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Tips on Riding Deal's Gap
Submitted by anonymous reader
Recent Additions are Yellow
- Stay in your lane - There are so many benefits here I shouldn't even have to justify it. If everyone stays in their lane, we get 22 miles of great riding instead of 11 miles dodging oncoming traffic. Riders who cut lanes, particularly in one of the many spots they don't realize is dangerous, often end up going into a curve too fast or with a bad line...it all goes downhill from there. Flow with the road, it's a nice curvy road, why try to straighten it? If you find yourself repeatedly too close to the yellow and can't seem to stop it, try making a few passes riding as close to the white line as you can. This will make you more comfortable with being in the right half of your lane.
- Check your ego - I'd guess about 90% of the accidents are a result of trying to "keep up" or "stay in front" of other, faster riders. You do know you are not the fastest rider don't you? (no it's not me ;)
- Check things out on your first run - Road conditions are pretty consistent at the Gap, due to the lack of in-roads, but your first pass should be at a moderate pace to see how things look. If there is some debris in the road, feel free to pull over and clean it up. You will be a hero for life in someone's eyes, and you won't have to worry about tracking that bad spot.
- Lay off the rear brakes - (on the road) Nearly every black skidmark you see is the result of rear brake slides. Sportbikes in particular can stop so well on the front brakes they will easily raise the rear tire off the road. When this happens, if you so much as touch the rear brake lever the rear tire stops spinning and you lose a majority of your rotational stability. It's a bad habit that is complicated by panic. Save the rear brakes for off-roading. (gravel pull offs, etc)
- Lay off the front brakes - (off the road) So many riders have dumped their bike right in front of me while pulling off the road to talk, that I always point my camera at anyone who appears to be pulling off in case they grab a handful of front brake and dump it. Slow down as much as you can before pulling off, and switch to dirtbike mode when you hit the gravel.
- Lay off the shifting - I run most of the Gap in 2 gears, shifting very rarely. Try sticking to one gear until you are very comfortable and just concentrate on being smooth.
- Fast sections do not last - Many of the problem corners where everyone seems to pile up, are sharp turns at the end of a fast section. Until you have things memorized, and let's be realistic, that's a LOT of memorizing, take it easy on the fast stuff. One more reason to stick with one gear.
- Group Cruising - Spread out. If you are cruising through and you know others will be coming up behind your group, make it easier on them to work their way through by giving them space between bikes. It's nearly impossible to pass a tight group of 4 or more bikes safely, but some riders will try to force a pass on that whole group and it causes accidents, which brings out the cops and ruins things for everyone. You are all going to the same place - there are no roads to turn off onto. You won't get lost if you back off a few feet, I promise.
- Watch for signals - If you see someone motioning for you to slow down or pull over, do it immediately. Mack truck bumpers are not very forgiving to motorcycles or squishy humans. =)
- Give signals - If you know there is a road hazard behind you, motion for other riders to slow down by pressing down with your open palm. If you want to warn others of a speed trap, pat the top of your helmet. If you see a semi heading into the Gap, try to get in front and warn people. I usually ride very close to the center line, even ON the center line, and motion for people to pull off the road by pointing at their shoulder of the road. Try to stay about 2 turns ahead of the rig...just far enough for a person to slow down, but not so long that they think you were crazy and take back off only to meet the truck around the next bend. Also watch your temperature. Try to use a higher gear and coast as much as you can to keep your bike cool.
- Slow down as you near the ends - Speeding up to the crowd at the Overlook or the Store only impresses the types no one is trying to impress. These places are crowded, and dangerous by design. At the Overlook, the parking area on one side of the road is a blind pull out, at the Store you have Hwy 28 joining onto 129, and a parking lot full of bikes and people distracting everyone. Also, the cops like to hang out at the Overlook and clock people as they come speeding around the last bend. The road opens up and it's very inviting to speed. Familiarize yourself with the indicators before each end. Generally we ease off after crossing the state line into NC heading toward the Store, and the last sharp left heading toward the Overlook. There is a yellow/black Curvy Road sign just before the Overlook...the only one between the state line and the Overlook. One other benefit of taking it easy near the end is that it allows your brakes to cool a little. Hammering the brakes right up to the last 10 feet, then parking your bike can very well cause brake rotor warping. The callipers are super hot, and they sit on one spot of the rotor, keeping that spot very hot while the rest of the rotor cools. This difference in heat is what causes warping. Needless to say, stoppies for the crowd just before you park are hell on your rotors.