It really has become a point of comedy around here. Our area could be withering in the grips of a month long drought… until we decide to leave for something more than a day ride. Once our wheels crest the breach of the garage door? Whammo! Rain.
True to form, I laid in bed at the 2am hour of Thursday morning listening to the rain pelting against my bedroom window. The branches of the trees whipped around in the gales of wind. In the semi-sleep haze, I thought,
‘Oh, c’mon. I figured it would rain but please,… please, just let the winds ease up.’
With two hours left to sleep before the alarm clock buzzed, I hovered in a dream-like state hoping the weather would simmer down. It was a relief to hear nothing but rain as I made my 4am coffee.
With a 400 mile stint on the slab ahead of us to get to where we were going in West Virginia – we left home in the dark, wearing our rain gear. If I have to make deals with the universe, I will take that leg in the rain if it means that I’ve got three days of sunshiney twisties ahead of me. Luckily for us, the universe felt that was a fair trade. Sunshine was on the way…
When motorcycle bloggers post about their trips to far flung places or their weeks or their months out on the road – do you see it as showing off?
My point of view~
Without people sharing their stories, their photos, writing about their experiences – a huge part of what inspires me to want to see more of the world would be missing. I have learned so much from reading about others travels. Sometimes I don’t even realize that a seed has been planted in my imagination until much later.
Showing off? I say, no way.
Have you ever read about something or some place in a blog and said - I have to see that and actually went for it? Was it around the corner or some far away place?
f you’ve been playing along at home then you may recall that I’ve noted that Kenny isn’t the most observant guy in the world, what with that whole failure to notice goats on the roof incident and all. As it turns out, he seems to have a teensy weensy problem with not picking up on the fuzz when they’re afoot, too.
But you can understand that, can’t you? It can be difficult to notice the big block letters on the sides of their cars that say things like “POLICE” or “SHERIFF.”
And I’ve always said that the flashing lights on the roofs of their cars just seem to blend in with the scenery. You could be looking at Grandpappy’s Crown Vic or a slightly agitated town cop. Who can know?
Powers of observation be damned, we had luck on our side when we rolled out for our day’s ride. Whizzing past a Sheriff at seventyblahblahmph and not having him flip on the lights is a great start to a ride. I quickly dialed back the throttle and set the cruise control to Grandma mode. That was enough fun for 10 minutes.
When I mentioned to Kenny how lucky we were for not getting snagged, he said he never saw the cop.
I am a Reformed Jackass. Mostly.
There was a time in my life when I rode like a complete idiot – always wanting to go faster, faster, faster. Those days are long gone.
If you would have told 25 year old me that I would enjoy poking around at 50mph looking at waterfalls and mountains and meeting roadside donkeys just as much as being a menace, I would have said you were crazy. And probably mocked you for being old. But here I am, walking that line of being the “old person” I would have mocked back then.
As it turned out, I managed to learn many valuable lessons without hurting myself or anyone else. For that I am most thankful. Could I ride with my hair on fire if I wanted to? Maybe. But these days I’m now a proud member of the “I’ll meet you at at the next turn” club.
Our group of friends and riders from here on Long Island is affectionately called The Mixed Nuts, because we’re such an eclectic bunch of weirdos.
When it comes to riding, within the group there are some tortoises and some hares. Because we’ve known each other for years now the dynamic is very natural and it is easy to manage everyones expectations. They are usually – be safe & have fun. My dudes are easy to work with.
In many ways it almost seems like when we all hook up and ride – we’re riding alone, but together. There is plenty of mutual respect, there are no “rules” outside of don’t be an asshole, and there is no pushing to go faster or to do anything you don’t want to. If people want to cluster together and have at it – they do. If others want to string out and do their own thing, that’s fine too. Meet ya at the next turn.
Doing your own thing…together with my friends The Mixed Nuts. It’s perfect for me.
Our ride plan for the day didn’t involve many miles but they were quality miles. West Virginia has excellent riding. We were just going to ladder around a square of the big WV, have lunch and then be back in Elkins in the early evening for beer and pizza. A little Rt 33, a little Smoke Hole Rd., a little Rt 250, a couple connectors and gravels roads thrown in for good measure.
It was a perfect plan that we executed beautifully. And to top it all off, we couldn’t have ordered better weather from a catalog.
When Kenny and I rolled away from Backbone Rock, we hooked a right in the town of Damascus, Virginia and followed route 58 into the mountains.
There were several times throughout the 9 days we were on the road that I needed to flip on my heated grips as the wind whistled through my summer gloves. I found myself doing it once again on the Highlands Parkway. The air was chilly I think in part due to the rain storm we kept skirting around the edge of.
For the first time during our trip, we saw ourselves faced with actually having to be somewhere at a given time. We were set to meet a handful of our friends in Elkins, West Virginia the following evening.
With that in mind, Kenny and I decided that it was time to abandon our eastern course and head north. By the end of our riding for the day, we would be in a good position to make a fast trek from the foot of West Virginia to meet everyone the following day.
We’d decided to pickup VA 16 to head north. It is another one of those roads that has been given a nickname in motorsport circles. It’s called “The Back of the Dragon.” Sticking with the theme that if a stretch of tarmac has some reptilian type of name – it’s gotta be good, and it was.
By the time we passed Hungry Mother State Park, the rain that we’d been following behind all day stalled completely over us and unleashed hell. It was a ferocious white-out kind of rain. As Kenny and I climbed up through the winding road, gravel and debris started to pool in the apexes of the turns. It was slippery slow going but thankfully the rain didn’t last long. It was over almost as fast as it started.
Wait a minute. Something felt a little weird. Steering… sloppy, heavy… SONOFA! Flat tire. I nursed my bike down through the curves into a farm driveway.
My rear tire was indeed f-l-a-t. A chunk of glass had pierced it. I’d been stung on the back of the dragon.
In the 4 or 5 years that we’ve had and used both of these tire repair tools, they’ve worked as advertised. Both Kenny and I were thankful to find that they again worked like a charm. I can’t imagine leaving home without ‘em.
Standing there on the side of the road waiting for the tire to be filled, we’d decided to cash in our chips and call it a night. We were soon on our way to finding a hotel for the night.
But, not before seeing one more unusual sight for the day – a rooster farm:
For all of its highs and lows, it was a great day of riding. Thinking back through different moments and places that we’d been, now I find myself asking, “was that really the same day?” A lot of living happens in a small amount of time.
Though I had jotted Backbone Rock down on my list of things to see when we left home, sometimes the wind takes you elsewhere.
In the days and miles that had already passed it had slipped my mind until we were headed west away from Shady Valley. That was when the lightbulb went off in my head. Doh! I wanted to see Backbone Rock! I resigned myself to doing it “next time.”
While Kenny and I were zig-zagging around, I started poking through my GPS and looking at the pit stop waypoints that I’d saved. As it turned out, Backbone Rock was just a hop skip and a jump ahead.
There it was ~ the Universe unfolding as it should, again.
When I read other blogs, I really appreciate it when folks take the time to tell you what the name of or where a place is. It can be awfully frustrating at times to do the detective work on your own. If you’re one of those folks who shares their cool stuff – thank you!