The 'Back of the Dragon' sign on Highway 16 outside Tazewell, Virginia, USA
Glade Creek Campground to Mountaineer Inn
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Day 67 - The Hurricane. I’ve never experienced riding in rain like this. Constant, heavy downpours that ripped into every inch of my bike, body and clothing. I started early from the campground aware of potential rain at 11am. I aimed to clear as much ground as possible to Asheville via the scenic Parkway Drive the boys recommended I see at Lebanon Cycles. It was 3.5 hours away. The rain began early at 9am forcing me to slow down on the slick roads and delaying my travel times. The rain became excruciating on an interstate and I took shelter at a gas station. I went to a small town of Tazewell for a coffee and reassessed my situation. Sopping wet, 4 men looked at me as I walked it. “Nice day for a ride”, the looked stunned. “The best!” I replied. We conversed about the weather and my trip. They were from the local Methodist Church and one offered to buy my coffee. We sat and chatted, the men optimistic and worldly. They explained the nearby hurricane and potential routes. “Go West to avoid it” one said. Manny, a KLR adventure rider said, “the Back of the Dragon is here on route 16. That’s why most people come here. It leads to the Parkway Drive. I’d do that but the rain and wind would be horrendous”. He looked concerned but serious about how great the road was. You can tell whose advice I took as I headed deeper into the hurricane just to take a nice road. I always take a motorcyclists advice over others. I did not regret it. The bike slipped and slid on the tight endless corners of the Dragon. I was drenched in water with a smile across my face. The rear tire sliding outwards on every exit of a corner and a blip of throttle. So much fun. Until I got out on the straights behind trucks, the wash on my visor difficult to see. The rain pounded to the Parkway where I missed a turnoff and added an hour to my already difficult ride. I got on the Parkway and could see nothing. Just grey and water ahead. The rain cleared 40 miles from Asheville. The clouds swirled in a terrifyingly. I was beginning to get cold. The water was against my skin. I booked a motel. I ordered a heater and hotboxed the bathroom. I have never been that wet on a motorcycle. I never want to again.