Wednesday after work, I campered and hitched up for the annual 15 hour slog to WV. I managed to roll into a rainy spot right next to Ann and Mike around 10PM Thursday, having left home around 6AM.
Friday morning started rainy. I don't go to WV without a rush up and across Dolly Sodds. This time I detoured enroute for Smoke Hole Road.
I hiked up the hill to get a better pic of the bike in the curve. The greenery in the foreground screws up the shot, but there was a waterfall running down the fold in the hills here. I had visions of turning an ankle halfway up and ruining all that driving.
Further on I popped around a curve and thought I recognized this spot from prior years' ADV photos.
Still on Smoke Hole Road, Eagle Rock. I would later notice - for the first time - that mohawk of rock which runs just below the ridge. This formation runs for miles, forming the backbone of the ridge east of Dolly Sods.
Smoke Hole dumped me out on 220, which leads south to 33 and the pass to the Germany Valley overlook. I've taken this pic a few times now.
On the other side of the gap, 33 heads north to Seneca Rocks. I stopped at Yocum's for a ramp burger and a gallon jug of water. From there it's a quick rip up to Dolly Sods. Sitting on Bear Rocks is always a profound experience for me. On the trek back to the bike, I wondered at this rock. I expect the grooves and bores are man-made, but it seems odd that nature would sculpt that turtle's head.
I decided to get back to Romney Cycles and see if I could ride a demo DR650, but the last rides of the day were just leaving. I ate some supper and headed back out, finding a short run of dirt at Fort Mill Ridge. I rode it down to the river, where a few tent campers gave me some dirty looks.
Back at "camp", I set up a chair and hung out with Mike and Ann, which is always entertaining. The weather led to a low turnout so there was less ruckus around us.
Friday night it rained - hard. Every night in the camper feels like being a kid at a slumber party, but staying warm and dry in hours of downpour ups the ante.
Saturday morning I hung out under the tarp with Ann and Mike again. The dirt bike class, which Ann had taken the previous year and highly recommended, was decimated with weather cancellations. With no prior plan, at the last minute I decided to take the class. I was rider #4.
The class was a few hours of drills on Romney's field (in the rain), then lunch, then out for some off-pavement "practicum." The first dirt we hit: Fort Mill Ridge. The tent campers were gone. We dirt some turning around and bike handling drills, after which we were led back out onto 50W to (I think) 220S.
The rain, taking a class, and not planning to take the class until a minute before it started meant that I had no phone and no GPS - so, no pics and no idea where I was. I'd guess we turned east off 220 a few miles south of 55.
Most of the ride was fast and fun, until we hit a few slick, muddy spots. We stopped a few times for breaks, teachable moments, and photo ops.
Shortly after starting back up after a stop, I was heading downhill around a sharp right-hander on gravel/ dirt. I wasn't really settled in yet, and found my attention landing on a ditch at the far side of the road. I targeted myself right into it and wound up rolling a few feet down the hill while the bike came to rest on its right side in the ditch. The wheels were higher than the tank - I felt initially screwed and had visions of an expensive tow truck winching my ruined bike out.
I grabbed the back rail and pulled until the wheels slid down the bank into the bottom of the ditch. From there, I tried to mount it but the seat was below knee-level, so I started it and walked it a few yards further along the ditch until I found a spot I could mount and ride it out. A quick check for damage found none. NONE. Days later I found a few faint scratches on my right crash bars, but otherwise the bike was COMPLETELY unscathed. All the money I'd spent on protection seemed suddenly the best spent thus far.
We pressed on to do some log jumping and a little more riding. With tired legs, and humbled by my crash, I opted to bail on extended riding following the class and tagged back to Romney with another rider who'd had a long, hard, day picking up a DR650. I also hoped I could squeak in that demo ride, but I again arrived just in time to watch the last demo group leave.
I loaded up and decided to get some miles behind me after the Romney-provided supper, which was country fabulous. I rolled out in the gathering dusk and made my way across rt50 in fading daylight. I made it down 81 to 77, across the gap and pulled off in a rest stop just across the NC border, where I fell into bed in the camper. In the darkness, I attracted some other moto trailers, awakening to this:
I love WV, and there's something to be said for establishing traditions - but this is a long, expensive, slog. More than 30 hours driving and $300-ish dollars of fuel, and halfway thru that drive I always think about how I could be arriving at 7 gaps if that were my destination instead.
It's sad to think that this was quite probably my last hurray in Romney.