ok... i'll finally get around to finishing this write up... 12+ hour days at work have been eating my free time to nothing
Day 5: Cosby, TN to Seneca Rocks, WV
Miles 1909 - 2352 (443 miles)
Seeing old friends and new places, and new friends in old places
Got up reasonably early, and headed north. Nothing of any major awesomeness as far as roads in the morning. some surprisingly windy 4 lane through northern TN and southern VA.
I headed for Blacksburg, VA to see a friend from elementary school who is finishing up at Virginia Tech. Made it there for a late lunch, where i had the BIGGEST slice of pizza i've ever seen. It was like a 36" diameter pizza, cut into 6 slices. it was AWESOME!
From Blacksburg, i was looking to camp at a old favorite of mine, Yokum's Campground in Seneca Rocks, WV. I rode a motorcycle solo for my first time at that campground, on my dad's 1971 BMW R60/5 when i was all of 12 years old. That was the start for me, so what better places to "finish" my journey than there. I knew the last day was going to be mostly highway, since the WV-PA-NY route can take 3 days on back roads, or 8 hours on highway (and i was getting low on time), so this was the last real
day for me.
Anywho, the route:
From Blacksburg, head back out of town on US 460 West. Not far out of town, i hopped on VA 42 towards New Castle. AKA, Cumberland Gap Road. WOW. The last part of this road, coming into New Castle, gives the Dragon a run for its money. just as many turns, but with serious hills to boot, perfect pavement, and NO TRAFFIC! At the bottom of the hill in New Castle, there were 4-5 crotch rocketeers in full race gear. I was jealous. A quick wave, knowing i had to continue on, and onto VA 311 towards Paint Bank, and eventually, White Sulfur Springs, WV.
Now, having rode the dragon (US 129), and now Cumberland Gap (VA 42), i had some pretty solid twisty experience on this trip. VA/WV 311 would test that above and beyond what either of those roads did to me. This road is seemingly ENDLESS (actually, just shy of 40 miles) of up-the-ridge down-the-ridge riding. Maybe not the concentration of turns that US 129 has, and certainly not the quality of road, but OMG, it puts that to shame.
20 miles in, i had to stop and get off the bike. My concentration was completely shot from the turns and the tar snakes (they are a-plenty on the road). Easily more challenging that US 129. The tar snakes take a little extra concentration to pick clean lines turn after turn after turn, and the intense climb, and immediate descents actually caused some brake fade in my single front disc, rear drum braking system, which i had not experienced until now.
By the time I popped out onto I-64 in WV, i was welcoming some easy turning highway. Fueled up in White Sulfur Springs, and North i went on WV 92, and connected with WV 28 to take me to Seneca. 92 and 28 are two more WV favorites of mine. They are the classic "follow the edge of the valley, because the valley is for farming" type roads. That also means that anytime the valley edge squiggles, the road does too. Relatively fast flowy sections give way to quick, tight climbs, a hairpin over the crest, tight descent, and back onto flowy valley floor roads.
Seneca Rocks is just up the street from a place called Greenbank Radio Observatory. Here, they listen to space. In the middle of 13000 square miles of radio silent West Virginia, is this:
(not my image)
If you get a chance to sample the roads of eastern WV, make it a stop. They will take you for a tour in a diesel bus (they can hear your spark plugs if you get too close) and tell you all about it.
Anyway, i made it to Seneca, got checked into the campground ($6, cheapest camping of the trip!), and walked over the the only restaurant, wait, only anything
in town. Walked upstairs and ordered some pizza, then walked back downstairs to by a cold Yuengling at the general store (buy the beer downstairs, bring it up the the pizza shop upstairs). Then sat and enjoyed an evening of live music, and was regaled by stories of the climber of "Trad Fest" that was happening the same weekend. I've climbed here in the past, and it is one of my favorites, in fact, is even considered by some as one of the "Classic Climbs" of America.
A light rain fell as i walked back across the street to my awaiting tent. If only it remained "light" rain...