Posts Tagged ‘motorcycle touring’

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

Not a long motorcycle ride, about 120 miles, takes us from Front Royal, VA to Lost River State Park, WV and back home.  As we pull from the driveway it is an unusually cool summer morning but bright and sunny. The weather app stated that there was zero chance of rain with highs in the upper 70s, a great day for taking the motorcycle out.

By LOST I mean we rode through Lost, WV, along the Lost River and visited the Lost River State Park. So, we had a LOST motorcycle ride!

Similar to the ride I made a few post back “Motorcycle Ride to No Where In Particular” we headed out Route 55 towards Strasburg.  This time we stated on Route 55 with the motorcycle pointed to the West Virginia boarder. Soon we were out of Strasburg and the Shenandoah Valley and climbing into the mountains.  I love riding my motorcycles on mountain roads!

Route 55 took us through the small town of Wardensville, WV.  On an earlier motorcycle ride we rode through Wardensville, years ago.  I remember stopping at the Kac-Ka-Pon restaurant for what I recall was a good “down home” meal.  We did not stop this time as it was only about 10AM and we had breakfast before leaving the home.

Just a bit past Wardensville we stopped the sign for Lost River State Park.  Turns out neither Debbie nor I had been to this park, so a left turn onto State Route 259 gets the motorcycle pointed in the correct direction.

Route 259 runs in a small valley between two ridge lines. Wonderful views and a smooth road made this for a nice ride.  It is moments like this where I just can’t grasp why more people do not ride motorcycles!  The clean air, wonderful weather wow.

The Park itself was very clean and beautiful. Lost River State Park is nearly 4000 acres for those looking for a secluded get away and hiking. After a quick snack and getting a new scented candle, it was time to mount up.

Quick Note….. The Park is mostly hillside, make sure you park your motorcycle in a way that will allow for an easy get away. I did not and it was a bit of struggle to get it off the kickstand and underway (no I did not drop the bike LOL).

The return trip was just as much fun as getting to the park.  We rode the motorcycle along Wolf Gap Road, Stoney Creek Road and Fort Valley Road among others. This loop had plenty of opportunities to get lost, but we made it home.

All in all, it was a wonderful day for a lost motorcycle ride.

Ride on, Ride safe

White Sands New Mexico

Five years ago, I didn’t own, ride, or predict seeing my future self on a motorcycle.  Not that I didn’t like motorcycles, they were just not on my life’s blipping radar.  I was a cruise agent with six grandkids, a brick-and-mortar home and, well, I did have a nice little convertible.  Transport yourself to the future ‘now’ and you see me riding 5-6 hours a day, many days in a row…and on a sidecar no less.  I rode it on the Tail of the Dragon, Twisted Sisters, Talimena Scenic Drive and so many other ‘famous’ road.  I’m full timing it in an RV working and riding.  Icing on the cake – I’m making a living at it.  How the heck did I get here!

  • Step one:  Your spouse suggests you guys buy a bike and take motorcycle lessons.
  • Step two:  Two-upping isn’t enough, you get your own ride.
  • Step three:  Life sneaks up and kicks your ass – you decide how to respond.

I didn’t take naturally to riding a motorcycle.  I failed my first class.  I went out and bought a bike anyway and practiced in a parking lot for months before I could get up the nerve to take the class again.  I passed with a perfect score.  About a year into riding, I was in a motorcycle accident (mechanical failure), the bike totaled.  Broke my kneecap and nose and was in physical therapy for 9 months.  What did I do while I was laid up?  I bought a new bike and helmet. 

On a cross-country road trip, I dropped my bike at a corner with my weak knee.  It took me an hour to feel like I could get back on the bike, but I found I had messed up the gear shifts.  My spouse and I two-upped it the rest of the trip.  On this trip I decided two things – riding a motorcycle wasn’t for me, not riding wasn’t an option either.

Mounting up for another day of riding!

Idea!  How about a sidecar.  A new journey of resistance, not on my part but for every inch I tried to step forward, something or someone was shoving me a foot back.  The first sidecar builder I found botched the job – the wheel fell off at 60mph going down the interstate.  The wheel well kept it from flying off and I was able to pull over.  At least 10 other things went wrong in this journey until I found the sidecar builder who helped me change my life (to him I will forever be in debt). Thanks Texas Sidecar Company!

I have put over 20,000 miles on my sidecar in less than two years.  And like this whole path, I continued to forge forward following my new passion.  My spouse and I started RVing so we could ride new places.  I had written a couple of articles for Ride Texas Magazine.  The editor found out and mentioned it might make a good story.  Like everything else, I took it to the next level.  I now write a series called Direction Wide Open on our RVing and motorcycling experiences for Ride Texas Magazine which will culminate in the first ever RV-Motorcycle Rally in the U.S end of September 2022 – hosted by ‘Me’.

I looked for new ways to share my excitement about riding and RVing and found several more magazines who would have me.  I submitted a short motorcycle story to Continue the Ride which is a series of rider stories that showcase the diversity and shared passions in motorcycling.  My story was in the first round picked up and the only one with the unique combination of RVing and motorcycling full-time around the United States.  A few months later Progressive reached out to me to present my experiences at the national Progressive IMS Motorcycle Shows across the U.S.  As an introvert, I now find myself center stage at six major cities presenting on RVing and motorcycling five times per weekend.

RV’ing at Iron Mountain

How did I get here?  Well, I don’t think I was planning on a shift from being a work from home cruise agent grandma to a RVing, sidecar toting, riding, grandma writer and speaker.  But here I am.  This has been the best ride ever!

We have been moving from our former home in Leesburg to a new “temporary” home in Front Royal, VA.  The reason, I thought we were at the top of a sellers’ market and wanted to cash in before it faded.

So now being in Front Royal it is time to get out and discover new roads on my motorcycle.  We live about 3 miles from the northern terminus of Skyline Drive Parkway but that was not my destination this time.  I wanted to try something new.

Leaving my new neighborhood on a cool, for a dramatic change, morning I turned west and headed to Strasburg on State Route 55. The morning light dappled through the tree cover creating a crazy show of shadows and light. It was a quite and very uneventful ride to Strasburg.

The road into Strasburg proper is a mess right now, I don’t know what they are trying to do but watch yourself on the uneven and rough road up to the traffic light at the intersection of 55 and 11.

Strasburg seems to be a pretty cool town with a brewery, antiques and art boutiques mixed in with the normal main street business. Murals seem to adorn, what was, every blank wall giving the town a renaissance feel. I had hoped to find a diner for some breakfast, but I did not, which given everything else on Main Street seemed odd.

Taking State Route 11 out of town I was now headed down the Shenandoah Valley.  Passing though the small towns of Toms’ Brook, Maurertown, Woodstock (not that Woodstock), and Edinburg.  I admired the views from the valley, mountains rising from both the left and right framed the valley and the small towns in a way you can’t get from inside a car.

When I reached Mount Jackson I decided to turn around and head back the way I had come.  There were other ways to make it back to Front Royal but there were places I wanted to stop and take photos.  For my first motorcycle foray into Shenandoah region, I was quite happy.  I look forward to more local trips in and round Front Royal.

An older Skyline Drive motorcycle ride post – 2015

Typically, I attend the “Big” International Motorcycle Show series that feature all the major manufactures which, normally, occurs in winter in my region of the world.  This year I will attend not only that show, but also the IMS Outdoor event as well. One reason is how starved I am for in person motorcycle events but also because a friend of this blog is going to be a presenter.

Progressive IMS Outdoors motorcycle shows are offering presentations on “RVing with motorcycles, sidecars, and trikes”.  Lucinda Belden is the new presenter, and her sidecar will be on center stage for a half hour show two times per day at each event.  From August – October she will be covering six event locations nationally talking about how RV and motorcycles work together.

Lucinda is the proprietor of “Direction Wide Open” or DWO. DWO is Lucinda’s, and her husband Will, place to share their RV and Motorcycle adventures with family, friends, and future friends.  They are two full-time RVers and avid motorcyclists, sidecarists (is that really a word?).

Lucinda is the proprietor of “Direction Wide Open” or DWO. DWO is Lucinda’s, and her husband Will, place to share their RV and Motorcycle adventures with family, friends, and future friends.  They are two full-time RVers and avid motorcyclists, sidecarists (is that really a word?).

I can’t congratulate Lucinda enough; it is always tough to get a break into any industry but through her and Will’s hard work she is going to be telling a story many of us will want to hear.

Please go to the International Motorcycle Show Outdoors website and if an event is near you check it out.

We originally passed through Goshen a few years ago during one of our motorcycle tours of Virginia.

Goshen is a quaint town bordering the George Washington National Forest the nearest “big towns” are Staunton and Lexington VA.

One of the things that interested me was the Goshen Truss Bridge.  Not the best light for good photos but you get the idea.  Built in 1890 it was the height of bridge engineering at the time.

Ride On, Ride Safe

This byway is 180 miles of American history. Stretching from Gettysburg, PA to Monticello, VA the byway covers sites and history from the Revolutionary and Civil Wars, multiple Presidential homes, plus 18 National and State parks.  By motorcycle, this ride is a fun way to learn and honor American national heritage.

The majority of Hallowed Ground Byway is US Route 15 which runs right through our hometown.  This made it an easy decision for a motorcycle ride (like we need an excuse for a ride). 

While this should have been an easy long weekend ride for us it was anything but easy. Because of Covid and the changing quarantine restrictions we had to do this ride over 3 seasons of the lost year of 2020. We started our ride, of the Hallowed Ground Byway, at the Gettysburg Battlefield in the spring.

Part 1 – Gettysburg, PA to Leesburg, VA

Gettysburg by motorcycle is fun and it would be extremely easy to spend several days touring the battlefield and the town. You will not be the only motorcycle there, it is surprising how many folks ride their “iron” horses to the national battlefield. I highly recommend that you take a bus tour of the battlefield as the guide will provide a running commentary of what happened at each stop as well as the sites between stops.

Gettysburg by motorcycle is fun and it would be extremely easy to spend several days touring the battlefield and the town. You will not be the only motorcycle there, it is surprising how many folks ride their “iron” horses to the national battlefield. I highly recommend that you take a bus tour of the battlefield as the guide will provide a running commentary of what happened at each stop as well as the sites between stops.

At the time we rode this leg of the Hallowed Ground Byway most of the historic sites were open with very tight restrictions. Many of the indoor facilities were closed but you could still visit the outdoor sites.

I cannot speak to a lot of regarding local accommodations in Gettysburg. Being only a little over an hour from home we did not need to stay overnight. There are a lot of hotels, campgrounds, and such but with the quarantine limitations in place, few were open. Restaurants were mostly restricted in Pennsylvania and less so in Maryland (at that time).

The day of the ride was overcast and cool. The motorcycle was running well, and we were ready for a day behind bars.  We rode around most of the Gettysburg Battlefield stopping a few of key points of the battle before heading south on the byway.

The ride south from Gettysburg is an easy county ride on both 2 and 4 lane roads.  There are MANY, MANY places to stop along this leg of the Hallowed Ground Byway for example:

National Museum of Civil War Medicine

Multiple covered bridges

Antietam National Battlefield

Multiple State Parks

Vineyard, Breweries and Distilleries

Monocacy National Battlefield

Catoctin Mountain Scenic Byway

Chesapeake and Ohio Canal

Unfortunately for us most everything was closed or very restricted. This day was more about the ride and being with each other than about the sites.  One thing that is true is the couple that rides together tends to stay together. On this daytrip we had a great time, just the two of us.

The next leg will cover the Hallowed Ground Byway from Leesburg to Montpelier, home of President James Madison.

Ride On, Ride Safe

ijustwant2ride

 

Riding your motorcycle in the fall can be a fun, pleasant, awesome adventure!  But, it can be hazardous as well.  Here are a few reminders to help make fall motorcycling more of an adventure then a hazard.

1) Gear Up – weather during the fall can turn quickly. I have started a day in sunny warmth then misty rain and then snow and back to sun during one ride. I am sure many others have had the same occurrence. So this tip is to wear, or take, gear to protect yourself from the cold and rain….just in case.

2) The deadly leaf – Pretty when they turn colors but when they fall they can become Motorcycle ride Route 39 VA WV“Leaves Of Death”! A bit dramatic but, if you take a wet leaf to your visor it can be a problem. Leaves on the road, wet or not, can make traction dicey, as well as hiding potholes and other hazards. The tip here is to pay close attention to where you are going.

3) Beware of shade – There are dangers in the dark. Cold temps at night can bring freezing conditions to the roads, ice can appear and hide beneath the “Leaves of Death!”. While the warming morning sun may melt most frozen paths, those in the shade may not melt as fast. Tip, be extra cautious as you move from sun to shade.

4) Lighting the darkness – T-CLOCs is your friend. Darkness comes quickly this time ofElectra Glide Ultra Limited year are your lights working properly. Check to make sure.

5) Tires, hoops of hazards – Yes, it is part of your T-CLOCs but if you are wanting to ride in the fall with slicks (or just worn out tires) you might what to change your mind. Those slick tires + slick leaves and possible ice patches just might just make those hoops of hazards into something much worse.

6) Squirrels and deer HATE you! – Animal are looking far and wide for food now that winter is approaching. That patch of green grass across the road looks mighty tasty to a hungry animal, so much so it will walk or run right in font of you. Tip, pay attention to the sides of the road for Bambi and Thumper.

ijustwant2ride.com7) Tighten up on your riding skills – Just in case you have a Bambi moment, when was the last time you panic stopped from 50MPH to 0? Have you practiced a panic stop with a passenger? If not please do yourself a favor and do so!

8) Check the weather often – Referring back to item 1, in the age of the cell phone it will pay to check your weather throughout your ride. You might have all the right gear on, or stowed, but riding in the rain on a cool fall day across leaf crusted roads is not something you should do if it can be avoided.

9) Grab Fall by the Leaves – There are not many good riding days left in year. Get out and ride, just make sure you are fully prepared.

american byway

Interactive map of American Byways

A few years ago, I wrote about a website the federal government got right, their “America’s Byways” website.

What I did not know, at that time, was that the authorization for identifying and creating new byways had expired in 2012. From 1991 until 2012 nearly 150 roads were defined as an American Byway or an All American Road.

Now, it turns out, that both the House of Representatives and the Senate have passed the “Reviving America’s Scenic Byways Act” and it is now with the president to sign. And who said that they could not work together to make something happen.

This act requires the Secretary of Transportation to seek nominations for and eventually make a decision of those roads that can be added to the list. This program also provides resources to those communities along the roads to help further improve the byways.

plan a motorcycle ride

American Byways info page

This website is a great source in helping plan a future ride. We have used it and have rode several of these byways ourselves including: The Highland Scenic Highway, George Washington Heritage Trail, George Washington Memorial Parkway, Northwestern Turnpike, Skyline Drive and the Natchez Trace among others.

For those of us that like these roads a special thanks must to go out to the American Motorcyclist Association. The AMA is part of the coalition that has gotten us to the point of renewing a government program that actually works.

plan a motorcycle ride

American Byway map page

z14

Overcast, light rain and thunderstorms, that was day one of the HOG Curves to Cores motorcycle rally. There were no guided rides and with those weather conditions I decided not to do any of the self-guided rides. Instead I did the poker run and apple hunt. I still had a lot of fun!

Day Two of the rally was sunny but not hot, perfect motorcycle ride weather! I had signed up for the “Acting Like a Good Ole Boy” guided ride.

z16This was a 127-mile, well crafted, ride across the Blue Ridge Mountains and down the Shenandoah Valley. Some SPECTATUCLAR scenic views and some cool riding. I was unable to get pictures from the motorcycle as my co-pilot and backseat photographer had to work

The mid-point of the motorcycle ride was a stop at “Cooter’s Garage and Dukes of Hazard Museum”. Those of us of a certain age will remember the Dukes fondly as it was a lot of fun to watch. Today it is “politically incorrect” but then it was fun.z17

When we pulled into Cooter’s Garage, we were only folks there but, before we left there was at least one other group of about 10 motorcycles and then the Can-Am Spyder section of the Women’s Mid-Atlantic Riding Tour pulled in the parking lot.

The last time I saw that many Spyders in one spot, my wife sent me to the store for a can of bug spray! (now that is comedy)

From Cooter’s Garage we rode to lunch and then back to home base in Winchester. The return trip was just as scenic.

Day Three was supposed to be a ride to Summit Point Raceway to ride our big Harley Davidsons on the track. I did not make this ride as I had an offer to test ride the new Zero electric motorcycle. Stand by for a post on that event.z13

Day Four of the rally and the weather, once again, was perfect for riding motorcycles. This day my wife was able to attend and we had chosen the “For Whom the Road Tolls” guided ride.

At 80 miles this ride followed the first toll road in what would become the United States, Snickersville Turnpike. This was another well run ride. I want to praise our road captian Peter for an outstanding job on a ride with lots of intersections and stop signs!z6

This ride was through some of the most rural parts of northern Virginia. Beautiful farms and landscapes abound though out the ride. We passed though multiple small towns founded in the mid-1700s, a lot of pre-United States and Civil War history was ridden through this day.

Day four was also the closing of the rally. Held at Groves Harley Davidson of Winchester they had several event prizes to give away, of course I did not win anything! Bummer.

All in all this was a great event, setup and executed very well. We are going to another HOG rally later this year, it will be hard pressed to outperform the Curves to Cores rally.

Ride On, Ride Safe