Posts Tagged ‘Skyline Drive’

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

A bit ago my wife, Debbie, and I along with our friends Tim and Karma rode the length of Skyline Drive on our motorcycles. We made the ride

Ijustwant2ride.com

Pit stop in Front Royal, VA

before the leaves appear from their winter hibernation and the views from the drive were nothing but spectacular!

As we left Tim and Karma’s home the morning was crisp, cool, bright and sunny, it appeared that we had a great day form riding ahead of us. Mostly taking the small roads, it took a little over an hour to ride to Front Royal, VA, which is the northern terminus of the national park. When we arrived at Front Royal we stopped to top of the bikes (there is only three gas stations on Skyline Drive) and goofed off for a few minutes.

Getting back on the road, we immediately made a wrong turn and missed the Front Royal park entrance. That wrong turn became a disguised blessing as we got to ride up Thornton Gap to the next Skyline Drive entry point. Thornton Gap (US Route 211) is a twisty bit of motorcycle heaven, enough so that it warrants a special sign at the bottom to warn bikers that this is a high crash area. I HIGHLY recommend that if you are riding Skyline Drive that you jump off to ride this bit of highway!

Ijustwant2ride.comOnce on the parkway it turns out this ride was better than most of our trips to the park. Very little traffic, no park police, awesome views everywhere you looked and great friends made this a special day to ride. We stopped often to admire the panoramic views, but with 75 overlooks into the valleys below trying to stop at them all it would make for a very long day. With the stunning country view and nary a metropolitan area in sight, is hard to believe that we are less than 100 miles from the Washington DC rat race.

I have come to the conclusion that early spring, before the leaves exploded into life, has to be the best time to ride Skyline drive. As note before we did not encounter a lot of cars but we did see a lot of other motorcyclist riding everything from sport bikes, café racers to other touring bikes.

The ride from Thornton Gap entrance to the southern end of the park took us about 3 ½ hours. Charlottesville and the University of Virginia are a short trip to the east and we decided to ride into to town and have a late lunch. The last time Debbie and I were in Charlottesville we were picking up our black Ultra Limited, which we traded a year later for our new blue Ultra Limited.

During our lunch we debated our route back finally settling on Route 15. The ride north to our respective homes was uneventful. All in all we sent about 8 hours and a bit over 350 miles in the saddle that day. Good friends, good rides make for a good day!

 

This past weekend my wife and I rode from our home in Leesburg to the New Market Civil War Battlefield.  We rode west on US Route 7 then took Route 340 south to Luray, VA. On the way we passed the interesting roadside attraction of Dinosaur Land.  The place was not open when we stopped for a photo op but it looked very cool for small kids! Image

After posing a few minutes with T-Rex we contained south on 340 passing through rolling farm county and small towns of the Shenandoah Valley.  The largest town we passed through was Front Royal, which is also the northern entrance to Skyline Drive. We have done the Skyline Drive before but I am sure we will do it again this summer, it is just a too nice a ride not to do it as often as possible. (Route 340 south of Front Royal is also known as the Stonewall Jackson Memorial Highway to honor the Civil War General.)

Rolling past Front Royal we soon arrived in Luray, VA and our next intersection.  Taking Route 211 west we passed the entrance to Luray Caverns, a US National Landmark.  We did not stop at the caverns on this trip but I am sure we will sometime in the future.

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Crossing under I-81 on 211 we were immediately at the entrance to the Virginia Museum of the Civil War and New Market Battlefield.  From the website “The Virginia Museum of the Civil War (VMCW) interprets the 1864 Battle of New Market with emphasis on the role of Virginia Military Institute Cadets and the Civil War in Virginia.”  The museum was quite nice with small displays on most of the major engagements of the war which occurred in Virginia.  They also have a

A couple of hours later we hopped back on the bike and traced our route back north.  We deviated a bit by riding to Grove’s Harley Davidson in Winchester, VA.  We arrived at the dealership about 15 minutes from closing and did not stay too long.   I was hoping to look at their helmets as I am in the market for a new one.  30 minute video “The Field of Lost Shoes” that focused mainly on the boy soldiers of the Virginia Military Institute role in the battle.

Turing right out of the dealership we took US 50 east to State route 601 also called the “Secret Blue Ridge Mountain Northern Stretch”.  This is a twisty section of road that connects US 50 and US 7.  This is a great short ride and well worth the side trip.  The views from the mountain are limited by the forest but you should be concentrating on the road anyway, right!

Our trip was 166 miles round trip and lasted a bit more than 7 hours.  Debbie and I had a nice motorcycle ride together but we still need to figure out the intercom system!