Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

September 2, 2013

Tazewell erects welcome signs for ‘Back of the Dragon’

By BILL ARCHER
Bluefield Daily Telegraph

TAZEWELL, Va. — Officials with the town of Tazewell know a good thing when they see it, and the town is working capitalize on the almost unheard of success that Back of the Dragon, “The Awakening” has brought to the community.

“The Back of the Dragon just started three years ago, and it has shown incredible growth in that short period of time,” Todd Day, Tazewell town manager said. “Last year, the event attracted between 6,000 to 8,000 visitors. At one point, there were more than 2,500 motorcycles parked in the former Ramey Ford lot near the Four-Way.

“It’s not just us around here who are noticing the potential for this event,” Day said. “The August edition of Southern Biker Magazine devoted two or three pages to covering the Back of the Dragon event that took place on June 1. We get hits on our web page every day from people looking for information on the Back of the Dragon. It has been unreal.”

Larry Davidson of Drag-a-Knee Inc., came up with the idea for the motorcycle ride between Tazewell and Marion, Va., on Route 16. The 32-mile ride has several sharp turns along the way with three mountain climbs that represent the humps on the dragon’s back. Davidson approached the Tazewell County Board of Supervisors with the idea in the winter of 2011, and on June 4, 2011, at least 200 motorcycle riders came to Historic Crab Orchard Museum and Pioneer Park for the inaugural run. The popularity of the event has exceeded the region’s initial expectations.

“When you have something like this come along, you have to run with it,” Day said. “Town council wholeheartedly supports it. Even now when you go uptown, you can see 15 motorcycles go by headed for the Back of the Dragon. Sports car drivers seem to like it too. One day I saw 14 Porsches parked at the El Mariachi’s Restaurant, and that was on a Sunday.”

The most recent thing that the town has done to help visitors find the ride has been to erect signs in town that point the way to the popular riding course. “Starting in 2012, we used paint that washes off the road to mark the way to the Back of the Dragon,” Day said. “It’s the same kind of paint high school kids use to paint their school logos on the road during football season. The signs can help riders year round.”

Day said that the Tazewell town council has embraced the event, and is working to improve it every year.

“The event is absolutely important to the town of Tazewell, but it is also important to the towns of Bluefield, Va., Richlands, Va., and even Mercer County where visitors stay at the motels and eat at the restaurants,” Day said. “It’s good for the whole region.”

Day said that Larry Davidson is planning a three-day event, starting on a Friday and continuing through Sunday, although the date has not yet been set.

“It’s going to be unbelievable,” Day said. “The Back of the Dragon is getting some national attention now. We’re looking for it to grow through the years,” Day said.

— Contact Bill Archer at barcher@bdtonline.com쇓