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MV Agusta Edition - Tail of the Dragon

Tigh Loughhead rides Ducati Streetfighter Motorcycles at the Tail of the Dragon North Carolina
Motorcycles are one of the best things to ever happen to me...
(though I try to be aware of the inverse possibility as well at all times)
Tigh Loughhead rides Ducati and MV Agusta Motorcycles on the Tail of the Dragon North Carolina
Riding a bike has taught me so much about awareness and self-control, and how to be implicitly aggressive, without ego or destruction.

Motorcycling is pure agency.  While on a motorcycle, your life hangs in the balance of your very nature, suspended between sensory perception, physical presence and decision-making.
Your very life depends on interpreting external stimuli, positioning yourself accordingly, and then making choices to navigate change.  Riding concentrates the essence of life.
As the world flies by, you must be utterly aware of yourself, and how to act to paint yourself across time, without becoming a smear on the road.
Motorcyclists wax poetic about some sort of Zen consciousness, or riding as meditative therapy, but I would argue that a resulting "oneness" while riding comes from actually "doing," not "being."
A day at the track is utterly exhausting... not so much because of the physical demands, but of the emotional necessity of driving yourself to the limit.
And with all this in mind... after dreaming of doing this bucket list trip, I had finally arrived.

From the Cherohala Skyway, there are two ways to get to Route 129, but neither are very clearly marked. 
Shawn, Bauman, Ben and I had broken off from the rest of the crew from going to Robbinsville for lunch.
Having sickeningly driven the Tail in my truck a month ago, I was itching to finally ride this beast.  We stopped off for lunch at the Dragon's Den grill for a biker's meal,
and chatted with a few of the cruiser folk who had stopped to admire our bikes before launching onto the Tail of the Dragon. 
I took off first, eager to get out with some space ahead of me.  Riding the Tail on a weekday is definitely preferable to the weekend, as there is far less traffic, an far fewer police. 
Tigh Loughhead rides the Tail of the Dragon North Carolina on his Ducati Motorcycle
318 turns in 11 miles along Route 129 is mind-boggling and knee-numbing.  Getting out on the road, you quickly learn to take the road very seriously.  On sharp turns, there are deep gouges in the road, from some sorry cruiser's peg digging sometimes inches into the pavement, and which then becomes REALLY disconcerting as you see the mark drifting off the road where that bike presumably crashed. 
The tail is highly technical and challenging, and yet not quite as tough as some switchbacks I've ridden in California, like along Bald Hills Road for example. 
But I've rarely ridden a road more exhilarating, and after riding it once north and then again south (with Bauman leading this time), my quads were throroughly spent. 
We stopped off at Killboy for a rest afterward, in dire need of some water and a chance to settle our nerves. 
There's a famous dragon made out of discarded motorcycle parts. 
And we didn't miss a chance for a photo-op-
 Bauman on his F4, Ben on Kevin's Rivale, me on my Streetfighter and Shawn on his Panigale.
 A few friendly bikers were happy to allow us a few takes.
As much as I lampooned the throngs of Harley riders high-fiving each other with cries of, "We did it, we conquered the dragon..." I can't explain what a joyous feeling of exhaustion I had having finally ridden this epic road.
Plus, my bike looks pretty good in front of a dragon.

© 2017 Tigh Loughhead


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