Archive for the ‘Motorcycle Rides’ Category

We rode for about 7 hours on Monday from our home to the rally. This ride was all interstate and really reminded me why one should avoid Interstate 81, south or north, it is a terrible experience in the best of times.  Thousands of tractor trailers and stupid car drivers weaving to get “the fastest” spot while hold a phone to their face.  SIGH.

As we approached the hosting hotel, the “Airport” Hilton, the GPS lady was telling us to ride the motorcycle to the arrivals and departures section of the airport. Of course, we thought that the crazy GPS lady was once again full of “stuff”, so I stopped and reselected the location.  Turns out the hotel is literally a few steps from the arrivals and departures doors of the airport.  Imagine that!

Day One of the Great Smokey Mountains HOG Rally

Rally registration was at the hotel and sign in for the pre-registered, like Debbie and me, was quick and easy.  We each received a SWAG bag that contain pertinent rally materials a t-shirt, patches, pins, and a HOG water bottle.

We were also showed how to download the routes from by scanning a Q-code from their routes posters and how to load those routes into the motorcycle. Snip/snap and we had multi-routes installed on our Harley Davidson. 

Ok not quite snip/snap.  The problem is the that the Harley Davidson Boom GTS radio/navigation system does not come with a paper owner’s manual but with a little coaching I was able to get the routes set up.  I mentioned to the National HOG representative that they should hold a few classes on using the Boom GTS at each rally, I think it would be one of the more popular aspects of future events.

After registration we rode to Smokey Mountain Harley Davidson. SMHD is the host dealership of the rally, and their facilities are among the best that I have ever experienced. A large dealership with an inviting exterior and expansive interior they have very large inventory of motorcycles (and sold 2 while I was there), accessories, and clothing.  But that is just the start, Smokey Mountain HD also has a BBQ restaurant and a concert venue. I have never seen a dealership like this before.  A little more on the concert venue below.

As we were looking around the dealership and the vendor, Debbie spotted a Custom Dynamics Rear Finder Tip Light which would be SO much brighter than the existing OEM light.  She bought the light and wanted it installed while we were there, I did not argue. With the large number of drivers, she saw holding phones on the ride down another run/brake light will never hurt.  I will do a separate post on this light and my thoughts on Custom Dynamics soon.

As we were looking around the dealership and the vendor, Debbie spotted a Custom Dynamics Rear Finder Tip Light which would be SO much brighter than the existing OEM light.  She bought the light and wanted it installed while we were there, I did not argue. With the large number of drivers, she saw holding phones on the ride down another run/brake light will never hurt.  I will do a separate post on this light and my thoughts on Custom Dynamics soon.

After the part was installed, we decided to ride through Wears Valley, TN.  The twisty ride up and over a mountain was a lot of fun and the ride through the valley was quite beautiful. The route we took dropped us in Pigeon Forge, TN near the Rocky Top Harley Davidson Dealership.  If you have followed IJustWant2Ride on Facebook or Twitter you will know I collect dealer pins which means I had to get a Rock Top pin!

We had a snack at the Iron Boar bar and Mexican Grill right across the street from the dealership … along with 30 new friends, all from the HOG rally! After we had fueled ourselves, we headed back to SMHD for the opening ceremony and the first concert of the rally.

Still watching you Hurricane Ian!

Ijustwant2ride.com

For a pleasant change we had family come to visit and ride with us! Debbie’s sister (Vicky) and her husband (Jeff) trailered their Harley Davidson Fat Boy motorcycle from Ohio to our home in Front Royal, VA.  Neither of them had ridden Skyline Drive or anywhere in this part of Virginia.

They came out for the Labor Day weekend arriving late Friday afternoon. Saturday morning, we unload their Fat Boy and made ready for Skyline Drive. The morning was cool but comfortable and the view of Skyline Drive from my driveway was clear and bright.  Little did we know that the bright sun would disappear and reappear and disappear and reappear as rode along the ridges of the parkway.

Stopping at a few of the early western view overlooks Vicky and Jeff though the sites of blue skies and the Shenandoah Valley were just spectacular! They were both enjoying the smooth tarmac and twisty nature of the parkway and as it was early in the day the bonus of a low traffic.

Looking east, however, I realized that the bright and sunny would not be the way the entire trip.  Lots of clouds clung at the treetops, with breezes moving them around in movie like motions as they sweep up and down the eastern ridge. I knew, from the number of times I have ridden the parkway, that in short order we would be riding in a cloud and the temps would drop.

I was not wrong, as we approached the first exit from Skyline Drive, Thornton Gap, the clouds were right down on the parkway.  Ridding through a cloud, if you have not done so, is foggy and damp.  Riding our motorcycles out of Thornton Gap we quickly made it to Mary’s Rock Tunnel.  Of course, we had to hit the throttle to hear the music of the V-Twins reverberate from the halls of the tunnel.

We pulled off at the Mary’s Rock overlook, today’s view was more, inside of cloud, then amazing vista but, we talked to Jeff and Vicky and generally admired Skyline Drive and the other motorcycles parked at the overlook.

Back on the bikes we were in and out the clouds going from warm to cool with the occasional mist and rain drops. We dropped off Skyline Drive at the second exit and then rode the motorcycles north on SR 340 back to Ft. Royal.

After the ride we went to “Shenandoah Valley Ax Throwing Company” for dinner and some fun.  Throwing the ax was a lot of fun and a bit therapeutic depending on what you were imagining the target to be 😊.  This is the first time we had been there be it will not be the last! 

The next day was just as much fun.  We rode the motorcycle south on Fort Valley Road to Luray.  Swung by Cooters, Duke’s of Hazzard Museum and then over Thornton Gap.

Thornton’s Gap has signs on both sides that state that this is a high crash area for motorcycles! The signs are right, people overestimate their skills.

Like the day before, as we reached the top of the ridge and passed under Skyline Drive, we activated our “storm chasers” superpowers. Three quarters of the way up a nearly all the way down the other side it was motorcycling in a light rain and fog.  But it was warm and sunny when we were back in the valley below.

This day we stopped for lunch in Front Royal at “PaveMint Smokn’ Tap House” which is a great place for wood smoked meals.  Everyone loved their food, Vicky and Jeff said they would like to come back someday. 

2 days of motorcycling, with 2 members of our family for 220 miles of the best of riding in Virginia … just cannot beat that!

Ride On, Ride Safe

I have ridden along many national parkways including the Natchez Trace (TN/MS), Great Lake Seaway Byway (NY), Blue Ridge Parkway (VA, NC) and, of course, the Skyline Drive Parkway (VA). I have also attended multiple motorcycle rallies along the east coast including Daytona.

Outside of rallies, I have never seen as many motorcycles in one location as I do in Front Royal, Virginia. During motorcycle riding season, it is not uncommon to see hundreds of motorcycles in Front Royal, either singular or riding in large groups daily. You can see these large numbers of motorcycles passing through almost every day but especially on weekends. In my opinion Front Royal could be the motorcycle destination of Virgina much like Tail of the Dragon in Tennessee.

Why are so many motorcycles passing through Front Royal? It is because the town is located at the northern terminus of Skyline Drive and about an hour from the nation’s capital.  All these motorcycle riders are passing through the town on the way to Skyline Drive or to parts unknown as they leave the Parkway.

By just passing through Front Royal motorcyclists are missing out on opportunities for some great local rides and the great local flavor.  For example, a rider can take a loop from Front Royal to Luray via Fort Valley Road. That ride would last about two+ hours, depending on stops, and would have you back in town by lunch time.

After lunch, mount the motorcycle and head south out of town to cross under Skyline Drive at it two gaps.  But be careful, they are quite technical, and the northern gap is designated as a high crash area. Two+ hours later you will be back in town with enough time to get to dinner and a stroll along main street.

After dinner, riders could visit the Virginia Beer Museum for brew and live music or Shenandoah Valley Axe Throwing for a unique activity or any of the many other venues in town.  Front Royal has lots of hotels and restaurants and a main street that could be considered a throw-back to another era. Check out the movie theater that has a 1950’s vibe with a state-of-the-art projector and sound system.

Front Royal may be the gateway to Skyline Drive, but it should also be a destination at the start or end of your motorcycle ride.  Stay a day or two, there are plenty of hotels and campgrounds, to explore both our local roads and our small-town atmosphere.

Going for a spin!

A few weekends ago the wife and I took a motorcycle ride to Shenandoah Speedway racetrack.  A friend of mine was participating in a “drift” event.  For the few of you out there that might not know about drifting it is the sport of sliding your car sideways through a turn as fast as you can.  Quite exciting to watch a lot harder to do, unless you have plenty of practice and a car set up to do it properly.  My buddy has both the skills and the car.

The ride to the racetrack was great.  Bright blue skies with a few big puffy white clouds. The temp was not too hot or too cool making the ride with “ATGATT” comfortable. We left Front Royal going south on SR 340 in the spring green Shenandoah Valley.  With little traffic it was no time at all before we passed Luray Caverns. The Caverns are a very popular tourist destination and today their parking lot was full of hundreds of cars and lots of buses.

Just a short distance past Luray Caverns is “Cooter’s”!  For those of us of a certain age that remember the TV show The Dukes of Hazzard, Cooter’s is a museum of sorts celebrating the show.  The man who played Cooter, Ben Jones, is from the area and had collected a lot of memorabilia from the show which is on display including some of the cars with a General Lee replica out front.  By the way Cooter is also multi-term US Congressman.

My wife had never been to Cooter’s, so we pulled into its packed parking lot.  This day they had a Blue Grass and Folk music band playing, something they do on a regular basis.  We wondered around the facility for a bit with Rocky Top and Country Roads dancing in our ears.  The stop was a nice diversion back to our teen years.

Back on our steady stead we continued south on SR 340 until we reached the racetrack.  I knew we were close when I could see the plumes of white smoke and the smell of burning rubber in the air, drifting is very hard on tires.

It was not long before my wife was buckled in the race car and out on the track.  She was only able to get two laps in before they blew up the right rear tire.  Yet, those few laps were enough to give her an ear-to-ear smile.  She talked about it for many days later.

As the day got longer it was time to head to the house.  A 100+ mile motorcycle ride and a new experience for my wife made this a great day.


Ride on, Ride safe

We were able to sneak out for about 2-hour motorcycle ride this past weekend.  Still a lot going on in life/work, so I am just happy to get out on the motorcycle.

Motorcycling around Front Royal, VA and the surrounding area is a lot of fun.  More than a few nice places as destinations and more than a few good country roads to ride.

We even got up on Skyline Drive for a short ride. The leaves have not yet reappeared on the trees, so the views were spectacular!

The curiosity of the day was the “Audi” Can Am Spyder.  The reality was the guy was not happy with the big, black, empty area on the front of his trike and put the Audi badge there.  It was a neat conversation starter.
Ride on, Ride safe

I though I would try my hand at video recording my travels.  This ride I wanted to “shoot the gap”, the southern gap of Skyline Drive.

There are two places along Skyline Drive where you can ride your motorcycle under the parkway, after going up a twisty mountain road and of course back down the other side.  I had never ridden the southern gap so now was the time.

As you can see in the video it was a wonderful day to ride a motorcycle.  Setting out from my home in Front Royal with a clear, bright, blue sky and a cool but comfortable temperature just made for a perfect journey.  Low traffic in the Shenandoah Valley provided little impedance, except for the deer and her three fawns.  I had to stop and let them cross, woe is me riding in the country. 

So why 150 in 9?  This was a 3-hour ride, but my batteries died after 2 ½ hours.  NO ONE wants to watch a 150-minute ride with no commentary, I have not figured that one out yet, so I set it to fast forward and got the whole thing down to 9 minutes.

Hope you enjoy.

*****

Ride on, Ride Safe

Not a long motorcycle ride, about 120 miles, takes us from Front Royal, VA to Lost River State Park, WV and back home.  As we pull from the driveway it is an unusually cool summer morning but bright and sunny. The weather app stated that there was zero chance of rain with highs in the upper 70s, a great day for taking the motorcycle out.

By LOST I mean we rode through Lost, WV, along the Lost River and visited the Lost River State Park. So, we had a LOST motorcycle ride!

Similar to the ride I made a few post back “Motorcycle Ride to No Where In Particular” we headed out Route 55 towards Strasburg.  This time we stated on Route 55 with the motorcycle pointed to the West Virginia boarder. Soon we were out of Strasburg and the Shenandoah Valley and climbing into the mountains.  I love riding my motorcycles on mountain roads!

Route 55 took us through the small town of Wardensville, WV.  On an earlier motorcycle ride we rode through Wardensville, years ago.  I remember stopping at the Kac-Ka-Pon restaurant for what I recall was a good “down home” meal.  We did not stop this time as it was only about 10AM and we had breakfast before leaving the home.

Just a bit past Wardensville we stopped the sign for Lost River State Park.  Turns out neither Debbie nor I had been to this park, so a left turn onto State Route 259 gets the motorcycle pointed in the correct direction.

Route 259 runs in a small valley between two ridge lines. Wonderful views and a smooth road made this for a nice ride.  It is moments like this where I just can’t grasp why more people do not ride motorcycles!  The clean air, wonderful weather wow.

The Park itself was very clean and beautiful. Lost River State Park is nearly 4000 acres for those looking for a secluded get away and hiking. After a quick snack and getting a new scented candle, it was time to mount up.

Quick Note….. The Park is mostly hillside, make sure you park your motorcycle in a way that will allow for an easy get away. I did not and it was a bit of struggle to get it off the kickstand and underway (no I did not drop the bike LOL).

The return trip was just as much fun as getting to the park.  We rode the motorcycle along Wolf Gap Road, Stoney Creek Road and Fort Valley Road among others. This loop had plenty of opportunities to get lost, but we made it home.

All in all, it was a wonderful day for a lost motorcycle ride.

Ride on, Ride safe

We have been moving from our former home in Leesburg to a new “temporary” home in Front Royal, VA.  The reason, I thought we were at the top of a sellers’ market and wanted to cash in before it faded.

So now being in Front Royal it is time to get out and discover new roads on my motorcycle.  We live about 3 miles from the northern terminus of Skyline Drive Parkway but that was not my destination this time.  I wanted to try something new.

Leaving my new neighborhood on a cool, for a dramatic change, morning I turned west and headed to Strasburg on State Route 55. The morning light dappled through the tree cover creating a crazy show of shadows and light. It was a quite and very uneventful ride to Strasburg.

The road into Strasburg proper is a mess right now, I don’t know what they are trying to do but watch yourself on the uneven and rough road up to the traffic light at the intersection of 55 and 11.

Strasburg seems to be a pretty cool town with a brewery, antiques and art boutiques mixed in with the normal main street business. Murals seem to adorn, what was, every blank wall giving the town a renaissance feel. I had hoped to find a diner for some breakfast, but I did not, which given everything else on Main Street seemed odd.

Taking State Route 11 out of town I was now headed down the Shenandoah Valley.  Passing though the small towns of Toms’ Brook, Maurertown, Woodstock (not that Woodstock), and Edinburg.  I admired the views from the valley, mountains rising from both the left and right framed the valley and the small towns in a way you can’t get from inside a car.

When I reached Mount Jackson I decided to turn around and head back the way I had come.  There were other ways to make it back to Front Royal but there were places I wanted to stop and take photos.  For my first motorcycle foray into Shenandoah region, I was quite happy.  I look forward to more local trips in and round Front Royal.

An older Skyline Drive motorcycle ride post – 2015

We originally passed through Goshen a few years ago during one of our motorcycle tours of Virginia.

Goshen is a quaint town bordering the George Washington National Forest the nearest “big towns” are Staunton and Lexington VA.

One of the things that interested me was the Goshen Truss Bridge.  Not the best light for good photos but you get the idea.  Built in 1890 it was the height of bridge engineering at the time.

Ride On, Ride Safe

This is the 30th anniversary of the ride to promote the role of motorcycles as an option in the daily commute.  This event originated in the United States but quickly grew into an international event.

By riding to work we demonstrate:

  • The number of motorcyclists to the general public and to politicians.
  • That motorcyclists are from all occupations and all walks of life.
  • That motorcyclists can reduce traffic and parking congestion in large cities.
  • That motorcycles are for transportation as well as recreation.

Some may ask, as we are still in the era of Covid and a large number of folks are still working from home, how can I participate without a commute?  Do as I am going to do….. Ride for 30 minutes before you start your home office workday!

Maybe I should ride for 30 minutes everyday before work?????

RIDE ON, RIDE SAFE