Randal Johnson, Executive Director
Board of Directors Meeting
Tuesday, January 17, 2017
Starts at 6:30 p.m.
Please try to attend. Call access information will be forwarded to the Board.
Visit the updated CSM tourism initiative website at:
Thanks to Shirley Heath for all her hard work.
CSM INITIATES "HEAD OF THE DRAGON" MOTORCYCLE RUN SLATED FOR SEPTEMBER, 2017
Head of the Dragon Motorcycle Run
An Economic Development Initiative of the Council of the Southern Mountains
The Head of the Dragon event is a motorcycle run that is being developed by the Council of the Southern Mountains to be an annual event to help build tourism and economic development in McDowell County, West Virginia. McDowell County has been economically devastated by the downturn of the coal industry and in order to provide opportunities for the hardworking citizens of McDowell County there must be economic diversification. The tourism initiative by Council of the Southern Mountains of the Head of the Dragon motorcycle run will complete the “Body of the Dragon” motorcycle run series which is located in four states: North Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia and, now, West Virginia.
The Head of the Dragon ride will encompass a 91 mile course on McDowell County roads and will go into Virginia to connect with the Back of the Dragon motorcycle run course. The Dragon’s Head run will transverse some of the most challenging roadways in America while providing riders with spectacular mountain views. The course is through rugged terrain that once sheltered moonshine stills and fur trappers. The roadways are built on lands that once provided the coal to fuel the American economy and make this country great. This coal provides the fuel for the Fire of the Dragon component of the motorcycle run.
The Back of the Dragon is 32 miles of exciting and curving road on the unmatched beauty and riding enjoyment providing by VA Route 16 (Back of the Dragon), the two lane ribbon over the three mountain ranges between Tazewell and Marion, Virginia.
The Tail of the Dragon is a road course with 318 curves in 11 miles and is challenging motorcycle and sports car road for enthusiasts. The run is on a designated part of highway U.S. 129 and the road is bordered by the Great Smoky Mountains and the Cherokee National Forest. There are no intersecting roads or driveways to hamper the riders of this course in North Carolina and Tennessee. It is considered “the destination” for thousands of motorcycle and sports car fans throughout the spring, summer, and fall.
The Claw of the Dragon motorcycle run riders enjoy a challenging ride in Wythe, Smyth, and Grayson and four other surrounding counties in Virginia. The Claw is a total course of 350 miles with a 16-mile scenic byway that allows riders to see breathtaking flora and fauna of each season.
Riders of the body of the dragon motorcycle runs can become "Dragon Masters" once each part of the body motorcycle courses are completed. Those who aspire to be “Dragon Masters” can complete all the dragon runs at their own pace and obtain patches signifying their accomplishment.
Randal Johnson, Executive Director of the Council of the Southern Mountains, and Shirley Heath, the Council’s Tourism Initiative Coordinator has met with David Woodward, Tazewell County Tourism Coordinator, Megan Brown, Marketing Specialist at Tazewell County Tourism, Larry Davidson and Danny Addison, founders of the Back of the Dragon motorcycle run in Tazewell and Smyth Counties to coordinate the “Head of the Dragon” McDowell County motorcycle run. Mr. Johnson related that, “We want to build someone as great as the Back of the Dragon motorcycle run and only want to build on what the Mr. Davidson and Mr. Addison have worked so hard to create. “ “They provided advice and expertise along with gracious hospitality to us to help complete their dream of having the entire body of the dragon motorcycle runs completed and we are grateful,” Mr. Johnson stated. The Council has also met with the West Virginia Department of Highways who will designate with signs the motor bike ride that names the road the riders utilize. The signs that will be placed along that course will designate the name of the highway as “The Head of the Dragon.”
The motorcycle run will be held in conjunction with the annual Welch, WV Autumn Festival during the third weekend in September, 2017. The Veterans of Foreign Wars in Iaeger, WV has also expressed interest in being part of the project. The motorcycle run will help bring additional visitors to the Welch Autumn Festival and attract tourists to McDowell County. The ride will bring focus to the natural beauty and the country roads McDowell County, West Virginia has to offer and encourage the economic development of the tourism business.
The Council of the Southern Mountains has created and is distributing a new tourism brochure to encourage tourists to visit McDowell County. This brochure lists local lodging, food establishments, places to visit and events. The Council has also developed a tourism website: visitmcdowellcountywv.com and is utilizing volunteers to enhance this site in order to provide resources and information to visitors. In order to understand the impact of motorcycling to the economy, a motorcyclist needs to stop every 2-3.5 hours for fuel due to the small size of their fuel tank. Safe motorcycling requires a rider to stay hydrated, which means when they stop for fuel, they will most likely buy a beverage. Even when towing a trailer for camping, a motorcyclist will still have need of food stuffs and supplies from a grocery/convenience stores or restaurants. They cannot store food items for long periods easily.
Motorcycle tourists will spend an average of 10-14 days on a motorcycle holiday and spend an average of $3,100 while on that holiday. Motorcycle tourists come from all racial backgrounds and have a wide variety of educational and occupational backgrounds. Today, the average motorcyclist is likely to be between the ages of 40 and 65. Their average earnings are $75,000 a year and they own their own home. The majority of motorcycle enthusiasts ride their own machine; however, passengers are enthusiasts as well. More and more women are riding their own machines today. These tourists can have a significant impact on the local McDowell County economy. Source: BDB Rider Survey 2007/8.
It is important to continue the interest of the tourist by creating other events of interest to build tourism so desperately needed to help rebuild the economy of McDowell County, which has lost its coal production by one-third since 2008 according to WVU College of Business and Economics 2016 WV Economic Outlook publication. The Council of the Southern Mountains is striving to meet this need. For more information about the “Head of the Dragon” motorcycle run contact the Council at 304-436-6800.
CSM FITNESS CENTER
148 McDowell Street
Welch, WV 24801
HOURS OF OPERATION ARE:
MONDAY-FRIDAY 7:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.
SATURDAYS 8:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.