by Thomas MacConnell

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Four days

Fall time has always been hard for me. The days begin to get shorter, nights get colder. I feel like it suddenly gets windy or maybe that’s just cause the air has a chill in it. Every one starts to talk about shitty pumpkin drinks and how excited they are to put on a flannel and hat. Most likely just an attempt to make then feel ok with the cold, its strange to me.

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Myself and other like me have a different perspective on the fall. To those of us who live to ride its almost time to put the bike away till spring. It’s the time of year to bury yourself in YouTube videos and magazines to take the edge off.  What if you looked at it as the start of a new season, not the end of one?  The start of fall, time to head south.

 

Five hundred miles, 4 days, three hundred dollars, two bikes and a truck. When a friend was involved in an accident he was given a truck as his rental for the next month. The truck smelled like burnouts and weed which added to the annoying fact that he was going to be stuck driving a vehicle that is wider than the original H-1 Hummer (look it up) for the next 4 weeks. While complaining and looking for a positive in the moment he joked about loading the bikes up and taking a trip south. 

The Fz’s in the bed of the rental F-150

The Fz’s in the bed of the rental F-150

A few days later we decided on Route 129, the eternally hyped Tail of the Dragon. A road that was no doubt named by a Harley rider in a button up Bruce Lee with flames shirt, bandana and jewelry to match. Not to be too harsh, but I’m probably right. The day we loaded up and left we were feeling absolute dread for the ten-hour drive ahead of us but the excitement of perfect roads had us feeling good. 

 

We started driving at 7 p.m. on a Friday and planned to drive though the night. Conversation of what we thought it was going to be and what we expected. I had driven on the road in the back of a 2003 Ford Focus and it made me car sick, this has to be a good sign for us. We joked about the videos of Baggers driving straight off the road and wondered if it was really that crazy. Eventually the conversation settled and the music played us down the long dark highway. 

 

We caved at around 3a.m. and pulled in the back sketchy motel next to some big rigs to sleep in the truck. Back up at 7a.m. with only a few short hours ahead and we were back on the road. Pulling into Robbinsville its obvious you’re in the right place, a two-wheel mecca. First stop was the camp ground, check in, unload, and then ride. I don’t need to describe what we felt on arrival. After ten hours in the wider that H-1 being on the bike felt amazing. Admittedly, we were too exhausted to ride super hard, that was the conversation on the head sets while we road to fuel up. That was bull shit conversation probably adding a buffer zone for when we were slow on 129.

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An exhausted Stephen Catapano at the top of the Dragon

An exhausted Stephen Catapano at the top of the Dragon

As we rode up the mountain the adrenaline just kept coming and tired was a thing of the past. By the time we were passing Deals Gap Motorcycle Resort we were ready. The Road was as sweet as you could ever imagine. The first ride was incredible by the end of the eleven mille road we were reminded that we only slept for about three hours. The exhaustion and pure joy we felt was a very strange feel somewhere between post orgasm and passing out. We made out way back to the cabin one again telling ourselves we were going to take it easy and just enjoy the ride, bull shit. The road begs to be thrashed, before we knew it we were sliding while exiting the corner feeling the front wheel climbing.

The Cherohala Skyway, part of a 140mile loop that includes route 129 starting and finishing in Robbinsville

The Cherohala Skyway, part of a 140mile loop that includes route 129 starting and finishing in Robbinsville

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Keeping a fast pace on the dragon is hard. Just a few miles in your exhausted, legs and arms beat from breaking so hard and your brain fried. Getting stuck behind a group of ADV riders becomes a welcome break. Just a few corners to catch your breath and get some strength back in your hands. Enjoy life from there expensive comfy perspective for a few minutes and take a look at the forest and feel the fresh air. The next passing spot, race on and back to pushing your limits breaking deep into the corners. 2nd,3rdand back to 2ndagain.

Chewed up tire after a few runs on the dragon.

Chewed up tire after a few runs on the dragon.

I don’t need to explain the next day and a half of riding in one of the most beautiful places the world. That was just our trip, the idea I am trying to sell is why the fuck is there such a thing as an off season? Why do so many of us who live in a place with actual seasons spend the winter envious of people who live in the two season world of warn and too hot? Those three days were good enough to satisfy my need for at least a few weeks and give us memories for a life time. From this point forward, fall isn’t going to be the end of summer, its going to be the start of a new adventure. Use the cold and an excuse to go somewhere new and different and warm. Maybe then winter wont be so god damn hard. It was an exhausting trip and we would do it again tomorrow. 

The Tree of Shame, were riders hang part of ther’re motorcycle after a wreck on the Dragon. We stopped after our last ride of the weekend to say “Fuck you, we win!”.

The Tree of Shame, were riders hang part of ther’re motorcycle after a wreck on the Dragon. We stopped after our last ride of the weekend to say “Fuck you, we win!”.

Stephen Catapano taking a lunch break at The Hub. One of the few restaurants in Robbinsville NC and is highly recommended.

Stephen Catapano taking a lunch break at The Hub. One of the few restaurants in Robbinsville NC and is highly recommended.

Our cabin for the weekend at Simple Living Camp Ground about a mile outside of Robbinsville.

Our cabin for the weekend at Simple Living Camp Ground about a mile outside of Robbinsville.

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Gotta take the weird shots.

Gotta take the weird shots.