxing run to make, too. If you want to make the Cherohala challenging, you kind of have to go WAY over posted limits, and it just seems like begging for trouble. Love the elevation changes & scenery from that road, so driving it at a spirited but reasonable pace is rewarding enough.

As for the traffic, yes- there are plenty of Harleys cruising the road quite often. And many of them do not play nice & move over for faster traffic.

LEO's are also an issue. Not so much on the NC side, since they only have about a mile of official "Dragon," but the Blount County TN and TN State Troopers love to patrol their side. For this reason, follow this simple rule: Start from the NC Side at the Deal's Gap Motorcycle Resort. Drive carefully on the way out to Tabcat Bridge. If you didn't see any LEO's on your way over, there can't be any on your way back- because TN LEO's cannot enter through NC, and there is no other way to get from there to the State line. How you choose to behave on your way back is up to you. Just don't drive like a tard or harass anyone who isn't going as fast as you would like.

Regarding traffic in general, I'd recommend looking at the calendar of events on the Tail of the Dragon web site. There, you will see most of the organized club appearances in the area. And I will tell you now, MINIs on the Dragon usually attracts over a thousand people in 600-800 cars, so just don't even try to go during that time. I just wish the calendar there would give you an idea of the size of each group, so you could get a feel for how crowded things might be.

Don't let the traffic scare you away. Go mid-week, drive early in the morning (allowing for morning dew to burn off, etc, watch for leaves & gravel, yadda yadda). Or spend a whole weekend & try it at all times of the day. If you take the time to enjoy the other roads in the area, go see the many waterfalls (Including Bridal Veil Falls, where you can drive BEHIND the waterfall & snap a photo), etc., etc., you will not be wasting your time.

Oh, final FYI- both NC and TN have banned tractor trailers from the Dragon. This was a HUGE problem until about a year ago. But not so much these days. If you've seen Killboy's site, you may know how nearly impossible it is for a semi to navigate that road.
 

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As a longtime Dragon vet with hundreds of runs under my belt, I can attest to the joy of driving the roads in & around the area. (I also help to plan & run the MINIs on the Dragon event every May- biggest grassroots MINI event in the country.) I also almost prefer the Hellbender/Moonshiner 28, simply because it is a higher speed road. The Dragon itself is more challenging, to be sure. But the Cherohala is a great, more relaxing run to make, too. If you want to make the Cherohala challenging, you kind of have to go WAY over posted limits, and it just seems like begging for trouble. Love the elevation changes & scenery from that road, so driving it at a spirited but reasonable pace is rewarding enough.

As for the traffic, yes- there are plenty of Harleys cruising the road quite often. And many of them do not play nice & move over for faster traffic.

LEO's are also an issue. Not so much on the NC side, since they only have about a mile of official "Dragon," but the Blount County TN and TN State Troopers love to patrol their side. For this reason, follow this simple rule: Start from the NC Side at the Deal's Gap Motorcycle Resort. Drive carefully on the way out to Tabcat Bridge. If you didn't see any LEO's on your way over, there can't be any on your way back- because TN LEO's cannot enter through NC, and there is no other way to get from there to the State line. How you choose to behave on your way back is up to you. Just don't drive like a tard or harass anyone who isn't going as fast as you would like.

Regarding traffic in general, I'd recommend looking at the calendar of events on the Tail of the Dragon web site. There, you will see most of the organized club appearances in the area. And I will tell you now, MINIs on the Dragon usually attracts over a thousand people in 600-800 cars, so just don't even try to go during that time. I just wish the calendar there would give you an idea of the size of each group, so you could get a feel for how crowded things might be.

Don't let the traffic scare you away. Go mid-week, drive early in the morning (allowing for morning dew to burn off, etc, watch for leaves & gravel, yadda yadda). Or spend a whole weekend & try it at all times of the day. If you take the time to enjoy the other roads in the area, go see the many waterfalls (Including Bridal Veil Falls, where you can drive BEHIND the waterfall & snap a photo), etc., etc., you will not be wasting your time.

Oh, final FYI- both NC and TN have banned tractor trailers from the Dragon. This was a HUGE problem until about a year ago. But not so much these days. If you've seen Killboy's site, you may know how nearly impossible it is for a semi to navigate that road.
I have changed vehicles and screen names since I started this thread. I am looking to having another go in the spring of '17. I have a bit of concern, due to the increased width of the new toy. Good news is that second gear holds to nearly 80MPH and should suffice for any run up The Dragon.

Great advice on how to judge the run for least interaction with the area's finest.
 
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