Beantown Baggers

The Tree of Shame

Here he lies with pistons and crank
Burried up to his ass
In the face of this bank
He challenged the Dragon
To have some fun
As you can see, the Dragon won!!

-Carl Cooper

Deals Gap, North Carolina is home to the Tail of the Dragon. An eleven mile stretch of more twisties than you can fathom through the Smoky Mountains. No intersecting roads, no houses, many of these hairpin turns are banked, few guard rails and even fewer cars.

If you live in the US, this is where real and experienced riders’ talents shine through and it can be a white knuckled adventure if you want it to be – whichever level you’re at. And it was for me!

We arrived at the Harley dealership at the base of US129 to pick up some pins and with fully packed bikes made it through the tail. Truly an exhilarating and humbling stretch of road for me. Unfamiliar with this kind of terrain and having completed the Iron Butt the day prior I recognized this was both proving ground and a rite of passage. We’d checked into our accommodations right on the tail, ate the amazing and required southern BBQ and made our way through – though I did so considerably slower pace than well…quite a few people I imagine. Where I found my rhythm was  on the roads that followed just after the tail carving through at a very healthy pace. After some time off the bikes we decided to make our way through again before dark to hit another BBQ spot (side note: it is a sin to ride by BBQ). Part way through that ride we came up on a red Camaro driving what seemed to be 6 or 7 mph. Basically, the only car we would see all weekend.  Eventually, this guy pulls off to the side to let us pass and I let on it like a kid in a candy store. I’m headed downwards towards a narrow twisty and realize I’m traveling far, far too fast to make this turn…

Fast forward some hours into the night we’re socializing with some great dudes from South Carolina when I tell my story which they’d been waiting to hear – as this astonishingly still ridable bike was parked next to their room. I’d made it a point to bring back parts for one reason – the Tree of Shame. Had to happen and I think humility leads to humbleness so what the hell.

It hangs there still today! Just look for a black piece of tin hung upside down with “half sac” scratched in the paint.




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