Despite my New Years resolution, I let my job eat my life just like it did in 2011. Pretty much lost all of July and August this year, so I was determined to make it to ESTN (Sept) and the Region 6 Fall Meet (Oct) regardless. Vacation time was scheduled for Friday and I hoped for some good weather and fall colors.
I live in the suburbs east of Pittsburgh, so it's just over 100 miles to Oakland (MD) where the meet was being held. Never one to take the direct route, I decided to wander all over scenic Bedford County on the way to Oakland with my regular riding partner Jesse in tow. Since we only had a bit over 300 miles to do, we had a leisurely start at 9:30am to let the fog burn off and temps to come up a bit.
We escaped civilization using route 130 which gets nicely twisty and scenic as you enter the Laurel Highlands. Scenic enough for a couple photo ops:
We cut south to 31 via 381 and took 31 east through Somerset to Bedford with a highly recommended detour onto Glade Pike which offers great views to the north and the south on the west end as it follows a ridge, and finishes a good twisty bit as it spins down the mountain to connect up with 31 again in Manns Choice. Here is a photo from the west end of the road (probably the best color of the weekend) and another from along the ridge:
There are few gas stations in the boonies of Bedford County, so we topped off our tanks before getting on 326 south to Flintstone (MD). The north half of 326 isn't all that, but the part south of Rainsburg is rural, scenic, and twisty. Stopped for a photo op at a small lake to try and get the colors reflecting on the surface:
The little town of Flintstone sits just over the border in Maryland, very near I-68. A gas station and diner are the businesses of note. We stopped at the Stone Age Cafe for a leisurely lunch and then headed for the south end of PA26. Forgot to take a photo of the Stone Age Cafe, so here's one from last year's Potomac Highlands meet:
Scenic 40 (aka MD 144) parallels I-68. Hardly anyone uses it because of the interstate, but it can be nicely twisty with a great view from the top of the mountain at the Town Hill Inn. We opted for the short, but fun, Gilpin Rd (home of a sanctioned hill climb race) which parallels Scenic 40 for a few miles and then had a fun run up the mountain to the Town Hill Inn. Here's a photo of the view and a video of the climb up to the Town Hill Inn on Scenic 40:
The southern end of PA26 is arguably one of the better short bits of road in PA. It's called Orleans Rd in MD, then you get a few miles of sweepers before hitting the short but sweet twisty section. Here's a vid of PA26 twisty goodness:
We continued north on PA26 enjoying the scenic sweepers en route to West Mattie Rd. Mattie Rd is a real gem of a country road: good surface, twisty, scenic, and fairly long. Mattie Rd more or less turns into Oak Grove Rd if you continue on the path of least resistance. Here is a video of the West Mattie Rd into Oak Grove Rd. Oak Grove puts you on 643 near Breezewood (PA).
Next we headed south to Berkeley Springs via 643 (nice in spots) and 522 (highway). Our goal was to get gas in/near Berkeley Springs, then work our way south to 50, then west to (almost) Oakland. After getting gas in downtown Berkeley Springs, we headed south on 9 and stopped for a photo at the overlook, then continued on 9 to jct 29 south of PawPaw. Here's the view from the overlook on 9:
The original plan was to just stay on 29 to 50, but I realized that missing CR-3 (aka Springfield Rd) would be a grave mistake, so we made a right on CR-3 and enjoyed a mostly deserted bit of twisty heaven. Once in Springfield, we took 28 south into Romney and then headed west on 50 into the setting sun.
WV50 is a good road in spots west of Romney, but between the traffic and the setting sun it was more frustrating than fun. The bit around jct 220 is good, then it gets good again near jct 42, and finally again just east of Gormania. There was a scenic overlook that was spectacular, but we didn't stop due to all the traffic we had just passed and didn't want to filter through again.
A few miles north on 219 took us into Oakland to the Oak-Mar Hotel, home of the meet. Scott was checking in when we arrived just before 6pm. Scratch and SLK50 were already in the house. James had been there for a day already. Jimmy pulled in as I was leaving for a beer run to the liquor store up the street. This was the view from my room: one less forest rat courtesy of some bow hunters.
Dinner plans were discussed over tasty adult beverages and we decided to walk a bit out of town to The Cornish Manor, a nice restaurant located in an old Victorian house. A fine dinner was had and the walk back to the hotel seemed a lot shorter with a full stomach and a couple more beers. Obligatory dinner shots courtesy of the cell phone. I went with the steak and crab cake combo special:
The traditional parking lot BS session ensued with much tire kicking, looking at the field dressed doe on the back of an SUV in the parking lot, and pondering what Amish girls wear under their dresses. Side story: a van full of Amish/Mennonite girls pulled into the hotel, Jimmy remarks "Hey, the strippers are here". They all pile into the same room (above Scratch's room). The next morning, Scratch says they were a noisy bunch, running around and laughing well into the evening.
Saturday morning, James decided to "Go his own way" on his Sprint (note clever use of Triumph marketing slogan) and the rest of the crew joined me for a tour of WV/VA classics. We hit the road shortly after 9am. I was glad to have my heated gear with me as it was a cool start.
Our first destination was Mt Storm. We exited Oakland on 135 which took us to the MD38 which becomes 42 in WV. This section of road rarely gets mentioned, but it's really nice once you hit WV south to jct 50. The next bit of 50 is fun to Mt Storm, then 42 mellows on the way to Scherr Mt. The part where 42 and 93 is arguably one of the best sections of road in WV and it was in fine shape. Normally I would run it several times, but we had a full day planned so we continued on the route.
The next destination was Jordan Run Rd, a short bit of 28/55, then Smoke Hole Rd. We stopped for a bladder break, and then rode Smoke Hole Rd. I was concerned about running into leaf-peeping traffic, but we only passed one car. I recorded video of the entire northern section. Big sections of it were riding through twisty tunnels of color. Just stunning. The video (below) is really nice, but it doesn't do it justice:
Group shot during bladder break:
Group shot at the south end of SHR:
After Smoke Hole Rd we took 220 to Franklin, then picked up 33 east to head for the WV/VA border. 33 was busier than normal, but we managed a decent run over the mountain into VA where we turned around and waited for a good gap (that never came). So we made the best of it and ran into traffic on the WV side heading back to Brandywine. Here is some video of the VA side of the WV/VA border:
It was lunch time, and the dining options are few in Brandywine, so we pulled into Fat Boys Pork Palace. I had been past it many times, but never ate there. It turns out the reviews on Urban Spoon were positive, so we gave it a shot. As luck would have it, this was the pentultimate weekend they would be open before closing for good after nearly 20 years in business. Jimmy wanted to meet the namesake "Fat Boy". Turns out that the sign was on sale (ordered but not paid for) shortly after they opened so they adopted the name because the sign was cheap. The pork BBQ was tasty, but the sandwiches were more like sliders than a meal. Thanks to Scratch for picking up the tab. We won't hurt your reputation by telling anyone what decent guy you are :-) Lunch photos:
After lunch we headed south on CR-21 through Sugar Grove to jct 250. A short out-and-back to the Confederate Breastworks overlook followed:
Then we hammered west on 250 to Monterey where I had to stop for gas (again). I shot some video of 250 west of Monterey to (almost) jct 28. That section of road is one of my favorites. The combination of corners and views really does it for me. It doesn't hurt that it was recently re-paved and the surface is in great shape.
It was mid-afternoon and we still had a ways to go. Scott was feeling under the weather and contemplating bailing out as we got farther north. Our route took us up 28 to Judy Gap, 33 west to Harmon (past Seneca Rocks), then 32 north toward Canaan Valley. We were heading for the goat path which is WV72 between Canaan Valley and Parsons.
The goat path didn't disappoint. Although it has seen repairs in recent years, a several mile section in the middle was shoulder to shoulder fine gravel. Scary, sketchy stuff for sure. The views and remoteness are nice. SLK50 says it is one of his faves.
After yet another gas stop in Parsons (damn small tank), Scott bailed for home and we continued on our back road tour by connecting Holly Meadows Rd, Location Rd, and Stemple Ridge Rd to get north to route 50. The views from the top of Location Rd and Stemple Ridge are awesome in the fall, but it would have been a PITA to stop for photos with a group in tow.
We finished the day with a run down the always entertaining Cheat Mtn, turned around, and ran it back up for one last twisty fix. 20 minutes later we were back at the hotel, just before 6pm as promised. I think everyone was a bit tired from the full day and cooler temps. Here is some video of Cheat Mtn:
Rain showers moved in shortly after arrived back at the hotel and the tempatures were dropping. The dining options in Oakland are limited and evidently there was nowhere to go but down after Friday night. We ended up walking to the Pizza Hut down the street which was a FAIL for a few of us. We trundled back to the hotel, but it was cold and damp out, so we hung out in my room with a few beers before retiring early.
It was quite cold and damp Sunday morning (mid-30s), but Jesse and I had a 400+ mile day planned, so there was no time to wait for it warm up. Our goal for the day was to head southwest to route 16 as we hadn't ridden it yet this year. We loaded up the bikes after breakfast, said our good-byes, turned the electrics up, and hit the road.
Our route started by taking 219 south through Parsons to Elkins which was good fun. The roads were empty and the heated gear kept up comfy. Once near Elkins we took 151 ("old 33") west to Buckhannon where we stopped for gas. Even the traffic leaving Buckhannon on 20 south wasn't too bad. Soon enough we were in the good stuff south of Rock Cave (jct 4) twisting our way south through the foliage to Diana (jct 15). Here are some highlights from route 20:
Route 15 from Diana west to Flatwoods is a really nice road too. Starts off a bit mellow, gets scenic and twisty along a creek, then gets narrow and twistier (but more traffic) as you approach Flatwoods. This road is one of R Doug's favorites, so I recorded some video of the middle section. We hit a bit of traffic on the west end.
After a quick lunch at Subway in Flatwoods, we headed southwest on I-79 to the Big Otter exit (jct 16) where we gassed up and headed north. This section of 16 north to Harrisville is 60+ miles of twisty road. People tend to live along the road for its entire length, so you need to behave yourself as well as deal with bits of local traffic. Traffic was generally light but we did have to filter past some cars along the way. Overall, we had a great run north. That many miles of twisties is enough to wear you out both mentally and physically. I didn't record any video (should have), but the leaves were down-and-brown for much of the ride. My concern was getting home before dark as the headlight on my KTM is really poor.
Once in Ellenboro (jct 50) we headed to New Martinsville via the always fun 74, and the mellow 18, and 180. After a gas stop and break we headed east on the fun sweepers of 7 to Hundred (jct 250) and continued on 7 east to jct 218 in Blacksville. 218 took us north to Waynesburg. We considered taking 18 from Hundred to Waynesburg, but you trade a more interesting road for lots more traffic. 218 was mostly deserted and we made good time.
Route 19 parallels I-79 for much of its length, so (generally) it sees little traffic. We headed north on 19 and enjoyed the scenic sweepers to Washington (PA), then slabbed the last hour home through downtown Pittsburgh out to the burbs. We made good time and got home in fading daylight.
This was probably my last overnight trip of the year (and it was a fun one), so it's day rides from here on out through the winter as weather and work schedule permit. The KTM 950 Supermoto continues to be a fine choice for the varied riding I like to do. My eye is starting to wander a bit since the bike has over 50K miles on it now, but I don't know what I would replace it with that doesn't cost close to $20K (and I"m not likely to spend that kind of money). So I'll just keep it in tires, gas, and oil until something jumps out and says "BUY ME!".