Destinations: Deals Gap, North Carolina
Deals Gap is home to 318 curves in 11 miles and is a playground for motorcycles
Nothing like a custom Norton for running the curves of Deals Gap, North Carolina.
Photo by Killboy.com
Only one piece of asphalt has a reputation as the best motorcycling road in the United States – the 11-mile stretch at Deals Gap known as the Tail of the Dragon. Why? How about 318 curves with no two alike, no intersecting roads, clean pavement, no development and very little traffic (other than the two-wheeled kind).
Summer weekends bring thousands of riders to the Dragon as it becomes a cycling enthusiast’s museum-in-motion, with a variety of machines ranging from one-of-a-kind classics to the latest creations of custom builders like Jamie James.
Identified on maps as Deals (no apostrophe) Gap, this mountain passage, originally a buffalo trail, was paved and designated as U.S. 129 in 1934. Known only to local hunters and bootleggers for decades, it was home to scenes from the 1958 movie Thunder Road and the 1972 cult classic Two Lane Blacktop, but nationwide attention didn’t begin until 1992 when a major bike magazine article brought its greatness to light.
Recent popularity of the Tail of the Dragon has raised the term “cycle friendly” to new heights on both sides of the mountain. Many motorcycle resorts have been born and more are planned, and existing businesses now cater to this new breed of tourist. You can even order a photo of yourself in action on the Dragon from www.Killboy.com.
When it comes to great roads in the area, the Dragon is only the beginning. The Cherohala Skyway, with its mile-high mountain vistas, offers 50 miles of challenging, sweeping curves, and state Route 28 near Fontana Dam has been designated the Hellbender. Unbeatable dual-sport riding on forest service roads is available everywhere. Vintage cycle lovers can’t miss the Wheels Through Time Museum in nearby Maggie Valley, N.C., home to more than 250 rare antique American Motorcycles. And there’s so much more …