Posts Tagged ‘Motorcycle Ride’

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! 

 

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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).

The weather here in the mid-Atlantic region of the US of A has been very cold so far this year.  Record breaking cold on several days and cold enough to keep the local HOG group from holding its New Years Day Frosty Balls ride (click here for more).

Yesterday was quite the unique day it was 74F degrees (not a record but very close) and sunny.  SOOOOOO after work I jumped on the bike for the 1st time this year.  Yea, I know, sad sad sad for a guy that states “I just want to ride” !  LOL

Less then 15 miles out the clouds appear and BAM, I am in the rain.   Not a downpour,  but enough to make me laugh and smile at the crazy luck I seem to have at times.  Oh and enough to create a lot of road spray and make a clean bike very dirty.  😦

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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!