Dragon Safety - North American Motoring

10th Annual MINIs On The Dragon (May 2 - 6, 2012) MOTD 2012

Dragon Safety

  #1  
Old 04-17-2012, 08:45 AM
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Dragon Safety

OK, since no one else has started this thread, I'm taking it upon myself to do so. If I get a little lecture-y it's because Dragon safety is a serious issue and I care about all my fellow MINI drivers/passengers.

Firstly, I strongly recommend that all newbies attend the How To Drive the Dragon seminars. In fact, I can't recommend this strongly enough by simply posting this.

I'm going to be blunt and if it scares you, all the better.
The Dragon can kill you if you're not extremely careful. It claims lives every year. Nearly every one of the 318 curves is totally blind, with a precipitous, heavily forested cliff on one side and a solid rock wall on the other. There are very few guard rails. There are sport bikers and car drivers who are so hopped up on adrenaline and testosterone that they throw caution, and their and your mortality, out the window.

Driven within safe and speed limits, the Dragon is a total blast..a ride you'll never forget. You will enhance your experience immensely by attending one of the seminars.

SAFE DRIVING APPLIES TO ALL THE ROADS IN THE AREA! The Hellbender has claimed it's share of cars as well.

Ok, I'll stop lecturing now. :X
 

Last edited by kgdblu; 04-23-2012 at 07:31 AM.
  #2  
Old 04-17-2012, 09:36 AM
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In 2007 Xiek and I were the first ones on the scene following a cycle accident. It was 30 minutes before a LEO arrived and nearly 45 before a rescue vehicle came. This is no place to be involved in an accident. There is limited communication and responders are a LONG way away.
 
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Old 04-17-2012, 09:38 AM
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+1 to that!

Also, if you think that you may be too slow for the car behind you, pull off at a spot you are comfortable with and let them pass! I am not the fast guy, I am the guy who lets people pass. For the people who are behind us slower folks, give us some space.

Just Remember...


SPEED LIMITS:

Prior to 1992 the speed limit in both Tennessee and North Carolina was 55 mph. In 1993 the speed limit on the Tennessee side was lowered to 40 mph. In 2002 the speed limit was lowered to 30 mph, which is still in effect today. The North Carolina portion of the Dragon was lowered to 30 mph in early 2005..
 

Last edited by CoopersGuy; 04-17-2012 at 02:50 PM.
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Old 04-17-2012, 09:41 AM
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Originally Posted by kgdblu View Post
I strongly recommend that all newbies attend the How To Drive the Dragon seminars. In fact, I can't recommend this strongly enough by simply posting this.
I plan to be there on the 2nd!
 
  #5  
Old 04-20-2012, 08:08 PM
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Thanks for the strong endorsement, Katie. MINI of Wesley Chapel is sponsoring the Safety and Orientation sessions this year (I'm an MA there) and everyone who attends will get a very nice commemorative pin. Here's the video we watch in those sessions, which also include a moderately-paced Dragon run.

 
  #6  
Old 04-21-2012, 07:56 AM
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Great video Jack, thank you for putting it together!
 
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Old 04-22-2012, 06:53 AM
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A quick question: How necessary (or strongly recommended, recommended, or purely optional) are the FRS radio and CG Lock? I don't currently own either, so how much effort should I put into tracking down one or the other or both? (I'm basically just going to be putting in a cameo at MOTD for the safety session and newbie run; unfortunately I won't be able to stick around for more than that.)
 
  #8  
Old 04-22-2012, 02:30 PM
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Originally Posted by TimL View Post
A quick question: How necessary (or strongly recommended, recommended, or purely optional) are the FRS radio and CG Lock? I don't currently own either, so how much effort should I put into tracking down one or the other or both? (I'm basically just going to be putting in a cameo at MOTD for the safety session and newbie run; unfortunately I won't be able to stick around for more than that.)
IMO, the locks are handy if you are a small person and your belt does not sit snug over your lap, or if you plan on really moving on the dragon. So at the very least I don't think you would need it for your first time to the dragon. But if you ever find yourself sliding out of the seat, you might want to get one.

FRS radio though is very good to have, and is something you will want to bring. I would say that 75% of the perople there will be using a FRS and it is used as a way to communicate issues on the dragon. I know it has saved many by letting people know of dangers ahead like semi-trucks, and also just slow moving traffic. Because of very poor cell/mobile signal the FRS is also sometimes the best way to communicate.

The signal distance of FRS is usually only about 3 to 5 miles due to the trees and mountains, but people motoring can get a message from one end of the dragon to the other very quickly. In 2007 we bounced a message from the parking lot at mile 11 all the way to the t-shirt shack in Deals Gap in less than 90 seconds.

The price tag on a FRS may make you want to skip it, but for the $35 to $75 for one, it is worth it.
 
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Old 04-22-2012, 02:40 PM
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Originally Posted by camminich View Post
IMO, the locks are handy if you are a small person and your belt does not sit snug over your lap, or if you plan on really moving on the dragon. So at the very least I don't think you would need it for your first time to the dragon. But if you ever find yourself sliding out of the seat, you might want to get one.

FRS radio though is very good to have, and is something you will want to bring. I would say that 75% of the perople there will be using a FRS and it is used as a way to communicate issues on the dragon. I know it has saved many by letting people know of dangers ahead like semi-trucks, and also just slow moving traffic. Because of very poor cell/mobile signal the FRS is also sometimes the best way to communicate.

The signal distance of FRS is usually only about 3 to 5 miles due to the trees and mountains, but people motoring can get a message from one end of the dragon to the other very quickly. In 2007 we bounced a message from the parking lot at mile 11 all the way to the t-shirt shack in Deals Gap in less than 90 seconds.

The price tag on a FRS may make you want to skip it, but for the $35 to $75 for one, it is worth it.
Cool; thanks for the info!

I've already been looking at a few radio reviews online; any particular recommendations or features I should be watching out for?
 
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Old 04-23-2012, 05:12 AM
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I had a rare clean run a few weeks ago and fortunately made a video of it, labeling the highlights. It is in real time, so is 20 minutes of your day if you watch the whole thing.

http://youtu.be/km3UyFiZRZQ
 
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Old 04-23-2012, 05:51 AM
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Treat the double yellow line as if it was a concrete barrier! ALWAYS!
 
  #12  
Old 04-23-2012, 05:59 AM
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Originally Posted by TimL View Post
Cool; thanks for the info!

I've already been looking at a few radio reviews online; any particular recommendations or features I should be watching out for?
I would say get a Motorola FRS/GMRS dual band radio, and look for one that uses both a recharable battery, and regular batteries like AA. It's real handy to keep it charged, and then use the batteries as a backup. I think Target/Wal-Mart sell some for less than $60 for two. I will add having a second is also a good idea.
 
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Old 04-23-2012, 06:38 AM
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Originally Posted by camminich View Post
I would say get a Motorola FRS/GMRS dual band radio, and look for one that uses both a recharable battery, and regular batteries like AA. It's real handy to keep it charged, and then use the batteries as a backup. I think Target/Wal-Mart sell some for less than $60 for two. I will add having a second is also a good idea.
Thanks!
 
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Old 04-23-2012, 06:48 AM
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Just remember, "Hell Bender" has claimed it's share of victims also.
 
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Old 04-23-2012, 07:29 AM
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Originally Posted by FranticFreddy View Post
Just remember, "Hell Bender" has claimed it's share of victims also.
You're absolutely right! Driving safely applies to ALL the roads.
 
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Old 04-23-2012, 09:19 AM
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Originally Posted by camminich View Post
Great video Jack, thank you for putting it together!
Glad to do it! We're gonna have a ton of fun and we're gonna be safe while we do it.
 
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Old 04-23-2012, 09:22 AM
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Tim:

FRS Radios are a great investment that you will use at many MINI events and drives. The CG Lock is not required but it's a nice thing to have and keeps your butt in the seat. I used to use one and then graduated to a Schroth harness because I also use it for track days and autocross. You'll be fine without the CG Lock. No worries.

Originally Posted by TimL View Post
A quick question: How necessary (or strongly recommended, recommended, or purely optional) are the FRS radio and CG Lock? I don't currently own either, so how much effort should I put into tracking down one or the other or both? (I'm basically just going to be putting in a cameo at MOTD for the safety session and newbie run; unfortunately I won't be able to stick around for more than that.)
 
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Old 04-23-2012, 09:24 AM
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Originally Posted by 865 View Post
Treat the double yellow line as if it was a concrete barrier! ALWAYS!
I'm loving this! My analogy is to imaging you're playing that old kid's game, "Operation," where if you touch the sides while removing the body parts, you're out. Well, on the Dragon and all the other roads, when you touch the sides you could be out, and that's the inside AND the outside.
 
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Old 04-23-2012, 09:25 AM
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Originally Posted by FranticFreddy View Post
Just remember, "Hell Bender" has claimed it's share of victims also.
You are absolutely right! In the video I warn that there have been more MINI accidents on the Hellbender than on the Dragon itself.
 
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Old 04-23-2012, 11:44 AM
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Originally Posted by MINIBee View Post
Tim:

FRS Radios are a great investment that you will use at many MINI events and drives. The CG Lock is not required but it's a nice thing to have and keeps your butt in the seat. I used to use one and then graduated to a Schroth harness because I also use it for track days and autocross. You'll be fine without the CG Lock. No worries.
Thanks, Jack!
 
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Old 04-23-2012, 08:24 PM
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Originally Posted by womble View Post
I had a rare clean run a few weeks ago and fortunately made a video of it, labeling the highlights. It is in real time, so is 20 minutes of your day if you watch the whole thing.

http://youtu.be/km3UyFiZRZQ

Great video It really helped me to see what the road is like.

I hope you will be bringing your Austin Mini next week
 
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Old 04-24-2012, 06:42 PM
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Hi John. Thanks! I did my best to label everything I could. I'll have the classic there.

A few more safety items to mention that you can see in the video.

1. Depending on the time of day, lighting changes quickly and sometimes in the middle of a curve, (2:04) (3:31) (6:48) (11:02) (12:52) so watch your speed and following distance as you notice bright spots ahead. Make sure your windshield is clean inside and out. The Dragon is not a good place to realize you haven't cleaned the inside of your windshield in a long time.
2. There will be at least 5 or 6 probably more photographers during the weekend set up in various strategic locations; many times in blind curves (11:55)(13:37)(14:38). Focus on driving.
3. Be mindful of approaching drivers' and bikers' signals. At (5:32) I give a flat wave to let the approaching car know that they may want to slow down because of the parked patrol car ahead. At (14:10) a biker taps the top of his helmet, which told me to watch my speed because of the law enforcement presence ahead. Obviously you can't really do this safely if you are in a curve, but in a straight you can.
4. Expect all kinds of drivers and vehicles. Towed vehicles (0:45), Cruisers (1:22), Stopped Sightseers (1:29 and 17:35)), Packs of sports cars (3:11), Pickups (6:56), Bikers wanting to pass Pickups (8:55), Bikers hauling *** (18:38) and of course, lots of Minis next week . I think everyone will understand if you don't wave. Leave that to your passengers.

Be good.
 
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Old 04-27-2012, 01:19 PM
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I know it's been said, but STAY ON YOUR SIDE!!
 
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Old 07-16-2012, 03:54 PM
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Originally Posted by womble View Post
I had a rare clean run a few weeks ago and fortunately made a video of it, labeling the highlights. It is in real time, so is 20 minutes of your day if you watch the whole thing.

http://youtu.be/km3UyFiZRZQ
Great video!
I really like how you labeled the turns.
The reports and photos of MTTS 2012 going down The Dragon really made me miss it.
May seems a long way off.
 
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