This mornings breakfast was bittersweet. We got up to say goodbye to our loveliest of friends Michael & Nuri and we were heading out for the rest of the trip on our own. After days of eating tasty southern fare, we opted for something lighter – in my case the nerves were killing my appetite. Still, we said our goodbyes, took some parting photos and went to work getting the bike ready. A top up of oil and a last check of the route and we were off.
We started with Deals Gap and the Tail of the Dragon – a notoriously twisty route running 11 miles on highway 129. We stopped for a fill, took a glance at the tree of shame (a place where the crashed masses hang the remnants of their bikes after misjudging corner speed) and took off up the mountain. About 2 miles in we caught up with a semi that had decided to test his skills on the winding road – without much luck. Another rider had passed him to warn on-comers that this truck was in their lane around the next bend. It was hair-raising drama. I think that rider saved about 4 people from head-ons – including a Porsche that neatly had to park under the trucks rear axle. A fellow traveller pulled up next to at one of the trucks frequent full-stops and just shook his head; “Incredible” he uttered, then took the lead. I’m glad I witnessed the mayhem (and didn’t witness any carnage) but I think I’ll leave the Gap for others in the future :)
North of the Gap we rode along some stunning fog-drenched lakes as we headed toward a westerly cut-over through Tennessee, before we dropped into Georgia and then finally Alabama. The day was all about getting to Barber Motorsports Museum just outside of Birmingham. We mainly stuck to the interstates stopping only to save a turtle that had wandered onto the road – and to be honest it was a nice mental break from the incredibly technical riding of the previous days. Before we knew it we were at the hotel and in the pool since our room wasn’t ready.
Barber is like nothing I’ve seen. It’s difficult to fathom that the museum represents a private collection of historically relevant motorcycles, and Grand Prix cars. The facility has been beautifully designed with bikes reaching far into the sky and all floors visible from all points. So much attention has been given to restoration and display – it’s hard to believe what you’re seeing. There were times that I just stood looking in all directions with no idea where I wanted to start. So good.
Tonight’s a night to relax, and I’m sooooo looking forward to it.