Dragon gets a lot of press, but is a crowded, too much work, and gets old quickly for those of us who live here. Maybe with a different bike it would great, but the VL800 simply isn't really designed to do endless sharp turns over and over and over.
Our trip this weekend really went through some nice territory.
Maryville, TN - NE on Wildwood, N. Wildwood, Nails Creek. This road runs through a wonderful valley with great country views. Light traffic. Parallels 411, which has way too much traffic.
411 goes right by the Bush Beans museum: Bush Brothers: Visitor Center
This is worth a quick stop. There's also food available, but we didn't dine.
We jumped SE to 411 and continued NE to Newport, TN. Newport Dry Goods is well worth visiting. Low prices, seconds, lots of oddball clothing. The hardware store is also excellent, a real throwback. Cute little town.
Then we took off on US70 E, thinking we'd pop over to Hot Springs for lunch. This is great road with wonderful views of the French Broad River and mountains getting closer and closer. But there was a detour through some amazingly beautiful territory. This detour is up 107 to the north and then east along the Houston Valley. Right on Rollins Chapel to TN 70 south, over the border in NC turns into 208, finally intersecting US 70, which we took west to Hot Springs. This has sections of climb, drop, twisties, views, and should be a destination road in its own right.
Hot Springs has (surprise) hot springs, a railroad hotel, and some little shops. It's main claim to fame is that the Appalachian Trail runs through it, so there's a hiking focus. Although the beer festival had tourists in, and there were plenty of bikers! Gas was $4.08 and didn't run great, but the detour really cut into our range.
The other thing happening at Hot Springs is that NC 209, "The Rattler", begins there. See State Route 209, North Carolina - a great motorcycle road
. This is a must-do road! Enough said. Amazing road. There is the Spring Creek Cafe on 209 that had plenty of bikes outside, but we didn't stop.
There are other services where 209 crosses I40, but less character.
209 gets into the tourist zone at Lake Janaluska. The Great Smoky Mountain Parkway is right there - great fast road. This will whip you over to 441 or continue to the intersection with 28, which runs west to the Dragon.
But we took 19 through Maggie Valley. Wheels of Time museum, then up hill to intersect the Blue Ridge Parkway. Or an amazing drop to Cherokee.
Our ride took us over the Smokies on 441 then back home via 321.