Even though we are closed during most of the winter months, wintertime can be an enjoyable time to ride The Dragon. The key is to be prepared. Here are ten tips for riding during colder weather at The Dragon.
1. Winter Gear
When it comes to winter gear, the top choice for colder weather days is heated gear. Items like gloves, boots, jackets and pants that can be plugged into your bike are great options that will provide you with an abundance of warmth at your finger tips. If you’re not wearing electrical gear, another great choice is hand warmers. These are ideal for gloves and boots which typically feel the cold temps first.
Wearing articles of clothing that you can easily remove as the temperature rises will help prevent overheating. It keeps you comfortable while still providing layers to put back on when the temps begin to drop. The best way to be prepared to handle the changing temps or even colder temps is to layer your clothing. Extra clothing can easily be kept in a tank bag or backpack.
A neck gator or balaclava is helpful in preventing cold air to rush down your jacket as your ride and will keep your neck warm. Also, be sure to close any vents in your helmet on cold days.
2. Tire Temp
Colder air temps bring colder road surfaces and tires which greatly impact traction and grip. Make sure to check your tire’s pressure before your ride to ensure they are set to the appropriate pressure. Be aware that it could take additional time for your tires to reach an ideal level of operation and depending on the temp of the day they may never get to ideal conditions which will effect their performance.
3. Road Conditions
Be aware of the possible road conditions that could present themselves in the winter. The Dragon does receive annual snow fall and road crews are active on the road with treatments like plows and salt trucks. Even when the road is rideable there is still the possibility of debris from trees and wildlife that can present obstacles. Typically in the winter the 104 paved pull offs tend to get covered with debris so use care when pulling into them to let faster traffic pass.
Our resort is closed from the middle of November to early March which makes fueling during the winter a little more tricky. Places to fill up or top off are located 18 miles south along US 129 in Robbinsville, NC or 30 miles north in Maryville, TN. Both of which should be reachable with most modern bikes and defiantly most of today’s cars.
5. Lack of first responders
During the prime season the Blount County Rescue Squad has first responders stationed on The Dragon in case of any accidents or injuries. This service is typically only during the busy time of the year and when winter comes to the area can turn desolate. This is great for decreasing traffic, but greatly increases the response time if someone were in need of help. For this reason, it’s helpful to have a riding buddy or group with you.
6. Different traffic patterns
Along with an lack of the typical tourist and local traffic, it’s not unusual to find different traffic patterns in the winter as some people could have traveled for some distance before seeing another vehicle. Be aware that road conditions and the sparse traffic can cause riders and drivers to behave unexpectedly.
7. Bike prep
You’ve already checked your bike’s tire pressure, but what about oil and coolant? Both of which can be temperature sensitive in colder conditions. In the colder riding temps it’s suggested to running a lower viscosity if you are riding in more fridge temps. Make sure your bike’e coolant is current and is glycol based. Bonus points for safety wiring your oil plugs and coolant cap.
The scenery in the winter can be amazing. The lack of leaves defiantly change the landscape of the area. The cold landscapes can be breath taking especially if there is snow on the ground. The winter air is typically dryer and provides exceptional long distance views unlike the moist summer air. As a local, I always find it interesting to see what exists under all the leaves after they have fallen off and left the trees bare. Seeing larger wildlife such as deer and even bear while driving or riding are not unheard of.
9. Weather – times of day
Mountain conditions vary depending on time of day and time of year. Some mornings can start off cold and frosty and end up with beautiful sunshine and mild temps. There is an old mountain saying that you don’t really know what kind of day it’s going to be until about 10 a.m. This appears to be true as it takes the sun a little longer to crest the mountains and burn off the morning fog and warm up the valleys. We always recommend checking local weather conditions before heading out so you know what to expect.
10. Stay in your lane, use pull offs
Though the winter weather is not the “prime” riding time for the Dragon it can still be a great place to enjoy the day of course depending on your temperature sensitivity. The lack of traffic can make The Dragon feel empty, but it’s important to remember that it’s not. There is still through traffic and people who can be unfamiliar with the area and the road. Whether you are someone who is visiting for the first time, or a regular, please remember to stay in your lane and use the 104 paved pull offs.
Want to see what The Dragon can be like in the winter? Watch this video from a recent December ride.
If you can’t make it to The Dragon this winter, not to fret—March is just around the corner and Deals Gap Motorcycle Resort will open back on March 1st. Now is a great to start planning your trip to The Dragon and to book your room at the Resort while reservations are available. Even in March, the weather can still be chilly, so these winter riding tips an help. Also, at our store, we offer winter gear like neck gators and balaclavas, and you can enjoy a hot coffee and a warm meal at our grill to warm up. Book your reservation today by visiting www.DealsGap.com or calling 800-889-5550.