Posts Tagged ‘motorcycle touring’

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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

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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.

4 out 5 stars

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.

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.

 

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.