Motorcyclists call it The Snake — two twisting 11-mile sections of U.S. 421 from Bristol to Mountain City in Tennessee with Shady Valley in the middle providing a rest stop. The Snake is 489 turns in all, many of them switchbacks.

I first rode The Snake last year, discovering it by accident when I headed north out of Boone, North Carolina, towards Mountain City.  I arrived in Shady Valley with a smile after scraping my pegs, and a few other parts of my Super Glide on the first 11-mile stretch of twisties out of Mountain City. I found the second 11-mile stretch more fun.

Friday, with fresh rear rubber on the FXD, a tackled The Snake southbound out of Bristol, arriving at the country store in Shady Valley with another smile and time to chat with several sport bike riders who were heading towards Bristol.  At first they looked with scorn at the gray-haired,  leather-bound Harley rider but after we talked and they discovered that this Harley rider piled up an average of more than four thousand miles a month during the riding season while in search of twisting roads — and that I’d ridden a sport bike or two over the years — we hit it off.

It was late afternoon before I left them for an adrenaline-pumping ride along the second stretch before cruising through Mountain City and taking it easy on the more sedate segment into Boone and the headed home, arriving back in Floyd after 9 p.m. — still smiling.

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