Saturday, April 11, 2015

Tail of the Gecko

Another popular Florida ride is Tail of the Gecko that runs just under 20 miles north from State Road 62 (east of Bradenton) to County Road 672. No, there's no comparison to the Tail of the Dragon in the west North Carolina Smoky Mountains and Tennessee with its 318 curves in 11 miles. The Gecko is more Florida backroads with their rough surface and tree canopies with a lot of 90 degree left and right turns and a few nice sweepers.

Round trip from North Tampa was 95 miles including 25 highway miles on the way down. Normally I try to stay off highways, unless I'm on a long trip, but I'm still getting used to my new 2015 Kawasaki Versys 1000 LT and want to feel it on the highway. One thing I wanted to play around with was the screen height at high speeds. I placed it in the middle range and it was fine, even with my helmet that has a visor. More and more, this new Versys is really looking like the great touring motorcycle that I'd hoped it would be.

The first thing you're going to do on the Tail of the Gecko is blow past the first road. It's Bunker Hill Road and it's a pain to find almost every time I go down there. 

Yeah, there's a sign there, but it may be better to keep your eyes peeled for the blue Baptist Church sign.

The curves start after you turn on to Taylor Grade Road from Bunker Hill, right at a Vinyard. 

Like I said, it's not so much sweepers and hair pins as it is very sharp, 90 degree turns one way or the other.

Then when you get to Grange Hall Loop, the road turns into something I'd liken to a bike trail. It's one lane, no lines, and the traffic is still two-way.

Not only are the turns tight, there is a lot of sand in them. You can't push it too hard.

Oh, and where does all that sand come from. There aren't a lot of hills around to block the wind so once it's kicked up by wind or farm vehicles, it seems to go wherever it wants ... which is everywhere.

Well, so much for Tail of the Gecko. It's been about two years since I last rode it and suspect that it'll be two or more before I go back. However, it a little over a month, I'll be heading out on a Smoky Mountain motorcycle trip and will ride the real Tail. It's actually been two years since my last trip to the Smoky Mountains; far too long. Here's me and my Yamaha Super Tenere on the Tail of the Dragon in 2012.

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