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Old 07-23-2010, 07:01 AM   #1
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2-up to Canaan Valley, WV on a Versys


After being an armchair ADVer for the past 3 years, I was elated when my wife agreed to celebrate our 20 year wedding anniversary by riding 2-up with me on a long weekend ride. I started riding just four years ago, at 42. My wife (Dawn) started riding 2-up with me last summer on short rides. With two teenage kids, it’s been hard to find the time to do much riding. But with the kids away at camp for a couple of weeks and our anniversary around the corner, it was the perfect opportunity to share some great riding with the woman I love. Since the local forecast was for typical Washington DC summer weather (read: hot and muggy), we set our sights for the cooler climes of the town of Davis in Canaan Valley, WV. Since this was only my 2nd overnight trip and Dawn’s 1st, we wanted ease into things. At about 160 miles away, Davis was perfect. Before I get into meat of the report, a little preview of things to come.

Day 1

I was awoken early Friday morning at our home in Vienna, VA by what turned out to be a 3.6 magnitude earthquake. Pretty tame compared with those earthquakes we hear about on the news, but exciting nonetheless. After some last-minute suspension tuning on the Versys, we mounted the bike and began by heading west on Rt 66. As we watched the stop-and-go traffic in the opposite lanes we were happy that at least on this Friday, we weren’t among those heading to the office for the day. At Gainesville, we diverted off of 66 onto Rt 55, cruising through the quaint towns of Haymarket, The Plains, and Marshall. Stopping at 10:00 in Strasburg for a break, it was already hot, probably in the mid-80s.

West of Strasburg we followed the switchbacks up over Great North Mountain and crossed into West Virginia. Opting for the old Rt 55 between Wardensville and Moorefield, we had the rolling two-laner to ourselves while everyone else flew overhead on the new four lane interstate. For lunch, we stopped in Petersburg at the Hermitage Inn, which was built in 1881. The food is good, especially the key lime pie we split for dessert.

After leaving Petersburg, we took a “short cut” up Jordan Run Rd which was a nice scenic road we had to ourselves. We stopped for gas along this road and after looking at the pump for a while for the slot to stick my credit card in, I realized that modern pumps hadn’t quite made it to this neck of the woods. We eventually hit Rt 42 and then Rt 93 which led us into Davis and our home for the weekend, the Bright Morning Inn.

After unloading some of our stuff to our room we headed to Blackwater Falls State Park, a short ride outside of Davis. At a height of 60’, the falls are impressive, and the 200 or so steps we had to take down to the overlook were a great way to stretch our legs after being on the bike all morning.

After hanging out at the falls for a while, we were ready for dinner. Davis is a quaint town, and the dinner choices are pretty limited. This evening we chose Sirianni’s Café, a great pizza place. They have a decent beer selection including some of the local Mountain State Brewing Company beers, but unfortunately for me, weren’t serving my favorite beer style: IPA. Instead, I opted for a bottled Saranac Pale Ale. Dawn had the MSBC Cold Trail Ale, a Blonde style beer which she liked. While at dinner, we got slammed by a thunderstorm, which fortunately ended before we left the restaurant.

After dinner, we walked around Davis to work off a few of the beer and pizza calories. A little about Davis: With a population of about 500, it’s a small place. The main drag, Route 32, is only about 5 blocks long. It’s the highest incorporated town in WV at an elevation of 3200’. The town was a first inhabited in the late 1800’s. It prospered as a logging town for nearly 40 years. At its peak in the early 1900s, Davis had a population of about 3,000 and more than 80 businesses, including three hotels, two banks, five restaurants, and two sawmills. There were seven churches and seven saloons. Today, Davis is probably best known as an adventure sports mecca. The area is a hotbed for hiking, mountain biking, skiing (both alpine and nordic), and whitewater.

After our short walk around town, we decided to check out the other restaurant that was open, Hellbenders Burritos where we figured we’d be eating dinner the next night. It turns out Hellbenders has a small bar, where they were serving MSBC Seneca IPA. Jackpot! After a couple of rounds we retired for the night.

Next up: Day 2.

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Old 07-23-2010, 09:00 AM   #2
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Congrats on the anniversary. Awesome rider report so far - can't wait to see where it goes form here.

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Old 07-23-2010, 04:42 PM   #3
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Very nice quality time together Thanks for sharing it
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Old 07-24-2010, 04:24 PM   #4
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Great way to celebrate an anniversary
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Old 07-24-2010, 08:02 PM   #5
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Very cool RR. I'm curious to know how the Versys performed two up with all the luggage. I just got a new leftover 2009, and I'm saving for the GIVI bags. My wife likes to ride, but she's 8 months along with our third child, so it will be a few months before she's able to go for a ride.
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Old 07-24-2010, 08:19 PM   #6
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My backyard. I will be sure to refer folks here when they ask the "what should I do in WV?" question for the umpteenth time.
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Old 07-25-2010, 04:54 AM   #7
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Day 2

Our plan for the 2nd day was to tour the area to the north of Davis and then head back to our home base at the B&B. After an awesome breakfast at our B&B (the Bright Morning Inn) we hit the road. (The Bright Morning Inn serves breakfast to the general public, not just to its guests. We highly recommend it.) We rode north through Thomas and then west on Rt 219 toward Parsons. When we reached the crest of Backbone Mountain we stopped to check out some of the 44 windmills that are strung along the ridge top. I have seen windmills from a distance before, but this was the first time I’ve been so close to them. I found them equal parts awe-inspiring and disconcerting. Once back on the Versys, the roads were pretty much empty as we cruised into Parsons and then headed north on Rt. 72 following the Cheat River. We cruised as far north as Brandonville before turning back south, taking back roads into Oakland MD, our lunch destination.

In Oakland, we chose Dottie’s Grill for lunch. The grill is inside Englanders, a former drug store opened in 1946 which has subsequently been converted into an antique store. The food was good and the atmosphere was what you’d expect in a small-town diner. Definitely worth a stop if you’re in those parts. After lunch we walked over to the (free) Garrett County Museum. It’s got some great exhibits detailing the area’s past.

After visiting Oakland, we headed north towards Deep Creek Lake and then out Sang Run Rd towards Cranesville Swamp, Along the way we, crossed the Youghiogheny River at a popular put-in for kayakers. From there, we followed White Rock and then Cranesville roads, which were rural, empty 2-laners. We soon arrived at the Cranesville Swamp, a Nature Conservancy property. The swamp is an extremely unique geologic feature called a “frost pocket”—a low area that cooler and wetter than the surrounding area. We stopped and hiked the short hiking trails, most of which were in the woods and the rest of which were on a boardwalk above the soggiest part of the swamp. A neat place.

After stretching our legs at the swamp, we were ready to head back to Davis. Along the way, we passed Our Lady of the Pines, which bills itself as the “Smallest Church in 48 States”. We were greeted by friendly old man that lives in a house adjacent to the church. He gave us a tour of the church. (It was a short tour.) The church has seating for 12. After that small diversion, we headed down Rt 219 toward Thomas and then Rt 32 into Davis. Dinner that night was at Hellbenders. The food was decent, but I don’t recommend the hard-shell tacos. The taco shells are pretty poor, but the burritos are huge and probably would have been a better choice. I finished the evening with a black & tan (Guinness, and, you guessed it, IPA). After dinner we relaxed on lawn chairs on the B&B’s lawn and watched the world go by (slowly) on the Davis main drag.

Next up: Day 3, the final day.

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Old 07-25-2010, 05:07 AM   #8
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All -

Thanks for the nice comments.


Originally Posted by Fireman1000
Very cool RR. I'm curious to know how the Versys performed two up with all the luggage. I just got a new leftover 2009, and I'm saving for the GIVI bags. My wife likes to ride, but she's 8 months along with our third child, so it will be a few months before she's able to go for a ride.
For the amount of riding we did (about 600 miles over 3 days), the Versys did fairly well for 2-up. I thought performance was sufficient, even in the WV mountains. (Admittedly, I'm easy to please in this area.)

We had our seat modified by Spencer's Seat Mods, which definitely made a difference. My wife's biggest complaint was the lack of room for her feet. Between the side cases being right behind her legs and my feet being right in front, she didn't have any room to change the position of her feet. We'll stick with the Versys for now. If and when we start doing longer rides, we'll consider an alternative.

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Old 07-26-2010, 10:02 AM   #9
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Happy Anniversary!

Good RR and Happy Anniversary to you both! I LOVE Davis! It's a wonderful little town. (I'm an adventure junkie too....that helps )

Siriannis has a wonderful menu. I have NEVER had anything bad there....and the O' Mike Goss is wonderful if you get back.

Hellbenders is also a great place to eat and like you, I agree about the hardshell tacos. My favorite thing there is their namesake. I love the "Chicken Hellbender" It is the best!

Did you get out near Mt. Storm to see those windmills? They are even larger than the ones you mentioned. And, there is 132 of them (I think).

What a great area to ride and spend quality time with your spouse! Glad you all had fun. I think we may be headed there this coming weekend ourselves...can't wait.
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Old 07-26-2010, 10:29 AM   #10
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Day 3

The plan for Sunday was to take a leisurely route toward home. When we woke up Sunday morning, the temperature was probably no higher than 60*. Putting on our liners to ward off the chill, we hit the road. Little did we know that we’d be roasting by the end of the day. After descending from the valley down to Harman the temperature immediately rose. Continuing past Seneca Rocks, we headed northeast toward Smoke Hole Rd, a detour suggested by pnoman.

At the turn-off for Smoke Hole Rd, we stripped off our liners before heading down the road. What a great road! (Thanks pnoman!) The 15 mile road has some great curves and nice scenery. It’s remote, with few houses along the way. At Shreve’s Store, we stopped and chatted for about 20 min with 3 farmers from Brandywine VA on their way up to Dolly Sods on a new KLR, a DR650, and a Honda. From here, the road follows the South Branch of the Potomac River to where the road ends on Rt 220 at Upper Tract.

(This one is for pnoman.)

Before jumping on 220 to head south toward Franklin, we stopped at a turnout to cool down in the river. Afterward, as I was turning the bike around in the soft dirt, it got away from me, and down it went. Fortunately, nothing was damaged and with Dawn’s help, we had the bike quickly upright. Once back on the road, we passed through Franklin and followed Rt 33 as it heads over the mountain and into VA. As we started the steep, twisty section going up the mountain, a sport bike passed us going in the same direction. As we were coming down the other side of the mountain, what appeared to be the same sport bike was coming toward us, going back up the mountain. I joked with Dawn that at our casual pace up the mountain, the sport bike rider had had time to go into Harrisonburg and have lunch before turning around and heading back our way.

By the time we got to Harrisonburg, the temperature was in the low 90s. It’s time like these when you see the appeal of riding in just a t-shirt in shorts, but since we value our skin more highly than temporary comfort, it’s ATGATT for us. Desperate for a cold drink and some shade, we spotted a grocery store where we could park the Versys in the shade and have some lunch. From Harrisonburg, it was a steamy ride along busy roads back to home. (We didn’t take many pictures during this part of the ride because it was too hot to make unnecessary stops.)

In summary, we really enjoyed our weekend. It was great to escape the heat, hustle, and bustle of DC for a while. The parts of West Virginia and Maryland we toured are special places that are great for outdoor pursuits, not the least of which is motorcycling. After the trip, I was thrilled when Dawn told me she really enjoyed the trip and was looking forward to doing it again. Just more proof that I’m a lucky guy to have been married to her for the past 20 years.

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Old 07-26-2010, 10:59 AM   #11
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Looks like fun. Happy anniversary. Thanks for sharing.
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Old 07-26-2010, 12:36 PM   #12
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Great pictures and congrats on the anniversary.

Always glad to see another Versys out touring.

What fork lights are those on the pictures and how do you like them? I have been thinking about a pair for both of my bike and can't decide.
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Old 07-26-2010, 01:08 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by Steelybeast

What fork lights are those on the pictures and how do you like them? I have been thinking about a pair for both of my bike and can't decide.
The lights are from Martin Fabrication. I've been happy with them. They're reasonably priced and the installation is pretty easy. I didn't use the switch they supply; instead, I used an Autoswitch. I bought the lights mainly for day-time conspicuity (as if my helmet and jacket aren't enough). I don't do much riding at night, so I can't comment on their ability to light up the road. I initially installed them on my engine guard, but had a lot of problems with vibration causing screws to back out and one bulb burn-out prematurely. Since I move the lights to the forks, no such problems.

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Old 07-26-2010, 01:59 PM   #14
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what kind of jacket is that?

BTW, you may consider getting something bigger or even a wing to tour on, but my experience has been my wife really likes riding her own bike! and you can carry more stuff!

Nice report, maybe we can hook up sometime and ride. I'm up in Columbia, MD area and want to do more backroads trips out in that area also. Might I suggest Skyline drive and BRP down to natural bridge? lexington is a great town and then after you can also take a ton of cool backroads back up this way.
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Old 07-26-2010, 06:25 PM   #15
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BBooker, Not to freak you out but I cannot resist.

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