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This was a fantastic road to ride a motorcycle. All I can say is WOW.   

This byway gets its name due to the many rivers, creeks, and streams that you cross or ride your motorcycle parallel to throughout the length of the road.  The Mury, Gauley and Cow Pasture rivers just to name a few, each with fantastic vistas.  Additionally, the road crosses five counties in both Virginia and West Virginia.  We started our Route 39 motorcycle ride in Lexington VA. 

Riding out of Lexington you are in the Shenandoah Valley but quickly start to ride over the foothills of the Appalachian Mountain system.  This is the first hint at what will become a very cool, repeating mix of twisty mountain roads and smooth valley cruising.  

b (14)One of the neat things about this ride is the fact that the tourism/visitor centers for each of the counties have worked together to “lure” motorcyclist on to the byway. If you desire you can download a “passport” from the Scenic Route 39 website. If you make the stops to get your passport stamps you can earn a Route 39 lapel pin.  Additionally, they also offer a chance to earn a challenge coin, if you can correctly answer enough questions about geocaches.  We did both and the stops you make to fulfil the requirements are a lot of fun and make good breaks from the road.  

Our first stop was the Millboro Mercantile in Millboro VA. This is the quintessential small country ijustwant2ride.comstore, there even is a payphone outside. From my view the best part of this little store was the “extreme” taxidermy.  I have never seen a vampire or carnivorous deer until that day!  Oh, and sticking with the waterway theme, a creek runs under and next to the store itself.

b (12)Back on the bike we were off to our next destination. This portion of our motorcycle ride was through a mountain valley, the view from the saddle showed that fall is upon us.  The beginning of fall is well marked with the spots of color scattered across the mountainsides. It was not long before we made it to Webb’s General Store for our next passport stamp AND a glass bottle of Dr. Pepper with real sugar! OMG was it good!  Even if you don’t ride your motorcycle the length of the Byway, the ride through Rockbridge and Bath counties in Virginia is worth your time. 

It is shortly after you leave Webb’s that you leave the foothills and begin the climb into the heart of the Appalachian Mountains. LOTS of turns and climbs/descents of 6-9%! A motorcycle rider’s version of a rollercoaster.  Crossing the border into West Virginia (our home state BTW) we continued riding b (17)the rollercoaster until we dropped back into another valley and entered the town of Marlinton (don’t add a G, they even have a song or poem about not adding the G).  The visitor center for Pocahontas County, in Marlinton, is one of the passport stops and we had a great visit at the visitor’s center.

We talked with a couple of the employees but primarily with Molly.  We had a great conversation about what is going on in the area, about tourism and motorcycle tourism. It is my opinion that, for some reason, West Virginia just has not become a motorcycling touring/riding destination.  Many of the roads and accompanying attractions rival or even exceed east Tennessee and the Tail of the Dragon.  I will give the Pocahontas County Visitors Center a lot of credit though, they even have a motorcycle touring section on their website. 

b (21)The rest of the ride was much like the first, whipping the bike through the mountains and relaxed cruising along valley or ridgetop roads. More wonderful views and fresh mountain air all around.  So enough we arrived in Summerville and the end of our Appalachian Waters Scenic Byway but not our weekend. 

Riding south out of Summerville about 30 minutes we were visiting my mom in my hometown of Ansted, WV.  We also participated in the Hawks Nest State Park’s 42nd Annual Country Roads festival, a celebration of local craftsmen and mountain heritage.  

This park is also the start of one of the best motorcycle roads in the state.  The ride up or down Gauley Mountain on US Route 60 is an 8-mile ride on a moving serpent’s spine.  Multiple 90+ degree turns, including some approaching 180 degrees, is a floorboard dragging, smile inducing part of Wild Wonderful West Virginia.  Oh, Route 60 is also the Midland Trail Byway, 180 miles of which quite a few are mountain twistiness.  

To soon it was Sunday morning.  Back on the motorcycle we headed home across Route 39 and it was just as much fun going east as it was coming west.  Heck we even turned around in a few places to ride that section again.  An 800 mile round trip might seem a lot for a 3 day weekend…but the fun of 39 made it a blast. 

I highly recommend Route 39 as a road every motorcycle rider should experience.  I cannot imagine why any rider would be disappointed. 

 

 

 

 

LOL…. London to Glasgow, West Virginia.  The towns are about 8 miles apart!

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Location – Lock 6  

Milepost– 5.4 

Historical Comment – After the canal was closed by flood in 1924 this building was used a Civilian Conservation Corp local headquarters.

Ride to the Site – Very easy.  This point on the canal is near Washington D.C.  Traffic might be an issue during the “rush hour” phases of the work day.

Amenities – There were no restrooms or picnic tables.

Road Conditions (from main road) – This lock is directly off the main road.  But there is steep, rocky trail down to the lock area itself.  

Railway Situation – no railroad tracks or crossing.

Parking Lot Condition – All paved with about 10 parking spots.  

Main Attraction – This is one of the lock houses that can be rented for overnight stays.

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Up until now I did not know that this motorcycle even existed. Not surprising as, according to a couple sources, only about 300 were made. But, the Aermacchi Chimera motorcycle is, in my eyes, a very cool, space age, looking bike. 

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The Aermacchi “Dream” (the translation for Chimera) was designed by Alfredo Bianchi as his first project for Aermacchi Motorcycle.  It was originally produced as a 175cc bike but was later updated to a 250cc engine both with 4 speed transmissions. 

a6After Harley Davidson bought into Aermacchi Motorcycles in 1960 the Chimera was discontinued. But the engines would go on to support several Aermacchi and Harley Davidsons including the Harley Sprint. 

There is something about Italians and their motorcycle designs. While this particular bike did not become a sales success it sure is a success in the history of motorcycle design.

Sources:

http://www.motorcycleclassics.com/classic-italian-motorcycles/aermacchi-chimera-zmwz14mazbea 

https://www.classicdriver.com/en/bike/aermacchi/other/1960/421321

https://www.bikez.com/motorcycles/aermacchi_chimera_250_1961.php

https://www.hemmings.com/magazine/hmn/2011/11/1957-Aermacchi-Chimera/3705831.html

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Twisting and turning through the West Virginia panhandle counties of Jefferson, Berkley and Morgan the Washington Heritage Trail is a lot of fun on a motorcycle.  Riding through an area that George Washington surveyed, fought for during the French and Indian war and represented as part of the Virginia House of Burgesses was very interesting. 

Leaving the house about 9AM we decided to stop for breakfast at McDonalds in Bunswick, MD.  The McDonalds is just off a roundabout and, as you know, traffic coming into the roundabout must yield to traffic in the circle.  Well as most of us in this part of the world knows, traffic rules do not apply to operators of Maryland automobiles.  A gray haired lady nearly took us out by not yielding the right of way.  Luckily, being aware of the fact that the rules of the road do not pertain to Maryland drivers, I was paying close attention and was able to turn tight against the inner curb allowing for a near miss. This was not our only run in with a Maryland driver that day. 

 After breakfast we headed out and, after crossing the Potomac and Shenandoah,w3 were quickly riding our motorcycle on the Washington Heritage Trail. There are a lot of places to stop and take in the history and culture of life in the West Virginia panhandle but for us this day was about riding the motorcycle.   

Riding our Daytona Blue Harley Davidson through the towns of Harpers Ferry, Shepardstown and Martinsburg was a ride through the rolling hills and country roads of the Shenandoah Valley.  Bucolic county side, cattle in the fields and sadly decaying main streets made for a visually stunning ride.  

It was in Martinsburg that our second run in with a Maryland driver occurred.  Sitting at a traffic light, the first in line, we waited for the light to turn green.  At the green I released the clutch and started through the three way intersection when the pickup truck waiting across the pavement decided that left hand turns had the right of way.  Not this was not a close as the incident at the traffic circle but having a pickup pull up short when they realize they are in the wrong is not a fun moment.  The truck was no less than half way into our lane.  The young girl at the wheel thought it was very funny and was laughing as I shoot her my strongest “dirty look”…..it must not have work. sigh 

w1 (2)Our motorcycle tour of the Washington Heritage Trail started into the Appalachian Mountains shortly after passing through Martinsburg on WV Route 9.  Steep accents and deep valley roads brought us to the little town of Berkeley Springs.  This town was once the regions greatest tourist destination due to its famous springs and “baths”.  Lots of little shops dot this downtown and you can spend an entire day just wondering around town.  But, as I mentioned earlier, we were about motorcycle touring today, hanging a left we headed out of town on Valley Road. 

It was not long before we turned east off of Valley Road and onto Big Oak Tree/Shanghai Road.  This would be a great road for motorcycle riding or touring if it were in better condition.  I am only guessing but, I would think that the elevation from Valley Road to the top of the mountain had to be over 1000 feet.  Some of the 160 degree (or more) switch backs had you gain or lose dozens of feet of elevation in a single turn.  Sadly the road is poor shape, the patching of patches on top of other patches to the tarmac make for a rough and tumble ride.  It is worth it in my opinion but take it under advisement.   

Coming down the other side of that mountain leads you into the town of Shanghai,WP_20170904_12_58_57_Pro WV.  A four way stop intersection and a blink and you have rolled past.  Climbing and deciding another mountain and we were back into the Shenandoah and heading towards the 136 mile marker and the end of the Washington Heritage Trail. 

 All in all, our motorcycle tour of the Washington Heritage Trail took about 3 hours.  If one were to stop and enjoy the towns, parks and points of interests this ride could take all day, there is that much stuff to check out.   

The Washington Heritage Trail is just one of the many roads comprising the amazing American Byways. If you have not checked out the website please do, you just might find an amazing road in your area.

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Can you spot the rear shock adjuster?

Harley Davidson is not holding back or onto tradition by the looks of it. The release of the 2018 Models show that they are serious about making changes.

Gone is the Dyna line of motorcycle.  Three “nameplates” of the old Dyna line have been retained but they are now part of the “new” softail family.  The Wide Glide and Low Rider S are gone completely along with the exposed twin rear shock Dyna frame.

The V-Rod and its 125HP right out of the box engine is gone too! No more V-Rod Muscle or Night Rod.  Those bikes have been around for more than a decade but have been rolled out of the lineup for whatever the future is bringing.

The softail line has been totally changed!  New engines (the Milwaukie 8), new frame and a new rear shock.  Gone is the under frame, dual shock configuration, replaced with a mono-shock that is hand adjustable from the outside of the motorcycle!

As noted above, some of the old Dyna names moved over to the softail world.  The Street Bob, Low Rider and Fat Bob models are additions to the softail lineup while the Softail Slim S and Fat Boy S have been dropped.  Speaking of the Fat Bob… wow they really hit the styling cues out of the park, well at least for me!

Everything said and done, excluding the Sportsters, all the motorcycle in the Harley Davidson stable are now water cooled… or twin cooled to use their terminology.  Harley Davidson is making waves with all the changes.  Their promise of 50 new models in 5 years and 100 in 10 is well underway.

So what is my take?  I like it!!  Harley Davidson took a big step on technology with the Softail family.  While the bikes might look the same, it is only sheet metal.  Folks that have been complaining about how Harley does not embrace new(ish) technology cannot say that now.   Between the new engine, water cooling, monoshocks, this is not your Dads’s softail or maybe not even your brother’s or sister’s softail.

P.S.  Mr. Davidson also stated that their electric bike will be out within the next two years, how is that for embracing new technology.

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The FAT BOB is looking good!

A mashup of GTA and some home footage!  Made me smile!  Make sure to watch to the end…the giraffe seems to be sad that the ride was over.

 

 

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Fern Pass (elevation 1212 m) is a mountain pass in the Tyrolean Alps in Austria – Just a neat video of a Motorcycle riding through the Alps

42DFE03400000578-4750914-image-a-22_1501610476940Instagram biker Olga Pronina dies in crash in Russia – Olga Pronina was a 40-year-old Instagram star who went by ‘Monika9422’ online with over 160,000 followers died in a terrible motorcycle crash.  Olga was “internet famous” due to her pictures and videos riding/stunting on her motorcycle while wearing skimpy clothing.

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Guy on a scooter breaks the wheelie distance record – Masaru Abe rode over 500KM on a Yamaha Jog scooter, taking 13 hours to accomplish the record. The previous record was 331KM.

Ducati developing jet technology for motorcycles! – We are not talking jet engines but jet exhausts!1486066461417Driver gets 6 years for Motorcyclist’s Death – Motorist Darla Jackson has been sentenced to six years in prison for the 2015 killing of a motorcyclist Zach Buob in a road rage incident.

 

 

WOW there is some truly good news and bad news about the Pirelli Night Dragon MotorcycleWP_20170813_18_39_29_Pro Tires.  So let’s get that out of the way first. 

The good news —- These motorcycle tires handle great!  We rode on them in hot and very hot conditions and never felt any traction issues.  In wet and VERY wet conditions they are the best motorcycle tires I have every rode on, I never once felt any discomfort on wet roads.

The bad news —- We only got a little more than 12,000 miles on these tires before I had to park the motorcycle to get new tires.  I would have hoped that we would have rode over 15K before needing to replace the tires.  

So overall what do I think?  I love the handling and wet road performance.  During our 2017 Motorcycle Vacation almost two-thirds of the trip involved wet roads, rain and torrential downpours. Never once did I feel I needed to worry about slips and slides.  I never was fully confident of the Harley Davidson OEM Dunlop tires in the wet so the Pirelli Night Dragons are a step up. 

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The rear Perilli Night Dragon at about 12.5K

I was disappointed with the mileage wear of the tires. But, is that a tradeoff of grip v. wear?  Unfortunately,  with these tires, it really is a tradeoff.  So it comes down to do I buy tires a little more often for a grip that makes me feel safe (at every lean angle)?

For now the answer is yes, I just ordered a new set of Pirelli Night Dragon motorcycle tires.  If I only get another 12K miles maybe I will consider testing another tire. 

If you want to see earlier post on the Pirelli Night Dragon tires….

New motorcycle tires! Trying something different.

Motorcycle Product Review: 5000 Miles on the Night Dragon Motorcycle Tires 

After all that I am giving these motorcycle tires a 4 out of 5 stars!

4 out 5 stars

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Location – Lock 8 

Milepost – 8.4

Historical Comment – The lock house has been converted in to a mini-museum called the “River Center”.

Ride to the Site – Very easy.  This point on the canal is near Washington D.C.  Although traffic might be an issue during the “rush hour” phases of the work day.

Amenities – There is a picnic area but no rest rooms. At the time of our visit there were no trash cans in the picnic area.

Road Conditions (from main road) – This lock is directly off the main road.  But there is steep, rocky trail down to the lock area itself.  

Railway Situation – no railroad tracks or crossing.

Parking Lot Condition – All paved with about 10 parking spots.  

Main Attraction – The River Center open weekends May to October