At the beginning of September I joined other members of this chapter on a four day 1400+ mile road trip. One that I had been looking forward to all season. I knew it would be a challenge as we were riding some expert level roads through mountainous terrain and covering long distances. I thought I was fully prepared as I could be for these roads and be able to reasonably keep up (yes I am not the fastest rider, but not the slowest). I was not 100% correct on my earlier assumptions.
Yes I can ride roads with twists and turns and all that. But when it came to those curves I was always slowing down more than needed, mostly for fear of going too wide and off the road. For half of this trip this was the case. Back of the Dragon and the Blue Ridge Parkway were a lot of fun to ride, but I was ending up far separated from the pack and not having a good time because of that.
Thankfully halfway through day two, one of our members slowed down to meet me and we talked about riding styles and riding outside your comfort zone. Well after some tips in handling the curves a better way (stay in one gear the whole way) we resumed the ride to catch up with everyone else. At that moment it clicked (you can be given all sorts of tips and advice on how to ride better, but sometimes it takes a moment for it all to come together) and I started to enjoy the road we were on and the smile came back to my face. I even found myself cracking the pipe through the tunnels (let me tell you bridges are nothing compared to tunnels for exhaust echo). I was able to keep up with the group better than I ever did before. Still lagged behind eventually, let’s face it one afternoon will not make you an expert but it was a revelation.
Day three came and Tail of the Dragon awaited. My newfound skills were put to the test, and while I was not as fast as the group I was able to keep up decently (they eventually got several minutes ahead but that was expected) and the second run through, we rode both directions, was definitely better and easier. While I know I will never be a gonzo rider, I’m o.k. with that, I am glad I went. I challenged myself and expanded my comfort zone a little more.