Dodging the RoadkillClarksville, Tn — On my recent trip to the Smoky Mountains, I was riding with a group of seven bikers.  Most of our riding was together, and other than a quick trip to the grocery store, we were always together.

On this particular day, two of us were ready to beat the heat and head back to the hotel so he and I went one way and the group went another.

The trip back to the hotel dictated that we ride the Tail of the Dragon.  Once we were at Deals Gap, we had two options to Robbinsville, NC. 

Smoky Mountains 2020

The Foothills Parkway with my crew. (photo by Hank Bonecutter)

We could take NC129, (Tapoco Rd) or NC143, (Moonshiner).  My guy was going to take NC129, I wanted to ride the Moonshiner, so we would split up.

As we rode the Dragon, he zipped around and landed at Deals Gap several minutes before me.  When I came to Deals Gap, I saw his Goldwing parked in front of the store and I just honked my horn, and continued along my way. 

The Moonshiner is one of my favorite roads to ride in the mountains, and since this was the only time I was able to ride by myself, I was really enjoying the ride.   

I completed the 20 minute ride back to the hotel and the first thing I noticed when I pulled in was that my partner was nowhere to be found.  This was unusual.  He should have been there before me.   I immediately thought, “OMG, he doesn’t know I made it through the Dragon.”  but I also wondered, “did anything happen to him?”

As soon as I got off the bike, I reached for my phone to text him, and I already had a text that read, “where are you?  Then my phone lit up with a Face time call from him.  “Hey man, where are you?”

I felt bad.

I told him I was sorry, but he was just worried, as I would have been if it had been me.  When he came out of the store at Deals Gap, he waited, waited wondering if something had happened.  He doubled back looking for me.  He even stopped to ask the Rescue Squad people if they had heard anything.

I was embarrassed by the miscommunication but at the end of the day, it was MY responsibility to make sure he knew that I had made it through the Dragon safe and sound.  This was a total brain fart on my part.  We should NEVER make any assumptions on the bike and I ASSUMED he remembered I would be going a different way home, but the problem was he didn’t know I had already come through the Dragon safe and sound.  

When it was all said and done, we chalked it up to misunderstanding, had a laugh and a bourbon and logged it as a memory. 

Remember, NEVER leave your wingman!