Deals Gap, or the Tail of the Dragon, whatever you prefer to call it, is a section of road in Tennessee that borders North Carolina. As the name Tail of the Dragon suggests, this stretch of road features 318 curves in just 11 miles. Averaging 28 turns per mile sounds like it’s a dream, and when you see the scenery it becomes clear it is as close to a dream as real life gets. While it’s all real there is more to the story, even tales of a legend lurking in this neck of the woods, and he goes by the name of the Yellow Wolf.
Since the dawn of mankind, man has taken any set of curves and competed to see who can make it through fastest. It’s an age-old tradition that stems back to the beginning of time. Okay maybe not that long, but certainly since the invention of the first motorized vehicles. Deals Gap is no exception, with many riders coming here to test their merit, their skills, and their bikes. And this is where the legend of the Yellow Wolf begins. Some say he and his motorcycle are one, as no one has every seen him off his bike. Others say he sold his soul to the devil for god-like motorcycling skills. Whatever myth you choose to believe there is no denying the facts, the Yellow Wolf is the fast man in the Gap, and he’s not on a sportbike.
Yellow Wolf is a legend because while you are trying to keep up on your literbike he is outpacing you on a GL1800, in other words, a Honda Goldwing. Not familiar with the Honda Goldwing? Well this is what it looks like:
Yup. Essentially the minivan of the two-wheeled world. And still, Yellow Wolf can outpace most every rider he comes in contact with at Deals Gap. Hell, you can even pay him to film your humility. The big yellow Wing’ has been equipped with 3 different cameras and an onboard recording system. For around 60 bucks you can have your own spotlight while you wind through the famous stretch of asphalt. While he is very fast, Yellow Wolf will entertain the slower practitioners, filming any skill level that comes his way. But it’s the videos of him leaving sportbikes in their dust that has established the North Carolina natives legacy. Because of his bright yellow bike you can’t miss him, especially when he’s grinding footpegs into sparks of pure speed. Lumbering a 1000lb motorcycle through 318 curves is no mortal task, yet the Wolf has done the full 11 miles in under 12 minutes. He’s even managed to complete 91 laps in under 24 hours, that’s over 1000 miles and a total of 29,786 turns total. Long live the Yellow Wolf.
Now while all of the riding facts are true, I may have exaggerated the origin of the Yellow Wolf. The truth is his real name is Rick Pepin and he’s a blue collar Joe just like you and me. His impressive riding skill comes strictly from his background of dirt bike racing as well as some track riding. A long time truck driver, he came up with a CB handle called Red Wolf, later adapting it to his big yellow Goldwing, hence Yellow Wolf. He has now retired from riding at the Gap, selling his beloved Wing in for a different form of two-wheeled fun, mountain biking.
And thats about it, anti-climatic I know. The reality is Rick is a phenomenal talent behind the bars of a Goldwing, and his videos have been a joy to watch. It’s a shame we won’t get to see more in the future, but we can enjoy telling the tales of the one they call the Yellow Wolf.