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Topic: WV Ridges and Canyons Ride  (Read 6467 times)

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R Doug
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« on: July 20, 2008, 04:00:47 pm »

First off, I’m fairly new to dual sport riding.  After years of street riding and touring, I purchased my first DS bike this year and I’m having a blast!  I’ve watched the Dual Sport Riding Techniques video put out by www.dualsportriding.com, I’ve read various articles on off-road riding techniques, I’ve ridden with and received tips from veteran dirt riders, and I’ve simply got out there to ride because practice makes perfect.  I acquired a KLR very early this year and later traded it for a DR.  It’s been so much fun finding the roads less traveled in my area and I can’t wait to branch out and explore other areas.  

THE WEEKEND RIDE PLANS

My good friend James (RideWV) and I were invited to spend the weekend with one of James’ co-workers and our friend, Bill, to head down to his condo at Snowshoe Mountain in West Virginia over the weekend.  He was going to entertain clients during the weekend of the Freedom Fest Bike Rally and attend a concert Saturday night.  Since Bill doesn’t ride a cruiser, he asked if James and I would like to tag along to explore the area’s finer dual sporting roads.  We agreed to take Bill up on his generous offer and started planning.

Before the weekend, I reached out to the ADV folks on ADV Rider and Cliffhanger was gracious to spend time with me on the phone helping me work out a route to connect us with as little pavement as possible from Snowshoe, WV to Morgantown, WV.  Cliffhanger gave us some GREAT suggestions which we followed to the tee (well, except for one little mistake I made in translating my notes to the Zumo… there will be a little more one that later).

FRIDAY

Friday afternoon, we left work a little early to make our way down to Snowshoe.  We rode a mix of main back roads, secondary lane and a half roads, and gravel roads to get there.  The trip down was 149 miles and it took us about five hours including a dinner stop in Helvetia, WV.

http://i26.photobucket.com/albums/c132/doog71/Motorcycle%20Rides/2008/Ride%2007-18%20thru%2019%202008/146miles.jpg

My dinner at the Hutte Restaurant:

http://i26.photobucket.com/albums/c132/doog71/Motorcycle%20Rides/2008/Ride%2007-18%20thru%2019%202008/DSCN0692.jpg

Me with the Hutte’s owner who was quite the character and great hostess:

http://i26.photobucket.com/albums/c132/doog71/Motorcycle%20Rides/2008/Ride%2007-18%20thru%2019%202008/DSCN0694.jpg  

We allowed the food to settle a bit before getting ready to continue our way to Snowshoe:

http://i26.photobucket.com/albums/c132/doog71/Motorcycle%20Rides/2008/Ride%2007-18%20thru%2019%202008/DSCN0695.jpg

We eventually made it to the base of Snowshoe Mountain and stopped at the Exxon to fill up.  Before we rode the 6 mile climb up the mountain, we stopped to top off our tanks and see some of the various vendors set up for the weekend’s rally.  

Seas of chrome:

http://i26.photobucket.com/albums/c132/doog71/Motorcycle%20Rides/2008/Ride%2007-18%20thru%2019%202008/DSCN0697.jpg

Trails of oil (sorry, I saw this on the ground after a guy rolled out of the lot and I couldn’t resist):

http://i26.photobucket.com/albums/c132/doog71/Motorcycle%20Rides/2008/Ride%2007-18%20thru%2019%202008/DSCN0696.jpg

The only vender which saw any of my money was the one with these ladies who were selling cupcakes to support breast cancer research.  The cupcakes had an interesting theme to them:

http://i26.photobucket.com/albums/c132/doog71/Motorcycle%20Rides/2008/Ride%2007-18%20thru%2019%202008/DSCN0698.jpg

http://i26.photobucket.com/albums/c132/doog71/Motorcycle%20Rides/2008/Ride%2007-18%20thru%2019%202008/DSCN0699.jpg

We reached the condo at dusk and I sopped to get a view of the sunset over the rolling hills of West Virginia:

http://i26.photobucket.com/albums/c132/doog71/Motorcycle%20Rides/2008/Ride%2007-18%20thru%2019%202008/DSCN0706.jpg

SATUDAY

On Saturday, James and I would ride all the way home to Morgantown while Bill would ride with us to the Canaan area to have lunch.  Bill needed to return to Snowshoe for the concert and James and I had commitments on Sunday which required us to be home.  The trip home was 249 miles of mostly dirt roads.  Whoot!  

That morning we loaded up the bikes and headed to the Junction for the breakfast buffet:

http://i26.photobucket.com/albums/c132/doog71/Motorcycle%20Rides/2008/Ride%2007-18%20thru%2019%202008/DSCN0707.jpg

Our first stop was going to be the top of Bald Knob, but due to a late start, we decided to take paved roads to the next planned stop, Spruce Knob, the highest point in WV.

Here’s the first leg of our route (Snowshoe to Circleville for gas, then up to Spruce Knob):

http://i26.photobucket.com/albums/c132/doog71/Motorcycle%20Rides/2008/Ride%2007-18%20thru%2019%202008/246A.jpg

Waypoints 4-7 were all on dirt and gravel roads.  The roads to and from the summit were in good shape and were nearly two lanes wide.  We were able to easily reach speeds of 50 MPH (actual GPS) on the way to the peak and back down to the lake.

The landscape up top looks totally different than most all other places in WV:

http://i26.photobucket.com/albums/c132/doog71/Motorcycle%20Rides/2008/Ride%2007-18%20thru%2019%202008/DSCN0713.jpg

An observation tower:

http://i26.photobucket.com/albums/c132/doog71/Motorcycle%20Rides/2008/Ride%2007-18%20thru%2019%202008/DSCN0714.jpg

Here are James and Bill at the summit:

http://i26.photobucket.com/albums/c132/doog71/Motorcycle%20Rides/2008/Ride%2007-18%20thru%2019%202008/DSCN0715.jpg

The view:

http://i26.photobucket.com/albums/c132/doog71/Motorcycle%20Rides/2008/Ride%2007-18%20thru%2019%202008/DSCN0716.jpg

After coming down from the peak and passing the lake, we headed through the Middle Mountain area which I remember camping there with my family when I was young.  The roads from the lake to Rt. 33 (PR 1 and 14) were a nice lane to lane and a half gravel roads, which you could easily take in 3rd and 4th gear.  The scenery was nice and turns were such a way that you could get a nice little rhythm going.

Here’s the second leg of our trip home:

http://i26.photobucket.com/albums/c132/doog71/Motorcycle%20Rides/2008/Ride%2007-18%20thru%2019%202008/246B.jpg

We crossed Rt. 33 at Wymer and headed towards the Canaan area where we would have lunch.   Sully Road was a nice continuation of what we just came off the mountain from Spruce Knob.  At the northern end, we hit a brief paved section called Gladwin Road which followed a nice rocky stream with people playing and fishing in the water.  On a day with temperatures near the 90s, it looked very refreshing.  

We went through Jenningston and across Rt. 72 on and took Black Hollow Road which offered some very scenic views of the Canaan Valley area.  

We stopped in Canaan for a late lunch at Big John’s.  Afterwards, Bill circled back to Snowshoe as James and I hit one of my favorite roads, “The Loop” or Public Road 13.  

The Loop (~18 miles) takes you along the southern rim of the Blackwater canyon.  From Canaan Heights, the road starts out as a nice gravel road and as you get closer to Blackwater Falls State Park, it gets a little more technical with rocks, deep puddles, and a few stream crossings.

Here’s the mellow side where you could cruise along in 2-4 gears:

http://i26.photobucket.com/albums/c132/doog71/Motorcycle%20Rides/2008/Ride%2007-18%20thru%2019%202008/DSCN0717.jpg

(sidenote:  I didn’t notice James’ sweatshirt hanging off this bike when I took this picture.  Since he waived me on to lead, I have no idea if it fell off or not.  James, if you lost your shirt, I’m very sorry)

As follows are images from the more technical side where you would be in first and second gears (that is if you don’t want to punish your bike or body too much):

http://i26.photobucket.com/albums/c132/doog71/Motorcycle%20Rides/2008/Ride%2007-18%20thru%2019%202008/DSCN0718.jpg

Some of the puddles on that road are deep enough to swallow your bike, these were not:

http://i26.photobucket.com/albums/c132/doog71/Motorcycle%20Rides/2008/Ride%2007-18%20thru%2019%202008/DSCN0719.jpg

http://i26.photobucket.com/albums/c132/doog71/Motorcycle%20Rides/2008/Ride%2007-18%20thru%2019%202008/splash1.jpg

Obligatory stream crossing photos:

http://i26.photobucket.com/albums/c132/doog71/Motorcycle%20Rides/2008/Ride%2007-18%20thru%2019%202008/DSCN0720.jpg

http://i26.photobucket.com/albums/c132/doog71/Motorcycle%20Rides/2008/Ride%2007-18%20thru%2019%202008/splash2.jpg

After taking on The Loop, we took a quick break in Thomas for some fluids before we headed across Douglas Road (PR 18).  Douglas Road is a 1-3 gear road with a lot of rocks, a few stream crossings, and wonderful views to the north side of the Blackwater Canyon:

http://i26.photobucket.com/albums/c132/doog71/Motorcycle%20Rides/2008/Ride%2007-18%20thru%2019%202008/DSCN0726.jpg

http://i26.photobucket.com/albums/c132/doog71/Motorcycle%20Rides/2008/Ride%2007-18%20thru%2019%202008/DSCN0723.jpg

http://i26.photobucket.com/albums/c132/doog71/Motorcycle%20Rides/2008/Ride%2007-18%20thru%2019%202008/DSCN0721.jpg

http://i26.photobucket.com/albums/c132/doog71/Motorcycle%20Rides/2008/Ride%2007-18%20thru%2019%202008/DSCN0722.jpg

By the time we reached the end of PR 18, we planned to go down PR18A to see a fire tower Cliffhanger told us about.  But, due to the burning daylight and how much further we needed to go before home, we decided to save seeing and climbing the fire tower for another day.  

Our next set of roads were to get us up to US 50 near Aurora, WV.  Looking back at my notes, Cliffhanger gave me very good directions.  However, when I transferred these great directions to MapSource, I clicked on a wrong road to get us to Stemple Ridge.  Instead of taking Rt. 9 and “staying to the right” as I was told, I took a right at the end of Close Mtn. Road and ended up at a VERY washed out Twelve Mile Road.  

Without a detailed map in hand and the fact I couldn’t find Rt. 9 on the Zumo because I wasn’t zoomed in for that much detail, James and I punted by telling the Zumo to find the quickest way home.  We really wanted to run Lantz Ridge Road north of 50 to get to Terra Alta, WV.  Daylight was burning and we wanted the quickest route there.  The Zumo route to “home” would take us right past Lantz Ridge.  We followed the Zumo at least to the start of  Lanz Ridge Road and headed up the mountain.  Thank goodness we did!  Cliffhanger gave us yet another gem of a road!

Here’s the third and final leg of our trip home:

http://i26.photobucket.com/albums/c132/doog71/Motorcycle%20Rides/2008/Ride%2007-18%20thru%2019%202008/246C.jpg

Here’s close up of our trip up Twelve Mile which we took until we could take it no further:

http://i26.photobucket.com/albums/c132/doog71/Motorcycle%20Rides/2008/Ride%2007-18%20thru%2019%202008/246StempleRidge.jpg

At the point where we could make it no further, the GPS said we were only a mile from Stemple Ridge Road.  As you look at the image below, you’ll see why we decided to turn around.

Here’s the aftermath of an apparent land / mud slide which took out the last mile or so of Twelve Mile Road (You can see me pointing to where the road used to be at one time):

http://i26.photobucket.com/albums/c132/doog71/Motorcycle%20Rides/2008/Ride%2007-18%20thru%2019%202008/washout.jpg

Oh well, we’ll be back to that area to explore some more.  Here are some of the other images we took in that area…

Here’s a shot of Close Mtn. Road:

http://i26.photobucket.com/albums/c132/doog71/Motorcycle%20Rides/2008/Ride%2007-18%20thru%2019%202008/DSCN0729.jpg   

A look back at the wind turbines off of Rt. 219 from Close Mtn. Road:

http://i26.photobucket.com/albums/c132/doog71/Motorcycle%20Rides/2008/Ride%2007-18%20thru%2019%202008/DSCN0728.jpg

One of the views from Lantz Ridge Road (north of US 50 towards Terra Alta):

http://i26.photobucket.com/albums/c132/doog71/Motorcycle%20Rides/2008/Ride%2007-18%20thru%2019%202008/DSCN0730.jpg

Lantz Ridge Road near dusk:

http://i26.photobucket.com/albums/c132/doog71/Motorcycle%20Rides/2008/Ride%2007-18%20thru%2019%202008/DSCN0731.jpg

From Tera Alta, James and I headed down Rt. 7 towards Kingwood where we picked up Greens Run from Rt. 26 and ran it west on the southern end of the Cheat River Canyon.  Once we reached Snake Hill road, James and I parted ways as I took Mayfield Road down the mountain to Morgantown pausing to watch the Sun set over my hometown:

http://i26.photobucket.com/albums/c132/doog71/Motorcycle%20Rides/2008/Ride%2007-18%20thru%2019%202008/DSCN0733.jpg
Saturday was a great day filled with a wonderful mix of roads and scenery.  It ranks up there as one of the best day trips I have ever had on a bike.  I had good company with me, good weather, a trusty steed, and a welcomed shower when I got home.  
« Last Edit: July 20, 2008, 09:28:39 pm by R Doug » Logged
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« Reply #1 on: July 20, 2008, 09:12:16 pm »

Nice write-up Doug.  Thumbsup


Keep this up and I'll be buying an off-road set-up for my SM. (Damnit!)
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« Reply #2 on: July 20, 2008, 09:28:20 pm »

Excellent report Doug!  Thumbsup Thumbsup Next time you do an unpaved ride, let me know---I wanna come!  Bigok (You still planning a ride for later this summer?)

I love exploring unpaved roads like that...and anytime you want to come this way I can show you some great ones in George Washington National Forest!

Scott
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« Reply #3 on: July 21, 2008, 07:26:56 am »

Dog Boy, you won't regret turning that SM into a DS.  It's people on this message board who got me into wanting a dual sport too.  ST.N is evil.

Scott, I think we're still shooting for an ad hoc DS rally sometime this fall.

Paul, heal up my friend and get something bigger than the Trail Honda to ride the true hidden gems of WV.  
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« Reply #4 on: July 21, 2008, 05:33:27 pm »


 (You still planning a ride for later this summer?)



How's mid August or mid October work?  September is too busy due to the Indy MotoGP race weekend and ESTN.  
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« Reply #5 on: July 21, 2008, 07:20:27 pm »

October sounds nice with the foliage starting to change.
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« Reply #6 on: July 21, 2008, 07:51:18 pm »

Mid-October is best for me.  Camping will be a little chilly.  

James
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« Reply #7 on: July 21, 2008, 08:34:55 pm »

Good point.  I would rather camp in cooler weather too.

The only problem is, the Shenandoah 500 is supposed to be in October.  I think I would prefer to do that with you guys.  What do you think?
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« Reply #8 on: July 23, 2008, 06:56:09 am »

Hey (just noticed these posts!)...October is an awesome time to do ANYTHING.  Bigsmile And Doug, aren't you still going to the Grand Canyon or someplace then?

It's likely the Shenandoah 500 will be on either the first or second weekend in October (it was the first weekend last year). And that's such a boatload of DS riding over 2 days that it's likely none of us will be dying to get back out the weekend before or after to do it again!

Then again, I freely confess to beng a wuss: I'm not doing the S500 (or our ride, for that matter) if it's raining! Mud and offroad riding do not mix for me.  Lol (I heard from a friend who did it 2 years ago in rain and cold that it was a NIGHTMARE.)

So maybe we could keep our ride weekend flexible? That way if it rains for the S500, we could try ours the next weekend.

I also think that early November would be a good time to ride as well. Still beautiful colors, and around here (thank you global warming) daytime temps are still gonna be in the 50s. It'll be colder at night, so maybe we just don't camp and get a cabin somewhere (or hotel it).

Scott
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« Reply #9 on: July 23, 2008, 07:26:00 am »

Great report & pics.  Thumbsup  I'm also heading towards a dual sport - the inadequacies of my WeeStrom (which it would supplement; not replace) having been brought light somewhere north of Harper's Ferry a couple weeks ago  Embarassment   Is this a ridiculous idea for a 50-something street rider?   Shrug  

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« Reply #10 on: July 23, 2008, 08:13:10 am »


 Is this a ridiculous idea for a 50-something street rider?   Shrug  



Absolutely not.

Most of the riding during this trip was no more taxing on me than normal street riding.  And during the rough sections, you can ride your own ride, just like the street.  On the Blackwater loop, there is 6 miles of fairly technical riding.  The first time I rode the area, I was pretty mellow and took my time.  The second time I rode it was at a slightly more brisk pace and I could tell, it felt like a workout.  
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« Reply #11 on: July 23, 2008, 08:24:50 am »

Cool.  

I've only just started to seriously research bikes.  At first I thought I wanted an XT225 or 250; then got bogged down between those two and the WR250's.  Once I tossed commuting duty into the mix as well (75 miles RT on highways & through DC), decided mebbe a DRZ400 would be the better choice.  As previously stated, I don't want to approach the size/weight of my Strom, so displacement below 500cc is preferred.
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« Reply #12 on: July 23, 2008, 08:34:53 am »

Scratch,

The DRZ isn't very happy on the highway. It's comfy doing an indicated 60-something, but much above that you start to feel like you're wringing its neck. A KLR650 would be more street-oriented, but the weight is getting up there. I think the DR650 manages to be a little more relaxed than the DRZ400 on the highway and doesn't weigh that much more.

The pricey options with wide ratio six-speed transmissions are the new KTM 690 Enduro and Husky TE-610. Note the TE-610 for sale in Ohio. I'm seriously tempted to raid the savings account and risk divorce court to snatch that up.
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« Reply #13 on: July 23, 2008, 08:50:18 am »

I believe the only problem with the DR650 is it's not water cooled and may get pretty hot in commuter traffic.

There is a used Huskey for sell in the Cincy area right now on ST.N.    Bigsmile
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« Reply #14 on: July 23, 2008, 09:01:39 am »

Nice as they are, me being a notorious abuser of my street bikes I'm not sure I'd deserve a pricey KTM or Huskie.  The closest KTM shop to me is Ellicott City AFAIK; don't know of any Huskie stealers around.
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« Reply #15 on: July 23, 2008, 05:21:51 pm »

DR650's are cool running bikes if you rejet them (30 minute job max).  They have a big oil cooler (and large oil capacity) that does a very adequate job of cooling the engine, which is why they run so long.

I'd personally like to try a DRZ because I see myself getting more and more into offroad riding.  But, the DR has been perfect for the places I've gone so far.  Although busy on the interstate at 70, it can do it all day without complaint.  It's one of the best bikes I've owned without a doubt.

James

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« Reply #16 on: July 23, 2008, 06:40:14 pm »


Nice write-up Doug.  Thumbsup


Keep this up and I'll be buying an off-road set-up for my SM. (Damnit!)


A few weeks ago Ebay had a full set of S wheels including tires and tubes for under $400.  Buy a new front rotor and you're good to go.  DAMHIK that much about a bike I don't (yet) own.  Rolleyes
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« Reply #17 on: July 23, 2008, 06:44:58 pm »

Damnit!
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« Reply #18 on: July 23, 2008, 06:51:18 pm »


Damnit!


Good -- before your and Mookie's ride reports, I would have been perfectly happy on a DRZ400S.  Now I have to go dig up another $1000 on an SM cuz they tres cooler!
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« Reply #19 on: July 25, 2008, 12:37:10 am »

Great report.  Thumbsup

Also I just attended a riding clinic by Ned Suesse, the guy who did Dual Sport Riding Techniques and it was great. If he ever comes to your area just sign up and go. I learned a ton.
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