Posts Tagged ‘motorcycle touring’

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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

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The folks on Mighty Goods asked me to contribute to an article about preparing for a long motorcycle trip.  So I did!

My content is at the bottom of Mighty Goods article:

8 Motorcycle Tourers Share How They Packed and Prepared for the Big Trip

In the article I mention the motorcycle luggage we use for long trip along with tips that have made those longs days on a motorcycle a little more comfortable.

Check it out along with the rest of the Might Goods website.

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The Flying Dutchman is a touching story about how Jonathan Helmuth created an extraordinary experience for a man that had been friend, mentor and large part of his life. His friend Daryl Zook is going blind, and Jonathan wants to fulfill Daryl’s desire to take a 3000 mile motorcycle trip from Daryl’s home in Indiana to the Pacific Northwest coast. Daryl is more than a “bit” curmudgeonly and this leads to some humorous moments as well as some not so humorous.  The film is available on Amazon Prime.

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Jonathan has a motorcycle built for the trip by then newly established Janus Motorcycle company. A small bike with sidecar is prepared for their trip by Janus. There is an untold story in this film about the Janus Motorcycle, which I will get to below, which basically “blows up” not long into the trip. Jonathan and Daryl change up the original plans and find a new used motorcycle to finish the trip.

They do make it to the coast, still friends! The film was not about the motorcycles but about their friendship and the underpinning of their lives.

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The story, photography and reason for the trip make this a fun film to watch. There are several cringe worthy moments (Daryl being the curmudgeon), the lack of trip preparation (proper motorcycle, good rain gear?) and that story of the Janus motorcycle is missing are reasons why I cannot give it 5 stars.

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Now for the Janus Motorcycle story, this being a motorcycle blog…. My immediate take away was two fold 1) that motorcycle looked WAY to small to mount a sidecar 2) why use such a small manufacturer vice one that has a national footprint? I did not really get an answer to the latter question, other than my guess that they may have been going cheap and Janus was willing to help. I did find an answer to the first take away.

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Janus Halcyon 250

Not only was that a small bike, it was a “tiny” bike! It was a 50cc 2-stroke pulling a sidecar, 2 grown men and some stuff. I am sure you are thinking the same thing I am… recipe for disaster, or “What was Janus thinking?” Well it appears that the, then 2-man shop, was thinking we want the coverage and we are aware of the risk. They warned Jon that the motorcycle was not the best solution for this adventure especially in that they only had weeks to get the bike and sidecar operational. The following quote from their website proves the old saying regarding hindsight….

“In the end, if there was a mistake it was certainly ours in allowing one of our 50cc Halcyons to be selected as a candidate for such a journey, especially with a sidecar. We did not have the foresight to see that we would be the one to lose the most from the film. While the documentary spends little time on the Janus and the strength of the story lies in the character of Daryl and Jon’s desire to create a perfect bonding experience, it proved for us to be nothing more than a great way to immortalize a naive decision on our part.”  You can read the entire Janus Post here.

I have never seen, let alone ridden, a Janus Motorcycle but I hope, someday, that I could get a chance. They currently produce 3 models all 250cc (lesson learned? LOL) each starting at just under $7,000US. Of the three I really like the looks of the Halcyon, it gives that throwback to the 1920s early 1930s vibe, but their scrambler and café race are eye catching as well.

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Shaving While Riding – Well it is Florida and we are always tight for time in this modern world. But shaving your legs (and other parts??) while a passenger on a scooter or motorcycle?  Make sure you SCROLL down to see the video on the linked page.

American Byways –    I have written about the American Byways (here) and how we have rode our motorcycle on a few of them (here, for example).  The following is from the American Motorcycle Association.

Please urge your senators to support S. 349. This bill would direct the Secretary of Transportation to reopen nominations for the National Scenic Byways Program, which has been closed for six years. Just yesterday the House of Representatives passed their version of this bill, now it’s time for the Senate to act!   Take Action

Kalashnikov Motorcycle?  – From the minds that brought your the AK-47 and other Russian military equipment comes a new motorcycle.  Looks like Robo-cop would fit right in on this bike.  Make sure you watch the video.

One dad refused to teach is son how to ride as motorcycle – But it is not for the reason you may think.

Stealing a fish tank –  In Ohio 2 men attempt a get away on a small motorcycle while carrying a large fish tank.

Currently on Amazon Prime, we get to follow Guinness Motorcycle Endurance World Record hold Kevin Sanders lead a group of ordinary riders on a 21,000 Kilometer (13,000 miles) trip from London to Beijing.

Divided into six thirty minute “shows” we follow this group from their initial meet and skills evaluation all the way to Beijing.  Yes, this is reality TV but it is a real group of riders from the UK, US and Poland with a broad range of adventure motorcycle skills.

Generally following the Silk Road, they are impacted by snow, ice, altitude sickness and political upheaval during there run though 20+ countries. The cinemaphotography is spectacular through out and more so as they pass though the Mount Everest Base Camp.  

Once on the road, nothing seemed contrived as you would expect of many reality TV shows. While the show focused on those riders with large personalities it is not unexpected, you could tell that these were real people, including the one motorcycle abusing twit that broke his bike.

I give this motorcycle TV show a 5 out of 5 because it isenjoyable, I binge watched the whole thing. Also, it is quite likely that this will be on my top shows to watch thiswinter.  Oh, it was producedby Cambridge Filmworks.

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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.

 

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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).

Whether your next cross-country ride is a laid-back road trip or a high-stakes poker run, you will definitely need to find accommodations along the way. Bikers, however, haveijustwant2ride specific needs that some regular establishments just don’t have. Knowing this, you need to plan your itinerary in advance so that you can find the best biker friendly accommodation for your next motorcycle travel.

Here are five resources that you can use to find the best biker-friendly establishments and lodging en route to your destination.

Trip review websites

There are websites that list hotels, inns, and bed and breakfast places. TripAdvisor, Agoda, and Gumtree are good examples of these. There are establishments on these sites that proudly advertise that they are ‘biker-friendly.’ And the best thing about these websites is that you get to read reviews from fellow bikers who have used the accommodations before. With these sites, you already get an idea of what to expect from each place before actually booking.

Mobile apps

Aside from TripAdivsor and Agoda (which also have mobile apps), there are also mobile apps that allow you to check accommodation reviews, reserve a room, and pay for your stay. AirBnb is an example of an excellent app that lets you do this. And like the aforementioned websites, there are lots of listed establishments that are proud to be ‘biker-friendly – with testimonials from previous motorcyclists as proof. The best part – you can do all of these through your smart phone.

The ever-reliable Google search

A Google search can also give you listings of biker-friendly places that can be found along your trip. Of course, when you use Google search, the keywords that you use matter. Try doing a search using the “biker friendly accommodations” and add the place where you’re headed to the keywords. You’ll be surprised that there are quite a number of biker-friendly establishments en route to your destination (and around your country too).

Blogs by other bikers

Of course, what other best way to find the best biker-friendly accommodations out there than to get advice from someone with first-hand experience. There are fellow bikers who write blogs on their adventures around the country. Aside from learning a thing or two from them about riding, you can also keep track of recommended routes and their favorite places to stay. To add, there are also specific blogs that specifically discuss biker-friendly accommodations. BikersAreWelcome and Beds4Bikers are good examples of blogs listing establishments that are biker-friendly.

Ask the hosts

Compared to most travelers, bikers have needs that are quite specific – and this is mostly

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Sometimes they will let you park undercover.

attributed to the motorcycle and the gear. You can directly ask the hosts either through phone or email (or chat) if they have the facilities bikers require.

One of the most important – if not the most important – thing to ask is if the place has overnight motorcycle parking. Ideally, an establishment should have covered parking that will protect your bike from the elements. If there’s none, a private parking area would also do – as long as you’re not parked on the main road. You can also ask if they offer bike covers and tarpaulins.

Another must-have are laundry facilities. If you’re on a week-long cross-country road trip with only panniers for luggage containers, then you definitely need a wash of clothes. You also need access to at least a bucket, some water, and motorcycle cleaning detergent to clean your bike. If you’re lucky, some places even have pressure cleaners.

Some Final Thoughts

Planning is always the key to a successful and safe motorcycle trip. And with a week’s-long road trip ahead, it’s always best to check what biker-friendly accommodations are available to you during the trip.  Always remember to do your research (and in this case – use technology), so you can find – not only the best deals – but also the best biker-friendly establishments around.  

Sarah Kearns is a hard working mother of three daughters. She is a Senior Communications Manager for BizDb and Populationof an online resources with information about businesses and demographic statistics of world population. 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.