Archive for the ‘motorcycle touring’ Category

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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! 

 

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 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.

 

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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. 

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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.

 

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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).

Whether your next cross-country ride is a laid-back road trip or a high-stakes poker run, you will definitely need to find accommodations along the way. Bikers, however, haveijustwant2ride specific needs that some regular establishments just don’t have. Knowing this, you need to plan your itinerary in advance so that you can find the best biker friendly accommodation for your next motorcycle travel.

Here are five resources that you can use to find the best biker-friendly establishments and lodging en route to your destination.

Trip review websites

There are websites that list hotels, inns, and bed and breakfast places. TripAdvisor, Agoda, and Gumtree are good examples of these. There are establishments on these sites that proudly advertise that they are ‘biker-friendly.’ And the best thing about these websites is that you get to read reviews from fellow bikers who have used the accommodations before. With these sites, you already get an idea of what to expect from each place before actually booking.

Mobile apps

Aside from TripAdivsor and Agoda (which also have mobile apps), there are also mobile apps that allow you to check accommodation reviews, reserve a room, and pay for your stay. AirBnb is an example of an excellent app that lets you do this. And like the aforementioned websites, there are lots of listed establishments that are proud to be ‘biker-friendly – with testimonials from previous motorcyclists as proof. The best part – you can do all of these through your smart phone.

The ever-reliable Google search

A Google search can also give you listings of biker-friendly places that can be found along your trip. Of course, when you use Google search, the keywords that you use matter. Try doing a search using the “biker friendly accommodations” and add the place where you’re headed to the keywords. You’ll be surprised that there are quite a number of biker-friendly establishments en route to your destination (and around your country too).

Blogs by other bikers

Of course, what other best way to find the best biker-friendly accommodations out there than to get advice from someone with first-hand experience. There are fellow bikers who write blogs on their adventures around the country. Aside from learning a thing or two from them about riding, you can also keep track of recommended routes and their favorite places to stay. To add, there are also specific blogs that specifically discuss biker-friendly accommodations. BikersAreWelcome and Beds4Bikers are good examples of blogs listing establishments that are biker-friendly.

Ask the hosts

Compared to most travelers, bikers have needs that are quite specific – and this is mostly

ijustwant2ride.com

Sometimes they will let you park undercover.

attributed to the motorcycle and the gear. You can directly ask the hosts either through phone or email (or chat) if they have the facilities bikers require.

One of the most important – if not the most important – thing to ask is if the place has overnight motorcycle parking. Ideally, an establishment should have covered parking that will protect your bike from the elements. If there’s none, a private parking area would also do – as long as you’re not parked on the main road. You can also ask if they offer bike covers and tarpaulins.

Another must-have are laundry facilities. If you’re on a week-long cross-country road trip with only panniers for luggage containers, then you definitely need a wash of clothes. You also need access to at least a bucket, some water, and motorcycle cleaning detergent to clean your bike. If you’re lucky, some places even have pressure cleaners.

Some Final Thoughts

Planning is always the key to a successful and safe motorcycle trip. And with a week’s-long road trip ahead, it’s always best to check what biker-friendly accommodations are available to you during the trip.  Always remember to do your research (and in this case – use technology), so you can find – not only the best deals – but also the best biker-friendly establishments around.  

Sarah Kearns is a hard working mother of three daughters. She is a Senior Communications Manager for BizDb and Populationof an online resources with information about businesses and demographic statistics of world population. She loves cooking, reading history books and writing about green living. Her dad was a motorcyclist and he passed that passion on to her. Sarah loves to travel the world on her motorcycle and she hopes that one of her daughters will become her partner in the near future.

The other day I mentioned that West Virginia does not do enough to promote motorcycle tourism in the state.  On a trip (via car … sigh) to visit family we stopped at the West Virginia boarder rest stop. 

At the rest stop I walked around and looked for motorcycle related pamphlets. There were more then I expected but less then I hoped.

Some of these are new to me. The “Devils Den”, for example, was a first and one that I need to check out!  The pamphlet entitled “Southern West Virginia Motorcycle Ride Guide” includes many of the areas I have rode.

Looks like things are improving, slowly, but there is a lot more that can be done.  WV could be a motorcycling Mecca, like east Tennessee, with some dedicated effort.  If I hit the lottery maybe I will be the guy to do it… LOL!

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Not sure how this happened…. But when I was preparing my posts on our trip to Custom Dynamics (Part 1 and Part 2) I noticed that I had never posted my review and installation video of their RINGZ front turn signals. Sooo better late than never I guess.

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I have been noticing that a few other bikes turn signals are a lot brighter as runningijustwant2ride lights and turn signals, so I started investigating. Turns out those bright lights are the Custom Dynamics RINGZ turn signal inserts.

The RINGZ are super bright LED inserts which replace the standard bulbs in the turn signals. After checking them out I bought a set for my front signals, with a Harley Davidson Ultra there are no “normal” rear signals for the RINGS to replace.

Easy to follow instructions. Below is a video of how I replaced them on my bike.

WP_20150617_19_22_10_ProAs far as the product review goes….WOW!!! I was a big dummy and forgot to take a before photo but these things are bright. In their white running light mode, they are as bright, it seems, as my passing lamps which are LED as well. I also must point out that riding at night I seem to get a bit greater lighting left and right, not much but some. In turn signal or emergency flasher mode the Custom Dynamic RINGZ are far and away superior to the standard bulbs.

I am going to give the Custom Dynamics RINGZ LED Turn Signals a 5-star review. Super bright and ease of installation make these a must have if your bike supports them.

5 star

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As noted above in the Part 1 post I now have their new ProBeam turn signals and those suckers are even brighter then the RINGZ!

 

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While I don’t think West Virginia does enough to promote motorcycle tourism things are getting better! Four eastern West Virginia counties have joined forces to create a new push called RIDE THE HIGH FIVE. I have not traveled each of the roads listed but I have been on few plus many others in the area (check out our ROUTE 39 ride from last year). The RIDE THE HIGH FIVE web site include GPS routes and a lot of additional information, check it out.

A while back I wrote a post on the “Decline of the motorcycle”. BUT here is a article that talks about the “Most popular motorcycles among MILLENNIALS!” I have to say I was on a little surprised.

Some of the funniest motorcycle commercials!

 

Watch how not to catch a runaway motorcycle!

How about a 360 degree view of a record setting speed run up Pikes Peak on a KTM 790 Duke motorcycle!

 

 

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We are on a ride to visit the HQ of Custom Dynamics located in North Carolina.  Custom Dynamics make some very very bright LED lighting for motorcycles of all brands. 

I am a big fan of their products and thought it would be cool to check them out first hand.  Stay tuned for post all about Custom Dynamics in the near future.

BTW the little gnome was guarding Old Dominion Harley Davidson.