Travels with jdrocks-the Blue Ridge 2012

Discussion in 'Day Trippin'' started by jdrocks, Jul 28, 2012.

  1. jdrocks

    jdrocks Gravel Runner

    Joined:
    Jul 6, 2007
    Oddometer:
    4,612
    JUNE 2012...ON THE BORDER



    <!--[if gte mso 9]><xml> <w:WordDocument> <w:View>Normal</w:View> <w:Zoom>0</w:Zoom> <w:Compatibility> <w:BreakWrappedTables/> <w:SnapToGridInCell/> <w:WrapTextWithPunct/> <w:UseAsianBreakRules/> </w:Compatibility> <w:BrowserLevel>MicrosoftInternetExplorer4</w:BrowserLevel> </w:WordDocument> </xml><![endif]--><!--[if !mso]><object classid="clsid:38481807-CA0E-42D2-BF39-B33AF135CC4D" id=ieooui></object> <style> st1\:*{behavior:url(#ieooui) } </style> <![endif]--><!--[if gte mso 10]> <style> /* Style Definitions */ table.MsoNormalTable {mso-style-name:"Table Normal"; mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0; mso-tstyle-colband-size:0; mso-style-noshow:yes; mso-style-parent:""; mso-padding-alt:0in 5.4pt 0in 5.4pt; mso-para-margin:0in; mso-para-margin-bottom:.0001pt; mso-pagination:widow-orphan; font-size:10.0pt; font-family:"Times New Roman";} </style> <![endif]--> Day 1, Thursday, 389 miles

    Man, go to turn the key, I’m an hour late, should be sucking on that frightful Richmond air already. A final wave, blow a kiss to my wife, aaaah, damn jailbreak, ‘bout time. Thunk the rat into gear, roost the driveway for luck, slam bam, and I’m on the road. I don’t care where I’m going, I never start a trip of any length without charging the first stop sign half a mile away, second gear at around 9,000 before I let go and the throttle bodies snap closed on the downshift. The high note shriek of that exhaust overrun is enough to wake the dead, sound makes my brain vibrate right through the earplugs, muffler innards shoot out like a freakin’ bottle rocket. Woooeeee, let’s go someplace.


    This is the V649HP rat…


    [​IMG]


    and all I have with me for this trip is the Expedition bags with my standard bike kit and a drybag for the tent and sleeping bag. Change of socks and the clothes on my back, that’s all. Well, can’t be lying, might be half a bottle of cheap bourbon tucked in somewhere back there.


    Another half mile and I get a good look due east across the Chesapeake Bay towards the Delmarva, red sun through ground fog, a raging forest fire through smoke. Ain’t nothing quite like it, but I put my back to it, I was west bound to the border…the West Virginia border.


    Been out in that area before, pretty much from Maryland to North Carolina, so I knew my fuel stops, and the first one was right at an I64 exit. This gas station is always crazy because it’s frequented by out-of-state drivers who have quit praying and suddenly given up all hope of reaching Virginia Beach on the gas in their tank. Yeah, God was busy, didn’t take the call, they had to stop right here. Always in a hurry, the ocean might be gone before they get there, some fool might have bought up the last of the saltwater taffy, hot damn, won’t be none left. Men, women, children…tired, plum worn out, often found traveling in pajamas or wrinkled warm-ups with enough dog and cat hair stuck on them, heck, vacuum it all up and ya could weave a couple nice area rugs outta’ all that stuff.


    Today there’s a new BMW sedan behind me, diplomatic plates or something, anyway, they ain’t from the YU-ESS-OFA. French Guyana, I guess, or at least that’s what the sticker on the window said. I don’t think they’re going to the Beach for a tan, could be the taffy. Might be diplomats, so I’ll be diplomatic and say the lady driver was big boned…that’s super secret international spy code for say, four hundred pounds.


    Tropical print skirt bigger than the rain fly on my tent, sheer blouse, one of those with the big pockets that were supposed to provide strategic concealment. Bad news darlin’, those pockets ain’t doin’ the job, at least not the bottom half of the job, the bits down by your waist…hey, not that I was looking. The kicker, the final straw that caused me to cancel my vacation plans for French Guyana, was the Spanx. Yup, she was wearing 5XL Slimwear, didn’t know they even made it that big. Yikes, stand back y’all, that thing lets loose ya could get hurt real bad, it just ain’t made to fight back against a 55 gallon drum of Crisco. Anyway, welcome to the States, enjoy your stay.


    Into the store for a drink, the guy in front of me at the register has a black ink dashed line tattoo around his throat with stencil script lettering that says “CUT ON DOTTED LINE”, oh brother, too much playtime in the big house. The dude was using the counter to hold himself up, half turned towards me, baggy pants riding low, the tag on his plaid boxers facing front, yessiree folks, he was wearing his undies inside out and backwards. Bought a twelve pack, and his parting words to the cashier were “It was just a mister meaner, he let me go on yurcoginance”, pretty sure I got that exactly right, amazing command of the native tongue. If he hadn’t looked like a freakin’ psycho killer with a wolverine face, I might have pointed out that little problem with the boxers. I had to google it up quick on my smart ass phone, yup, public flogging has been outlawed in the Commonwealth for quite some time.


    Gone west at 80 cruise, beauty of a day, UFO clouds in a crisp sky. Had the zoom a goin’, and surprise, surprise when I got past Richmond, man, I had picked up a stalker. New Ford pickup, and the guy tried to stay along side of me for 50 miles, traffic or no traffic. C’mon, how many times does that happen? Pretty damn weird, and I wasn’t sorry to see him exit, then a few more miles and I was exiting myself for a quick fuel stop at Waynesboro.


    I did say quick, just needed fuel, and I never took the helmet off. Lexus SUV at the pump in front, young handsome couple, Cheeseheads from Wisconsin according to the plate. He looked Wisconsin, she looked Texas beauty queen, and I have to say that at a young age I wouldn’t have minded riding around the country with something like that, in fact, I didn’t.


    She was driving and we both pulled up to the light to make a left hand turn, hmmm, backup lights are on, does she really have that thing in reverse? I rolled the bike back about 40’ just in case, stopped, then a car pulled into the gap, thanks dumbass, gettin’ interesting now. Light changed, she hits the gas, and she really was in reverse. Shoots back, hits the brakes, screeeeech, misses the car behind by a whisker, shifts into drive, hits the gas, screeeeech, jumps forward and slews through the intersection way too fast. I could say “All in a days riding”, but if I had been at her bumper, she would have backed that SUV right over me. Beware big haired blond, kitten heel shod Wisconsin drivers, they might not have their Cheeseheads on straight.


    Shooting west again with a good look at the horizon, dark clouds out that way, no good for the roads I wanted. Turn the corner at Staunton, now northbound up past Harrisonburg to my exit for Broadway where I’ll pickup 259 out to the West Virginia border, and fuel…and an extra crispy fried chicken lunch. Got the waypoint that says “CHICKEN”, man, can’t miss the recommended daily minimum of grease.


    Interestingly, there’s a regulation croquet court close by, so if I ever have a posse along, damn, I’m going to get up a match. We’ll have to pack our whites and court shoes, bring the silver service and all that stuff, no problem. Chicken bones and beer cans scattered around the court, could be a problem, might be a penalty involved, I’ll need to check the rules.


    [​IMG]


    (to be continued…)
    #1
  2. JaxObsessed

    JaxObsessed Near Earth Object

    Joined:
    Feb 12, 2009
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    16,150
    Location:
    From Alabama to Newfoundland, it's all Appalachian
    IN!!!!!!

    Excellent. :lurk
    #2
  3. jdrocks

    jdrocks Gravel Runner

    Joined:
    Jul 6, 2007
    Oddometer:
    4,612
    hey jack, you know a bunch of the upcoming roads...take the 650.
    #3
  4. hansi

    hansi Teurer Abenteurer

    Joined:
    Jan 1, 2010
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    319
    Location:
    State of Jefferson
    :D Oh yes! Subscribed
    #4
  5. jdrocks

    jdrocks Gravel Runner

    Joined:
    Jul 6, 2007
    Oddometer:
    4,612
    welcome aboard.
    #5
  6. jdrocks

    jdrocks Gravel Runner

    Joined:
    Jul 6, 2007
    Oddometer:
    4,612
    These country stores are an essential part of the landscape out here, fuel and food, sure, but also a country song played on a continuous loop. Order your food, but ya need to take it outside to eat unless you want you want to smell like fried chicken for about a week. That chicken grease wiggles into your pores if you hang around too long, then ya have to take a shower with Dawn dish detergent, the same soap they use to clean ducks caught in an oil spill.

    That’s ok, heck, most of the entertainment is outside anyway. You’ll find the country song top ten subject material in a parade marching right on past, eat that chicken a la saturated fat, take notes for the song you always wanted to write…we got the hound dogs, broken down pickups, couples in love, couples out of love, big rigs, Harleys, guns, beer, big hair with the credit card boobs, and the shine that the guy on the side is selling outta his trunk. Sorry, no trains. About covers it, man, I love these places.


    My greasy chicken has been reduced to greasy chicken bones, and I’m seriously thinking about buying some for the road, that is until I look towards the mountain I need to cross, damn, looks like it’s raining over there, ya know, yonder. Some of those roads can be a bitch when wet, time to get movin’, and it was just a short run to where it can get interesting.


    [​IMG]


    Takes detailed paper maps, GPS tracks, or local knowledge to get around out here on a maze of roads, plenty of deadends, or you could ride out a road only to find it doesn’t connect well with your next road. Might be nice to spend a day riding around on one mountain, but I don’t have the time right now.


    The road does end, but only for the family mini van, bikes and 4x4s exempt.


    [​IMG]


    The gravel starts at the end of this pavement, no more hard surface for 40 miles, as I ride around and over the mountain before dropping back down into the first big valley to the west.


    [​IMG]


    A drizzle starts just as the front tire touches the gravel, nothin’ much, won’t hurt me unless it gets heavier. The road shows some use down low, nothing recent, but then decreasing use farther up the mountain.


    [​IMG]


    Once past the one or two unimproved campsites, you’re frequently on two track. I’ve been on this piece of road several times, and have yet to see a vehicle, rarely a fresh track, mostly no tracks.


    [​IMG]


    There are plenty of places to camp along these roads, if you don’t mind a dry camp, any water is down lower. Bring drinking water, I don’t go in here without 2L on the bike, Nalgenes work for me.


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    No use at this campsite, maybe it gets used in the hunting season. Somebody spent some time on this fire ring, good for a campfire, no good for cooking over a fire.


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    Once the leaves are on the trees, the foliage is so thick that photo ops of the surrounding countryside from the roads are limited, so find an op, don’t miss out.


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    Bike running along fine, I’m running along fine…then this on a long ascent through a boulder field and over small ledges, damn.


    [​IMG]


    Bouncing along boulder to boulder, ledge to ledge, one too many bounces and I was off the freakin’ road. The bike landed on a huge rock, missed my foot, and after a short bout of cussing, I had it back up. Scapes and scratches, no damage.


    [​IMG]



    (to be continued...)
    #6
  7. H14

    H14 I Gotta Go!

    Joined:
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    No way I'm not subscribing to a JDRocks ride report.:freaky
    #7
  8. jdrocks

    jdrocks Gravel Runner

    Joined:
    Jul 6, 2007
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    4,612
    welcome kevin, you're another guy who knows these roads.

    ...the man changes hats, goes from writing to reading.
    #8
  9. SteelB12

    SteelB12 Long timer

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    Mar 6, 2009
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    Location:
    Prince William County, VA
    Damn, I jealous. Wish I could get out that way more often :1drink
    #9
  10. jdrocks

    jdrocks Gravel Runner

    Joined:
    Jul 6, 2007
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    easy, point that KLR west, ride. the KLR does a good job out there.
    #10
  11. wvboy

    wvboy Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Nov 22, 2009
    Oddometer:
    221
    Location:
    Back and Forth
    It was a JD ride report that initially brought me to this site :clap
    #11
  12. siyeh

    siyeh Lawn Nazi

    Joined:
    Dec 21, 2005
    Oddometer:
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    Location:
    Evansville, WI
    I just got back from a 7000 miler

    I was looking for a rat bike out west JD.

    Guessing you went more north this year?

    safe travels
    #12
  13. jdrocks

    jdrocks Gravel Runner

    Joined:
    Jul 6, 2007
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    4,612
    hey, how 'bout dat. enjoy the read.
    #13
  14. jdrocks

    jdrocks Gravel Runner

    Joined:
    Jul 6, 2007
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    4,612
    were you riding with your son again this trip? what bike?

    haven't been north yet...still plotting an escape. would mark 50 years above the border, a milestone.
    #14
  15. DefconZero

    DefconZero Adventurer

    Joined:
    May 21, 2012
    Oddometer:
    12
    Location:
    Halifax, Nova Scotia
    Love reading ride reports. Can't wait to hear the rest. This is one thing that makes me want to get a DS bike...
    #15
  16. jdrocks

    jdrocks Gravel Runner

    Joined:
    Jul 6, 2007
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    4,612
    get the DS, puts lots of travel options on your plate.
    #16
  17. jdrocks

    jdrocks Gravel Runner

    Joined:
    Jul 6, 2007
    Oddometer:
    4,612
    The roads are generally shot rock and rotten shale type material, not bad, but a heavy rain will wash out the fines on anything with a grade. You never know what you’ll find, small bike only to big bike friendly.

    [​IMG]


    Now I’ve come around the mountain to the southeast, whew, hot but no rain, and the last of the uphill Vepco section. The upper Vepco is found at a “Y” junction with Gauley Ridge, the less pain option on the BRT route takes you on the right branch and down the mountain. The left branch is the more pain “see the world” option, up and around the mountain to connect with other roads…be ready to rumble. If you have come to ride some gravel miles, and you’re a huntin’ adventure, jog left.


    [​IMG]


    Time for a break at the junction of three roads, still in one piece, some rough road behind me. Tackling the roads in this sequence must almost double the miles into the SweedlinValley to the west.


    [​IMG]


    It would be nice to have mesh gear in this hot weather, ain’t got none, I was wearing whatever’s in the closet. Hot, Lordy, you bet, and I was almost all the way through my water, no resupply until up the road a ways. Pools had accumulated at my elbows, and the jacket was hanging to dry, sweat dripping off in a steady stream, and I was thinkin’ I was just now seeing a piss poor waste of whiskey. Me, I’m in the shade leaning against a tree, can’t sit down, might not be able to get back up. I was trying to conjure up a gallon of some kind of ice cold drink, my magic wasn’t working.


    Ahead of me was Long Run, and this road would carry me across the top of the mountain, west, then generally north to connect back up with a BRT road.


    [​IMG]


    There is an old hunt camp along this road and it seems to be used year round, but the members come in by 4x4 from the other side of the mountain, easier and shorter, with fewer miles of road to keep clear. With little use, the road reverted to two track in sections. Trees form an interlocking canopy above many of these roads in the summer, when they get wet, it takes a long time to dry out. No rain does not translate to no mud.


    [​IMG]


    According to a hunt club member I spoke with last year, there’s not much hunting done anymore, coyotes and poachers have taken the deer, although they do chase some bears occasionally. He was also the guy who said he had a buddy “could shoot the balls off a tick at 500 yards”. Hmmmm, best not go around poaching their deer.


    Once past the club, I was at the intersection with Hall Spring where I turned east to see if the gate near the intersection with Shenandoah had been unlocked. I had ridden Hall Spring down to VA33 previously, and it used to be a convenient connection to the BRT roads at SwitzerLake. Damn, still locked, somebody doesn’t want easy access from VA33. I poked my nose a short way into Shenandoah out of curiosity, oops, too rough for me and I was going the wrong direction anyway. Backtracked Hall Spring to Little Dry River, then onto Rough Run, both BRT roads.


    Rough Run isn’t all that rough, except for all the water crossings, and they can be a little tricky sometimes. Earlier, I flopped the bike mid stream, and sat in the water a long time while I tried to extract my trapped leg from under the bike. All I got out of the experience was a good Rough Run story, I sure haven’t learned to keep the bike right side up.


    [​IMG]


    Rough Run is well used below the last water crossing, and I rode out to CR3 at a good clip, down off the mountain, back to pavement. That’s one of the things I like about stringing these roads together into a loop route, by the time you’re thinking about a break from a long stretch of rough road, bingo, you’ve put yourself back on hard surface.


    It can’t be described as a delicate scene in there, ride to survive, I didn’t see a soul from 259 to 3, nuthin’. Damn, I shoulda turned around and done it again, but heck, my bones were already rattlin’ around like dice in a cup.
    One more thing, if ya can’t find a church steeple in a freakin’ bean field, don’t go in there, next thing ya know people will be stapling up “MISSING” posters with your photo on all the power poles.

    Just then my thoughts were interrupted by the smell of fried chicken, it must be stuck on my riding gear like clear coat…man, nobody can survive on just one order of extra crispy, ya get weak, fall over and die. I think I read that one time in the AARP magazine.


    Sign of the cross to amp up my run of good luck, kick it in gear, and I was gone over the next mountain west.


    (to be continued…)
    #17
  18. DefconZero

    DefconZero Adventurer

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    May 21, 2012
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    12
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    Halifax, Nova Scotia
    Easier said then done; especially when I'm still in school :p. Maybe next year.
    #18
  19. siyeh

    siyeh Lawn Nazi

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    Oddometer:
    1,733
    Location:
    Evansville, WI
    was solo
    on this cruiser

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]


    cant wait to read of your travels :1drink
    #19
  20. jdrocks

    jdrocks Gravel Runner

    Joined:
    Jul 6, 2007
    Oddometer:
    4,612
    i had bikes while in school...survived, barely.

    now you have time to do a little research.
    #20