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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Every year for the past 15 years (the past 5 for myself personally) a group of friends makes trips from across the country (Louisiana, Texas, Indiana, Maryland) to converge down in Tennessee and North Carolina for a week of motorcycle riding, automotive driving bliss, and general woodland debauchery.


This year, due to the size of our group, we decided to rent out an entire compound 2 miles from the Cherohala Skyway on the NC side of the Tail of the Dragon. Three different houses, each with its own garage equipped with beer fridges and air compressors, pool tables, and dart boards.

The roughly 1225 mile round trip is mostly highway. Typically the commute takes us Marylanders down I81 which is long and boring, so I decided to switch it up this year and spend the night on the way down outside Raleigh, roughly halfway between my house and the cabins in NC.


As I have the past 3 years, I was again towing a boat turned motorcycle trailer behind the M5. I bought the trailer with one wheel snapped off and no decking boards. I had to weld steel tubing to the front of the trailer to square it up, install a new axle, and tossed on a set of larger aluminum wheels to help dissipate hub wheel bearing heat and reduce hub speed by increasing tire diameter.



5 minutes into a roughly 4.5hr first leg of the trip I am hit with a CEL. Typical.



SoMD has some great backroads, but they are shared by the Amish and covered in horse crap. So typically, I just avoid them.



Made a quick pitstop at Maryland International Raceway just to see if there was any action. I think it was some testing/elims for an import event.



Spotted this civic on the way out. huge exhaust pipe coming out of the front fender and an AWD badge on the trunk. Probably scoots pretty well.



Some bridge on the Richmond, VA Bypass.



Got a waze alert in NC for hail reported ahead. Decided to pull over and check the weather app. Decided I would wait 15 minutes before driving through this mess in hopes I would miss the hail. NC Weather be crazy.



While pulled over I decided to scan the CEL. yay O2 sensors!



After 15 minutes on the shoulder of I95 just north of the storm, I decided to give it a go. Holy standing water batman.



Finally made it outside Raleigh, where I consumed much NC barbeque and brews. That city never disappoints.

 

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Discussion Starter · #2 · (Edited)
Day two of driving was done entirely in NC. While not Texas yuge, NC is pretty big! or maybe MD is just small.



spotted a pretty sweet moth that didnt seem to want to move out of the parking lot of the gas station. Fearing he would get run over, I coaxed him onto my phone screen and then carried him over to a freshly mowed grassy area.



I was rewarded for my deed with a showing of colors.



I stopped in Asheville for gas, and wanted to check out the Biltmore Estate. Discovered tickets were 70$, and decided I no longer wanted to check out the Biltmore Estate. At least the exit was scenic.



Finally arrived at the cabins and saw this sign. I knew I was in for a good time.



MD house represent! The bottom floor of the house was a garage/game room, with two floors of bedrooms above. Dream house status.



Some toys yet to be unpacked



A buddy of mine is fond of V4 bikes. He brought a '94 RVF 400 and a 2018 Aprilia Tuono 1100. Both amazing bikes that made awesome sounds.



He also has a Fiesta, which is quite quick in the twisties. Quick rip up the Skyway once the car/trailer was unloaded!



Local grocery store sold dip by the pound :laugh:



Short on shot glasses, we improvised. I ended up in a patch of poison ivy after this. Would not advise.



A couple of these and some Pedialyte (and 14 hours of sleep) and I was back in action.



Another buddy flew in to ATL airport and was expecting a Porsche Cayman rental. The person who had the Cayman decided to keep it an additional day, so he got a free upgrade to a Maserati Gran Turismo C MC. No disappointment there.



The award for most underhood covering goes to....



mmmmmm Ferrari V8



Being nursed back to health, I decided to take the M5 out for a run up the Skyway. Unfortunately the car had other plans.



Front Left brake caliper was seized. Brakes got very hot. Decided to call it a night and try to find some replacement parts. More on that later.



With the car down and the bike still dressed for dirt, I decided to instead ride shotty in the Maserati. Poor me, I know....



Maserati, top down, 5300 feet up. What an experience.



At Santeetlah overlook on the Skyway it is a hair over 5300 feet up. The last bit of the ride up to the top was through the clouds, and the temps dropped to nearly 60*. It was amazing.



My buddy really loves his V4's :laugh: I loved listening to it from the maserati!



All the revs. All the pasta.



Made it through the Skyway and on over to the overlook at the Tail of the Dragon in time to see a tractor trailer about to get an expensive ticket by the officer at the bottom of the mountain. The Cop was running advance warning people of the trailers imminent arrival. :thumbup: the 15 stickers on the sides and backs of our vehicles are for the 15th year of the trip. One of our guys does decal work and hooks us up with matching group decals.



spotted this beauty at the Killboy store on the NC side fo the Tail. Owner said it was running on 110 octane. Not sure where the heck he gets that in an area like this.



Killboy hangs



After this, the Can-o-tuna was fired up, and many miles of National Forest Fire roads were traveled :) I didnt snap any pictures, but I have some gopro videos I need to upload of it. This bike is a blast on a gravel road or a muddy hill climb, but at 400lbs dont get it stuck!
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 · (Edited)
That night I swapped the knobbies for street rubber. The next day we did roughly 160 miles on the bikes traveling from the base of the Cherohala Skyway to the Tail of the Dragon, and then up the Foothills Parkway including the recently opened additional section running all the way to Pidgeon Forge.



Spent the day chasing my Ducati bros on a 51k mile 1995 Katana 600, with fresh gravel dust in the carbs. Still managed to burn the tread off the tires :)



My buddy found a reptar onesie in the garage. Naturally he knew what he had to do.



This tasty little morsel was having a blast on the tail, I'm sure.



I'll take one of everything in the picture, please.



Overlook chillin



The new section of the Foothills Parkway is stunning. An absolutely amazing road in perfect condition. I highly recommend anyone in the area give it a shot!





Stopped for lunch in Pidgeon Forge. Food was fantastic and inexpensive.




Time to head back. 80 miles one way of beautiful TN/NC mountain roads.



Spotted these guys while stopping for some moonshine. I weep for their hearing.




Coming back on the Tail, we spotted another Driver who decided the prohibition on trailers over 30ft didn't apply to them. They surprisingly were spotted safely on the NC side fo the Tail later that evening. There was a big wrecker parked behind them when we passed them on our way to dinner.




After dinner, I decided to tackle rebuilding the M5 caliper. I could not find a caliper locally anywhere, but was able to Amazon a seal kit to the cabin. It would have to do.



Needed to polish the piston as it was pitted from rust. Decided to tape it to the chuck on my drill and spin it like a lathe. Surprisingly, it worked.




Next morning I caught a Fiesta taking a Siesta.



Italians need their rest too.



One of the 4 garages on the compound. It was seriously a nice setup.



The one at the top of the hill had a massive garage too and an ice maker. Very handy for keeping the brews cold.



Buddy had the meat smoker going, as is tradition.



With the M5 "fixed" it was time for it's decals. I think this incident was the push I needed to move up to a Big Brake Kit, as essentially the front brakes need a full overhaul at this point.



The M5 FINALLY made it to the Tail of the Dragon, 6 days into the trip :banghead:



The company on the ride there wasn't too bad either




Rode over to the Tapoco lodge for some grup, and when we came out we were in some kind of Bizarro world, Jerry. Red Verts / M cars / Blue Subarus. Never ended up catching up with the owners of those cars either.



Surprisingly, we had nothing to do with this decal



Having forgot all about the smoked meats waiting for me, I filled up at the lodge. Still, I stuffed my face full of brisket and pork shoulder like any red blooded american would.



After that, some much needed brews and campfire tales to cap off the night.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 · (Edited)
Saturday, the last full day of the trip, was spent chasing Ducatis once again. It never gets old :)



Afterwards, we kicked back at the range and put holes in paper targets. a KelTec pump shotty is a hoot.




Sunday, the saddest day of the year. Start of the 600 mile commute back home, this time going up I81 to stop in the little town of Stuarts Draft, VA to visit the grandparents.



One last trip down the Tail. Until next year...





And one last trip down the Foothills Parkway



Which dumped me into the traffic nightmare known as Pidgeon Forge on a Sunday. 0/10 would not recommend.





Pretty much at the end of saturday's events I started to develop an exhaust leak. By the time I hit I81 it was a a full blown exhaust leak. Diagnosis: Broken Exhaust hangers pulling the exhaust apart at the slip joint after the cats. Without a jack to get the car up high enough to get the exhaust back together, I did the next best thing. Fashioned a couple coat hangers into exhaust hangers and drove the next 500ish miles with open cats. Yes, I had a headache by the time I got home.



I81 is long, boring, and mostly only 2 lanes each way. So getting stuck behind/around tractor trailers in inevitable.



Spotted a race trailer on I81. I don't even want to think about how much money this person has sank into this. Ontario plates too IIRC.



Spotted a Cayenne Turbo towing a General Lee.



To the guy in the modded Subaru, my car isn't normally this noisy.



Finally back in MD roughly 11 hours later (with a 1.5hr layover at the grandparents house.)



Home sweet Home, but definitely missing NC/TN. Until next year.....


1228 miles in just the round trip to the tail, plus hundreds of miles between the Katana and the M5. This trip puts me at over 5000 miles towing alone on the M5. with 374 wtq and a 6MT it really is a fantastic tow rig. Just need to refresh the front brakes. 186k on the car itself, it has been damn good to me.
 

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In.

Also interested in impressions of the Maserati.
 

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94 RVF 400


Nice!
I love me some 400cc bikes. I used to have a '91 FZR400 and '90 Bandit 400....loved those things, especially the Bandit as a street bike.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
That's awesome, but (I am not a biker) what's with the back tire on that bike? Isn't that the opposite of what you want for the TotD?
two sets of wheels is easier to haul than two bikes, but next year I might have a smaller dirtbike for the fire roads and *hopefully* a 2007 VFR 800 25th Anniversary Edition :heart:



In.

Also interested in impressions of the Maserati.
It was amazing. In "manual" mode it would absolutely not shift until you told it to. bounce it off the rev limiter in 2nd all you want, it isn't hitting 3rd until it is told to. Heated seats were hard to find (needed on the top of the skyway when it was 60* with the top down) They are a thumbwheel on the side of the seat. The cooling system was impressive. It kept things in check no matter how hard you drove it.

:thumbup: Cool, I'm going up to the Dragon later in the fall. I live an hour south of Raleigh.
you wont regret it! Treat yourself to all the roads in the area. The Tail of the Dragon is very tight and technical, while the Cherohala Skyway and Foothills Parkway are more open higher speed sweepers. There are a ton of other roads in the area, pretty much any direction you drive you can hit something nice.

Howdy there, fren.
Aloha, monsieur. You ever going to make the trip? We still find NEEK stickers everywhere :thumbup:


94 RVF 400


Nice!
I love me some 400cc bikes. I used to have a '91 FZR400 and '90 Bandit 400....loved those things, especially the Bandit as a street bike.
The bike was a weapon on the Tail. I have a Bandit 600 that unfortunately didnt make the trip. I forgot to mention in the initial post that two days before the trip, while looking for a ramp to load the Bandit onto the trailer to take it inspected, I stepped on a 2x4 in the shed that had 2 rusty framing nails sticking out of it. A tetanus shot and a 240$$ trip to urgent care, I had blown all my inspection money for the Bandit so decided to keep it at home. I have towed two bikes behind the M5 before, but the other one was a Husqvarna 701 which is a bit lighter than the Bandit.





Last year, I missed a day of the trip after getting a piece of metal in my eye while cutting the old fenders off the trailer with an angle grinder. That was a fun trip to the Eye doctor to get the rust ring ground out of my eyeball....
 

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two sets of wheels is easier to haul than two bikes, but next year I might have a smaller dirtbike for the fire roads and *hopefully* a 2007 VFR 800 25th Anniversary Edition :heart:
Yeah, I pulled the trigger too early on that post :thumbup:


I stepped on a 2x4 in the shed that had 2 rusty framing nails sticking out of it.

(flip flop pic)

Last year, I missed a day of the trip after getting a piece of metal in my eye
PPE bro, come on. I'm not a total dork about it, but eye protection specifically is no joke. I always say I can do my job with less arms or toes or whatever, but not with less eyeballs.
 

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you wont regret it! Treat yourself to all the roads in the area. The Tail of the Dragon is very tight and technical, while the Cherohala Skyway and Foothills Parkway are more open higher speed sweepers. There are a ton of other roads in the area, pretty much any direction you drive you can hit something nice.
Agreed. There are a ton o great roads al over that area, all with good names, like The Gambler or Rattlesnake. My brother in law lives in Greenville, TN, not too far away from there, and so I've been on them quite a bit. The Dragon is almost too popular and crowded to real have fun on, but the others are just a short drive away and have MUCH less traffic.

https://tailofthedragonmaps.com/gambler/

 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Yeah, I pulled the trigger too early on that post :thumbup:




PPE bro, come on. I'm not a total dork about it, but eye protection specifically is no joke. I always say I can do my job with less arms or toes or whatever, but not with less eyeballs.


You're not wrong, and for most of the morning I had PPE on. But after a test ride with the trailer fully loaded the fenders were rubbing, I was behind schedule, frustrated so i said F-it and picked up the angle grinder with the death wheel for a quick cut job of the two fender mounts on each side.

Given Death wheels reputation for exploding and causing severe damage, I was fortunate to just have a little piece of metal in my eye. I wear goggles from here on out though, so lesson learned.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Amazing trip! :thumbup:

Did you guys do Wayah Rd? Hwy 28 from Mountain Rest, GA to Franklin, NC is good too.

My buddy who flew into ATL might have hit that road, but I did not. I think in TN Hwy 28 is called the Moonshiner.


Agreed. There are a ton o great roads al over that area, all with good names, like The Gambler or Rattlesnake. My brother in law lives in Greenville, TN, not too far away from there, and so I've been on them quite a bit. The Dragon is almost too popular and crowded to real have fun on, but the others are just a short drive away and have MUCH less traffic.

https://tailofthedragonmaps.com/gambler/

The dragon is a road best enjoyed early in the morning, after 5pm, or on weekdays. Weekends it is jammed up with tourist and harleys who don't use the pull offs, and those days are better spent at the Overlook people watching. We had a whole little shanty town set up with hammocks and a bluetooth PA system so we could heckle eachother

 

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Cool pictures minus the ones driving, in the rain, with a trailer... and you ride a motorcycle?
 
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