After a good start to the riding season, my job ate my life in July and August. It didn't help that my wife and I were trying to get our house ready to sell at the same time. I really wanted to do a short trip to the southeast and ride some of my favorite roads, so I planned on extending my ESTN ride to include The Snake, etc. But work ate my life. Again. Had a fine time at ESTN though.
Days are getting shorter, leaves are changing, and the end of riding season is on the horizon. What's this? A weather forecast with SIX days of sunshine and warm temps (70s). That NEVER happens in PA. I considered it a sign from God to ride my motorcycle, work be damned! So I cobbled up a route, tried in vain to find a riding partner, and took off on a four day solo twisty fix.
Day 1 - Escape from PA
I left on a cold Thursday morning and rolled south on 119 all the way to Buckhannon, WV. 119 pretty much sucks in southern PA, but gets decent south of Grafton. Once in Buckhannon, I took 20 (a favorite) all the way south to Rainelle (jct 60). 20 is wonderful between French Creek and Diana (did it 3 times) and the rest can be good fun when traffic is light. Traffic was a bit hit and miss, but overall it was a fine start. Route 60 west of Rainelle is awesome to jct 41. I did that section three times too. 41 to Beckley, 97 to Pineville, then 16 south all the way to Marion, VA where I stopped for the night. 16 is big fun between Welch and War, and was especially nice between Tazewell and Marion. I don't recall the road being this clean and well-paved over all three mountains before. Great way to finish the day in the fading sunlight.
Gauley River in Prince, WV:
WV16 south of Welch:
Bunch of photos from WV16 between Tazewell and Marion:
Day 2 - The Snake and Friends
Another cold start to the day, but not a cloud in the sky. Ran 16 south to Volney as a nice warm-up, then hit the crazy twisty route 58 to Damascus (awesome road), then 133 to Shady Valley. Ran the length of The Snake (TN 421) twice with no traffic. Amazing. On to Roan Mtn, then a wandering route to Erwin, Rogersville, and finished the day in Norton, VA. I try to mix in some new roads on every trip and today discovered that route 606 from Pennington Gap to Appalachia is a pretty nice road. Recommended.
VA58 between Volney and Damascus. 20+ miles of twisty bliss:
Natural bridge/arch between Damascus and Shady Valley on route 133:
Bunch of photos from "The Snake":
Photos from Roan Mtn:
Day 3 - Kentucky Bound
Today would be all about Kentucky. The "Trail of the Lonesome Pine" (route 160) starts about 15 miles from the hotel, so it would "game on" from the get-go today. Had an even colder start (39) than the previous day, with fog in the valley. 160 is a crazy twisty road that runs up and over a mountain (VA/KY border). 160 offers 10 miles of tight twisties and I had it all to myself. So I did it three times with zero traffic. The KY side of TotLP ends in Cumberland where I picked up 119 for a shot over another mountain to Whitesburg. I hit lots of "new to me" roads on the way north to route 32. Parts of 7 were very nice as was 172. 711 was as good as ever and 173 didn't disappoint either, but route 32 is the real gem. I think it's possibly the most fun road I've ever ridden. Wonderful banked corners on good pavement with no traffic and nice views for miles and miles to Sandy Hook. Since I only get this way once per year, I did it three times, before continuing my trek north to Ohio (via 486, 1, 3, etc). As an aside, I took route 141 north southern Ohio (nothing special), but it was much better than the last time I was on it (STN National in 2008) when much of it was under water...
Trail of the Lonesome Pine (VA/KY 160):
On the way Whitesburg on 119:
Another natural bridge/arch on KY 711:
More KY scenery en route to Ohio:
Ohio farmland on the way to Athens:
OH141 last weekend:
OH141 in June 2008:
Day 4 - ESTN Reprise
Usually the last day of trip (even a short one) is a bit of a letdown as my brain starts to shift into work mode again, but not today. The colors were especially nice, the roads were empty, and I had a great time ripping up most of the "Ohio Sampler" route from ESTN. I decided to bypass downtown Pittsburgh (Steeler game letting out) and took a bunch of back roads to get home from Ohio.The roads in southeast Ohio definately hold their own against anything I had ridden earlier in the trip.
OH 555 aka "Triple Nickel":
PA 231 (I think):
PA 136, crossing the Monongahela River:
Somewhere in Ohio:
Somewhere in PA:
I really would have liked to have shared the ride with someone, but then I wouldn't have taken nearly as many photos. It's kinda weird not talking to anyone for four days aside from a few sentences with cashiers at restaurants and gas stations. I managed to log almost 1600 miles over the four days and aside from the cool mornings, couldn't have asked for better weather. This trip was one for the books: possibly my best moto trip EVAR! At least until the next one...