Sep 16 2007
By: R. Neal  shortURL

It's only anecdotal evidence, but Blount County seems to be benefiting from biker tourism.

We were over at the new Ruby Tuesday on Alcoa Highway this past Friday evening. We were sitting at the bar with three couples who had flown in from California (Monterey area) to go ride in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and the "Dragon" on US129.

They seemed like really nice folks. We chatted a bit with one guy, and he said they flew in, were staying at a local motel (they walked to Ruby Tuesday), and were renting motorcycles locally.

I mentioned that I hoped they were renting bikes with stock pipes and mufflers. He said he hoped so too (he rides a BMW, which is probably quieter than my car). He noted that Harleys were the only kind of motorcycles they could rent locally, and he was a little surprised by that.

Maybe there's a business opportunity there for Honda and/or other dealers?

I told them about the stepped up enforcement, and suggested they should be careful because there are lots of crazies up there.

Anyway, they seemed like responsible folks who should be welcomed, along with their tourist dollars. It would be good if we could attract more bikers like these. Maybe the local bike shops could help promote more of that and less of this.


To define the folks who ride

To define the folks who ride Deals Gap US129 crazies, whoa! hold on a minute. If you want to talk crazies over on the Dragon then you really should be looking at the semi trucks that try to make it through there.
I think they are crazy for trying it. But this isn't really about truckers at all. It's about motorcycles and our rights and freedoms to enjoy them no matter where we choose to ride. Because of the stepped up enforcement on the Dragon by TNHP this summer Tennessee has lost a lot of tourism dollars that could have otherwise been spent here in our state. Needless to say how much money the Governors Highway Safety Office spent but from what I saw, heard, and read about the enforcement was overkill. I do agree with you that it would be nice to be able to rent bikes from other dealers other than Harley-Davidson. This is a great motorcycle friendly town with lots of respectful car/truck drivers that do lookout for motorcyclist. As for loud pipes thats another story, I am a harley rider with aftermarket pipes, My bike is lounder than stock but not as loud as many others. Banning them in the nation parks is altogether non american and it takes away our rights. Prayerfully that'll never happen.

Tail of the Dragon

In order to prove your own machismo, try eating 2 pounds of Cotton Candy, and then drive the Dragon. If you can hold it down, then you are a real Man.

viva Evo Morales

I wondered...

I wondered what the effects would be on Biker Tourism when a local highway was named after a client of our County Mayor's (I have no intention of speaking ill of the dead here) following a fatal accident he was involved in with a motorcyclist (Terry Barnard). I had heard there was consideration of a boycott of Blount County by some biker groups.

Does anyone know how that evolved?

Terry Barnard Memorial Hwy

I'm not sure what ever came about all that mess.
I was able to find these two links.

I know the AMA had a hugh billboard as you come back into Maryville on TBMH (321 hwy).

Cotton Candy

I didn't know that I could buy cotton candy at the Dragon. Next time I go through there i'll slow down a bit and look for the cotton candy stand.

I'm not out to prove anything when it comes to Deals Gap, the rider has to be completely focused on the road. It's about having some fun, riding the bike and returning home safely.

The Dragon

A few years ago I had a friend who was a Harley rider and we passed many a lovely Sunday afternoon riding the dragon. Of course on a Harley we "putted" and did not "scream" down as many do today. I was known to be able to hold down a couple of beers on the drive. (My driver was always sober). Don't know if I could pass the cotton candy test though.

Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.

TN Progressive

TN Politics

Knox TN Today

Local TV News

News Sentinel

State News

Local .GOV

Wire Reports