Category: Motorcycle

Blog posts about motorcycles.

Cruising Along Route 3 – West Virginia

Cruising Along Route 3 – West Virginia

After passing through Rhodell, I spent the night in Beckley, West Virginia. That evening I sat drinking a beer alone in a restaurant, thinking about everything I’d seen along the way. Spilling my observations and secrets into my little pink notebook was cathartic.

When taking in so much input all day long, it can be hard to keep track of everything. Little vignettes that feel monumental as they pass can be so touching at the time that it is hard to imagine you could ever forget the details. But, you do. Or at least, I do. As a trip goes on the intake-then-forget process compounds as I absorb more new things and more new things and more…

Each evening during this trip after hanging up my keys for the night, I would start writing a basic outline of the places that I passed through for the day. Just a very loose timeline. From there, tracing my steps I found that I was often able to jog my memory and hang on to little snippets that might’ve otherwise been tucked away in my mental filing cabinet.

Doing memory keeping by hand requires a deliberate concentration and a general slowing down in order to make the words happen. That slow savoring is something that I never get when typing. It felt good.

The morning that I left Beckley, my plan was just to follow along route 3 to head towards Ohio. I would let the day unfold on its own while passing through coal country.

There is no telling what will move or disturb me along the road. As I’m traveling, raw nerves that I didn’t know were there become exposed. When the layers of day to day living fall away and I stop being my get up, kid to school, go to work, dinner, bedtime, repeat, robot-self, I rediscover who I am. My me. My private me.

Something about seeing this tiny shuttered library, overgrown with weeds made me feel like weeping. It felt so symbolic of everything I’d seen in the past few days. It felt like cause and effect all rolled into one.

Passing through Whitesville:

You can see the three-story brick building in the photo below. Everything changes, everything stays the same.


Photo source

Just Passing Through – Small Town, West Virginia

Just Passing Through – Small Town, West Virginia

Rhodell, West Virginia – a place I’d never heard of prior to standing in front of the alternating colors of the post office’s awning. Why would I have? It isn’t a pass-through on a way to a bigger town. It isn’t famous for anything. No, it’s just a little tucked away place where normal people live their lives.

Normal people, doing normal things.

While I was taking a photo, a young woman came out of the house to receive a little boy getting off of the school bus. When the bus pulled up, a young man also came out of the house to see that same little boy off the bus.

Instantaneously, I’d made a judgment as to why two young adults were home in the middle of the afternoon based on the realities of my own existence.

But – maybe one was a stay at home parent and maybe the other had time off work. Or maybe one was on vacation, on sick leave, worked nights, cared for a sick relative, or it was their regular day off. Maybe one of them hadn’t started their shift yet. After all, I myself was there in the middle of a Tuesday afternoon. The reasons two parents were home in the middle of the day, during what you’d call 9-5 work hours were myriad.

And yet… based on what I’d passed on my way through that burned out and vacant town, I assumed something else. At least one of them might be out of work.

Out of work. That was a real possibility. Where would they work, anyway? Where are the jobs in that little pocket of the world? Of course, I have no idea what the truth of their lives is. I was just some opinionated asshole passing through town, making assumptions.

Later that evening I wrote some notes in my travel journal about what I’d seen throughout the day. “Poverty isn’t a tourist attraction, and yet I feel as if I cannot tear my eyes away.” I feel this so strongly.

Seeing poverty firsthand leaves me with a sense of helplessness. There is a chaos that stirs inside of me and it’s like I just want to “fix” everything, help everyone, give them a place to work… and I can’t.

I look at my life and my surroundings and become desensitized to them. This place where I live becomes reality. Everyone, everywhere lives in this comfort, right? Wrong. And in the wide arc of my own life from childhood to now, I should know this. But, how quickly we forget when lulled by our own good fortune.

Rhodell, West Virginia
2000 census
The median income for a household in the town was $17,143, and the median income for a family was $19,167. Males had a median income of $17,750 versus $18,750 for females. The per capita income for the town was $7,582.
– Source: Wikipedia

I’m Pretty Sure Bigfoot is Looking for ME!

I’m Pretty Sure Bigfoot is Looking for ME!

While I was standing around gawking at lovely Cubanola Cigar ghost ads in Radford, Virginia, I felt someone looking over my shoulder…

At this point, I think that Bigfoot might be looking for me. I see him everywhere!

Posts about Bigfoot

Radford, Virginia Ghost Ad – Wine of Cardui

Radford, Virginia Ghost Ad – Wine of Cardui

In the town of Radford, Virginia there are two excellent walls with ghost ads on them. While appreciating the aesthetics of the ads themselves is one thing, falling down the rabbit hole of finding out what the olde tyme ads are for can be its own kind of fun.

When I googled Wine of Cardui for Women, the first result pulled up a site called The Quack Doctor. Well, now. If that isn’t an interesting name. Their Wine of Cardui page says:

Woman’s modesty and ignorance of danger often cause her to endure pains and suffer torture rather than consult a physician about important subjects.

Pains in the head, neck, back, hips, limbs and lower bowels at monthly intervals, indicate alarming derangements.

Oh, for cryin’ out loud. Modesty and ignorance of danger? Alarming derangements?


Image Source: Smithsonian Museum of American History

So, basically, Wine of Cardui was $1.00 PMS wine? It was also recommended to stave off the effects of “falling of the womb.” Falling of the womb? Gah! That sounds… messy. Can you even imagine? One minute you’re throwing a bag of frozen peas in your shopping cart, the next thing you know your womb falls out. Talk about embarrassing.

Maybe I should stick to looking up ghost ad tobacco products.

September Road Trip Notes: Taking the Bonneville

September Road Trip Notes: Taking the Bonneville

For my road trip in September, I did things a little differently. The biggest change was that I decided to forego my zippy, mile-eating Tiger for the stripped-down simplicity of the Bonneville. The choice left some people wondering “why?” The simple answer? Because I wanted to.

Because I’d never done a multi-day trip on the Bonneville, I did add some creature comforts to it’s set up. I posted previously about some of those peripheral odds and ends that made my trip a success. This is how I felt about the Bonnie itself.

I found that my highway speeds naturally dropped off from what I might do with the Tiger by about 5-15mph. It isn’t that the Bonnie can’t do 85, it absolutely can. It just doesn’t “feel” like a sweet spot to me. That isn’t a knock, that’s just my reality. I found myself in the far right lane often when doing highway stints. It very well could’ve been my mindset, but that’s the way things shook out.

The Bonneville gets great gas mileage on the highway. You can plug along at 75 on the speedo and get over 50mpg.

While this might not have any meaning to the tall drinks o’ water out there, being able to pull over anywhere and put both feet on the ground at the same time is heaven! It changes your confidence level and takes one more consideration out of the mix, freeing up that brainpower for something else.  This new-found freedom meant that I could pull over on any roadside or surface that I might avoid if I were on a bike that I have to tippy-toe with.

And on top of that, when you add in how short the sidestand is, creating a nice lean, I was able to not only pull over and stop anywhere but I could park there too without worrying about the awkward, too-upright lean of the bike. Or – with having to tippy-toe and trying to get on and off the thing without gracelessly sending us both ass over teakettle.

The footprint of the Bonnie is so narrow, I could easily squeeze into places I wouldn’t on my sport-touring bike. I may or may not have lanesplit a couple miles here and there and it may or may not have been easy as pie not to have to worry about my sidebags taking out someone’s mirror.

I was pleasantly surprised by how the bike felt on very tight mountain roads. If you have bigger feet, you’ll probably wear the toe of your boot out, but all in all, it was easy and fun to ride. The response from the front end doesn’t feel like a sportbike of course, but it felt planted and wasn’t work to ride. Just gotta keep those toes tucked in.

Overall, what I wanted from the Bonneville is what I got – a low-slung, easy-does-it bike that allows me to knock out some highway, ramble the backroads, and is easy to make frequent roadside stops on questionable surfaces for pictures or general loafing. Everything about it feels laidback and simple.

I’m certain I’ll be multi-day roadtripping with it again. In fact, I wish I were going right now…

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