Posts Tagged ‘Motorcycle Ride’

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Travelling the AU By Motorcycle

When I decided to tour Australia by motorcycle, most of my friends and family thought that I had lost my mind. In truth, I really wanted to enjoy some solitude and forge a stronger connection with nature. By exercising my independence and absorbing new sights and sounds, I came away from my trip feeling better as a person. While it was admittedly difficult at times, I have no regrets. The challenges were merely opportunities to learn, and I’m never one to turn down a challenge.

Preparing for My Trip

I planned to be gone for a month. I don’t have any pets, so I didn’t need to worry about them. I threw away all the perishables in my refrigerator, unplugged all the things I wouldn’t be using, and made an arrangement through Spacer to find a storage and have my valuables stored somewhere safe in my absence. I made sure I let my family know the places I was going, when I intended to be there, and how long I planned to be gone. It was easy to get a hold of them by phone, but it always helps to have someone who knows your whereabouts just for the sake of safety.

Packing Smart

Between the motorcycle and the weather, I needed to make sure I was wearing appropriate clothing. Light, breathable long sleeve shirts were the best bet. My skin was motorcycle-933022_960_720protected from both the sun and the wind. I also brought a lot of extra sunblock so I could remember to reapply it every few hours, and enough refillable water bottles so that I’d never run out before I had a chance to stop.

I also brought some campsite tools with me. I had a camping hammock, a small tent, and some basic campfire cooking tools. There are plenty of beautiful places to motorcycle camp in Australia, and it was much cheaper than relying on a hotel every night. I wanted the full experience, and I could only get that by sleeping in nature whenever possible.

Setting Up My Itinerary

I mapped a general route before I went, but I was careful not to put too many specifics on my map. There were a handful of landmarks I wanted to see, mostly beaches and natural formations. I also gave myself a rough time estimate for how long it would take me to get from point to point along that route. By not meticulously overscheduling, I was able to live in the moment. I could find campsites that seemed interesting to me, rather than limiting myself to things I chose before I even got a chance to see them.

Planning my Long Stops

I was eventually going to need to shower and wash my clothes – being on the road for a long time is no excuse to smell bad. While I brought camp hygiene products with me, nothing is a legitimate replacement for an actual shower. I found all the places along my route that I could stop at night to sleep in a real bed and get access to a shower and laundry facility. You never know when you might need one of these places, so it’s best to be aware of how many you can potentially encounter.

Although it was exhausting and trying at times, it was a worthwhile experience. I got to enjoy some time to get my head together and experience the world. If you’ve ever read Zen and the Art of Motorcycle maintenance, you’ll find that most of its sentiments ring true. It’s half hard work, and half finding yourself.

Sarah Kearns is a hard working mother of three daughters. She is a Senior Communications Manager for BizDb, an online resource with information about businesses in the UK. 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.

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

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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 decided to take a quick Sunday morning motorcycle ride this past weekend.  Our ride took us to three national parks in about 5 hours!

Leaving home about 8AM we headed out to the George Washington Parkway (a national park). It took us about an hour to get to the southern terminus which is also Mount Vernon home of George Washington. Riding north on the parkway gives the rider a wonderful, at times panoramic, views of the Potomac River and surrounding country.

Coming abreast of Washington D.C. the view is remains panoramic as well as breath taking. The Washington and Lincoln Monuments clearly in view, the Kennedy Center and the spires of Georgetown make the few minutes you ride past the city quite awe inspiring.  Just past those sites you come across Theodore Roosevelt Island.  This is an often a much under looked memorial to a great president.  Take the time to walk across to the island and view this memorial. We did not stop this time…the parking lot was full, otherwise it would have been 4 national parks in 5 ½ hours.

The second park of this motorcycle ride was the C&O Canal National Park.  If you follow this blog you will see that I am attempting to get to all the motorcycle accessible stops along the canal.  I have knocked out a few but there is a lot of stops remaining.

Lastly we stopped in and took a look at Glen Echo National Park.  Just a short distance from the Clara Barton Parkway (named after the founder of the American Red Cross) this National Park started life in 1891 as a school and in 1911 transformed in to the premier amusement park of the great D.C area.  In 1971, shortly after the amusement park closed the Park Service took over and it is now a national park!  The park is an easy motorcycle ride coming out of or into Washington D.C.

Leaving Glen Echo we returned to the Clara Barton Parkway and headed west towards home.  All in all…a great day for a motorcycle ride!

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Location – Lock 10

Mile Mark – 8.8

Historical Comment – One of the few locks to use the Drop Gate Lock system.  See the picture below for details.

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.

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

Railway Situation – no railroad tracks or crossing. 

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

 Main Attraction – The Drop Gate Lock system.

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If you follow me on FaceBook (which most don’t as I don’t really push it) or Twitter you know that I collect Harley Davidson Motorcycle Dealership Pins.  Debbie and I also collect pins that remind us of our motorcycle rides to various destinations.

This year we collected motorcycle ride pins during out nearly 3000 mile vacation ride, touring along a couple of the Great Lakes and into New England.  Neither of us had been into the northeast United States for anything beyond a business trip, so that is why we chose to go there this year.  You can read about our rainy, soggy, drenched motorcycle vacation starting here.

We rode to so some pretty cool places along the way.  On White Face Mountain we got to see the inside of a rain cloud and at Ben & Jerry’s we tasted a new ice cream that is not yet on the market.  All in all we had a great time touring and these motorcycle ride pins will be conversation starters moving forward.

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Well during our 2017 Motorcycle Vacation ride I was able to get the wife to two more “old world” cities!  Not sure if she still thinks this is funny.

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Rolling out of Eire, PA we headed north along the Lake Erie coast on Route 5WP_20170620_09_43_14_Rich(The Seaway Trail, an American Byway Seaway Trail, an American Byway).  We made an assumption that this part of our motorcycle vacation would be along the coast.  It was a great ride in good weather, for a change, but the road is not directly on the coast so that was a bit disappointing.  For the most part you only see Lake Eire a few times.

 Along Route 5 we stopped at several locations including a coupleSAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES lighthouses.  The one thing that really surprised me was the amount of vineyards along the road.  There was miles upon miles of grape vines, thousands of acres.  This day’s ride, along route 5, has been our best, so far, for this year’s motorcycle vacation.  

After a few hours we riding the motorcycle through the cool mid-morning we decided to take a side trip over to Gowanda Harley Davidson.  Talk about being in the middle of know where, this is one of the most remote Harley dealerships we have been.  

Riding out from that dealership I set the GPS to take us to Buffalo Harley Davidson. Unlike the past, the last update to the “infotainment system” seems WP_20170620_09_24_55_Richto have fixed the problem of the GPS not quite finding the dealerships but, there are still some problems like the road showing up in Lake Erie.  If you follow me on FaceBook you know I collect the dealership pins but Buffalo HD was sold out, dang!   

After we checked into the hotel, and clocking 900 miles, we decided to ride down to the American side of the falls.  BIG MISTAKE…not to check the WP_20170620_15_17_29_Proweather radar.  About half way to the falls we could see rain in the distance and it was very clearly a heavy rain.  Turning around at the first opportunity, we made a run back to the hotel…. LOL we did not make it.  Quite well soaked we stopped under an overpass to wait out the storm.  I am very happy that the hotel has a laundry. 

After dinner we tried it again…this time we had no rain and had a good time at the falls.  Tomorrow we are going to travel to the Canadian side and check out the sites.  I know for a fact that we will be getting wet again tomorrow, we plan on taking the boat ride to under the falls! 

2017 Motorcycle Vacation Day 2

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I have been taking my wife to some of the great cities of the old world. Last year I was able to take her to Lisbon and Damascus. Two years ago we rode the motorcycle to Paris.

Not sure where we will ride the motorcycle to next… but you can count on her getting to London and Glasgow sometime soon.

ijustwant2ride.com

 

Struggling to decide where to ride or tour on your motorcycle in the coming season?  How about the two following websites to help generate some ideas. 

The first site is a repeat of one from an earlier post. A few years ago I wrote about a website that could help you plan some cool motorcycle tours.  This site by the Federal Highway Administration (can you believe that the federal government got a website right?) is called the American Byways.  America’s Byways is an interactive, map based, website that will provide you a listing of each of the 150 different roads.  Those roads are comprised of the National Scenic Byways and All-American Roads. You can select the road from a national or state map to see basic information on the road (length, average time to travel the road and historical background) as well as route maps, directions and photos. 

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Interactive map of American Byways

The second website to help you pick some motorcycle rides or destinations is “Only in Your State”. With this website you can find some out of the way or quirky places that you may never even heard or read about near your home.  For example, here in Virginia, this website recommends the “Southern Virginia’s Donut Trail Is Everything You’ve Dreamed Of And More”.  So the saying “Ride to eat. Eat to ride” fits in well.

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There are a lot of other websites like this out on the ‘ole interwebs.   If you have one that you like to use when it comes to finding a destination for motorcycle ride, tour or destination please share in the comments below!!!