Riding The Dragonslayer
In my last column I mentioned pointing my bike in a direction, any direction, instead of having a predetermined route or destination in mind. Well, I kind of did both recently. Last week I pointed my bike north into Kentucky. East Kentucky, to be exact.
I connected with a friend who’s the motorsports event coordinator for Backroads of Appalachia, Mr. Jay Fryman. Jay, as his title infers, is responsible for marketing, and delivering a total motorsport’s tourism initiative. I say total because it includes motorcycles, adventure/dual sport bikes, side x sides, Slingshots and a vast number of car clubs with the end game of getting drivers and riders alike on the roads of east Kentucky.
The overarching organization, Backroads of Appalachia, and its Founder and Director, Mr. Erik Hubbard, in conjunction with thirty-two county Chambers of Commerce and tourism heads, envisioned reviving the forgotten coal communities of Eastern Kentucky through the development of a comprehensive motorsport tourism strategy.
Part of that strategy includes trail development. So that we’re clear, a “Trail” is a designated route on current day highways, byways and of course, backroads. And right now, there are over 31 paved trails that snake, wind and climb their way through some of the best riding in the country.
Jay wanted me to ride the trail that inspired it all, The Dragonslayer-160. Leaving from Williamsburg, KY and heading east, I had the opportunity to ride with a road crew from the Whitley County Riders Group as we rode out to Lynch, KY to connect to The Dragonslayer. The journey was as beautiful as you can imagine, rolling hills, hollers and the countryside of Kentucky. And if the beauty and roads aren’t enough, the region is rich, I mean rich with history. As we rolled along, passing the rustic ruggedness of abandoned mines and the communities that once fueled the Industrial Revolution, and an occasional Civil War memorial, I realized that this was also the region of the famous Hatfield and McCoy feud.
The Dragonslayer-160 comes in with 226 curves in 22 miles, boasts the highest mountain peak in Kentucky, Black Mountain at 4,144′ where it overlooks one of the largest strip mines in the Appalachia Mountain chain, and then rapidly drops down into Appalachia, VA, the official start of the Dragonslayer-160.
Upon arriving at Lynch, we stopped at the welcome center to meet up with Erik and other riders. It’s important to note that part of the revitalization of these communities is workforce development and employment. And as this is truly a community effort, the welcome centers are predominantly staffed with those in addiction recovery.
While at the Lynch welcome center, Jay handed me one of their latest Trail cards, a 4″ x 9.5″ laminated card with a trail on each side. It’s not enough that there are over 32 trails, all of them uniquely named for Kentucky; Revenue Runner, To The Holler, Miners Slope 179, The Appalachian Autobahn and so forth, there are also trail cards that depict a geographical layout, a map if you will, of the trail and QR codes to scan for points of interest, fuel, food, attractions and more. Slip it in your pocket and go. And coming out later in June is their interactive App. Simply scan the QR code and it’ll upload to your phone for point to point, and turn by turn navigation.
All in all there are over 2,600 miles of pristine trails and hundreds of points of interest on the trail cards.
If you’re interested in the re-discovery of America by getting on the road, be sure to check out BackroadsofAppalachia.org. Let’s Ride Eastern Kentucky!!!