Sunday, May 03, 2015

Romney 2015

Left work around 3:30 Friday and slogged 78 to 81 to 50, arriving in Romney at 8PM, a few minutes before dark.  Hastily set up the tent and sleeping gear and signed in.

Having not made any arrangements and knowing no one, I milled around.  By strange chance, I recognized a Strom pilot and his wife whom I'd talked with at Deal's Gap last fall.  Chatted for quite a while - very nice people.

Woke up COLD Saturday around 6AM.  Met some nice Canoodians (is there another kind?) in the breakfast line, and had a nice chat with my campsite neighbor, from DC.  I had no GPS, maps, and didn't know the routes, so I tried to find a group to tag along with while in line.  Ultimately decided that I'm a solo rider, so I headed out solo, 28 W, after my sausage and egg muffin.

WV seemed especially pretty and sweet-smelling with everything blooming.  I jinked around a little, scoping dirt roads leading off of 28.

Soon I was behind a trio of S10's led by a GS.  Figuring this was my tag-a-long pack whether they invited me or not, I followed them at a painfully slow pace to Petersburg.  At a light I pulled up and the trailing S10 rider said they were heading to Seneca Rocks and Dolly Sodds.  They were turning right on 28; my failing memory was that 220 was the N-S route so I split off.

Perfect ride: cool weather, clear skies, no traffic, no stops.  The ST continues to impress: "sport" mode, hanging off, and the endless sweepers of 220 was moto flow.  I passed slower traffic at will and without drama.  Eventually I noticed things weren't looking familiar - I should've been seeing the Seneca rock formations, and the Smoke Hole stuff.  I realized I was on the wrong side of the ridge.  I remembered that 220 hits Franklin, and a road twists west over the ridge south of Seneca Rocks.  Franklin is where I came for cell service on WVSADVWE.  Within the hour I was having lunch at Seneca Rocks and perusing a free WV tourist map, having beaten/ missed the rush.

I planned to take 33W to 32N to 72 - 72 was a featured road.  Somewhere along the way, I passed a sign for the "Eastern Continental Divide".  Not knowing there was such a thing, I stopped for a photo op.  What I should have been paying attention to is the fuel gage and range of "37" when this pic was snapped.

On 32, I passed a sign that said "Dolly Sodds - next right", and my short attention span torpedoed my planning.  Bonner Mt Road is a mostly one-lane, unmarked road connecting a string of farms and woods, ending in a ranger station and a gravel climb up into Dolly Sodds.  Again the ST made short work of the road, turning "terror" into "fun.
I meant to get gas at Seneca Rocks but forgot.  Now somewhere in the wilderness, the bike was reporting range-to-empty as 11 miles.  Ahead I saw an ADV bike and stopped to ask where the closest gas was.  His POI told him 26 miles, and the the "T" I'd just passed thru was the quickest way back down to 28.  He said, "it's steep."  I said, "well, I'll use less gas."

...and use less I did.  As I covered more and more ground coasting downhill, my range kept recalculating in favor of not being stranded.  A drama-free descent of intermittent back brake dragging and pothole dodging delivered me to the 28 with 26 miles to empty showing on the dash.  Near the bottom, I became aware that the ADV guy (on a Honda Africa Twin), had followed me down the hill.  We parted ways as he headed for lunch S and I headed for gas N to Petersburg.  
I resolved to buy a GPS on the road, and after fueling, remembered passing a Walmart further north on 28 earlier in the day while following the 3 ST/GS group.  Ready for a break, I stopped at the Moorefield super center.  No GPS, no maps, nothing of interest.   In the background, 48 seemed to have hardly any traffic on it.

42 looked squiggly to Storm Lake, so I planned to slab 48 to 5 to 42.  A few miles up 48 is a scenic overlook.  I filmed while riding a circle around lot and got back on 48, then off at 5, then onto 42.
Again a "Dolly Sodds" sign and again I was sucked in like a magnet.  The approach road hugged a stream.  I looked for a spot to pull off and wash my visor, which had accumulated a distracting film of bug guts.  The good pull-outs were whipping by too fast, tho.  After a few turns and a pack of local kids on ATVs, I was again climbing a dirt road to the wilderness.  Pretty far up, I came to a hairpin with a gated two-track.  I pulled off to rest and take it in.

I walked back on the logging road and could hear water running.  Near the path was a run-off stream, so I went back to grab my helmet, and soaked the visor for far, far, longer than needed.

The absence of human-generated sound, the smell of Spring, the perfection of the day, the bike, the ride... the solitude and natural beauty of this spot ... was restorative.  I felt like a part of nature, instead of an observer of it.  I briefly envied the countless humans of prehistory who lived whole lives in nature, self-reliant, connected, and whole... albeit without wifi.

Refreshed, I trudged back to the bike lamenting the transience of such moments.

Moments later, I manufactured some deja vu:



I road the gravel to the other end where I'd met the Africa Twin rider earlier, turned around and rode it back.  Midway I had to brake hard because an owl flew across the road in front of me, with what looked like a 4" long stringy tail sticking out of its mouth.
I came back down the way I entered, but bypassed the curvy part of 42 for 93 because it was getting late in the day.  I averaged a very illegal speed on 93, and was in the zone on 50, carving curves until a few miles before Romney when I came upon another group of ADV bikes.... again going annoyingly slowly.  I prefer to ride solo.


Back at the campout, everyone was in good spirits telling stories of the great days they all had.  I talked for a while with a pair of French Canadians who were interested in the S10 - the main interest from a long-time BMW rider.  I have a growing sense that showing up on a $15,000 bike means your dues are paid to the "club"... as if the mount was a reflection of the rider.

A cafeteria-style dinner of meatloaf, beans, and mac and cheese was greatly enjoyed.  I changed, contacted HQ, then strolled around for a while after eating checking out other S10's to see the different accessories mounted, and met a guy who'd had some trouble the day before while following an injured rider to the hospital.  He bodged his back back to rideable with JB Weld and a bolt welded to the side stand - just generally 'got her done.'  I was talking to him when the drawing started, and watched until it ended in darkness.  I wasn't long for festivities after dark, and zipped myself into a cold, tossy-turny sleep.

I woke up Sunday 6AM cold again.  The down jacket I nearly didn't pack was getting some miles on it.  On the way back from coffee, I recognized a camper from NEPA/ PA tag threads.  He's got the lightweight, practical aspect of ADV touring totally smacked down  with a plated dirt bike, Giant Loop bag and bivy tent.  I felt like an RV-er by comparison.  He gave kind feedback on the S10, and called over another guy from PA.  It's weird meeting the humans behind screen names you've seen for years.
Another breakfast sandwich and I locked and loaded for an early get-home.  In typical fashion, I wasn't rolling until 9AM.

I took 50E out of Romney, to 29N, 9N/E, 522, PA turnpike.  The route seemed to cover ground quickly without too many stops or traffic.    PA turnpike, 81, 78 - a terrible slog, but the cruise control is a game-changer.  Since it's impossible to ride past Cabela's, I stopped... and scored some bargain cave pants.

I wasn't sure about "rallying," and thought on the way down how this might be a "do it once so you can say you did" thing, but it's hard to imagine having a better time.  I'll try to make Romney an annual trip.  WV doesn't seem likely to run out of roads or hospitality.

No comments: