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yellowducati900ss

Deal's Gap (very, very, very long)

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yellowducati900ss

Warning, this is very long. Try not to fall asleep...

 

Moral of the Story:

Deal's Gap is a definate Must Ride.

 

Summary:

  • 68.7 mph driving average
  • 38h 18m 27s Driving Time
  • 115.1 mph Max Speed
  • Great Company (except at night when Albie snores)
  • Awsome Roads (with a lot of crappy slab between here and there)
  • No Accidents
  • No Tickets (Just Gotta Love the V1)
  • No Rain (while riding)
  • A couple of mechanical problems
  • One Helicopter Ride
  • Very Few Pictures (sorry, I'm terrible with the picture thing. I never really want to stop to take them...)

The Cast and Crew:

  • Marty on his highly customized Ducati 748 (err... well actually it is an 890 due to a big-bore kit)
  • Albert on his Suzuki busa
  • David on his Ducati 748
  • Faisal on his Yamaha R1
  • Greg on his Ducati ST4s

The Plan:

Marty, David, Faisal, and Greg would meet me at my place on Sat. morning. We would slab up to the Winding Stairs in OK and ride to Mena together. Then David, Faisal, and Greg would head north for a weekend in AR while Marty and I head east towards Deal's gap trying to stay off the slab. Albert would leave on Sun. morning and slab it east. We planned to meet in Chattanooga on Sun. night.

Day 1 (Big Group Dwindles):

Around 6am, the group met at my place. We put the routes on David's GPS and saddled up for the start. I was leading (as I did most of the trip) and David was sweeping. We rode to the first gas stop with no incidents.

 

When we left the gas stop, apparently Greg forgot to put his wallet in a zipped pocket. It came out not long after we left the slab and exploded on the road. He went back and picked some of the stuff up but some of it was gone. Fortunately some of the other guys lent him some money to get through the weekend.

 

About 40 miles away from the first gas stop, we had our first problem. In OK, while riding up 259, we were playing around (on an empty road) doing a little higher speed runs. When Marty passed me, it looked like smoke (that smelled like oil) was coming from his pipes. "Oh Sh!t" I thought...

 

I turns out that he had put on a crank case breather. Since his engine is now a higher compression engine, the smaller transmission is whipping the oil up more and pushing it out of the small tube and blowing it through the breather. He fixed that issue a couple days later.

 

When we came to the turn for the Winding Stairs, Marty was ahead of me. Unfortunately, he didn't see the turn so he kept going. I chased him down (well, actually I went after him and told him to come back when he stopped to wait for us) and we turned back. We made it to Mena, AR for lunch.

 

After lunch on Sat. Marty and I split off from the rest and headed east. Going through Little Rock, we saw a lot of LEO's that were shooting Instant On or Lasar but we managed to see them early enough and slow down. Along the way, we went through about 20 drops of rain. This was the only rain we hit while riding the whole week!

 

Two gas stops (I think) after Mena we ran into our first major issue. After coming out of the gas station, Marty's Duc was spewing Coolant. We pulled off the tank and found out that the coolant tank had split. The 748 has a plastic coolant tank, under pressure, that is part of the system. We tried putting Epoxy on it, waiting 1 hour for it to cure, and then starting the engine and bringing it up to temp. That didn't work so we decided to get a hotel room and JB Weld the tank.

 

We got a room at "A Nice Place" and headed out to Walmart. We picked up some JB Weld and some "Quick Steel". While there, Marty had to fight off the check-out girl. She was getting all giddy about his painted helmet...

 

That night we ate steak (you will see this is a norm for this trip) served by the Cream of Wheat guy. Once again Marty coulda gotten some from all of the waitresses at the restaurant. They were a little too excited about his helmet...

 

That night we pulled the bike into the room and Marty did a complete strip down and plugged the hole with JB Weld. We wouldn't know if that worked until the following morning.

 

Day 2 (Fixed Coolant Problems, Added Albie):

Day dawned bright and sunny. We warmed up the bike. It cracked the JB Weld. We put on the "Quick Steel" and went to breakfast. When we came back, the patch seemed to hold so we saddled up and went on.

 

At the first gas stop, it started leaking again. We pulled everything apart again and did some major repairs. We thought the Quick Steel would hold if we could keep it in the hole. We ripped off all of the JB Weld and Quick Steel and tried again with just the Quick Steel. We put some large zip ties on the patch to help hold it in.

 

Somewhere along the way, we found the root cause of the problem. The coolant had built up a bunch of crud in the overflow tube completely blocking it! As we all know, water doesn't compress so it had to go somewhere. Between cleaning out the overflow and the zip-tied Quick Steel, we managed to fix the problem and be on our way!

 

We called Albert and had him meet us at Hwy. 64 and I-65 in TN and we rode on to meet him.

 

After checking into the Super 8 and meeting Albie, we jumped into the slimy pool and then went across the street for Steak. That night I was introduced to Albie's snoring. Needless to say, I wore ear plugs the only other night I had to share a room with Albert...

 

Day 3 (Arriving at Cabins):

The next day was relatively uneventful. We got some degreaser for Marty's rear tire (for the oil problem), washed his tire, and rode on to the cabins. We didn't ride too many twisties because we were late. We took mostly US Highways all the way up to Johnson City.

 

Along the way Marty realized his new brand of oil filter didn't fit properly and was leaking. So much for a non-OEM filter! It was shooting oil over his rear tire!

 

We ate dinner at an IHOP where they had hardly anything on the menu but they did have a waitress on some kind of uppers...

 

Finally we pulled into the cabins and went to bed pretty quickly.

 

Day 4 (Helicopter and Parts):

On Tues. we got a chance to really meet Dennis and Mary (the Lodge owners) as well as see the cabins. They are simply awsome! Marty and I had shared a cabin and we gave Albie (The Snorer) his own cabin.

 

That morning Albert mentioned he needed to get a new rear tire as he had one on order but it didn't show up in time. Marty wanted to see if he could get a new tank from a Duc dealership if possible. I needed to get a Garmin Data cable for my GPS. Finally, Marty needed to go to the airport.

 

We had to be at the airport at 10:30 so Marty could look at a helicopter (yes, he actually had to work on his vacation). He looked at it and about an hour later we were forced (kicking and screaming) to take a maintenance flight. Ken, the pilot, is a great guy and we ended up hanging out with him for much of the week. The view of the Smokies from a helicopter a breathtaking! We did a little hooliganism up there that I won't put in print but ask one of us sometime and we'll relay the story in person. wink.gif

 

After the ride (thanks Marty and Ken!), Albie took off his rear tire and we went to a Motorcycle Shop called "Ken's" (not owned by the pilot). Albert realized his sprocket was totally shot. In fact it already had 3 broken teeth! At Ken's, Albert got a BT010 including mounting and balancing for about $130! How great is that!!!

 

Then met Ken for lunch at Bailey's in Johnson City. While eating Marty called the shop in FW and had a new tank and oil filter sent to him. Albert called a sprocket company that Marty knew of and had a new sprocket made and sent out to him for next day delivery.

 

We went back to the cabin and had Ken pick up some steaks for grillin' out. We sat around and BS'ed all evening. Eventually Dennis joined us and gave us the story of their dog Sam (a great story btw). The highlight of the evening was Dennis sharing with us a few glasses of is private-stash moonshine. It was unlike any I had ever tried before, it was incredible. He also had some clear stuff that was like battery acid but the grape stuff was one of the better drinks I had ever had. smile.gif

 

Day 5 (Chillin' Out):

We didn't do a whole lot the next day. We sat around the cabin and waited for the parts to arrive. That is just as good, I needed to a day off to relax. We spend a bunch of time sitting in the creek and napping.

 

Once they showed up, the mechanics went to work (I sat around drinking a beer and supervising). Albert stripped out one of his bolts on his sprocket and had to cut it off. Then he almost stripped off another but managed to rethread it and get it on. He went the rest of the trip on 5 bolts instead of 6. Also, he accidently ordered a sprocket that was two teeth too small. Luckily he was able to still tighten it enough to finish the trip.

 

That night Ken came back out for steaks (go figure) and some more BS'ing. A good time was had by all.

 

Day 6 (Deal's Gap):

Finally the day came to ride the Dragon. We started out on the route that was in our GPS and right away we decided that gravel roads were no good. So we turned back and improvised.

 

We rode around to the NC side of the Gap and hit it from that side. The roads were awsome getting there. The twisties were getting tighter and tighter. The only drawback was gravel on some of the corners.

 

Coming up on that side the pavement sucks! At the time I thought that all of the hype may be crap if the pavement didn't get better! Little did I know this wasn't even really into the pass yet. After a couple miles we came across the gas station at the base of the pass and stopped for gas (Marty's Duc was getting a little thirsty). While there I asked a rider there if the pavement was this bad the whole way through. He said, no, at the TN border it turned good. Boy was he right!

 

So, off we went through the gap. I was leading, Marty was behind me, and Albie was bringing up the rear. I have to admit, I was a little intimidated at first but after getting to TN (where the pavement was perfect) I had gotten over that and realized it is nothing I couldn't handle.

 

The roads are everything you have heard and more! They are left-right-left-right-left-right-left-right with some ups and downs thrown in. You don't really go more than 100 yards without turning. The corners are pretty much on camber the whole way through and it is a LOT of work. smile.gif

 

About 3/4 of the way through, you come out on top of the mountain and have a beautiful view of the river below and its dam. We took some pics there that I hope to post in a week or so. From there, Albert went first, Marty second, and I went last.

 

On the other side (after Albert went too far and we had to chase him down), we stopped for a minute. I asked what we wanted to do and the consensous was that we didn't want to come all this way and only run it once! So, back we went, all the way to the gas station. Apparently that is where Marty found the limits of his D220's. He kept it upright but he was spinning 'em a little out of some of the corners...

 

We were all pretty beat by the time we got there and we wanted to get some souveniers. After purchasing our shirts, we got together to figure out how we wanted to go back. The answer was, "The fastest way possible". We were beat and it was about 2 hours from dusk. Fortunately, the fastest way possible was back through the Gap!

 

We rode all the way back through and then mostly slabbed it back to the cabins. After another grilled steak we all collapsed in our beds thouroughly beat.

 

Day 7 (First Day Back):

On Fri. morning we headed back to Ken's for some oil for Marty's bike. He wanted to Iron Butt it back due to the Tropical Storm slated send rain up to Dallas. Albert and I didn't want to kill ourselves that way so we split up.

 

Albert and I took US Highways all day and Marty hit the superslab. The only thing of note from our day (besides the fact that I didn't eat steak that night) was the guy riding the lawnmower down the Highway at one point. At least he had the curtesy to use his hand signal when he was turning off...

 

We stayed at a Super 8 and I did not eat steak...

 

Day 8 (Slab):

This morning dawned bright and sunny. We decided to finish mostly on the Super Slab and it was pretty uneventful. I made it back at 2pm smelly and tired but very content.

 

Finally:

Thanks to everyone who made it on the trip. Especially thanks for keeping the rubber side down! A big thanks goes out to Marty for hooking us up with the cabins and the helicopter ride. Also thanks to Ken for taking us up and for generally hanging out with us. Finally, thanks to Dennis and Mary for putting us up (or is that putting up with us).

 

Well that's all folks. Hope you didn't fall asleep. Don't say I didn't warn you!

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David

Here's a picture for ya!

 

deals.jpg

 

Yes, the new paving is nice. I had my best time last month on it. But the gravel and law enforcement are the worst I've seen.

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yellowducati900ss

Thanks for the pic!

 

BTW, I forgot to mention. I didn't have to pass any cars and only 3 motorcycles (two HD's and 1 Goldwing who had no business riding there). The place was totally deserted!

 

Oh yeah, there were no LEO's either!

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