Posts Tagged ‘Virginia’

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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!

 

Struggling to decide where to ride or tour on your motorcycle in the coming season?  How about the two following websites to help generate some ideas. 

The first site is a repeat of one from an earlier post. A few years ago I wrote about a website that could help you plan some cool motorcycle tours.  This site by the Federal Highway Administration (can you believe that the federal government got a website right?) is called the American Byways.  America’s Byways is an interactive, map based, website that will provide you a listing of each of the 150 different roads.  Those roads are comprised of the National Scenic Byways and All-American Roads. You can select the road from a national or state map to see basic information on the road (length, average time to travel the road and historical background) as well as route maps, directions and photos. 

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Interactive map of American Byways

The second website to help you pick some motorcycle rides or destinations is “Only in Your State”. With this website you can find some out of the way or quirky places that you may never even heard or read about near your home.  For example, here in Virginia, this website recommends the “Southern Virginia’s Donut Trail Is Everything You’ve Dreamed Of And More”.  So the saying “Ride to eat. Eat to ride” fits in well.

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There are a lot of other websites like this out on the ‘ole interwebs.   If you have one that you like to use when it comes to finding a destination for motorcycle ride, tour or destination please share in the comments below!!!

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Debbie and I had a, nearly, 200 mile motorcycle ride this past Sunday.  We left quite early in the morning as it was supposed to be over well over 95F by early afternoon.  Our plan worked as it was 94F as we made it back to the house about 1PM. Hot and muggy, but we beat the worse of it.

Pulling out that morning we really did not have a true destination in mind other than to ride through the towns of Lisbon and Damascus.  We wanted to hit those locations to add to our “Great Cities” motorcycle tour! With no real plan this was just going to be one of those “it’s the journey not the destination” rides.

After rolling through Lisbon we decided to just ride north.  Riding through small towns and rolling farmland made for a wonderful morning.  Toss in some light fog here and there it was just one of those rides were you just love the fact that you ride a motorcycle!

After about an hour we turned the motorcycle towards the west until we ran into US Route 15 which runs right by our home. Heading south we rode the motorcycle into Frederick, MD to stop for lunch and a quick stop at the Frederick Harley-Davidson shop.  The stop at the dealership was to take a quick peek at the new 2017 motorcycles and see for myself how the new engine looks.

A bit later we pulled the bike into our garage with about 192 miles on the trip meter.  All in all just another good day behind bars (motorcycle handlebars)!

frosty balls

On New Year’s Day we participated in the Frosty Balls motorcycle ride.  The ride is hosted by the HOG Chapter 1813 out of Frederick, MD every New Years day.

Debbie and I bundled up as much as possible while still being able to mount the bike (although I would have loved to have a video of Debbie trying to get on the bike…it took 3 tries LOL) and pulled out of the driveway at 930 AM.  With the temperature at 38F, the ride to the dealership parking lot start point was brisk to say the least.  By the way…we don’t have heated gear.

When we arrived I was quite surprised to see that there were over 40 bikes ready to take on the cool morning. After signing in we mingled a bit with the other members of the HOG wishing each other a Happy New Year and catching up on what happened over the holidays.  Soon enough it was time to go kickstands up.

Fifty miles of Maryland and Virginia back roads we ended up at the Virginia Kitchen restaurant in Herndon VA.  A nice lunch, a warm room and great comradery help raise our internal temperature … until we had to go out and ride home.  At this point Debbie and I decided to drop from the group and go back to the house to take care of post-holiday activities.

The round trip was over 80 miles and the temperature had reached a balmy 48F as we pulled back into our driveway.  It was a good ride and a good way to start the new year!

 

It was a great day for a motorcycle ride like this, a cool but not crisp morning. Large puffy clouds in the blue sky and large passenger jets taking off and landing at Dulles Airport serving as a poignant reminder to why we were gathering. An awesome day to Rattle the Runway. 

It was a morning, not to unlike this, that terrorist commandeered Flight 77 and crashed it into the Pentagon. There were a couple of men I knew killed that day in the Pentagon. 

This ride indirectly follows the flight path of Flight 77 from the airport to the side of the Pentagon impacted by the airliner. It stages behind the Udvar-Hazy Air & Space Museum and runs down to the Pentagon 9/11 Memorial. Proceeds from the memorabilia sold at the staging area (the ride is free) is given to the Pentagon Memorial fund. 

This year the turnout was quite low in comparison to previous years. Normally there is five to six thousands bikes lined up eight across for hundreds of yards. I would guess that this year there might have been half or less than normal. The ride coinciding with the National Labor Day holiday most likely affected the turnout. 

As usual, the ride itself was broken into groups with a few minutes between each. This is an unescorted ride once you leave the airport police jurisdiction. The groups, of about 200 bikes, is an attempt to alleviate the traffic issues that a ride of thousands would engender in one of the most congested cites in America.

Overall, I had a good time and would gladly recommend that you ride in this event if you are able.

Paris, Virginia!

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The city of lights!

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Last Sunday morning Debbie and I jumped on the Ultra Limited (I think I am going to call it Big Blue) for a day ride.  With no real destination in mind we thought about hitting a couple spots on the C&O Canal.  If you have been following this blog you know I am slowly documenting those spots along the canal assessable by motorcycle. 

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Old school McDonalds.

We left the house about 9AM heading west.  We stopped for a bit of breakfast at a McDonalds along Route 9 near Charles Town, WV.  As you can see in the photo it is one of those restaurants designed to look like an old school McDonalds, pretty cool.

 After filling out tanks (including Big Blue’s) we continued west on WV Route 9 then north on Interstate 81 then west on Interstate 70.  Normally we like the back roads much more than the Interstate but today we thought it would be better on the highway.  Pulling off into Hancock, Md we begin looking for the stops on the Canal but also found some other cool things as well, like the huge anti-aircraft missile in front of a Veterans of Foreign War (VFW) building.

We found both stops along the C&O, the Tonoloway stop and the Hancock Visitors Center.  The visitor’s center was very hard to find as it is not well signed and the road into the park was practically invisible unless you are looking for it as we were.  

Heading back east we wanted to stop at one additional canal stop (4 Locks) and we did but not the one we were looking for.  Again the signage was bad and we happened upon C&O Canal Dam #5 only because I noticed a street called Dam #5 Road (quite imaginative) and the fact that I knew there was a C&O dam in the general area.  But the fact we did not find the area we were looking for was no big deal as the area was great riding, rolling hills, great farmland views all made up for not finding the site. 

After looking about Dam #5 we mounted up and headed for home.  On the way home we started seeing hundreds of motorcycles heading north and west along our route. When we stopped for lunch we asked a couple who were riding if they know what was occurring.  Turns out it was the aftermath of “Operation God Bless America” a ride from New Castle, PA to the Veterans Hospital in Martinsburg, WV.  We have never heard of this particular ride before but with, according to the couple to which we spoke, over 2000 bikes it is one we will check out in the future. 

Unfortunately we had to head home to some yard work. But, as you can tell by the pictures, we had a good time on our 200+ mile day trip.

 

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

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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!

 

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A lot has occurred on the subject of lane splitting (or filtering depending on where you are) this year to include the following:

>  A complaint from one person forced the California Highway Patrol (CHP) to remove lane splitting guidelines from their website.

>  In Australia, New South Wales is now allowing lane splitting and Queensland is will be legal in 2015.

>  Change.org has a petition to make lane splitting legal in the state of Virginia.

>  UC Berkeley issued a study, commissioned by the CHP, finds the practice does not increase safety risks.

 

The most important item of the year on this subject is the UC Berkleley/CHP study. The study shows that lane splitting is, mostly, as safe as riding in a standard lane. I can see this report supporting the movement to allow lane splitting in other states in the very near future. The report, titled “Safety implications of lane-splitting among California motorcyclists involved in collisions” studied the “prevalence of lane-splitting among approximately 8,000 motorcyclists who were involved traffic collisions in June 2012 through August 2013”. Some of the highlights of the UC/CHP study: (LSM=Lane Splitting Motorcyclist)

 

>  The practice of riding in between marked lanes to filter through slow-moving or stopped traffic, is just as safe for riders as traveling in normal lanes

>  Riders who split lanes are less prone to getting rear-ended; however, the likelihood of a rider rear-ending a car is greater.

>  Danger level does increase for riders who are splitting at speeds of 10mph or faster than the surrounding traffic.

>  They found that lane splitters were splitting at lower speeds and in slower moving traffic than they had been previously.

>  Time of day also varied greatly by lane-splitting status 59.5% of LSM were involved in collisions between 6-9 am or 3-4pm, compared with 37.3% of motorcyclists who were not lane-splitting.

>  Patterns of injury were significantly different comparing LSM and other motorcyclists. LSM were notably less likely to suffer head injury (9.1% vs 16.5%), torso injury (18.6% vs 27.3%), or fatal injury (1.4% vs 3.1%) than other motorcyclists. The occurrence of neck injury and arm/leg injury did not differ meaningfully by lane-splitting status.

The authors of the report have promised further analysis on the data they collected. They plan to look at things such as age, gender, rider characteristics, and roadway conditions to further dig into what exactly is and isn’t dangerous on the roads.

You can read the summary of the UC Berkeley/CHP study yourself at this link.

Ijustwant2ride.comThe wife and I took the motorcycle (Ultra Limited) out Sunday after sleeping in (long hours required a bit extra sleep (that is my story and I am sticking to it)) for a short ride.  It was a cool day and we put our chaps on for the 1st time since early spring….fall is in the air in Northern Virginia! 

I wanted to stop a Frederick Harley Davidson to schedule some services.  I need to have the 5000 mile service performed (currently setting at about 5700 miles) and I need to have the current recall service performed as well.  This is the hydraulic clutch recall which portrays its symptoms as the bike creeping forward even though the clutch lever is fully engaged.  Our bike does not have the malfunction indications but it needs to be fixed before it does.  In talking with the service rep Frederick HD has already performed hundreds of recall services for this issue but no one had reported that the bike was suffering from creeping clutch. 

After setting up the appointment, we decided to get some lunch.  Even though we both agree we need to eat better…….we went to 5 Guys Burgers!  For those of you that do not live in an area with a 5 Guys restaurant you have no idea what you are missing.  This burger chain is Zagat rated and has won hundreds if not thousands of awards and accolades for their hamburgers.   So even though we may have not eaten better we ate well! 

After lunch we headed to the house via the long way.  We just cruised around for a while going nowhere in particular.  We spent only about four hours on the bike but I think we can both say is was a nice little outing!