Posts Tagged ‘Maryland’

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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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Debbie and I had a, nearly, 200 mile motorcycle ride this past Sunday.  We left quite early in the morning as it was supposed to be over well over 95F by early afternoon.  Our plan worked as it was 94F as we made it back to the house about 1PM. Hot and muggy, but we beat the worse of it.

Pulling out that morning we really did not have a true destination in mind other than to ride through the towns of Lisbon and Damascus.  We wanted to hit those locations to add to our “Great Cities” motorcycle tour! With no real plan this was just going to be one of those “it’s the journey not the destination” rides.

After rolling through Lisbon we decided to just ride north.  Riding through small towns and rolling farmland made for a wonderful morning.  Toss in some light fog here and there it was just one of those rides were you just love the fact that you ride a motorcycle!

After about an hour we turned the motorcycle towards the west until we ran into US Route 15 which runs right by our home. Heading south we rode the motorcycle into Frederick, MD to stop for lunch and a quick stop at the Frederick Harley-Davidson shop.  The stop at the dealership was to take a quick peek at the new 2017 motorcycles and see for myself how the new engine looks.

A bit later we pulled the bike into our garage with about 192 miles on the trip meter.  All in all just another good day behind bars (motorcycle handlebars)!

frosty balls

On New Year’s Day we participated in the Frosty Balls motorcycle ride.  The ride is hosted by the HOG Chapter 1813 out of Frederick, MD every New Years day.

Debbie and I bundled up as much as possible while still being able to mount the bike (although I would have loved to have a video of Debbie trying to get on the bike…it took 3 tries LOL) and pulled out of the driveway at 930 AM.  With the temperature at 38F, the ride to the dealership parking lot start point was brisk to say the least.  By the way…we don’t have heated gear.

When we arrived I was quite surprised to see that there were over 40 bikes ready to take on the cool morning. After signing in we mingled a bit with the other members of the HOG wishing each other a Happy New Year and catching up on what happened over the holidays.  Soon enough it was time to go kickstands up.

Fifty miles of Maryland and Virginia back roads we ended up at the Virginia Kitchen restaurant in Herndon VA.  A nice lunch, a warm room and great comradery help raise our internal temperature … until we had to go out and ride home.  At this point Debbie and I decided to drop from the group and go back to the house to take care of post-holiday activities.

The round trip was over 80 miles and the temperature had reached a balmy 48F as we pulled back into our driveway.  It was a good ride and a good way to start the new year!

The wife and I participated in this motorcycle ride sponsored by Frederick, MD Harley Owners Group Chapter.  We decorated our bike in pink ribbons. By the looks our convoy of Harley’s received I hope we might have had a couple people think about cancer.  Debbie is a breast cancer survivor so we think about it a lot.

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1st Place Custom, 3rd Place Dresser (yup dresser)

The wife and I went to a motorcycle and car show this past weekend.  The Tradesmen Motorcycle Club hosted the event to raise money for the Cystic Fibroses Foundation.  The show itself was in rural Maryland, you would never know we were 50 miles or so from downtown Washington, DC due to all the countryside we saw. We road through miles of farmland when “SHA’ZAM” a small strip mall appeared in the community of Monrovia, MD.

On the ride out the weather was great but that was hiding the fact that the temp was going to be in the upper 90s… and boy did it!  We drank a lot of water during the day and as much as we like the show we were looking forward to the ride home and cool showers!

As for the show itself there were about 25 cars and about 20 motorcycles on display. The one thing that surprised me the most was…what is up with Batman?  There were two Batman themed Camaro’s one of which had a matching motorcycle.

As you can tell from the pictures below there were some really nice cars and bikes in attendance.  The wife and I both favorite and voted for the same vehicles, in particular we loved the late 1960s Pontiac Grand Prix Convertible and the Chevy El Camino.

We also met a guy taking a leap into the motorcycle industry and starting his own shop.  He is creating his company, “Sick Sledz”, and is hoping to open it in this part of Maryland in the near future… we wish him luck!

We did quite well in the contest part of the bike show!  We won two trophies for the Army bike.  The first trophy kind of surprised us, 3rd place in the “Dresser” category!  That had to be people selecting the wrong spot on the voting form or not knowing what a dresser really looks like.. oh well.

Our bike did take 1st place in the custom motorcycle category.  We have done well in the few shows we have presented and we have not got around to finishing it yet.  There are a few more things we want to do to call it finished!

 

ijustwant2ride.com

Location – Hancock Visitor Center

Mile Marker –123

Historical Comments – The Hancock Visitors Center is located in the Bowles House.  Construction of the home began in the mid 1700s and thus pre-dates construction of the canal. The house sits near Lock 52 and after this part of the canal was opened the residents would sell/trade with the canal boats as they transited through the lock.  Passing through several hands over the next century it remained private property until the 1980s.

Hancock is one of the oldest settlements in western Maryland.  George Washington stayed here several times while he was surveying the area as a young man.  During the Civil War Hancock was held for ransom by the Confederate Army, but no one paid ransom.

Ride to Site – The Hancock Visitors Center is not easy to find and is poorly signed. If you are approaching from the east you are riding on I70, the visitor’s center is almost immediately on the left side of road (Main Street/MD 144) as you reach the bottom of the exit.  It is hidden between guardrails and trees as you ride down the interstate exit. I rode past the entrance, the fact it was there never registered.

Coming from the west you might see the sign for the visitor’s center if it is not hidden by tree branches.  It is located between the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) building and the ramp to I70.

Amenities – Visitors Center, public restrooms, parking, all normal amenities in the town of Hancock.

Road Conditions (from main road) – rough pavement with loose gravel.  The entrance/exit is on a somewhat sharp incline please pay attention to your line of travel for the gravel that has been kicked onto the pavement.

Railway Situation – none

Parking Lot Conditions –Pea gravel and dirt with a bit of pavement.

Main Attraction – The first floor of the Bowles house has been converted in to the visitor’s center.  There are several artifacts of the construction period of the canal as well as photographs of the area during the period the canal was open.  Lock #52 is also on the grounds of the visitor’s center and is in good shape.

My Thoughts – This visitor center does not have amount of information on the canal as does the nearby Williamsport visitor’s center.  It is difficult to find and is only open Memorial Day thorough Labor Day.

Map

Ijustwant2ride.com

Difficult to find!

 

 

Last Sunday morning Debbie and I jumped on the Ultra Limited (I think I am going to call it Big Blue) for a day ride.  With no real destination in mind we thought about hitting a couple spots on the C&O Canal.  If you have been following this blog you know I am slowly documenting those spots along the canal assessable by motorcycle. 

Ijustwant2ride.com

Old school McDonalds.

We left the house about 9AM heading west.  We stopped for a bit of breakfast at a McDonalds along Route 9 near Charles Town, WV.  As you can see in the photo it is one of those restaurants designed to look like an old school McDonalds, pretty cool.

 After filling out tanks (including Big Blue’s) we continued west on WV Route 9 then north on Interstate 81 then west on Interstate 70.  Normally we like the back roads much more than the Interstate but today we thought it would be better on the highway.  Pulling off into Hancock, Md we begin looking for the stops on the Canal but also found some other cool things as well, like the huge anti-aircraft missile in front of a Veterans of Foreign War (VFW) building.

We found both stops along the C&O, the Tonoloway stop and the Hancock Visitors Center.  The visitor’s center was very hard to find as it is not well signed and the road into the park was practically invisible unless you are looking for it as we were.  

Heading back east we wanted to stop at one additional canal stop (4 Locks) and we did but not the one we were looking for.  Again the signage was bad and we happened upon C&O Canal Dam #5 only because I noticed a street called Dam #5 Road (quite imaginative) and the fact that I knew there was a C&O dam in the general area.  But the fact we did not find the area we were looking for was no big deal as the area was great riding, rolling hills, great farmland views all made up for not finding the site. 

After looking about Dam #5 we mounted up and headed for home.  On the way home we started seeing hundreds of motorcycles heading north and west along our route. When we stopped for lunch we asked a couple who were riding if they know what was occurring.  Turns out it was the aftermath of “Operation God Bless America” a ride from New Castle, PA to the Veterans Hospital in Martinsburg, WV.  We have never heard of this particular ride before but with, according to the couple to which we spoke, over 2000 bikes it is one we will check out in the future. 

Unfortunately we had to head home to some yard work. But, as you can tell by the pictures, we had a good time on our 200+ mile day trip.

 

Ijustwant2ride.com

Williamsport Visitor Center and Cushwa Basin

Location – Williamsport Visitor Center/Cushwa Basin

Mile Marker –99.6

Historical Comments – Built in the 1830s the Cushwa Basin was developed as a major point on the canal for the loading/unloading and turning of barges. The area around the visitors and the canal itself is steeped in history. Some of the historic highlights of the area include:

Williamsport considered for the nation’s capital

Multiple civil war battles fought to capture, sabotage or destroy the aqueduct.

Gen. Lee used pontoon bridges to cross a flooded Potomac after Gettysburg.

In 1920 a boat bumped the aqueduct wall which caused it to collapse taking the wall and the boat into the creek below.

Ride to Site – The visitor center and basin is off main street Williamsport. Good signage easily directs you to the site.

Amenities – Visitors Center, public restrooms, parking, boat launch, bike rental, all normal amenities in the town of Williamsport.

Road Conditions (from main road) – paved

Railway Situation – none

Parking Lot Conditions –Pea gravel but the edge between the pavement and the parking lot is on a slight hill and appears to suffer damage from water runoff, pay close attention to your line of travel.

Main Attraction – This should be one of your main stops even if you do not want to stop at many (or any) other points along the canal route! Williamsport is only stop where you can visit many of the major canal structures in one place. Here you can see, all within a half mile:

The Conocheague Aqueduct

The Cushwa turning basin

A railroad lift bridge

A Bollman Iron Truss Bridge

A lock house (Lock 44)

Visitor center exhibits

Recreation of canal boat rides (during summer)

My Thoughts – As noted above this is a great spot to learn about the canal. It is easy to get to as it only a few miles from from Interstate 81.

Map Ijustwant2ride.com

 

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Before this past weekend I have, to the best of my knowledge, never been in the same room or on the same road as an electric motorcycle.  That changed when Harley Davidson picked me to ride one of their prototype electric motorcycles known as PROJECT LIVEWIRE.

Harley Davidson stated that these bikes are hand built proto-types to gauge the response of the public for EV motorcycles. Well, if these are hand built proto-types they are exceptionally well conceived and assembled proto-types.   I looked closely at the fit and finish of the bikes before my time to ride and was very surprised at the quality of the work, these bikes are as well done as any production motorcycle.

Ticket to ride!

Ticket to ride!

My test ride was held at the Project LIVEWIRE event at Rommel Harley Davidson, Annapolis, MD.  While anyone could show up and check out the event only pre-selected folks got to take the bikes out on the road.  Why me?  I have no idea except maybe they read this blog (LOL) and my post on what it would take for me to buy an electric motorcycle.

The event itself was well laid out by HD.  They had a display tent that had a strapped down LiveWire which allowed folks who did not get the invite to “test ride” to at least get an idea of the feel of these bikes.  The tent also had a display of HD gear, a video “safety briefing” for the test riders, and a Twitter vending machine.  The Twitter vending machine was cool, if you twitted #projectlivewire along with a code it would drop you a LiveWire key chain!

Seeing motorcycles in person is, as always, more important than seeing them in pictures or on video. While I am a cruiser and touring bike kind of guy I do appreciate the styling and good looks of many sport bikes. The LiveWire leans way closer to the sport bike side of design then it does to a cruiser. Overall I would give look of the bike a thumbs up. I liked the color scheme as it merged with the frame and how they used polished aluminum to “display” the engine.

Speaking of the engine this is another thing that the videos just don’t do the bike justice. The sound of the motor is that of a jet turbine spinning up and down, very impressive. While it is not the normal Harley sound it is unique and is very noticeable. Another thumbs up.

When the time for my ride came we were given another short safety brief on the fact that the acceleration was strong, there is no clutch and that the bike decelerates quickly when you roll off the throttle.  The deceleration is quick enough that the briefer recommended that we tap the break to let the following bikes know we are slowing. That was sound advice as it did slow more quickly than you would expect with normal engine breaking.

Ijustwant2 ride.comRolling out with a police escort it was very evident that the briefings were correct, the bike takes off with a purpose, I bet there have been a few close calls in the first few seconds during this LiveWire tour, but not in my group of four.  I did reach for the non-existent clutch once as we pulled out of the lot; luckily it was only that one time! J

On the street the bike was more nimble and solid then I expected for a proto-type.  It handled very well, not as well as a performance sport bike, but I was very aware that it would move in any way that I wanted, including a short weave through pothole. As the ride was in urban Annapolis area the roads were rough to ok at best.  The front, inverted shocks and the rear mono-shock smoothed out the ride so that I really noticed the lack of a rough ride. Stopping was firm and quick, between the disc brakes and the engine deceleration I am sure that, if one was brave enough, this bike could do a stoppie.

The most interesting and entertaining aspect of the bike is its acceleration!  There was only one spot on the ride where I could really get on it so I hung back from the group to make sure I could really hit it and when I did WOW. I rolled on the throttle hard but not to max as I was not sure what would happen based on all the safety briefings. This thing just took off the claim of 0-60 in 4 seconds has to be true. I went from about 20 MPH on the ramp to well over the speed limit (the first number might have been an 8) as fast as I could smile and exclaim WOW!

The ride itself was only about 5 miles and thus way too short to really tease out the pluses and minuses of a proto-type motorcycle. But I was interviewed, in person, and via a survey after the ride. Many of the questions asked were around many of the things I stated were part of considerations for buying an electric motorcycle. In particular HD asked about range, charging times, customization and price. I added short statements about battery life and that while I liked the look of the LiveWire, I would need to own a cruiser style bike v. a sport bike version.

My biggest disappointment was that my Go Pro camera did not work as expected.  For what ever reason I only got the last minute of the ride, as we were pulling back into the dealership.  I have no idea why it was not on, nor how it came on just as we returned…. oh well.

 

All in all I have to give HD a big thumbs up for this effort. It was very well done for a “proto-type” and its performance, in this limited exposure, exceeded my expectations. Thank you HD for allowing me to participate in Project LiveWire.

motorcyle touring, maryland, motorcyle riding

I have been meaning to post this for a while but forgot about it until recently.

A reader of this blog, Greg G., has a nice website to document good motorcycle rides in Maryland. If you are in or near Maryland you should check out his site, Maryland-Motorcycling, for ride ideas.

Each of his rides contain a short description of the ride and links to the Harley Davidson Ride Planner to show the actual route and waypoints.

ride planner, motorcycle touring, motorcycle ride, maryland

If you are going to ride in Maryland, Greg’s Maryland-Motorcycling website is well worth a look.