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Old 10-31-2014, 06:45 PM   #1
ricochetrider OP
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Country Roads Take Me Home- West Virginia Whip Around

I just returned from two days of muy fab moto-sicklin in West-By-God-Virginny.

Had a damn good time of it, but cut the ride short due to a forecast of inclement weather for Fri>Sat.
I wound up riding only Wednesday and Thursday, along just the Eastern edge of the state, finishing up back at home after 965 miles of solid riding on the BMW K1200RS. I had originally intended to ride a big loop around, taking 3-4 days and going up the western edge of the state- actually in Ohio, along the river from Huntington to Wheeling or further north yet. BUT, as stated, rode only two days and stayed east.

I left home around 0900 Wednesday morning in cloudy-with-a-chance-of-rain conditions, and got on the good ol Pennsylvania Turnpike to jump-start the day. The weather soon turned to shyte, but I didn't care. It's not that the K12 offers much protection, but I'd recently bought full-on GoreTex riding apparel, and wanted to give it a real-world run down. I am happy to report that I remained 100% dry (and warm) inside my Rukka gloves, jacket, and pants. The weak link here is my old boots- which I'd soaked with Sno Seal prior to leaving. My feet stayed dry also, thanks to this time tested favorite. The turnpike is designated as a “scenic drive” (see the scenic dots on the map/atlas page)... but a slab is a slab. You can call it scenic, but at the end of the day it's only really like putting lipstick on a pig. It's still a pig. Useful, for sure, for getting from A to B with a certain expedience... beyond that.... well OK the tunnels are a gas on a motorcycle!

I exited the turnpike at Somerset. I stopped for coffee and a bite at a Starbucks, then headed south on US 219- a road I've had my eye on for like ever. The first few miles weren't all that- but as I got south, and came into the mountains, the road turned kinda magical. Lots of new pavement, many twists and curves, and ups and downs... and nobody there. I rode much of the afternoon by myself, with very few vehicles or traffic blocking forward progress! This summer, it must have been hellish down there for roadworks, judging from the sheer miles of new pavement. Glad I missed it, but sure do appreciate all
the hard work it took to make those miles so smooth.

I'd heard that the Highlands Scenic Drive was pretty sweet, so I set my sights on turning off 219 at WV route 150. By the time I got there, it was later on in the day. I had the road totally to myself. Somebody told me “The Highlands Scenic Highway is not too twisty. The road meanders along through the mountains but really is quite scenic.” Well that pretty well nails it. It's a great ride- I was really lucky, to boot. I did not see one single car or motor vehicle during my wonderful ride along this very scenic road! Along the way, my bike rolled over to 60,000 miles on the odo, tho- something of a milestone, I guess. Whee. As it was getting on in the afternoon, I figured it'd be prudent to keep a sharp eye open for deer and other critters. Sure enough, I did see two does. One of which was standing smack in the middle of my lane- She was one of THE biggest deer I've ever seen! Each hopped a few yards out of my path in opposite directions, and I slowly rolled on by them.










OH BTW- note the cloudy windshield- last year I was gassing the bike up and hiccuped or coughed or something. Gas went everywhere. clouded the windshield INSTANTLY. That's what ethanol does to plastic.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch... I'd asked the crew at BMWMOA for any suggestions they might have for roads or places to stop, stay etc in West Virginia. Got a couple of answers back, including one mentioning the Mineral Springs Motel in Webster Springs. Which was some distance back to the north from the Highlands Scenic Highway. BTW, the HSH consists of part of route 55/39, too. I guess it officially runs from Richwood, WV, along 55/39 and onto 150 across to US 219. This, from the Pocahontas County website:

“The Highland Scenic Highway, a National Forest Scenic Byway, is the highest major roadway in West Virginia and extends 43 miles from Richwood to U.S. Route 219, seven miles north of Marlinton. The Highway follows State Route 39/55 for 21 miles from Richwood to the Cranberry Mountain Visitor Center. It then turns onto State Route 150 for the 22 mile Parkway section and rises from an elevation of 2,300 feet to over 4,500 feet.”

http://www.pocahontascountywv.com/hi...scenic-highway

The upshot of all this, is that I had to backtrack north some distance to get to Webster Springs. I did (get there) and found, with ease, the Mineral Springs Motel. It looked empty enough, in fact I wasn't even sure they were still open. Sure enough, they were indeed open, and I did indeed stay the night there. I had some measure of doubt because I'd seen numerous places (such as the Brazenhead Inn, another recommendation) which were closed for the season. I'd clocked 410 miles this day.
And this was my reward. It's not a quart, it's not a 40. It's a 24 OZ can o beer- I dubbed it the twentyfourty.




I still was thinking I'd do my ride as planned and make a big loop. As Thursday dawned, however, and the forecasters were still calling for not only decreasing temps but also precip for Friday into Saturday- namely snow- I altered my plan and decided to just stay east this time out. I'd ride back south as far as Princeton, and loop around to head back north. I rode out of Webster Springs on WV route 20, staying on this road all the way south.

I got up early and dicked around til about 830 before hitting the road. It was chilly in the mountains- no surprise there. Mist was still clinging to the ridges as I wound my way in among them.
Had to stop to get some shots.




Description, above: Love this. The fall colors were strong. Some places there were far less leaves on the trees yet, other places, the leaves were hanging in there.









Riding south, I came into the New River Gorge area. I've rafted the New before, one year in the Spring. Icebreaker Weekend it was called. Pouring rain, it had rained al night and the day before. The air temp was about 45, water temps about 49 (F) degrees. We rode the flood surge down the river, it was awesome. Rapids clocking in at class 4,5,6. Crazy big water.

Somewhere, not sure where, there's a bridge that's like the longest single arch span in the world (at one time it was- read the wiki article for more info)? Almost 900 feet above the river to the bridge deck! In retrospect, maybe I shoulda took the time to figure that out. Woulda been cool to ride across and get some pix.

WIKI NEW RIVER BRIDGE ARTICLE





Description, above: View of the New River. At the closest tip of that island down there is an eagles nest in a sycamore tree. They weren't home tho.

After stopping at that overlook, I came down into the town of Hinton. I thought surely Id find a restaurant to eat at downtown but no. So I rode out of town and there was a whole string of places along the river's edge. I stopped at Kirk's and had a breakfast of two massive biscuits with gravy, two fried eggs, and a side of country ham. Heart attack on a plate, IOW. It was amazing. After breakfast I stopped again to take some dam photos.
And to throw up. JK!





Description, above: Lots of people working on this project. Getting rock solid federal money too no doubt. What we used to call a "rate" job- pay included a strong hourly plus hourly equiv of govt benefits. Not sure how the money goes these days tho...



Description, above: Downriver view from above the dam



Description, above: Here's a dam panorama for yer viewing pleasure.

At Princeton I headed north again, riding another stretch of 219. I zig-zagged about a bit and wound up on US 460- a big, open 4 lane stretch that took me back up thru a little blip of Virginia- like a mole on the elbow of that state- and back into WV to US 419 north. I rode up to White Sulphur Springs, where I got on I-64 east bound for a hot minute to get over to WV route 92. Much of my northward ride on Thursday skirted the eastern edge of not only the mountains, but the Monongahela National Forest as well. It's just beautiful, riding the contours of the base of the mountain, with the open valleys to your right. Again, I had the road mostly to myself and I fairly flew along unhindered.

I rode 92 all the way up to Bartow. Along the way, 92 merges with WV 28. I stayed with WV 28 and went out a little further east, riding along as 28 merged with US 220. I was riding through Petersburg when I realized I'd blown my low-beam lamp- pulled up behind a UPS truck at a red light, and saw only the tiny parking lamp illuminated in the reflection off the back of the truck! I guess WV isn't a designated “mandatory headlight on” state- because I'd just passed a WV State Trooper, and he didn't even blink at my lack of headlamp. Well, OK he MAY have blinked- but he didn't pull me over. I still had some daylight left, so sucked it up and soldiered onward.

Oh BTW, points of interest along this ride include the National Radio Astronomy Observatory- WELL worth a stop another time- Seneca Rocks, and the Dolly Sods Natural Area. Seneca Rocks was easy enough to stop and admire- a VERY impressive outcropping of rock atop a ridge. In fact, there are lots of visible outcroppings along the ridges there in Eastern West Virginia. Seneca Rocks is by far the most impressive. My route, like many others on this outing, followed a river. There was one neat rock formation which sort of dove off into the river as it ended. it would have been cool to stop and take some pix of the reflections and whatnot, but I sped on by. I did manage to get some photos along my way, but this was more a ride than a meander. I didn't take a large number of pix like I do sometimes.




Description: Yeow! That's one big dish there. We used to joke that the state flower of WV was the satellite dish. This one is NO joke.



Description: There is SO much new pavement everywhere in Eastern WV right now. Smooth and fast. Awesome. Look at the left side of this pic, maybe you can see the massive dish?



Description, above: Awesome barn! There are many, many quilt patterns painted or hung on West Virginia barns. A heritage thing I guess. Pretty cool. People also paint anti chewing tobacco paintings on their barns that emulate the Mail Pouch barn paintings of yore.



It was nearing dusk when I pulled in to Romney WV to stop for a bite and some gas at a 7/11 store there. I called home and said to Cynthia, “F*ck it. I'm gonna put my high beams on and haul ass to the house.” I backtracked along to US 220 north- I had thought I might ride US 50 out to I-81 but 81 has become so miserable that I balked at the notion of being on it any more than was necessary. I was happy to back track a bit, so I rode US 220 up to Cumberland, MD and got east on I-68 to I-70. I-70 intersects with I-81 at Hagerstown, and it's pretty much the fastest way home from there. I gritted my teeth and steeled my nerves for the traffic-and-truck-intensive slog, 70 some odd miles up this vital backbone of American Industrial Transport. I set my cruise control for slightly less fast than most of the traffic, and sat tight (for the most part) letting everyone pass me by.

I was relying heavily on being seen clearly enough. Not only does my Rukka gear have some reflective accents, but I also have some reflective bits stuck onto my panniers and bike. It must have worked OK, because everyone gave me plenty of room during that miserable gotta-do run. And, oh BTW- my K1200's headlamp- the high beam... I've never ever felt it overly impressive- indeed not one single vehicle in +/- 150 miles flashed me as though I were blinding them with its awesomeness. To this I can only say- HARUMPH. Thanks for not much, BMW.

Meanwhile back at the Bruce Wayne Manor, this bike's low beam lamp blew out a few years ago coming south through Canada. I never knew it until I got pulled over by a State Trooper in New York State, however many miles later. I'd had a PIAA lamp installed after arriving back home. Several BMW enthusiasts warned me that the PIAA bulb draws too much energy and would cook my wiring. I asked PIAA and they, of course, said that was bunk. A cursory visual and olfactory inspection of the wiring behind my headlamp, performed this morning, reveals exactly nothing. There's zero outward signs of any melted or burnt wiring. And no funky smells. So I guess we'll see, when I take my bike to the dealership to have an HID low beam kit installed. And some sort of additional running lights to augment that super lame-o, POS high beam lamp.

Ya know, for the money a new BMW costs, you'd think they'd engineer just a WEE bit more awesome amazingness into these rigs. My K1200 has el-cheapo lights and also a really weak horn! While the lights have never really been too great, all my older BMWs came with Fiamm Highway Blaster dual tone airhorns. When you set one of those off, it'll clear a lane like nothing you've ever seen! Not the 02 K12... It originally had a horn so weak it MIGHT instill laughter in other motorists. Its tentative “meep meep” would never have made the sort of definitive statement which clearly says HEY WATCH IT BUSTER. Oh well. At least you get entertainment value from your late model BMW motorcycle. Of course entertainment's what you LOOK for in an expensive, German engineered-and-built product. RIGHT? Yeah- maybe if it was a radio or a TV. :sigh

Yet the mighty K1200, all in all, performed really well. The more I ride the bike, the more impressed I am with its suspension. And it has basically unlimited power; enough git to git you well out of the way of... things. In a pinch. I gotta advocate for the Michelin Pilot Road 3s, too. Great tires, they really are impressive. Yes, the low beam lamp blew again. Yet I see it as more a moment for realization on which way to go, rather than a negative. I know now which way I should have gone back in 2012 after the first blow out. I guess I need to see what exactly is causing the bulbs to blow, tho... something I may or may not want to really know! Ha ha, depending, of course, on what THAT'LL cost me.

At the end of it all, I clocked plenty of smiles. I rode some really fantastic roads along the Eastern edge of The Mountain State. I satisfied my desire to take some time off. I satisfied my need for speed, my need to cover some miles, and my need to just get out on the open road. I put my new (ish) Rukka gear to the Rain Test, with smashingly successful result. I discovered that the weak links in my “system” are my gloves and my boots. Neither are particularly up to the task of keeping me warm in colder temps- tho they do still keep me dry, which of course, is pretty important. I think I see Gore Tex boots, and heated gloves in my not-too-distant future! Oh, and maybe battery heated socks for colder weather riding? The weather could have been a tad better, I guess. It was generally cooler rather than warmer. The weather alternated between cold and wet, between sunny and gray.
Ultimately tho, motorcycling is like fishing.
Even the “off” days are pretty great.
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Old 10-31-2014, 07:39 PM   #2
pnoman
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Looks like you had a good time. Nice photos.

We were in parts of your riding area earlier in the week:

http://advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=1020190

3 Burgman scooters, a BMW K1600GTL, and a Canadian on a Wee-Strom. Women gathered their children and herded them indoors as our misfit group approached.

It sounds like I was up near your neck of the woods earlier in the summer:

http://advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=995127

Hope to see you back in WV sometime.


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Old 11-01-2014, 07:35 AM   #3
ricochetrider OP
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Howdy,
Yep you were up my way on your trip across the Lincoln Highway.
There's a couple places I like out that way that I didn't see you talking about, tho. One is the mountain top biker bar above Ft Loudon and the other is the Jean Bonnett Tavern out where Rte 30 and PA 31 intersect.
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Old 11-01-2014, 08:13 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by ricochetrider View Post
Howdy,
Yep you were up my way on your trip across the Lincoln Highway.
There's a couple places I like out that way that I didn't see you talking about, tho. One is the mountain top biker bar above Ft Loudon and the other is the Jean Bonnett Tavern out where Rte 30 and PA 31 intersect.

I think I remember the biker bar above Ft Loudin. I passed by there about 8am, just an hour or two before happy hour.
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Old 11-01-2014, 09:18 AM   #5
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Real nice couple of days.
I love the area and have been to the New River Gorge a few times.
Here's a pic of the bridge over the gorge on Rt. 19, Fayetteville.
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Old 11-02-2014, 07:59 AM   #6
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Great pic, Vinbowie. That's one awesome bridge. I've actually been down on the ground up under the bridge- the structure is mind bending. Just massive. Yep. Shoulda coulda woulda. Next time, right?
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Old 11-02-2014, 08:02 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by pnoman View Post
I think I remember the biker bar above Ft Loudin. I passed by there about 8am, just an hour or two before happy hour.
it's darn near impossible to miss the place. Maybe if you were sleeping. I don't ride a Harley but never once have had anyone say anything negative about any of my bikes when I've pulled in there, even when it was slammed on a summer afternoon. I'm usually the only NON HD rider there tho!
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Old 11-02-2014, 09:40 AM   #8
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Awesome RR! I'm looking forward to checking these places out. Really appreciate that you noted the roads you took. Thanks for taking us along!
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Old 11-05-2014, 06:47 PM   #9
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Thanks! Hey it was such a gas riding all this... Happy to share the routes and stuff. I love to write anyway so no biggie.

Maybe next time I go, I'll see some other riders along the way. This time out I barely passed any other bikes at all... Possibly none, even! There are plenty of other roads that I never even saw, all in the same area. It'd be easy to kill a few days just along the eastern side of WV!
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