Archive for the ‘motorcycle touring’ Category

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Riding your motorcycle in the fall can be a fun, pleasant, awesome adventure!  But, it can be hazardous as well.  Here are a few reminders to help make fall motorcycling more of an adventure then a hazard.

1) Gear Up – weather during the fall can turn quickly. I have started a day in sunny warmth then misty rain and then snow and back to sun during one ride. I am sure many others have had the same occurrence. So this tip is to wear, or take, gear to protect yourself from the cold and rain….just in case.

2) The deadly leaf – Pretty when they turn colors but when they fall they can become Motorcycle ride Route 39 VA WV“Leaves Of Death”! A bit dramatic but, if you take a wet leaf to your visor it can be a problem. Leaves on the road, wet or not, can make traction dicey, as well as hiding potholes and other hazards. The tip here is to pay close attention to where you are going.

3) Beware of shade – There are dangers in the dark. Cold temps at night can bring freezing conditions to the roads, ice can appear and hide beneath the “Leaves of Death!”. While the warming morning sun may melt most frozen paths, those in the shade may not melt as fast. Tip, be extra cautious as you move from sun to shade.

4) Lighting the darkness – T-CLOCs is your friend. Darkness comes quickly this time ofElectra Glide Ultra Limited year are your lights working properly. Check to make sure.

5) Tires, hoops of hazards – Yes, it is part of your T-CLOCs but if you are wanting to ride in the fall with slicks (or just worn out tires) you might what to change your mind. Those slick tires + slick leaves and possible ice patches just might just make those hoops of hazards into something much worse.

6) Squirrels and deer HATE you! – Animal are looking far and wide for food now that winter is approaching. That patch of green grass across the road looks mighty tasty to a hungry animal, so much so it will walk or run right in font of you. Tip, pay attention to the sides of the road for Bambi and Thumper.

ijustwant2ride.com7) Tighten up on your riding skills – Just in case you have a Bambi moment, when was the last time you panic stopped from 50MPH to 0? Have you practiced a panic stop with a passenger? If not please do yourself a favor and do so!

8) Check the weather often – Referring back to item 1, in the age of the cell phone it will pay to check your weather throughout your ride. You might have all the right gear on, or stowed, but riding in the rain on a cool fall day across leaf crusted roads is not something you should do if it can be avoided.

9) Grab Fall by the Leaves – There are not many good riding days left in year. Get out and ride, just make sure you are fully prepared.

american byway

Interactive map of American Byways

A few years ago, I wrote about a website the federal government got right, their “America’s Byways” website.

What I did not know, at that time, was that the authorization for identifying and creating new byways had expired in 2012. From 1991 until 2012 nearly 150 roads were defined as an American Byway or an All American Road.

Now, it turns out, that both the House of Representatives and the Senate have passed the “Reviving America’s Scenic Byways Act” and it is now with the president to sign. And who said that they could not work together to make something happen.

This act requires the Secretary of Transportation to seek nominations for and eventually make a decision of those roads that can be added to the list. This program also provides resources to those communities along the roads to help further improve the byways.

plan a motorcycle ride

American Byways info page

This website is a great source in helping plan a future ride. We have used it and have rode several of these byways ourselves including: The Highland Scenic Highway, George Washington Heritage Trail, George Washington Memorial Parkway, Northwestern Turnpike, Skyline Drive and the Natchez Trace among others.

For those of us that like these roads a special thanks must to go out to the American Motorcyclist Association. The AMA is part of the coalition that has gotten us to the point of renewing a government program that actually works.

plan a motorcycle ride

American Byway map page

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Overcast, light rain and thunderstorms, that was day one of the HOG Curves to Cores motorcycle rally. There were no guided rides and with those weather conditions I decided not to do any of the self-guided rides. Instead I did the poker run and apple hunt. I still had a lot of fun!

Day Two of the rally was sunny but not hot, perfect motorcycle ride weather! I had signed up for the “Acting Like a Good Ole Boy” guided ride.

z16This was a 127-mile, well crafted, ride across the Blue Ridge Mountains and down the Shenandoah Valley. Some SPECTATUCLAR scenic views and some cool riding. I was unable to get pictures from the motorcycle as my co-pilot and backseat photographer had to work

The mid-point of the motorcycle ride was a stop at “Cooter’s Garage and Dukes of Hazard Museum”. Those of us of a certain age will remember the Dukes fondly as it was a lot of fun to watch. Today it is “politically incorrect” but then it was fun.z17

When we pulled into Cooter’s Garage, we were only folks there but, before we left there was at least one other group of about 10 motorcycles and then the Can-Am Spyder section of the Women’s Mid-Atlantic Riding Tour pulled in the parking lot.

The last time I saw that many Spyders in one spot, my wife sent me to the store for a can of bug spray! (now that is comedy)

From Cooter’s Garage we rode to lunch and then back to home base in Winchester. The return trip was just as scenic.

Day Three was supposed to be a ride to Summit Point Raceway to ride our big Harley Davidsons on the track. I did not make this ride as I had an offer to test ride the new Zero electric motorcycle. Stand by for a post on that event.z13

Day Four of the rally and the weather, once again, was perfect for riding motorcycles. This day my wife was able to attend and we had chosen the “For Whom the Road Tolls” guided ride.

At 80 miles this ride followed the first toll road in what would become the United States, Snickersville Turnpike. This was another well run ride. I want to praise our road captian Peter for an outstanding job on a ride with lots of intersections and stop signs!z6

This ride was through some of the most rural parts of northern Virginia. Beautiful farms and landscapes abound though out the ride. We passed though multiple small towns founded in the mid-1700s, a lot of pre-United States and Civil War history was ridden through this day.

Day four was also the closing of the rally. Held at Groves Harley Davidson of Winchester they had several event prizes to give away, of course I did not win anything! Bummer.

All in all this was a great event, setup and executed very well. We are going to another HOG rally later this year, it will be hard pressed to outperform the Curves to Cores rally.

Ride On, Ride Safe

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Shaving While Riding – Well it is Florida and we are always tight for time in this modern world. But shaving your legs (and other parts??) while a passenger on a scooter or motorcycle?  Make sure you SCROLL down to see the video on the linked page.

American Byways –    I have written about the American Byways (here) and how we have rode our motorcycle on a few of them (here, for example).  The following is from the American Motorcycle Association.

Please urge your senators to support S. 349. This bill would direct the Secretary of Transportation to reopen nominations for the National Scenic Byways Program, which has been closed for six years. Just yesterday the House of Representatives passed their version of this bill, now it’s time for the Senate to act!   Take Action

Kalashnikov Motorcycle?  – From the minds that brought your the AK-47 and other Russian military equipment comes a new motorcycle.  Looks like Robo-cop would fit right in on this bike.  Make sure you watch the video.

One dad refused to teach is son how to ride as motorcycle – But it is not for the reason you may think.

Stealing a fish tank –  In Ohio 2 men attempt a get away on a small motorcycle while carrying a large fish tank.

 

Ijustwant2ride.com

Turns out that for $38 (US) you can get a behind the curtain tour of the Harley Davidson factory in York, PA. Called the “Steel Toe” tour, you get a guided excursion to places in the plant (like paint and polish) that the free version does not.

I purchased the tickets online Thursday for a Friday tour (click here for the Harley Steel Toe Tour website). We showed up a bit early for the 9:30 AM tour and, it turns out, there were only three of us for the tour; Debbie, me and a guy from New Jersey.

 

I wish I could say that we rode the motorcycle to the tour, but it was 25 degrees when we left the house for a 2+ hour trip to the plant. Yes, call me a wimp! (I am adding heated gear to my wish list).

ijustwant2ride.comOnce we got to the “ Tour Center of the Harley-Davidson Vehicle Operations” and checked in we were issued 2 commemorative pins, safety vest (which we got to keep (value $10? at WalMart), safety glasses and steel toe safety “booties” which we did not get to keep. Additionally, our receipts for the tour acted as a $5 off coupon for the gift shop. So, with all said and done, I think we got the tour for about $20.

Our tour guide, JoAnn, started the tour with a short 10-minute video overview of Harley Davidson. After the video and putting on our radio headsets (the plant is very noisy) we started the tour with the stamping of tanks and fenders.

Just a short note about JoAnn.  She has been giving the tours at the plant for 17 years.  It was obvious she knows her way around the facility and the details of how the bikes are assembled. IMHO she is an asset to the factory.

Though out the tour it was as if we were watching “Dancing with the Stars” industrialijustwant2ride.com factory edition. Between the robot machines and the human workers there was an intricate play of just in time parts and assembly. We saw motorcycles being created for not only the US but Europe, Japan, Australia, Canada and other places around the globe.

After an hour and half tour, I have to say I was most impressed with the how the paint is applied in a two-day process. I understand why Harley motorcycle paint jobs look so much better than most other motorcycles. Every painted part is hand inspected for flaws by a team of auditors. If they can fix it there it, they do, otherwise it is sent back for a redo.

Some of the other items we learned during the tour is that the plant is expanding to include the Sportster and Street lines and maybe the Live wire as well. This is mainly because they are closing the Kanas City factory. The expansion is expected to be completed during 2019.

The one thing I did not like was the fact that we could not take photos during the tour. Really, like Indian and others could not buy a ticket, LOL.

We really enjoyed taking this tour. It is so much more interesting then the self-guided walk though of the annual York Open House. I highly recommend this tour, even if you don’t own a Harley Davidson.

 

 

Ijustwant2ride.com

We rode motorcycle across the Highland Scenic Highway as part of our long get away weekend.  I left this and another road off those posts as they deserve their own discussion.  In a nutshell, if you are anywhere near this road you owe it to yourself to enjoy this ride.

Ijustwant2ride.comIt is not a technical, twisty motorcycle road but fun in its own way.  It is more like the Blue Ridge Parkway or Skyline Drive, 43 miles of ridge top riding with spectacular views and vistas.  Just a sit back, relax and enjoy kind of road.

The Highland Scenic Highway runs from Richwood WV to US Route 219, or vice versa.  The highway is also an “American Byway” that rolls through Monongahela National Forest. We were a week or two early for the peek fall foliage displays but if you time it right it is going to be a wow moment with all the hardwood forests on leafy display.  There are 4 overlooks to stop and view undeveloped wilderness, not all had open facilities, but each had paved parking and picnic areas.

As for the road itself, it was well maintained with mostly rolling ridge top riding.  Toward the IMG_20181005_145617771_HDRnorthern end there was a long, steep incline, parts of which are 9% or (seems) greater!  With over two thousand feet of elevation change, I had the motorcycle in 3rd gear and used engine braking for what felt like miles of decent.  Had the day not been getting late and the shadows long, I would have turned around and rode the Highland Scenic Highway again.

Make sure your tank is topped off before riding, while it is relatively short there are no fuel or snacks along the route.  This road would make for a nice picnic ride, pack your lunch in, stop at an overlook or trail head (there are a lot of hiking trails) for a fun afternoon.

This Scenic Highway is not as easy to get to as most others, it really is in the middle of nowhere.  However, the roads you need to take to get to this byway are just as fun as any we have rode.  If this area and the Highland Scenic Highway are not on your motorcycling bucket list, you need to add them right now! 

 

ijustwant2ride

 Click here for part 1. 

After stopping for a break and lunch at the Cass Scenic Railroad State Park we were back on the motorcycle.  An hour or so later we make it to the southern terminus of the Highland Scenic Highway. 

About 43 miles later we came out on the other end of the highway near the Snowshoe Resort Area. I am going to do a separate post on the Highland Scenic Highway.

 

ijustwant2ride

The view from the top of Snowshoe Mountain.

In the mid-Atlantic area of the US Snowshoe is one of the premier snow skiing areas, and in the summer is renowned for mountain biking. For us, today, it was the end of a day of riding and touring on the motorcycle.  We rolled up to the Snowshoe Inn, got a great meal at a nearby restaurant and turned in early. 

The folks at Snowshoe Inn were very motorcycle friendly. The allowed us and three others to park our bikes under their covered entrance, somewhat out of the elements.  

ijustwant2rideThe next morning, we awoke to dense fog in the valleys that climbed quite away up the mountain sides.  We rode at a slower pace due to visibility issues and not wanting to run into any deer, literately.   

The ride out of the Snowshoe area could have been great fun.  If we could have seen more then a couple dozen yards ahead!  Oh well, maybe next time. 

ijustwant2ride

There were a LOT of hairpin turns!

 

By the time the fog had burned off we were back at Yokum’s Store in Seneca Rocks.  A sausage, egg and cheese sandwich with a Dr. Pepper hit the spot and now both the motorcycle and its passengers were full and ready to roll. 

Roll we did, through the rolling hills of the Greenbrier and Canaan Valleys, up and over a couple ridges we were soon at the last stop of our long weekend, Blackwater Falls State Park outside Davis, WV. ijustwant2ride

Blackwater Falls gets it name from the color of the water that flows over the waterfall.  A very dark brown to black flow, picked up from the rocks over which it flows.  400 steps round trip for some wonderful pictures and a good time with the wife. 

The last major road we traveled was Corridor H (US Route 48) or as many call it, the “Road to No Where”.  It starts north of Davis, WV and ends near the VA boarder running for about 100 miles.  I am going to do a separate post on this road as it is a real beauty.  

Our weekend covered 3 days and 610 miles of awesome Twisty, Technical, Tight, Scenic roads.

 

signs Below is a description of our long weekend motorcycle ride.  I cannot put into each of the descriptions of where we stopped during our ride how astounding the roads are for riding a motorcycle.  Curvy, twisty, technical, rolling, tight, flowing, and scenic are just a few of the adverbs I could use to describe the roads in this amazing area.  The roads here can be dangerous as well; road conditions, weather, wildlife and bad drivers, of course, can make any road dangerous but these roads can pull you into over riding your abilities.  Decreasing radius turns abound and can catch you unaware. Ride safe.

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Creating a long weekend, the wife and I took a 610-mile motorcycle ride through eastern West ijustwant2rideVirginia.  We left our home Thursday morning with neither true routes set nor lodging planned. 

I knew that there are cabins for rent at the Smoke Hole Caverns Resort, so I set the GPS on the bike to take us there via the scenic route.  I can truly say that it the route the GPS lady took us was nowhere close to the route that I would have picked by looking at the map.  However, we did enjoy the path it laid out.  Twisty in the mountains, rolling valleys and great views.  We were not disappointed with what the HD GPS programs had provided (this time LOL).

ijustwant2ride.comWe arrived at the Resort about 4PM and we got the last cabin (or room) available.  It was a happy coincidence that we got the “Honeymoon Cabin” on the day our 32nd wedding anniversary.  The heart shaped whirlpool tub was just the ticket for rest and relaxation after a day of motorcycle touring.

The next morning, we rolled out with the idea we were going to ride the Highland Scenic Highway.  The ride across the Highland Scenic Highway was AWESOME ,but that will be another post!  ijustwant2ride

Our first stop of the day was for breakfast at Yokum’s Store in Seneca Rocks WV. This store and its next-door neighbor, are throw backs to the era of the “General Store”.  The food was good (good enough we would stop again the next day), and folks friendly.  

Back on the bike, we headed to Marlinton, WV (GPS still on scenic) which is the southern end of the Highland Scenic Highway.  The route took us near the Green Bank Radio Observatory, so we decided to defy the GPS lady and ride off her route and check out the Observatory.  We “recalculated” her route LOL. ijustwant2ride

The visit to the Observatory was a lot more fun they one would think.  While you do not get to peer through a telescope it is still quite interesting.  A nice visitor center, a guided tour of the grounds and some cool stories (like how a short circuit in an electric toothbrush 8 miles away was picked up by the telescopes) made for a great 2 hour stop. Make sure you add this as a stop on your motorcycle tour of West Virginia.

Back on the motorcycle and again following the GPS ladies’ (what would you think of a GPS that used Ozzy Osborn’s voice? LOL) directions we soon came to Cass Scenic Railroad State Park.   ijustewant2ride

This state park is located at a stop on the old steam engine rail line.  They still use several of the original steam engines to take riders up to the top of “Bald Knob” mountain (4.5 hours) and other locations.  Both the wife and I have ridden the steam train to the top of the mountains as kids so we passed on this trip.  I do recommend if you are in the area to take the trip to the top or one of the other rides if you are in the area!

That is enough for this blog post.  Check out Part 2. 

 

 

ijustwant2ride.com

Location – Ferry Hill Plantation

Mile Mark – 72 (as it is not on the tow path it does not seem to have an actual mile marker)

Historical Comment – A 19th Century Plantation Ferry Hill overlooks the C&O Canal and the Potomac River. Prior to the civil war the slaves of this plantation were some of those that John Brown hoped to inspire to revolt when he attacked the Harpers Ferry Arsenal. This was the home of an officer in Stonewall Jackson’s army and was used during the Civil war by both sides to secure the river. The plantation is only a short distance from Antietam, the bloodiest battle in American History. Currently operating as a Visitor’s Center and as a Headquarters for the C&O Canal National Park Service.

Ride to the Site – Very easy. Directly of the main road.

Amenities – Restrooms and picnic area.

Road Conditions (from main road) – Paved

Railway Situation – no railroad tracks or crossing.

Parking Lot Condition – Mix of paved and gravel with about 20 parking spots.

Main Attraction – The visitor’s center and the view of the river, and Shepherdstown, WV.

My Thoughts – Interesting stop when you put it into historical context. Hundreds of slaves were used to farm the 700+ acre farm, who were targets of John Browns raid and the Civil War.

 

ijustwant2ride

Location – Dam #5

Mile Mark – 106.6

Historical Comment – Originally constructed of timber in 1835, Dam No. 5 was an important source of hydro power for millworks on the river. As soon as the dam was built, Edward Colston paid $100 a year for water rights and began the area’s long history of milling and hydro-electricity.

Unfortunately, the dam’s timber construction was no match for the many floods that swelled the Potomac River. The canal company decided a masonry dam would be stronger, but completion of the new 700-foot “high rock” dam was delayed by more floods and the Civil War. In fact, the dam was a target for destruction on several occasions but was successfully defended by local Union militia each time. [Taken from the C&O Trust website.]

Ride to the Site – Very easy. Not far off of I-70 access to Dam #5 is an easy ride.

Amenities – There is a picnic area but no rest rooms.

Road Conditions (from main road) – This lock is directly off the main road.

Railway Situation – no railroad tracks or crossing.

Parking Lot Condition – Gravel with about 10 parking spots. Pick your spot as a few have a drainage slope.

Main Attraction – The Dam, fishing and the view.

My Thoughts – As you exit the road you go down a shot but somewhat steep hill (gravel).