MV Agusta Edition: Gapalicious Thursday


A few weeks ago, I had an utter fail at the Tail, where I broke my key in Georgia the day I was finally intending to ride the famed Tail of the Dragon.  I've wanted to ride this stretch of Route 129 for years, ever since I left two friends in Asheville headed to Cherohala en route across the country on Italian Ducati and Aprilia superbikes.

 And though I've had several trips planned in the past, this trip keeps on falling through, but I'm going to try this weekend with a group of MV Agusta riders.
 My friend Arthur (who invited me on this trip) asked if I could also bring an Aprilia dealer sign down with me, to which (in the spirit of Italian motorcycles) I happily agreed, not knowing that it would take up most of my truck bed.

Arthur came over early in morning to help me load up the sign, and by Thursday afternoon I had made my way to around Blackburg, Virginia.

By the time I reached Tennessee, the roads were beginning to twist and turn enticingly.
The destination was Tellico Plains Tennessee and a place called Mountain View Cabin Rentals.  Rooms were about a $100 / night, and let's just say that gets you a lot more in Tennessee than it does up North.

A massive room with a balcony with a grand porch below overlooked the Tellico River, with view of our vehicles below on the other side.
 I had invited another friend Shawn from New York (via West Virginia, also with a Ducati strapped to the back of his truck), who arrived shortly after I did (around 6pm).
 We met up with several of guys from the crew, including the new owner of the sign Kevin, who brought a couple of bikes, including this stunning 2016 Norton Commando 961.  New Nortons are still fairly rare, though apparently they are beginning to build a dealer network stateside.
Shawn and I were exhausted after driving all day, but I insisted that we go for a little ride on the Cherohala Skyway before going to dinner with the boys.

The roads were unbelievable under the moonlit twilight.
Though the sun was going down and our bones were weary, a few miles on this legendary skyway pumped new life into our veins.
I'll describe this epic stretch in more detail over the next few days, but Cherohala is a nearly perfect  expanse of sweeping, turning blacktop, seemingly built specifically for motorcycles, where you can cruise or rip across the the peak of the Smokey Mountains for about 40 miles or so.
 We didn't even really want to stop, but paused for a few seconds for a few photos,
happy and tired in the dying light. 
 Clearly you can tell I'm in ecstasy.
We went back and met up with Tennessee natives Kevin, Ben and Bauman, and drove into Tellico Plains for dinner. I learned something interesting about the South on Thursday night at the Tellicafe.  There are plenty of BYOBs and corking fees where I come from, but many counties (especially in Tennessee and Alabama I'm told) are purportedly, or at least superficially dry, in that they don't serve liquor. 
At the same time, while this sense of propriety is religiously derived, quite a lot of people drink in the South as well, so apparently it's quite common to bring an open bottle of bourbon into a restaurant, and furtively stash it under the table.  We were abetted in this task (which while drinking still felt like we engaged in some illicit act) at Tellicafe by a charming waitress named "Chrissy," who filled up tea glasses with ice, whilst dining on an incredible pepper steak that brought us back to this establishment every single night of this trip .
 After dinner, we piled in Ben's truck and headed up to the other camp, a large cabin on the crest of a hill called the "Crow's Nest," the de facto clubhouse for the MV Agusta group, and where the bulk of the crew were staying.
   Walking in, we were greeted by a slightly intoxicated crew including inflatable dinosaurs and Care Bears.
Everyone was incredibly generous (with their liquor and everything else), and I felt like a bit of a freeloader not having brought supplies to match.  However, this didn't really slow Shawn and I down, and we'll just have to make up for it when we come back next year. 

© 2017 Tigh Loughhead

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