What's the Deals Gap trip all about?
The "250 Nationals" has become a semi-annual trip we've been doing since the Spring of '99. This is a safe, fun, relaxing, enjoyable trip for riders of all skill levels, through some incredibly beautiful mountain areas. We are all very careful riders, much more interested in learning to ride our little bikes well in the twisties, than performing speed demon-esque feats of bravado. The Deal's Gap area and surrounding mountains are some of the best riding/touring areas in the Eastern US.
The Gap isn't really as scary as everyone wants to make it out to be. You can go as fast or slow as you want. Speed is really relative. The slowest you could possibly go on a Ninja 250 is still faster than the 1960-something Ford pickup with the bed full of plastic milk jugs that you're very likely to run across on any given day on the Deal's Gap road.
The Gap is really only 15-minutes of the whole formula. Spending a couple days with other riders of a similar thread is much more about learning things from the others, and learning things about yourself. Leon and Andrew are the kings of long-distance riding. Jeb is the technically-minded computer guy who stops at nothing trying to better his bike and his riding. Brian is the former 250 guy on the F3 who is the perfect example of respect for a bike that deserves it. I'm not sure what I am - maybe just the guy who sits around thinking up countless ways to re-tune his curburetors.
None of us are about racing or worrying how long it takes the slower folks to go through the Gap (or any other road we ride for that matter. As fast as I think I am, I'm still only 25% to 30% as fast as the 'actual' fast guys). Last time we were there, we literally crawled through the Gap because it was raining. It was still a blast. The next day we made the run again, and I was turning the wick up a bit, yet Jeb, who had only seen the road once (I've been through maybe 10-15 times) lagged behind just a bit. No one cared, and we all met up at the other end.
No one will care what your skill level is. If you want to go, go. The only requirement is that you be careful, as that's what we'll also be doing.
The first Deal's Gap Ninja 250 trip.
Three club members were there. All are still members, and still have 250's. At the spring 2007 event, more than 20 people showed up for one or more of the days.
The Three Ninjateers. Leon, Duke, and Daryl at the Deal's Gap Motorcycle Resort near the TN / NC State Line. I believe Leon and Daryl both ride 1989 Ninjas.
Leon and Duke at the corner of Hwy. 129 and Foothills Parkway.
Leon's #97 Ninja (at his campsite in Townsend, TN) alongside my bike.
This is me navigating one of the 300+ corners on Hwy 129. Photo taken by Leon.
"Hey Leon, get back on the right side of the Road!"