The Official ARKiV's Gap Attack Site!

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* What Is MATG XVI? *

Miatas At The Gap, or MATG is a yearly non-event gathering of loyal Miata owners and enthusaists at Deals Gap, North Carolina, sometimes referred to as The Tail Of The Dragon. The crowds are getting larger every year, and this year it is once again expected that over 500 Miatas will make the pilgrimage. There will be vendors selling Miata accessories, several events including food runs, a group photo, a beer swap, a free lunch provided by Graham County, NC and more! Follow along as I document my fifth trip to MATG!

* Site News *

May 18, 2012 - And so it begins again. As you can see, I have begun development for the ARKiV's Gap Attack website to document my fifth trip to MATG. This year I decided that after four years of staying in Robbinsville it was time to move a little closer to the action. Two weeks ago I made my reservations at Fontana Village Resort for a one bedroom cabin! Even though I have visited there several times, this will be my first time actually staying at Fontana. Now I won't have to drive back to Robbinsville after the Saturday Night Beer Swap and Wine Tasting which means more beer for me! On to the car updates... Back in February, I did something to the car that has been a long time coming. If you were a follower of ARKiV's Appalachian Adventure back in 2007 you may recall when I found this hole in my vinyl top... Well, after five long years of cracking, splitting and leaking I finally HAD THE TOP REPLACED! I went to J&J Auto Upholstery in Columbus, Ohio and had them install a Robbins Stay-Fast Canvas factory style top. I have to say, it's the single greatest improvement I have made to the car yet. Check out the before and after photos and you can see what an improvement it really is. Other things I've done to the car recently include installing a PLX-Kiwi Bluetooth OBD-II adapter to send sensor data to my Android phone running Torque software, replacing both headlight wiring harnesses, doing a headlight restoration to remove the haze on my lenses and just today I had another set of BF Goodrich g-Force Super Sport tires mounted to my summer wheels. Stay tuned to this site for updates and as always be watching after the event for photos and videos! Just 69 days to go, and boy do I have the itch to get going...

July 13, 2012 - It has been quite some time since I've updated. In the words of John Lennon, "Life is what happens to you while you're busy making other plans." In the last month and a half I have prepared for a move, moved, endured a Derecho and in it's aftermath went six days without electricity with 90+ degree temperatures. Today I finally got my internet connection hooked up in my new apartment after seventeen days without a connection. You could say that my upcoming vacation is much needed. And you'd be right. Now that life is back to normal, I can start preparing for the trip. The beer collection has already begun to take shape with a few usual favorites and several bottles making the trip for the first time. Be watching the site, I'll post the complete list when it's finalized! In other news, I have completed the music for this year's highlight video. You can find a link to download the song on my Video page. Just a couple minor maintenance tasks to complete on the car such as an oil change and tire rotation and it will be ready for the trip. I may even get it detailed before leaving. Hard to believe there's only 13 days to go.

July 20, 2012 - I had a bit of a scare over the past weekend with the car... Sunday evening I went for a night-time top-down ride after work, and just when I was the farthest from home that I was going to be, my clutch pedal lost all hydraulic pressure. Not sure exactly what was going on, I pumped the pedal to regain pressure which worked for about 30 seconds each time I did it. After limping the car home in this fashion, I awoke first thing Monday morning and limped the car up to my mechanic's shop. We did a bleed-out of the system to remove the air bubbles that were causing the problem, added new fluid and it started working fine again. Took the car in Thursday morning for an oil change and had my mechanic give it a good once-over, he declared it was good to go for the trip! WHEW. Just a couple more minor things to finish on the car and it will be 100% ready. Just last night I finished the music for this year's feature video, Attack Of The G-Forces. The download link is now available on my Video page. And now the BIG news everyone has been waiting for... I have completed this year's Saturday Night Beer Swap Beer List and it can be viewed by clicking the link at the top of the page, or you can click RIGHT HERE! It's going to be tough to wait these remaining 6 days...

July 22, 2012 - Currently my attendance at MATG XVI is in limbo. After the issue with my clutch last weekend I thought everything was going to be fine. Well, when I left for work this afternoon my clutch pedal had a LOT of play at the top and on the way home it seemed as if it was getting worse. My mechanic and I have come to the conclusion that it's a bad clutch master cylinder. The car goes to the shop bright and early at 8am tomorrow morning to get checked out and possibly to get that part replaced. Hopefully it's a simple repair and I'll be right back on schedule but for now, we wait and see...

July 23, 2012 - The car is fixed! Turns out it was a faulty clutch master cylinder which also caused the clutch slave cylinder to go bad, so both parts got replaced today and it's as good as new. What a tremendous relief. All that's left to do before I pack up and go is test my electronics and give the car a good bath. One more day of work, two days until I leave and three days until MATG XVI is underway! It's so close I can taste it...

July 25, 2012 - Happy Birthday To Me! So yesterday I cleaned up the car, cleaned and oiled my air filter, renewed my car registration, tested all my electronics, checked all the batteries, made space on my netbook for video storage, cleaned my Sticky Pod and packed it all up for travel. Today I had my tires rotated and rebalanced, picked up some last-minute items and filled up with fuel. Everything is all set to go except for packing my clothes, and that will be done in a couple hours. As I type this, I realize that just 24 hours from now, I will be driving on the Tail Of The Dragon! I just hope I can get some sleep tonight because 6:30 AM comes awful early...

July 31, 2012 - I finally made it back... a day late. After running the Dragon, Happy Valley and The Devils Triangle on my way out of the area yesterday morning, I headed north on I-75 towards Columbus. As I crossed the Tennessee-Kentucky state line, I noticed my battery light came on to signal a voltage drop. I quickly switched my Torque software over to my voltmeter gauge and it read a paltry 11.2 volts. When I pushed in the clutch and coasted with the engine at idle, the voltage rose to around 13.5 volts, well within tolerance. However, I knew there was going to be a problem. Further down the highway eventually the rev drop did not affect the voltage output and it was at that time that I realized my alternator was shot. After watching the voltage drop to about 8.5 volts I realized it was time to act. I made it to Exit 90 in Kentucky, exited the freeway and made it about 200 feet down the road when the car finally died. I found a shop close by that would replace the alternator for me, called AAA and had the car towed to the shop. Initially the shop manager said he could get me out that day, but after calling his parts suppliers he informed me that the soonest he could have the part was 8am the next morning. After an overnight stay in a hotel nearby I showed back up to the shop (thanks for the ride, guys!) at about 8:30am and they already had the car up on the rack and the old alternator out. About an hour later the new alternator was installed, the car was running and I was back on the road! Special thanks to Millers Tire on Merchant Drive in Richmond, Kentucky for taking such good care of me in what could have been a much worse situation. If nothing else I at least have a new alternator... and a pretty good story. Now it's time to focus on the stuff everyone is waiting for... My pictures from the trip are posted and available for viewing on my Picasa Web Gallery and the Photo page is ready. I'll be starting the video editing real soon, but without the extra day I usually have it may take just a bit longer to get them done. Stay tuned!

August 3, 2012 - The videos are completed and ready for viewing on the Video page! Be sure to set the quality to 720p HD and full screen them for best viewing. Now that the videos are done, ARKiV's Gap Attack is officially completed. I'd call it a success. The weather was outstanding, a lot cooler than last year's sweltering temperatures and only one quick rain shower the whole weekend. The events were a blast, Fontana Village was at the top of their game as always and the Saturday Night Beer Swap and Wine Tasting was once again very popular. Every year MATG seems to get better and better. It's going to be another long wait with 355 days to go until MATG XVII. Here's hoping next year is even better!

* Maps *

Here are the tentative routes I have planned for the trip. (Special Thanks to Google Maps)

Chasing The Dragon
The ride down to Fontana Dam, North Carolina from Columbus, Ohio. I will do this in one day.

Cherohala Evening
A sunset run down the Cherohala Skyway is always a good way to start MATG, so we'll do it again! This back-and-forth run starts at Fontana Village with a stop at the Phillips Motel in Robbinsville where I will meet up with a group to do this exciting night run.
Forum Thread

Fat Buddies Run
Once again there is a group going to Franklin, North Carolina on Friday evening to enjoy good barbecue and of course the drive there on Wayah Road. I will return to Fontana on a section of NC28 known as Moonshiner 28.
Forum Thread

The Group Photo
Saturday Morning at 11am the camera shutters will snap on the largest grouping of Miatas to be found the entire weekend, all parked on the grass below Fontana Dam.
Forum Thread

Devil's Return
My return trip to Columbus, Ohio from Robbinsville, North Carolina starts off with one last trip down The Dragon and continues on to the Devil's Triangle, another favorite route amongst motorcyclists and sports car drivers.

* Links *

The MATG Forums
Check these forums for events, places to stay and other pertinent information.

Fontana Village Resort
"A great Smoky Mountain destination" and this year's 'ground zero' for MATG hosting vendors and events throughout the weekend.

Graham County Department of Travel and Tourism
Once again these friends of MATG are providing a free lunch on saturday!

The Tail Of The Dragon
US Route 129 between Tapoco Dam and Chilhowee Lake features 318 curves in 11 miles. Need I say more?

The Cherohala Skyway
North Carolina's most expensive highway with long, sweeping corners and scenic views.

The Moonshiner 28
Once a major run for moonshiners, The Moonshiner 28 twists and turns for 103 miles from The Tail Of The Dragon to Walhalla, South Carolina.

The Devil's Triangle
Also known as the Brushy Mountain Prison Run, this series of roads including Tennessee Route 116 features several hard switchbacks, elevation changes and more amazing scenery!

Fat Buddies Ribs and BBQ
A legendary barbecue restaurant popular among the MATG crowd.

Sticky Pod Camera Mounts
These guys make the best vehicle camera mounts!

The original (and best) motorsports photographer on The Dragon, Darryl Cannon also takes the official Dam(n) Photo for us.

NAS Car Garage
My long time mechanic Jay Schultheis has worked on the last 4 cars I've owned and makes sure my Miata is ready for MATG every year!

Millers Tire and Auto Care
The folks at Millers Tire saved me when my car decided to break down on the way home in Richmond, Kentucky.

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