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Monday, September 28, 2009

US 129 - Tail of the Dragon

I realize that you can find thousands if not tens of thousands reviews on “The Tail of the Dragon”/ US 129. It may be the most famous motorcycle road in America if not the world and has been photographed and written about for years.

However, I figure I might as well add my 2-cents about the “Dragon.”

In order to make the statement “318 curves in eleven miles” every bend (no matter how slight) in the road must be counted and they each add to the mystique of the ride in small ways. The aspect of the road that sets it apart is that there are no access roads on the official 11 miles of the Dragon.  When one does not have to worry about exits and entrances to the road the ride becomes more enjoyable.
Just east of beginning of the Dragon is Deals Gap where you can find the Deals Gap store. At the store you can pick up a t-shirt and/or patch, grab lunch or a snack, and fill up the bike.  If you are so inclined you can even spend a night in one of the rooms.  Be ready to ride carefully through the full parking lot.

If you are riding a cruiser or tourer do not expect to get above 3rd gear very often. Many of the curves are very sharp and can cause some anxiety if a commercial vehicle or RV is approaching, but are great if the road is not clogged up. 

One should really pay attention for the inexperienced rider also.  There are enough sharp curves that many bikers end up crossing the center stripe which has the potential for problems.  I know that the biker in front of me crossed over at least 10 times, which made me back off.  One should be versed in proper riding techniques before riding the Dragon.

On the western 1/4 of the Dragon there is an overlook where you can view Calderwood Dam (picture to the right). It is a great view and well worth stopping for a few moments

I did find that the NC 28 that runs from Almond, NC to Deals Gap is a great road! Many of the roads in the Smoky Mountains area have plenty of twisties and great scenery. Getting to the Dragon was a great ride and worth noting.

Would I ride the Dragon again? Yes, but I would enjoy getting there as much as the official 11-miles. Every rider needs to experience the Dragon. It is too fun to bypass and of course it is fun to tell others that you road the Dragon. The next time I go to that area I plan on staying a few days so that I can enjoy several of the other roads in the area.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Average is not bad.

I have eaten twice at La Mesa Mexican Restaurant (2124 Texoma Parkway) in Sherman, Texas. Both times I have left feeling OK about my meal.

La Mesa is a nice average Mexican restaurant. They are very generous with the cheese. One rider ordered the Taco Dinner and the tacos were covered with lettuce and cheese. The salad that another rider ordered came with a good amount of cheese and my Tortilla Soup could have easily been named Cheese Tortilla Soup. So if you like cheese you will like La Mesa.

The chips and salsa were fine. Service was appropriate and atmosphere was pleasant.

La Mesa is good non-chain Mexican restaurant.

Would I eat there again? Yes, if I was already in Sherman and I was in the mood for Mexican food. It is not the type of place that I would plan to ride out of my way to eat there.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Anybody recognize the bike?

This is really not a review, but a request for help. These pictures are of my grandfather and were taken in 1918. You can see the HD on one photo and the words Harley Davidson on the other. I was hoping someone could tell me the exact model of the bike.

I recently got the pictures from one of my aunts and then had a shop restore and enlarge them. After I got my first bike in 2004 my dad informed me that my grandfather had a motorcycle - before he got married. Apparently it was his first and last bike.

Click on the picture for a larger image.

Any and all info will be greatly appreciated.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Protect those feet & ankles.

The Motorcycle Safety Foundation recommends over-the-ankle leather boots when riding motorcycles. A good pair of boots is a worthy investment.

I have owned two different pairs of boots. The first were the Side-Zip Highway Boots ($80-$90) by River Road. They were comfortable and durable. The side zipper was very convenient and aided in keeping a snug fit. Once I had tied my laces with the exact amount of tightness that I wanted I never had to mess with them again. The zipper let me put my boots on or remove them comfortably and without disrupting the laces.

The sole was a durable slip-resistant rubber and had another year or so worth of wear when I replaced them after 3+ years of use. I wore them all year in all four seasons. The only reason I replaced them was that one of the zippers broke.

The boots were water-resistant, but not waterproof. I used waterproof boot covers when I had to ride in the rain. Otherwise they were great boots.

I replaced the River Road boots with the Harley Davidson FXRG-2 boots ($125-$180) with Gore-Tex. These boots cost about twice as much as the River Road boots, but I no longer needed to wear boot covers during the rain. In the summer the Gore-Tex fabric allows the feet to breath and yet are totally waterproof (I have ridden is some hard rain and walked t
hrough ankle high water).

The soles are slip-resistant, but do not seem quite as durable as the River Road. The boots lace up and the laces must be loosened to remove the boots. The boots fit great and are very comfortable. I can wear the boots all day, even when I spend a great deal of time walking and not just riding.

Would I buy either pair of boots again? Yes. If I had to pick one it would be the FXRG-2 boots. I really like that the Gore-Tex fabric is breathable and waterproof. As far a style and looks both boots are great. So, if you don’t ride in the rain you can save some money if you buy the River Road boots.

Good German Food & good ride to get there!

Northwest of Dallas, TX is a small German community called Muenster. There are numerous ways to get there from the DFW metromess and most of them are really good. I personally stay off of US 82 and I-35 as much as possible. There will be a later post about my favorite route to get there, but for now lets talk about food!

On the north side of 82 sets The Center Restaurant (603 East Division St.), a family owned German restaurant. They serve a variety of schnitzel (a German favorite), chicken, steak, and seafood. They also have a nice salad bar.

The Center features a one of a kind Pagel Sausage that is awesome! It is an exclusive Pagel Family recipe and is my favorite! The German potato salad and sauerkraut make the Pagel Sausage plate an incredible meal. Other riders I have been with have tried other dishes and no one has ever been disappointed.

The dessert choices are top-notch. Of course they offer a variety of strudels along with pies and a great German Chocolate cake! My favorite is the coconut cream pie.

This is a great place to stop and eat after a great ride (or not so great ride - the food will make up for it).

How would rate this place? I would ride out of my way to eat at The Center. Y0u will not be disappointed.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

V Star 1100 Review

I ride a 2003 Yamaha V Star 1100 Silverado. I bought it used in March 2005 and it had less than 14,000 miles. Well, as of today (September 16, 2009) it has just over 92,000 miles. The picture above was taken July 17, 2009 in Vicksburg, MS near the Mississippi River Bridge. I was on my way home from Florida.

I have greatly enjoyed the bike. The ride is smooth and the handling is awesome. Due to the low center of gravity and quality engineering making tight U-turns, quick swerves, or riding aggressively in the twisties is smooth and very comfortable. I never feel like the bike is going to fall over or get away from me.

The engine is good, although I rejetted it and put pod air filters on it in order to increase the power. I am not for sure why Yamaha designed the engine in such a way that there is a lot of untapped power, but they did. The power is still good and I can roll on the throttle to pass when I need to. I even have a trailer that I pull with the bike. I pulled it on a 12-day trip from Texas to Colorado and through the mountains. The bike never faltered.

I currently have a Mustang seat and pillion, but in all honesty I wish I still had my stock seat. I loved the way it felt. The position of the floorboards are very comfortable and allow a lot of foot movement and placement options, which is nice on those long rides.

Overall the question is, "Would I buy a V Star 1100 again?" I answer with a resounding "Yes!"

The bike is great and is an incredible good value for the price!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009


I am just an average guy. I have a regular job, a family, and a bunch of bills. However; I love to ride my motorcycle. I ride about 15,000 miles a year. I ride my bike to work more often than I drive my truck. I take short day trips, quick dinner runs, and multi-day trips.

I read several motorcycle magazines and websites. I especially like the product reviews, except for the unique descriptions (which are often silly) that journalist sometimes use to try to sound clever.

So, part of this blog is to give straightforward reviews of items that I have personally used, places I have eaten, roads I have traveled, and/or bikes I have ridden. At times I will use the reviews of close friends that I ride with and respect. All reviews will be based on more than just a couple of days of use.  I hope you find this useful.