Travels with jdrocks-the Blue Ridge 2012

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

  1. UpST8

    UpST8 turnin gas to noise

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    Thanks JD! :nod Between your writing style and pictures, this is some of the best stuff going :thumb Making me miss the Autumn in VA/WV :cry it sure is pretty...but then again....
    [​IMG] this ain't too shabby to leave it for :D
  2. biker128pedal

    biker128pedal Super Lurker

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    You must have Photoshopped the green in. :). Hey fellow Stromer keep on Stromin along.
  3. UpST8

    UpST8 turnin gas to noise

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    :ricky no doubt
  4. MTrider16

    MTrider16 Ridin' in MT

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    Just full of sass today aren't we. :rofl
  5. jdrocks

    jdrocks Gravel Runner

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    hey chris,

    i think we were on your last ride on Virginia/West Virginia roads before you left for California, the day i ran into a tree on Dunkle Hollow. looks like you found some riding out there.

    you and Hiller need to plan a Baja trip so all the east coasters can invite themselves.
  6. jdrocks

    jdrocks Gravel Runner

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    geeeez, now we got a freakin' Wee love fest goin' on in here.

    did you happen to go across 7/3 on your cruisers?
  7. jdrocks

    jdrocks Gravel Runner

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    sooner or later, i just knew i'd be hearing that.

    heck of a smackdown line that day.
  8. biker128pedal

    biker128pedal Super Lurker

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    Yea it was a good ride. I like the climb. After leaving the newbie tiger rider in New Market I wanted to head back to "The Camp" but did not want to drop down the mountain in the dark alone. Even with the phenomenal head lights on the Wee. Right Chris. Besides I had to work on Monday.
  9. jdrocks

    jdrocks Gravel Runner

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    Monsieur Nix did too, forget what he said earlier about that vertigo thing, heck, he's learned how to ride the DR with his eyes closed, at least that's the way it looks sometimes.



    more report on the way.
  10. Dirtmonkey8

    Dirtmonkey8 VA is for Riders

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  11. dljocky

    dljocky Been here awhile

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    NEVER!!!!!

    But, good points to consider as far as the "creepers" running around at all hours of the night.


  12. tommyhof

    tommyhof Been here awhile

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    I remember that well, I was on a Concours, now, you guessed it I'm on a Wee Strom (Strom Love Fest), I probably would have turned back, but you said it was the right road, 20 fooking miles of gravel, then I get there and have no Beer, so have to go back out the other way 16 fooking miles (32 round trip) for beer, spent the night and went home the next day, was worried if it rained I woudl never get out on back in on the Concours...........
  13. jdrocks

    jdrocks Gravel Runner

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    The middle aged couple with the trailer parked across from us were out for a walk when we rolled in, but Jerry, a West Virginia deep rock coal miner, came right over to visit when they got back. This brand of Mountaineer is hard not to like, squared away, tough as freakin’ seasoned hickory although cordial and friendly with us, disdainful of those both idle in mind and slow to action, and I’m guessing more than capable in most ventures…can’t forget, a twinkle of humor in his eyes as he was trying to figure out what the heck a couple flatlanders were all about.

    When he found out we had come down from western Maryland on mostly gravel roads, mountain top to mountain top, he must have decided we weren’t exactly city boy Virginians, cuff-linked Cavaliers, no fancy hair cuts, no girlie jewelry, and so that’s when he started to talk. A soft spoken nature in seeming contrast to his day job 800’ underground, they lived less that two hours away and came over to camp at Laurel Fork several times a year, having the place to themselves on most days.

    His wife Brenda also stopped over, delivering some disturbing news regarding a meth lab bust out in the woods just up the road. Man, the Officer we met up there near Paw Paw wasn’t kidding when he said to be careful around the oddball folks we’ve found prowling the gravel. Then she dropped the bombshell…

    “Ya got about an hour of daylight, you boys should go explore the cave that’s up the road.”

    Lordy, those words were no sooner out of her mouth when Monsieur Nix went off like one of them big bottle rockets, freakin’ log chains couldn’t have held him down. Best buckle my boots, new mission, damn, now we’re going spelunking.

    I got out my big arborist saw, and when Jerry asked what it was for, I mentioned we planned to find some firewood on the way back. I looked at the saw, looked at the low sun, the heck with it, put the saw away, and we were on the bikes, gone caving.

    We were looking for the Sinks of Gandy, and frankly, as many times as I’ve been in the area, I never realized this feature was so close. Directions were a little vague, landmarks a little off, but we finally narrowed down the possibilities. In the recorded history of all significant endeavors involving exploration, someone was always left behind to hold the horses…so I stayed with the bikes, Monsieur Nix set off on foot to locate our cave. I didn’t feel comfortable leaving the bikes unattended on this road, I’ll do the cave the next time.

    This location has a somewhat unique look for the general area, and it tends to remind me of other rides, other places, sometimes far away places.

    [​IMG]

    I’ll say this much, Monsieur Nix was gone a long time, so long, in fact, that I thought that the Great Pyrenees protecting the livestock on both sides of the road probably ate him, the whole damn works…now there would be big piles of HIVIZ dog poop all over the pasture.

    [​IMG]

    Finally, Monsieur Spelunker reappeared, all worn out from caving, and he had bagged his trophy photo as proof of his exploit.

    [​IMG]

    The small creek running through the pasture had scoured the rock formation for however many million years it took to cut it’s way through to the other side, go ahead and crawl through, but you’ll get wet…then there’s the bats, can’t forget about that bat fungus either.

    We both were ready to quit, back on the bikes and hard on the gas, gravel flying, cattle giving us that blank stare they do so well, tired, but man, I do love these roads.

    [​IMG]

    The lower road into Laurel Fork crosses a near new small bridge at the entrance to the campground, and as soon as we crossed, I could see our tents…and a big split log fire going in our fire ring, a certain Mountaineer had done us one heck of a favor. It pays to be nice, sometimes the rewards are almost immediate.

    We went over to thank Jerry and Brenda, West Virginia gracious, had a long talk, sometimes about things that actually mattered, and put it this way, there was going to be a huge election turnout in the West Virginia coal fields. No contest among the coal miners, a done deal.

    [​IMG]

    Thanks again to our friends, we needed to cook up some dinner, drink up some whiskey, ok, I just lied a little, drink up some whiskey, then cook, if able.

    Jerry had left us plenty of extra firewood, it was 38 degrees, and we fed the fire way past the time we should have sacked out. I do remember crawling in the tent, that sleeping bag felt really good, but I’m kinda hazy beyond that moment, half asleep already, then gone, in layered dreams of places and people.

    (to be continued…)
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  14. jdrocks

    jdrocks Gravel Runner

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    now that's funny, glad you're enjoying the read.

    yeah, ADV needs a photo of Monsieur Nix in big house pinstripes and plastic flip flops, i guess he better watch the speed limit out there.

    i understand the poaching, and all the rest of the illegal activity, but i don't understand why these people drive through an occupied campground if they're trying to be sneaky.
  15. jdrocks

    jdrocks Gravel Runner

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    i went home early myself, didn't feel like camping in heavy rain. nearly hit the biggest West Virginia whitetail i'd ever seen on the way out, could have reached over and touched it when it went by. scared the crap outta me.
  16. dhillr

    dhillr Long timer

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    [​IMG]

    :clap. I remember this place! Wish we could have pushed deeper into it on my trip. Very neat area!
  17. jdrocks

    jdrocks Gravel Runner

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    hey there dave,

    we ran this road 2-3 times that weekend. you can get through the cave to the other side, but you have to get down on your belly and crawl through the creek bed. if ya wait another million years, you'll be able to ride your moto through there.
  18. UpST8

    UpST8 turnin gas to noise

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    Yep...one of my last rides out into the western gravel country was with you JD, think a man named Poondangle rode along with us..that was a good day of riding and I learned a lot. Long Run to Hall Spring road and onto Dunkle Hollow :D Good memories :freaky
    :ricky..

    I stopped at those same signs once and the dogs came running down from the hills. First I was excited, as they got closer I was getting a bit worried, those dogs are big :huh but they only tried to lick us to death...:poser
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    Thanks for the great report!!

    :)
  19. jdrocks

    jdrocks Gravel Runner

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    some great photos chris,

    that's right, poondangle was on that ride, the day you tried to shear off your center stand.

    i think your dogs are Anatolians, but the dogs i saw were definitely Pyranees, easy to identify by their pure white and very shaggy coats. the guys herding those big flocks in the western mountains seem to prefer the Pyranees as guard dogs, and between the sheepdogs and guard dogs, they were moving with a dozen or more dogs, it was fun to watch. one of the Pyranees crossed the road just a few feet from us, all business, it didn't stop.


    from september, 2011

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    you don't see the old time shepherd wagons around here. the design is over 100 years old, unchanged except for solar power and propane, they're still making them.

    [​IMG]
  20. jdrocks

    jdrocks Gravel Runner

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    It’s not like half the annual production of Lynchburg, Tennessee was consumed the previous evening, that would be a gross exaggeration, I swear it was not a drop more than about 25%, I think, but heck, don’t be puttin’ me under oath or anything, hand on the Bible and such, could provoke a big sizzling lightning strike. Whatever happened, Monsieur Big Bird was in a coma, it was a quiet night for a change.

    A gray morning at Laurel Fork, but that doesn’t mean much for weather forecasting here. Cool and dry, no frost, the second day in a row we could pack the tents away without them being soaking wet with dew.

    Another Jetboil breakfast…

    [​IMG]

    and we packed up the bikes, routine and fast. Mountaineer Jerry came over, and we thanked him again for his hospitality, they were leaving in the early afternoon. On the bikes and up the hill, we were going out the opposite of the way we rode in, southwest, a nice crisp day to start, warming quickly.

    We were able to get a good look southeast across the mountains, hardly any color, a few miles and some elevation making all the difference. Just twenty miles away and much lower, we had ridden past trees with green leaves.

    [​IMG]

    We were heading down off the mountain to WV250, rather than going out to WV28, and chose the gravel road system that would take us to Durban, passing only one vehicle on this long run down. We rode past the fuel stop at Bartow, the scene of the beer festival from the previous report, very quiet this morning, and I wasn’t ready to see the beer people this early anyway…they’re scary looking enough in the afternoon.

    Monsieur Nix had some family obligations early Sunday afternoon, we planned to split at the WV250/28 intersection so he could highball 250 over to I64 and points east. I wasn’t done with the gravel, and was riding south on WV28 to pick up a gravel road that would take me east over the mountain and back into Virginia. A big wave at the intersection, see ya my Parisian friend, safe travels, and I was solo just like that.

    It’s different riding gravel when solo, especially unfamiliar roads, but I’d done it before many times, and I turned up the situational awareness to survival mode. Just because these roads are in the mid Atlantic doesn’t mean that you will never find yourself in a difficult position, and I found that out first hand with my leg trapped under the bike in the middle of a creek this past spring. Danger better be somewhere in the calculations.

    The usual route over the mountain would be Old Pike, and I had ridden that gravel road many times. Today I was picking up a gravel road below Boyer that would take me northeast up and over the mountain back down to WV250 near the Virginia border.

    I found the big farm property below Boyer that I had always admired with a “For Sale” sign posted, man, a person can always dream, no harm there.

    [​IMG]

    I was thinking about that farm, ran past my turn, backtracked, turned east, then followed a combination of paved roads before picking up Buffalo Mountain, another “buffalo” reference going back centuries to a time when buffalo weren’t exclusive to lands west of the Mississippi.

    This road is marked with a “No Through Traffic” sign, a strange admonition for this rough and twisting gravel road of very different character than the more heavily used Old Pike, although half a dozen vehicles per day means “heavy” is a relative term. Good moto road, not so good in the family sedan, and nobody on this road except me. Land along this road transitions to pasture at the ridge, like so many others, the only topography level enough for hay or stock.

    [​IMG]

    Across the top and down to WV250, shortly VA250, now into Virginia, the sun shining through high clouds. I find it difficult going from mile after mile of gravel road to fast mountain pavement, the same this morning, and it took a little warmup time to find the groove in tight corners and switchbacks, finally settling in the saddle, smoothing out the ride.

    East on VA250, fuel in Monterey, where the Harley boys were also fueling, and no, they didn’t wave this time either from the other side of the cultural divide, ain’t got the chrome on this side of the chasm.

    Continuing generally east, this road takes so many turns that your bearing goes a full 360, and I’m down to 614, then northeast up this pleasant valley, running parallel to the creek sized Cowpasture River.

    [​IMG]

    Plenty of subject material, frequent stops, but man, what a setting.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    A quarter mile before the West Virginia border, and I turned east on 620, jog north, and now I crossed the border on this road. Shenandoah Mountain runs southeast on gravel, then I’m running northeast on CR61. The start of this road from the south is unimposing, it almost looks like a two track that doesn’t go anywhere, little used, but it’s a long gravel road that seems to get wider and more open in the center section. Rough in parts, but very ridable, and is a good moto alternate for the more common gravel route running north from Braley Pond off VA250.

    [​IMG]

    There’s a wide spot in the road, beautiful day, not a soul out here, and I stopped for some water.

    [​IMG]

    There are many places on this road that would become small water crossings in wet weather, not today, and I was up to CR25, or Moyers Gap, the north end of this road doesn’t look like much either. Moyers Gap was paved this spring, and either put more, or less, fun in the road depending on what you are riding. Myself, I wished it had stayed gravel.

    The top of this road intersects with the road up to Reddish Knob, what the heck, I hadn’t been up there in the last few trips in the area, let’s go, and after three days of travel, this small decision was almost my undoing.

    Nobody at the top when I first got up there, but knowing it was a favorite Mennonite picnic location for the younger set, it didn’t surprise me when two van loads pulled up, welcome, have fun, enjoy the view.

    [​IMG]

    The access road to the top of this knob is paved, but one narrow lane wide, and I was riding cautiously down off the mountain when I met a beat up Jeep coming uphill, crazed 20ish driver showing off for his girlfriend, speeding, using the whole road in a blind right hander, and he was so close I could look down and see the beer bottle parked in his crotch, the startled look in his girlfriend’s eyes, a smokin’ hot mess of a young thing, looked to have her very own Victoria’s Secret credit card. That’s close, he never slowed, and I couldn’t get out of there fast enough, these yoyos are known to run in packs.

    I don’t know why she would choose to ride around with a lame ass dope who was drinking while driving and looked to be using the tranquilizers the vet prescribed for his cat, but I did know that those Mennonite boys up top were going to have a freakin’ heart attack when they laid eyes on her, or maybe go blind from staring at that weird thing stuck in her belly button. Know any Mennonite prayers with an anti sorcery flavor?

    When I got back to the intersection of Moyers Gap and Briery Branch, then turned 100’ east, I had just rolled over the border into Virginia for the final time, a defining moment. From here I was going to ramp up the V649 reactor and flash east, only a fuel stop between Reddish Knob and the jdrocks atelier.

    Before packing away the camera, I couldn’t resist, just one more time… Au revoir.

    [​IMG]


    THE END, SEE YA NEXT TIME.
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