Posts Tagged ‘motorcycle riding in virginia’

I though I would try my hand at video recording my travels.  This ride I wanted to “shoot the gap”, the southern gap of Skyline Drive.

There are two places along Skyline Drive where you can ride your motorcycle under the parkway, after going up a twisty mountain road and of course back down the other side.  I had never ridden the southern gap so now was the time.

As you can see in the video it was a wonderful day to ride a motorcycle.  Setting out from my home in Front Royal with a clear, bright, blue sky and a cool but comfortable temperature just made for a perfect journey.  Low traffic in the Shenandoah Valley provided little impedance, except for the deer and her three fawns.  I had to stop and let them cross, woe is me riding in the country. 

So why 150 in 9?  This was a 3-hour ride, but my batteries died after 2 ½ hours.  NO ONE wants to watch a 150-minute ride with no commentary, I have not figured that one out yet, so I set it to fast forward and got the whole thing down to 9 minutes.

Hope you enjoy.

*****

Ride on, Ride Safe

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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. 

 

 

 

 

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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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We started our motorcycle vacation today.  We left the house about 8AM and headed out to Ohio on our Harley Davidson Ultra Limited.  Our, path for all but a few miles on day one, is via US Route 50.   

We picked up Route 50 just a few miles south of Leesburg, VA. I have to say that Route 50 from this point to our endpoint is a fantastic motorcycle ride.  In Virginia you ride through horse and wine county (I quite counting vineyards and wineries at 15).  In fact in Middleburg we saw folks preparing their horses for a jumping contest (I am sure there is a proper name for this contest, but I do not know what it is) there were dozens of horses and riders milling about. My wife said she thought it was called “Trials”, to which I replied then they are all guilty!

WP_20170615_09_55_38_ProShortly after crossing into WV you head into the Appalachian Mountains.  These mountain roads are some twisty fun for a motorcycle!  Swooping around turns, quick climbs and steep descents (up to a 9% grade) with spectacular views from the mountain tops and rolling farmland in the valleys make this a route, in my opinion, as much fun as any of the roads around the Tail of the Dragon.  By the way I dragged the floorboards of the bike a few times without even trying! 

WP_20170615_12_05_47_RichI had forgotten that Route 50 passed into Maryland for a few miles so today we traveled in 4 states. When we left Maryland and rode the motorcycle back into WV Route 50 also became the Northwestern Turnpike one of America’s Byways.  Stopping for lunch and gas in the little town of Grafton, WV we ate a McDonalds, which had to be one of the least clean stores we had been in…unfortunately I did not notice this until after we had received our food.    

WP_20170615_15_41_58_RichWe did make a side trip to Cairo … I am still taking my wife to all the great cities of the old world, via motorcycle.  I was able to get her to Lisbon and Damascus last year.  Athens is next on the list!   

The first day of our vacation motorcycle trip is now over.  315 miles through some of the best country for motorcycle riding.  I highly recommend this part of Route 50 to anyone passing through WV, MD or VA.  OHHH… for got to mention, that per Standard Operating Procedure, we got wet in a thunderstorm!!! Storm Chaser powers ACTIVATE!

 

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The first really great motorcycle riding weekend of the year and we got to take advantage of it!   It was a bit cool when we started, something just under 50F.  But, Saturday, a little before noon, the sun was out, the temperature was rising, the sky was blue and the motorcycle was calling.  

I threw on my chaps, Debbie put on her electric jacket liner and we were ready for a motorcycle ride to the US Marine Corp Museum.  We had not been there before but had seen its structure many, many time.  Anyone who travels north or south on Interstate 95 in the Washington, DC metro area has seen the spire of the museum rising above the tree line.  

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Iwo Jima flag rising… in Legos!

We rode out, going the long way to avoid the DC highway system, and a couple hours later we were pulling the motorcycle into the parking lot of the museum.  The building itself is quite imposing, it was built to give an artistic representation to the Marines rising the flag on Iwo Jima.  

It is quite amazing when you walk into the atrium of the building. Hanging from the ceiling are multiple Marine Corp aircraft from WWII as well as a Harrier jump jet.  The museum itself is well laid out walking you through the founding of the Corp at Tun Tavern through their current deployments in the Middle East.

If you are in the area of Quantico, VA riding your motorcycle or in your car, you should stop a check out this free museum.  It would be worth your time to learn a little more about one part of the American armed services.  

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Tuesday morning we had to be at Roanoke Harley Davidson bright and early, the local Harley Owners Group chapter were providing breakfast! So we were kickstands up and riding the motorcycle at about 7AM.  Once again, the dang Dealership location feature of the GPS was screwed up! (you can read more on my thoughts about this thing from a post more than a year old here…not much has changed).

After thanking the HOG and dealership employees we got back on the road.  Hopping on the Blue Ridge Parkway (we were on and off the parkway about aIjustwant2ride.com dozen times it seems) we arrived at out second destination Mabry Mill.  Now I have been to dozens of mills over the years and this one was no different except for the story behind.  If you have time check the link for the story.  Also they have a working blacksmith forge, the gentleman working the forge makes several different items. He was just starting the heat the forge when were there so he was not working iron.

ijustwant2ride.comNow start whistling the theme for the Andy Griffith show while thinking about the song Rain Drops Kept Falling on my Head.  Because both of those fit our stop in Mount Airy, NC.  A short(ish) ride from the Mill, Mt. Airy was the home of Andy Griffith and the town has become Mayberry as a result.  The main street is a neat little “kitsch” with county/Mayberry themed stores.  But the real “Floyd’s” Barber Shop and Snappy Lunch stand are there.  We had a nice lunch at Snappy and if I had needed a haircut I would have stopped in Floyd’s.

A large part of stay in Mt. Airy was in the rain.  Riding the motorcycles in it was a hit and miss sprinkle, walking around it was a light rain but most of the stores had awnings that kept us covered but for about 5 minutes there was a downpour.  One of our new friends (Don of Don and Torri 🙂 ) made the rain stop by running down to their bikes and putting covers on their luggage.

After visiting the Andy Griffith Museum and Siamese Twins exhibit we were back on the road headed to Winston-Salem, NC.  This next stop was at the Winston Cup Museum. If you are into NASCAR this small museum will be right up your pit-lane (see what I did there LOL).  Holding 20+ race cars the museum tells the story NASCAR when RJ Reynolds was the primary sponsor.

After this it was a sprint to our hotel, a shower, beer/sprits, dinner and fun with new friends and sleep… or and air conditioning!!  Not sure what is the most important invention of the modern era… Motorcycles or air conditioning!

To see what happened on day one check out that post!

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Today’s HOG motorcycle tour started early.  We were on the road a couple minutes after 7AM (tomorrow will be earlier).  Pulling out of the motel parking lot we headed towards Natural Chimneys State Park, the first stop of the day.  

It took us a few days to figure this out but this HOG event is really an unstructured structured event.  You can go to as many of the stops as you want or none of the stops. You can follow the pre-planned routes or set your own.  We all just start and stop at the same location each day.  This day we chose to skip the State Park and go directly to the second stop the Museum of the Confederacy. 

On the way we had multiple animals try to kill themselves by throwing themselves at our motorcycle.  A rabbit, a squirrel, a blue bird, yellow bird, robins and a couple other critters all threw themselves at us, luckily they all missed by quite a bit.  

WP_20160620_10_45_40_RichThe Museum of the Confederacy is laid out in a fashion that walks you through from what leads up to the succession to the aftermath of the civil war.  In addition to the main museum there are several outdoor features including a “log cabin” built in 1832 and used as a home up until the 1960s. 

From there we headed to Lynchburg Harley Davison.  The Lynchburg HOG chapterWP_20160620_23_08_39_Rich was hosting us for lunch and we had to be there between 12 and 1.  I enjoyed the brat’s and thanked the HOG crew for their hospitality.  By the way, I now have yet another dealer pin for my collection. 

After lunch we remounted the Ultra and headed towards the National D-Day WP_20160620_13_18_32_RichMemorial.  The memorial honors all the soldiers, from twelve nations, that participated in the invasion of Europe in WWII.  As a retired soldier I can say the memorial was quite impressive and provide a poignant reminder of the cost of that invasion.  If you are in the area a few minutes of your time to visit this site would be a good idea. 

Debbie and I skipped the next stop, Foamhenge.  Turns out I wish we had not. Apparently the display will be removed in a couple months.  Oh, well. 

The last stop on this leg of the motorcycle rally, and our hotel, is the Natural Bridge Park and Historic Hotel.  The Natural Bridge is really a bridge with traffic running across the top.  Down below you can hike under the bridge and admire the vista in the same manner as George Washington and Thomas Jefferson.  As part of our package we also got to view a light show projected upon the face of the cliffs.  About 10PM we were in our bed with dreams of the  next day.  

To see what happened on day one check out that post!

larDay three actually started at dinner because I was able to pass on the crazy hillbilly hat.  It was an ambush style pass off and was a lot of fun for everyone around, except Larry, Larry was not very happy.

ijustwant2ride.comThe next day started with an early 5:30 morning rise with the intent to be on the road by 6:45.  The reason for the early rise is that the Emmitsburg, Md Fire Department (Vigilant Hose Company) was providing the ride with a pancake breakfast.  This Fire Department started in 1757 and it was an honor to be associated with them!

ijustwant2ride.comAfter the breakfast stop we rode about a mile or so to the National Firefighters Memorial. The memorial was quite sobering. The names of all the firefighters killed on duty are engraved on pavers and there is a special section dedicated to NYFD killed on duty including those killed during 9/11.  The oldest documented casualty that I noticed was from the late 1700’s.

From there we were to ride to Groves Harley Davidson in Winchester, VA for lunch.  But, Debbie and I had a slight change of plans, we ran by our home to drop off dirty clothes and pack some clean clothes.  This was one of the benefits of a ride that is less than 20 minutes from your home. Groves had BBQ ready for us when we arrived and boy was it good.

From there we rode to the Luray Caverns.  Even though it is not far from home we had never been there before.  The cave tour came with a free pass to their car museum we had a good time.  The 54 degree cave was a pleasant break from the 85 degree temps outside.  If you decided to try the caverns please note that it is 1.2 mile trek with about a 160 foot elevation change….if you go down you got to come back up 🙂

Leaving Luray we traveled up a mountain with a lot of great twists and turns. Dropping down the other side we were just a few miles from our hotel, a shower and dinner.  It was another good day of travel, sites and riding!