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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
My wife and I love to go to the Appalachian Mountains as often as we can, which is usually a couple of times per year. One of the things that we love to do while we are there is, of course, drive (or ride) the many, many fantastic roads in the area. This time I borrowed a buddy’s GoPro Hero 3 black to play around with on the trip, partially just for fun and partially to see if I would like to buy a set up for myself. I thought I’d post the videos on P-9 for anyone who is interested in seeing what driving two of my many favorite roads is like.

To begin with, I didn’t know how much space the recordings would require so I left it set on 1080p/30 fps, instead of one of the higher resolution settings. He has a Ram suction mount that worked reasonably well. I played around with it mounted on the flat surface between the seats which allowed the best exhaust sound capture and also the cockpit of the car (and unfortunately the driver ;) ). I also tried it mounted on the windshield, which resulted in the camera being oriented perpendicular to the dash. I assumed I could rotate the video 90 degrees to compensate but, at least in my initial efforts, I have not been able to do it, so you have to tilt your head to the side to view it LOL! Perhaps there’s an app for it but I don’t have it.

Surprisingly, the wind buffeting wasn’t any worse perched between the headrests than it was tucked behind the windshield, which I thought was interesting. He’s a pilot and scuba diver and doesn’t have the skeletonized case or an external mic. If I do get a set up for myself, those will be my first accessories so i can get the exhaust note and lessen the wind noise. You can get an idea of the beautiful song the 981S sings through the FVD, but it can be recorded much better.

I drove the roads first, then proceeded to make another pass on video. As is typical, there was always one or two other vehicles on the road, so I would often just pull over and let a gap develop before taking off again. As a result, the videos are in short segments rather than one long one. I know there are apps to stitch them all together, but this is my first time videoing anything and I have a lot to learn.

The first four videos are captured on NC Hwy 226A, a.k.a. The Diamondback, which is located at Little Switzerland, just off the Blue Ridge Parkway around mile marker 332. 226A makes a loop off Hwy 226. I’ve been driving this loop for 15 years or so but in the past couple of years, local businesses have really started marketing it to motorcyclists and auto enthusiasts, a la “Tail of the Dragon” further to the west. It has always been challenging and fun to dive down the side of the mountain and back up again, but last year it was repaved and has taken it to an all new level of quality. Since I ride motorcycles as well as drive sports cars, I’m always evaluating pavement quality and the presence of road debris, etc. even when driving. The Diamondback is now on par with The Dragon in terms of road quality. Where it does differ from The Dragon, however, is that there are people who live there and who’s driveways come off the road, as well as a few businesses and crossroads. You’ll see plenty of them in the videos. Here's a map of The Diamondback. The stretch on the video is from the 1100 marker to just before the junctin of 226 to 226A.



The other thing that it lacks, up to this point in time in my experience, is a crowd and law enforcement. Other than enthusiasts who specifically know about the road, there’s just not much traffic on it. There are a few motels and resorts, which often are the base camp for group rides or drives, but other than that, most tourists stick to the Parkway.

The videos are meant to be for your viewing pleasure, not for driving or videography critique. I do welcome thoughts about the general videoing of driving as, as I mentioned, this was my first foray into it. I always love reading posts on P-9 from members' trips, particularly with video. I sometimes live vicariously through your posts, such as driving the Stilvio or Furka Pass or just your local mountain drives. That is what inspired me to try this so I hope you enjjoy.

Here are four segments from The Diamondback merged into one video:



Probably anyone who is east of the Mississippi River, heck even of the Rocky Mountains, is familiar with the stretch of US 129 that crosses from Northeast North Carolina into Southwest Tennessee. The owner of the small store located at Deal’s Gap at the junction of NC 28 and US 129, has done an incredible job of marketing the road and his store as The Tail of the Dragon. It used to be a small convenience store with a few gas pumps and the infamous tree of shame, but it has grown into a full blown motel, catering mostly to motorcyclists, restaurant and souvenir shop that must ‘print money’ based on the amount of product that flies out of it’s doors. I myself have spent a hefty little sum in trinkets over the years. It’s all in good fun as it becomes a hangout for enthusiasts of all forms and genres to meet, swap stories and enjoy the various machines that frequent the road. At some point a decade ago or so, I was talking to the owner about his personal car, a Boxster, and he raved about it’s handling on the various roads. The Dragon’s notoriety brinks on the legendary and as a result, has become a ‘must ride/drive’ for innumerable enthusiasts and car clubs. Of course it has made quite a splash on Youtube as well.

Its success can also be its worst enemy as it attracts so many people that it can be quite crowded at times. This has also led to increased law enforcement patrolling the road as well, which has at times curtailed how aggressively the road is driven by some I’m sure. Reports of tickets for simply touching the yellow line or going one mile an hour over the speed limit have circulated the various forums and blogs and perhaps turned some away, however I have no idea as to the validity of those reports. I haven’t personally been there on a weekend in over a decade to avoid the crowd and LEO as much as possible. I can confirm, however, that I have seen local Sheriffs and TN Highway Patrol using radar along the circuitous route. This trip, 5 Sheriffs riding Victory Motorcycles pulled into the store for lunch and I overheard a guy saying they had been on the nearby Cherohala Skyway using radar. On the Dragon at least, there is really no where for them to hide, but they don’t really need to as you won’t see them around the curve until they have you firmly in their radar. Safety is the reason for their presence. It’s often quoted to have 1-2 fatalities per year, but I’m sure the revenue stream doesn’t hurt their departments either.

Interesting things I have personally witnessed first hand on Tail of the Dragon over the years are an 18 wheeler getting hung on a curve (just last fall), accidents, bears and other wildlife crossing the road and on this trip, an SUV pulling a 26’ boat following their GPS’s routing.

There are several things to love about US 129. First and foremost is the quality of the driving conditions. The road is very technical (you really don’t need to shift out of 2nd gear for the most part), the pavement is always in outstanding condition (I don’t know how it remains free of degradation considering it is in the mountains), it is always debris free (except for an occasional branch , etc.) and there are zero driveways or cross streets. Perhaps the least appreciated attribute is that it is just one of many, many other great roads all around the area, which means you can explore terrific roads for hours and miles on end. US 28, for example, is fantastic, the Foothills Parkway between the north end of the Dragon and Townsend, TN is beautiful and the aforementioned Cherohala Skyway, connecting Robbinsville, NC and Telico Plains, TN is one of my personal favorite drives anywhere.

So, here are some segments of my most recent Dragon Slaying adventure. I was trying to be smooth to keep the video watchable, avoiding maximum acceleration and braking, while still driving spiritedly. Enjoy!


This post has many firsts for me: my first GoPro video, my first ever video post on P-9, my first ever Youtube post and my first time to try all three at once.

EDIT:
I've leaned a lot by playing around with the editing features of Youtube and merged the videos into one continuous one, for those of you that may notice only one video instead of multiple ones.
 

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Great videos. I didn't watch them all but the ones I did watch were awesome.

One consideration to eliminate the wind buffeting is to get an external mic. I route mine just above the exhaust and all I get is the zueffenhausen symphony with no wind buffeting or cockpit voices. :)
 

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Nice videos! Even for your first attempts. Never have done it myself. Enjoyed the write up too. Keep it up. Btw i like your ability to heel toe....i just cannot do it! Sounds great when you do it. Jon
 
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Always nice watching those videos! It's however preferable to connect a external mic to the gopro to eliminate wind buffering (for that you need to add a foam windscreen). Clearly, and as subshooter said, the best place to fix the mic is just above the exhaust!


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Looks like an awesome time! I really wish we had roads like that where I live. Our roads are so straight and boring!

if you want to add some extra safety to taking your car on roads like that in a spirited manner. Try and keep your hands at 9 and 3 the whole time. Every time you would come up on a sharp turn you would use 1 hand at the top of the wheel and pull it to either side, this might feel comfortable but if you were to ever get into an oversteer situation (aka drift/fishtail), your hands aren't in a position to easily recover from the slide. With the cliffs being so close I'd hate for anything bad to happen!

Awesome videos :) drive safe!
 
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Discussion Starter #9
Looks like an awesome time! I really wish we had roads like that where I live. Our roads are so straight and boring!

if you want to add some extra safety to taking your car on roads like that in a spirited manner. Try and keep your hands at 9 and 3 the whole time. Every time you would come up on a sharp turn you would use 1 hand at the top of the wheel and pull it to either side, this might feel comfortable but if you were to ever get into an oversteer situation (aka drift/fishtail), your hands aren't in a position to easily recover from the slide. With the cliffs being so close I'd hate for anything bad to happen!

Awesome videos :) drive safe!
Yeah that's the first thing I noticed when I watched the videos too. You can't hide bad habits from the camera and I wasn't even aware that I was doing it of course. I had leaned my seat back more than normal too so the tach would be visible in the camera view. It may not have been necessary in retrospect and it extended my arms more than my normal. But I think the hands issue was simply just bad form on my part :rolleyes:, which probably stems from the hum drum of daily driving and not enough track time and continuing instruction. Thanks for the reminder, I appreciate it!
 

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Awesome! yes, needed higher quality video recording - sound was actually pretty good, can really appreciate how engaging the car is, the sound matches the spirit. I like seeing the steering wheel on videos, you can really see how much steering input is being used.
Props to you on the manual!
well done.
As a comparison, I have some older footage (N GA Mountains) of front windshield mount (inside) using Harrys Lap Timer and video on an iPhone. Less exciting as you cannot see steering input and the sound is not as good as yours.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wGydulkfX0E
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Awesome! yes, needed higher quality video recording - sound was actually pretty good, can really appreciate how engaging the car is, the sound matches the spirit. I like seeing the steering wheel on videos, you can really see how much steering input is being used.
Props to you on the manual!
well done.
As a comparison, I have some older footage (N GA Mountains) of front windshield mount (inside) using Harrys Lap Timer and video on an iPhone. Less exciting as you cannot see steering input and the sound is not as good as yours.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wGydulkfX0E
Love your video! I've heard of Harry's Lap timer but never looked into it because I thought it was tied to race tracks out of ignorance. Something like that might push me over the edge to buy my own GoPro as that was totally awesome to see your data on the screen. Thanks for sharing.

I've ridden/driven in the North Georgia area in the past, particularly around Suches, I can't remember the nickname for the road, pig trail or something like that perhaps?
 

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That is the N Ga mountains around Suches on the way to Blue Ridge

Harry's Lap Timer is awesome - I really have not used it since I sold my turbo, but I liked it better than a GoPro. Each has their place though. With Harrys, everything is integrated well...Mount my phone, start the app, and video / the layered tracking occurs. I have not tried to layer onto a GoPro video. If you buy a dongle, you can also capture in shifting, revs and other info. Used it for some autocross events, it takes a little experience to setup properly. Only about $40 for the program and quality is great.
Here is a clip of Autox with just a GoPro in 2 different mounting positions - I think it is less interesting than seeing Harrys data layered on top.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dcqQps19SgQ
 

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Yeah that's the first thing I noticed when I watched the videos too. You can't hide bad habits from the camera and I wasn't even aware that I was doing it of course. I had leaned my seat back more than normal too so the tach would be visible in the camera view. It may not have been necessary in retrospect and it extended my arms more than my normal. But I think the hands issue was simply just bad form on my part :rolleyes:, which probably stems from the hum drum of daily driving and not enough track time and continuing instruction. Thanks for the reminder, I appreciate it!
yeah definitely, even in normal driving I do the same thing as you. You just gotta get in a different mindset when you go driving for fun
 
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Great post S Deacon, I drove the Blue Ridge and Diamondback for the first time, in my then new to me 981 BS last May. Great fun with empty roads and great weather. The Diamondback pavement early last May was terrible however, I think they were in the process of repaving it. Can't wait to go back and drive it with a new surface.
 

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Looks like you had fun. Personally, hate when sports cars get onto the Dragon and slows us sportbikers down :taunt:
 

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Looks like you had fun. Personally, hate when sports cars get onto the Dragon and slows us sportbikers down :taunt:
LOL! Over the years I've ridden it on my bikes, including a Ducati 996, Yammy FJR1300 and Goldwing as well as a friend's 'Busa too, just for cred :cool:. I admit that I'm probably quicker in my cars though.
 

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You have been riding too of bike of a bike on the Dragon :burnout:. Last I heard (some years back) that a modded Suzuki SM400 held the fastest time from the Store to the Lake and back. My last run was on a Triumph Street Triple R and it was a blast!
 

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Discussion Starter #18
It's about corner speed for sure, not power.


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