Monthly Archive May 2014

2014 The Blue Ridge Parkway revisited

An old homestead in West Virginia
It was a cold and wet start. In fact, the morning air had such a chill to it that I repacked my optimistic warm weather gear and opted for a few things that would keep me warmer such as some snowmobile mid-weight  thermal leggings (BRP), a heated vest as an under layer, and a set of gloves for cold and wet weather.
I was supposed to be in Markham for 0700 to meet up with Wobbly Cat, but I dreaded taking the 401 across the city on a Friday morning, so instead headed north and across Concession 7 which has a rather long gravel portion. A long, potholed gravel road with a technical section of gravel bare clay road that challenged the traction of my Conti Trail Attack2 tires, so much so that I was on the throttle and pegs through portions of it. Excitement I didn’t relish at the time, but puts the “adventure” in adventure riding.

Day 1 – Whitby ON to Haagerstown MD

Wobbly and I rode in our rain gear through to the outskirts of St. Catherines where we met up with David, and so we hit the border, which Wobbly breezed through with his Nexus Get Out of Jail Free card, leaving David and I sitting at the border awaiting our turn. It was a faster crossing than many I’ve done in the past.

And the adventure begins

So at this point I bid David and Wobbly adieu as I was determined to avoid the US 219 traps of Ellicotville, Salamanca, Olean and other towns that the route would take me, although I did follow it down as far as Springville NY before heading out on the track I had plotted into my Garmin.

Here is where I get a bit embarrassed…I had programmed four tracks into the GPS, a Garmin 60cx with older software, and each track was the same colour on the display. I found I was heading south on the Day 4 track! I fixed it by calling up each track but for day 1, and deselected the “show on map” feature so they all disappeared and I was left with my Day 1 track, but here I was about 20 miles off course to the West. *sigh*

I headed West out of Springville to pick up NY16 and headed south on secondary roads that led me through a rural Amish New York State. The roads could be a bit rough, but the scenery was interesting, and while the boys were following tractor trailers on US219, I was free wheeling through the heart of NYS.

By this time the rain had gone, and all I was seeing was damp patches of road here and there in the shadows, but there was certainly evidence of heavy rainfall as the rivers were in full spate, as well as debris on the roads from the trees and rain swept shoulders.

Amish New York

I found myself crossing the state line into Pennsylvania on PA 44, a rather wonderful road that leads into Coudersport PA and into the Alleghany mountains, where the riding was bound to improve over Ontario’s straight and flat roads.

Now I had another “Adventure by Garmin” as i largely plotted this route via Google Maps then imported anc converted a KML into a GPX file then loaded it into my GPS as a track, and that track said leave PA44 and head west which I did along a lovely little bit of twisty sideroad that sported a centre line… Then the centre line disappeared, and my GPS told me to turn onto a road that had no outlet and became gravel. Nope, gonna keep going on this one see if it recalculates… Yep, it told me to proceed West another two miles and turn left, but in a mile the road I was on turned to gravel. This is an adventure bike right?… Two miles later I turned onto, you guessed it, another gravel road, but with a bit of grass growing up through the middle, and the GPS said 500 metres of this then turn left again… The other road looked more like a ski hill access road, with not enough clearance to turn this big heavy bike around on essentially street tires. Hokay, time to turn around and get back on PA44 and just tell Garmin to route me to Coudersport where I could simply abandon part of the track and make my way south on 872, a wonderful road that leads south through the mountains and along a river past hunting and fishing camps to Renovo Road or PA120 as it it known.

Adventures by Garmin, and this was the good road!

I mistakenly thought this bakery was in business to find it had been closed and used for storage. Off to the pizzeria!

Coudersport Courthouse?

I usually stop at Moshes tavern on the outskirts of Coudersport, as I find the service and food equally wonderful, but today they were closed for renovations, and I found myself on main street looking for something, so wandered into a pizzeria and sat down to a Philly cheesesteak sandwich. Yum!

Worth the wait for fresh made pizza dough and focacia.
Add in an iced tea, and I was in heaven!

Back on the road again heading south on 872, and the scenery was getting better and better all the time. My destination this time was a road called Wykoff Run that is just off of Renovo Road PA120 that has twists and turns galore. Sure to please, but you have to be careful of wildlife and other drivers, as its a well frequented road.

Mountains! It’s what this ride is all about!

Wykoff Run behind me, a bit fast due to all that rainfall.

A favourite spot for fisherman along the run.

The lighting isn’t the best on this overcast day, and it shows

So tranquil. So beautiful.

The view improves.

Chew Mail Pouch tobacco

While riding in Pennsylvania I’ve seen this advertisement many times, and like to stop and take pictures, so you will no doubt see them again and again if you continue to follow along with my blog.

And an encore

I was quite taken with this foundation, showing it’s age. It speaks to me of another age when families and communities would take what they needed from the country to fashion their own homes and barns. The effort it would take to fell a tree, limb it, square it off for use as a header would be enormous compared to our trip to the lumber yard or steel supplier.

The roads got busier as I wound my way to Haagerstown MD, our first stop of the night, so you will have to excuse me as this is the last one you’ll see from Day 1 of the trip. On to the hotel where Wobbly and David had just arrived and begun to check in, and joy oh joy! An Olive Garden right across the street from our hotel!

Tour of Southern Italy

They used to have them in Canada, but they closed their doors long ago and retreated behind the rivers and lakes of our borders back to the US. Such a pity, but it makes the riding that much more enjoyable knowing I can indulge my appetites like this.

Now we rubbed our full bellies and headed back to the hotel, and checked with the night clerk to see if any other of our riding buddies had arrived at the hotel, to find that as of 2030 noone had arrived. Okay, the three of them might have left late, or had a minor breakdown. It was early yet…
2330 the three of them rolled in to the hotel, as it turned out they had left after work, and with a long border wait as it was the start of a long weekend, still they made good time.

Pat, Joe and Steve at long last!

Day 2 – Haagerstown MD to Roanoke VA
One of us is ready to go…
West Virginia welcomes you

A hour and a  bit on the highway

Want one! 🙂

O’er the hills and far away!

We travelled south on I-81 for about an hour and a half until we reached our turn off point, the town of New Market, where every year at this time they stage a civil war re-enactment just for our benefit. One year I’d like to come down just to observe that part.

We gassed up here so we could play on the parkway with full tanks. No more Interstate for a another two days!

Ethanol free for me!

Did I mention flooding?

Selfie!

After this photo stop, I forged on ahead towards are lunch stop, just a few minutes further ahead.

Hank’s Smokehouse – lunch stop

More evidence of flooding in the foreground

There they are.

Oh bugger, gravel all through the corner!

Pat didn’t have much luck through this corner, a slow turn at the entrance to Skyline Drive and the Shenandoah mountains. He had a bit too much lean angle, and the front end just washed out on him and down he went…

I thought he would be injured but Pat had knee armour underneath his riding jeans

Knee Armour for the win!

All that flooding washed dirt and gravel out into the corner

Conti Trail Attack2 tires are wearing a bit faster than I like

I got here well before the rest of the group. Rest, now that that’s an idea!

Oops, wrong way!

We made it!

Day 3 – Roanoke VA to Cumberland MD
Yeah, it’s going to be a long day

Ambrose and Priscilla join the party

And we’re off!

I love the hood ornament on this car

Wobbly Cat lead us on another Adventure by Garmin

Day 4 – Cumberland MD to Whitby ON

It all fits!!!

Almost home…

And we’re back!