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Old 11-23-2004, 10:31 PM   #1
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Question Sweet Drives of the Southeast

The Southeast claims some of the best scenic and technical drives in the United States. Do you have a favorite drive/ride, and live within the "South East Forum" area? Post your route here, and include pictures (not too big, please) if you wish. Perhaps the next Focus you see on your favorite drive is driven by someone who read about it here!


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Old 11-23-2004, 10:56 PM   #2
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Deal's Gap a.k.a. "The Dragon"

If you live in western North Carolina or eastern Tennessee, you have no doubt heard about the infamous "Dragon". This of course is the nickname for a stretch of U.S. Highway 129 that begins around Robbinsville, N.C. You'll know when you're on the "Dragon" - the curves become sharper and in rapid succession, and third gear is about as high as you can go (or want to). Scenic overlooks are plentiful, but spoiled by the fact the driver must maintain full concentration on the road and its..."technical nature". Careful attention must be given to motorcycles and other cars that cross the center line. On another note, the occaisional freight truck may stumble upon U.S. 129. Be careful on the curves, as the larger trucks don't have much room to maneuver, and must cross the center line on many of the tight switchbacks (not a pleasant sight if you're "on the gas").

This is a fantastic (and mandantory) ride for motorcyclists and Foci with modified suspensions. Large numbers of motorcyclists gather almost daily at Deal's Gap, and auto clubs from Corvettes to Triumphs to Imprezas hold meetings in the area. On my first visit, I rode my '03 Shadow A.C.E. 750. It was the last of a three-day tour that included Virginia, North Carolina and Tennessee. When we arrived at the parking lot of Deal's Gap Motorcycle Resort, there were at least 150 motorcycles present. Also there for the action was a four-car convoy including an open-air Triumph roadster, Subaru WRX, Cooper Mini (old model with right-hand drive) and Mustang GT. Every model of motorcycle was represented: Ducati, Triumph, Honda, H-D, MZ, BMW, you name the acronym and it was there.

If you decide to "Ride the Dragon", make sure you bring a camera, your Focus or motorcycle and a good pair of driving/riding gloves. Also, please be sure to use caution on this ride. It's not the "Road of Hellish Death," but it's very easy to screw up and have a situation on your hands. During my time at the Resort (about an hour and a half), I heard of three motorcycle crashes, one of which occurred during my lunch.

In any case, U.S. 129 is an excellent avenue for your Focus or your bike, and I highly suggest it to all those who can make the trip. You won't be dissappointed.

For directions and photos of much higher quality than I can provide, visit these websites:
The Tail of the Dragon
Deal's Gap Motorcycle Resort
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Old 11-23-2004, 11:12 PM   #3
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The Cherahola Skyway

Yes, I am responding to my own topic (in case you are wondering)!

Another great drive comes after you've driven/ridden the infamous "Dragon" and survived - with your vehicle intact. Continuing on U.S. 129, branch off onto TN Hwy 72 just after the community of Tallassee and follow 72 to Hwy. 411. Make a left onto Hwy. 411 and continue until you can turn left onto Hwy. 360. Highway 360 is a vastly underrated road with an almost perfect surface that makes motorcycling a dream. I can't tell you how awesome it was to round one of the corners obscured by a leafy hill, leaned over just before "drag-point" to find no traffic on the other side, just unhindered blacktop for miles with the sun peaking from behind a cloud...pure bliss.

Continue on Hwy. 360 until you reach the town of Tellico Plains, TN. Hwy. 360 will end, and you can turn left onto Highway 165. Follow it to the North Carolina border, where it will become Highway 143 a.k.a. The Cherahola Skyway. This drive is absolutely beyond verbal description. Rolling, sweeping curves can be challengine at times, but nothing can overcome the view (if it's not cloudy). Take some time to stop at the overlooks. Continue on Highway 143 all the way back to Robbinsville, N.C.

NOTE: It's a good idea to check the directions on this one. I didn't have much to work with, just some GPS tracks that were recorded with my trip through the area. The roads are correct, the directions may not be!
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Old 11-24-2004, 01:21 PM   #4
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nothing like that down here in florida
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Old 11-26-2004, 09:25 PM   #5
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there are acouple of nice backroads around here. When you catch traffic right.
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Old 12-05-2004, 08:50 AM   #6
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Cheaha Mtn. near Anniston, AL is too sweet. You may have to compete w/ sport bikes but they usually get by pretty quick. Once you hit the mountain, it's basically an out and back route so no chance of gettin lost. Nice resturant and other on top of the mountain. It's all good. Just Google for directions.
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Old 12-08-2004, 08:21 PM   #7
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there are a few places around bham like a little road near Hwy called pump house road and when you reach the stop you can either go straight to Barbers Motorsports Track, left to Hwy 119, or right down Grants Mill to Interstate 459. Traffic is a very important issue, usually late at night or mid afternoon is good. Road surfaces are not perfect and can be tricky.
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Old 12-09-2004, 07:38 PM   #8
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grants mill needs a pave job bad! My friend lost a hat he hit a bump so hard
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Old 01-17-2005, 02:29 PM   #9
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OK...I finally have some material worth posting. Yesterday, driven by new medication and a healthy appetite for the outdoors, I took my planned Focus Test Route. This 420-mile loop starts and ends in Raleigh, NC, and covers some of the most punishing roadway on the eastern seaboard. I chose every type of road possible - high-speed freeway, primary highway, secondary road, twisty uphill, twisty downhill, S-curve - in order to find out just how good my SVT suspension swap worked. I was not disappointed (in fact, very impressed). But that's another story, one that will be recorded and posted here in review format at a later date. Instead, I took a few photographs of places visited along the route. The one bad thing is that I was unable to get any good shots of the actual roadway (absolutely killer route; wait for my map in the review of the SVT suspension). 420 miles...and I couldn't find a shoulder to park on!

1.) It looks as if the driver of this Saleen-esque Mustang Cobra had a similar idea. Look closely and you can see the Mazda Miata in the background. It had rims larger than my OEM 16" tires! (photo taken at Hanging Rock State Park)

2.) Yeah...up there. I failed to notice the trail leading down to Lower Cascade Falls to my right. Instead, I chose this way down. Who says fat folks can't climb? At the bottom was a cliff...yes, a cliff in North Carolina. I tried to get more shots, but I kind of got sick looking over the edge and climbed back up the rocks. Photo #2 Photo #3 (photos taken at Hanging Rock State Park)

3.) Here is one of the first overlooks I happened upon. I can't remember if it was in North Carolina or Virginia, but pick any overlook in that general area to be impressed.

4.) Photo #1 and Photo #2 of the friggin' annoying winter storm that harassed my ass all day. Temperatures were below freezing the whole time, and the vertical rock faces along the Blue Ridge Parkway were solid ice, formed when the constant trickle of water flowing down the rock became frozen. It was quite a sight. Intermitten snow showers popped up, and towards the end of my stint on the Parkway I had to cut the other parks out.
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Old 01-17-2005, 04:26 PM   #10
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Those are some great pics Jake I wish there were some places like that around here that looked sweet. Is the view as good from your car or is that just on the trail?
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