September 2007 - West By-Gawd Virginia

All week long I'd been looking forward to going riding over the week-end. My mind was in the long week-end long miles mode, but it just wasn't in the cards for this week-end.

Sunday morning rolled around and as usual we, or more specifically, I was slow to get up and moving so it was almost 10:00 before we finally got out and on to the road and rolling. I asked my lovely wife Julie over the intercom where she wanted to go and she told me that it really didn't matter, she too just wanted to ride. In the back of my mind I was thinking about heading to West Virginia but figured it was too far away and we were leaving too late in the day for that kind of trip.

I headed up US 52 out of Lexington figuring on going due north for a bit and just see what developed. Somewhere along the way a thought came to mind. Just ride 52 north until we ran low on fuel, then go from there. That line of thought led me to calculate in my mind about where that would be, which I figured to be somewhere north of Fancy Gap, Va. But we had been up that way recently and I was itching for something new, or at least different.

By now we were north of Winston-Salem, still running at highway speeds up US 52. The bike was, as always, running great, traffic was light and the feeling of making time and getting up the road was intoxicating. So I recalculated our re-fuel point if we took theI-74 cut off over to I-77 and kept going north and came up with Wythville, Va or somewhere there abouts.

Merging onto I-74 without so much as letting out of the throttle we headed west bound. A few miles later and we were at the intersection of 74 & 77. We merged onto 77 north and we headed up the mountain. As a rule 4 lanes and interstates aren't our thing, but today seemed different. The bike really seemed to be enjoying stretching it's legs.

The view along the section of I-77 that the truckers refer to as Fancy Gap grade is always spectacular and with traffic still being light I was able to enjoy it. As we got near the top of the mountain I asked Julie if she wanted to head over to the Blue Ridge Parkway or keep going north. "Keep going north." Apparently she was digging it too. I told her I'd been thinking about going to WV just about the time a road sign came into view showing Bluefield was 70 some odd miles away. She said that lunch in Bluefield sounded like agood idea.

We arrived in Bluefield a short time later and found a fast food place to stop for lunch. I brought a map in with us and while we ate we discussed the rest of the trip.

After lunch we headed north on US 52, heading towards the town of Welch and highway 16 a little over 30 miles away. 52 through that part of WV is a two lane black top, traveling through small towns and burgs that appear to be very old and for the most part in pretty bad shape. Many vacant buildings and at least one or more burned out building or home in each community. The road itself is in good shape, but as you wind your way through the towns it seems very...narrow. The buildings and homes are all close to the roadway, as is the ever present railroad and creek.

Once through Welch we found where 16 turned off to our left. Right in the middle of a very blind corner! I peered as far ahead as I could, then scooted quickly across 52 and onto 16.

About 30 yards or so after getting on 16 we were greeted with an extremely tight downhill left hand turn, followed by an uphill right hander about 20 yards after that. This set the tone for the majority of that road as it wound its way through two states and a little over 100 miles. Of course there were places where it would straighten out into a typical two lane back road and it did wind its way through several wide spots and small (very small) towns, but in my estimation the majority of it was your sterotypical mountain road. For the most part it reminded me very much of "The Dragon" (US 129 near Deals Gap, NC for those not familiar with it). Maybe not quite as intense in the same mileage span as the dragon, but as I mentioned it went on for miles and miles. I'd give it an 8 on the fun meter and an 8 for overall road surface. Besides, it has a good beat and you can dance to it. ;)

We had a now funny experience in one of those little ex coal towns named "War, WV.". The road turned to the right, crossed the ever present set of rail road tracks and dropped down a small hill into town. A sign at the edge of town told us that the annual "War Fall Festival" was taking place that very day.

As we cruised into town we noticed a few small EZ up type canopy's set up with knick knacks underneath, another with a DJ set up blasting country music, and about a dozen or so people milling around. At onepoint I noticed a couple of women sitting on bench in front of an empty store front. As we eased up towards them they leaned forward and smiled, looking like the parade was coming! A few feet later a man literally walked out into the road on our left smiling at us! I was unsure if he was coming to meet us or simply crossing the street but I eased on by him waving and nodding as I passed. In the next moment a rather large dog came up from our right with a mischievous look in his eyes.

To be honest, I saw him coming. I wasn't sure however if he was going to just take few steps out or do the 'dog chasing a motorcycle thing'. My wife on the other hand, was still focused on the man to our left. The dog made up his mind to be a dog and lept forward at us while barking like his life depended on it. I swerved to my left and goosed the throttle at the same instance. As I said, my poor darling bride never saw any of this coming and it scared the dickens out ofher. Her response was to scream like her life depended on it, right into her intercom microphone. Which relayed and amplified this blood curdling yelp into my helmet speakers that coincidentally are directly beside my ears.

I swear my eyes crossed.

I thought I felt blood running from my ears but thankfully I was mistaken.

We missed the dog, and the man, then pulled over a block later at a convenience store. I told Julie we should fuel up in case there weren't any other gas stops ahead, but really I needed to get my eyes straightened back up.

The gas pumps weren't the pay at the pump type (imagine that) so Julie went in to pay for the fuel while I pumped it into the tank. She had an interesting tale when she returned! It seems that the man inside was a friendly feller and he was telling her that we really should have been there yesterday. It seems there were twice as many people there (!) and old so and so SHOT old such and such "deader'n hell".

Now you would think that this tid bit of news coupled with our recent experience would motivate wifey pooh to hurry up and get the heck out of Dodge. But nooooo. She spotted a general/drug store right next door and needed to get a birthday card for some damn body!

I think she really needed a restroom, but that's just my opinion.

We left, rather hurriedly as soon as she returned.

It dawned on me a little while later that those two women probably knew what that damn dog was going to do, and may have even put him up to it!

The rest of the trip went comparatively uneventful, thankfully, but was still a hoot none the less. We did stop for ice cream at a neat little place on the outskirts of Marion, Va. which sort of made up for the'fun' we had in War.

16 turned into 58 a few miles down the road, and 58 merged into 93 after that. We followed 93 into Sparta, NC. then picked up 21 and did our normal 21 to 901 to 64 ride back to the house.

Pulling the Nomad into the basement/workshop at 8:00 pm sharp, I flipped over to the trip meter and saw that it read 409.1 miles.

What a great day and a great ride.