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Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Day Trippin'' started by jdrocks, Jul 28, 2012.
Yes. Looks very familiar! Looking forward to more.
Shut the bike down, traffic on 250 roaring by, and thought about it some more. I couldnt solve this one, no cell service, no good options, and I started the bike back up and turned southeast towards the Virginia border.
My route was planned around gravel roads, and off the beaten track pavement, other vehicles rarely encountered, if at all, so 250 felt like rush hour, if even possible out this way. Those people behind the wheel had a manic, possessed look, a snarling visage with a grim determination to be somewhere else, on the gas, smoke the brakes in the curves. I had a destination too, but my progress was in the moment, euphoric, wheels spinning, motor howling, images on the fringe sliding by with time and distance, elemental as air.
The turn onto CR600 was my final major direction change of the day, now I was riding southwest back towards the West Virginia border, chasing the sun, stretching the day. CR600 was one of the best maintained gravel roads youll find in this part of Virginia, not sure of the reason, but if you find a vehicle on this road, theyre always coming at you fast, real fast.
The road is following another of those picturesque valleys, small river or creek winding through the wide pastured bottom, stock grazing, both working and abandoned farmsteads along the way.
Flowering shrubs, fruit trees, rose bushes of some antique variety, Mom and Pop homestead trees, the pairs still standing
sometimes a last reminder of energetic early settlers, all buildings and people lost to history.
Some of those pioneers took the bus, the advent of RV exploration, now a permanent camp, fresh paint on the club house.
I was following the road through woodland along the edge of the valley until it broke out into pasture land, transitioning to pavement at the same time.
The paved section of CR600 took me down to 84, continuing southwest and back up the mountain to the ridge line that divides Virginia and West Virginia. Here I turned onto PR55 to ride over 20 miles of gravel, sometimes on the actual border, but never more than several hundred feet off it. Another little used road, mostly two track, and I had it to myself today.
I was riding a steady pace, cant bring myself to ride any faster. The brush was right up to the edge of the two track, and a deer could step out in front of me at any moment, the heck with that, Id already seen over a hundred deer today, ditch rats, except no ditches here, but at least equally dangerous.
Got off the bike for a drink, no rain, but the bike was muddy from the wet roads, radiator guard and radiator too, needed to watch that in hot weather.
Once the trees are leafed out its hard to see out across the mountains, but my more immediate world was showing some color, I rode past a few, finally had to stop.
Putting the camera back in the tank bag, and when I looked up, a young fox was standing in the road in front of the bike looking at me, ahhhhh, I can get this one
but when I pointed the camera all I saw was blurry fuzz on the screen, it was still in a programmed closeup setting, goodbye fox. My photo luck aint happening, gimme the yellow pages, might need an exorcist, demon things living in that magic box.
This road took me down to 39, and I finally passed an old pickup crawling along in the opposite direction about two miles in from the bottom. Ancient guy driving, skin brown as butternut, the texture of tree bark, shifty through the eyes, he wasnt happy to see me, at least from the scowling look on his face. Coulda been Jimmy Carter, except skank mean. I had encountered people like this on these roads more than once, never have figured out where theyre going or what theyre doing
never once stopped to ask either, more Dixie than I would care to confront. Other than the Forest Service truck below Dolly Sods, this was the only the second vehicle I had seen so far on the gravel sections of my route.
A short jog southeast, no traffic this time, then the turn back southwest on the road into Lake Moomaw, my camping destination, I was looking for a nice spot right on the lake, damn, I was ready to stop.
By golly, they had rocks around here, a quick shot, be back for more.
The park entrance has a kiosk, and late today it was occupied by two gals, embroidered golf shirt people, one older, the other a cute teen with the streaky rainbow colored hair. How do ya go to a job interview with that hair, maybe daddy runs this place. Cant be judgmental about appearances these days, Id made that mistake more than once, and she proved to be bright and friendly, that big smile wasnt wasted on me. Paid my money, got them both laughing with a litany of the dumbest questions I could dream up, then down the road to find the lake.
Didnt know it at the time, but circumstances centered on that kiosk would provide some campground drama as the sun went down.
I found my campsite, did a very strange version of an equestrian dismount without falling down, helmet off, jacket off, good breeze off the lake, feelin mighty fine. Hello, and when I look up, heres a guy walking his dog, beer in hand, two cans in the front pockets of his shorts, a third in his back pocket, acrid cologne that smelled like margarita mix gone bad, must have put it on with a freakin garden hose. He was a pretty big dude, Coke machine big, but with cans in his pockets he needed a Wide Load sign and a pilot truck just to walk around the campground. I said Hey there, nice day, see yall brought a couple spares. He patted one of the cans, Oh these, thems for the dog, and with a gurgling three pack cough, he sailed away, tottering in heavy seas, pronounced list to starboard, arthritic dog staying at heel
Man, I was in Virginia, whatever madness was in the air, it had done gone and jumped the state line.
(to be continued
Now I was in a hurry, more or less desperate to get out of the remainder of my riding gear, but I had an errand to run first. Out comes the tent, hung up to dry the dew from the morning, the thing was just plain wet. The campsite was still in sunshine from the low sun, both the tent and rain fly were dry in minutes, none too soon for another visitor, a red spotted I think, aint an expert on these matters.
Set up the tent, got some gear squared away, and I was off to the marina for fuel, wasnt sure about the fuel situation for the morning run and wanted to start with a full tank, plus the marina had unadulterated regular
I wanted to give the rat a little treat. A short distance to the fuel pumps, it was late and I think the old gal running the store would have preferred to stay closed. I was wholly draped in my most woebegone persona, a faux magnet for pity, weary slumped shoulders
and a convincing limp. I heard a click, the display was reset, hey, had that ol mojo workin, and bingo, I was fueled, extra squirt for the rat.
Now that the errand was in the books, there was some time for rock gazing, an esoteric mentalist game just needing a slight nudge to become a new national pastime. My subjects were still there, hadnt moved, or if they had I couldnt tell.
My new friends werent at the kiosk when I rode by, back at camp, and I remembered that this location happened to be one with an abrupt sunset, not unlike western coasts on the Pacific, sun one minute, orange haze the next. I would have mentioned Key West in this context, but every time I connected Key West and sunset, I tended to get that queasy hangover feeling. No ocean here, the sunset was robbed by the same ridge defining the border, aint fair, move that thing.
Now all the gear was off, I wasnt riding another inch, junk spread all over, enough for a pack of gypsies.
Whipped together something to eat, sun lower, boats and jetskis out on the lake whizzing around. Those bassboats must be piloted by the ADD afflicted, never stopped long in one place, lines out, lines in, and theyre off to the next fishing hotspot at 75MPH. I thought about a swim, naw, could get run over out there, besides, Id had enough exercise for today and planned another leisure activity involving bourbon.
Dickie, the campground manager came by in his golf cart to say hello, and I found that a big thunderstorm had rolled through two days earlier, the reason for all the branches down on the PR55 road. Ol Dickie was the salt of the earth, a West Virginian, possibly the survivor of some bad habits along the way, friendly, but risky business if you were intemperate enough to get him riled. He was mountain smart, a joy to talk with given the opportunity, and by the time he finally had to leave, we had solved many problems. Ya see, Dickie had that mountain holler born and bred common sense, maybe expressed in his own vernacular, but insightful, and becoming rarer with each passing day. The campground had been slowly filling up, and he expected to be full tonight, fools was the word he used.
As if on a choreographed start, a Battle of the Bands cranked up, entertainment for only those at hand, water boarding for the rest. I think it was music, but no human beings had singing voices like that, call PITA, someone put a dozen barn cats and a pit bull in a rotating redi-mix drum, added guitar tracks and a heavy syncopated back beat, recorded a CD. The music was criminal, the volume insane, doggone, wheres Dickie?
Thinkin Id like to go up there, grab that boombox, donate it to the local rifle range for when they run outta paper targets. Id made up my mind to do something about it when the music stopped like the power cord had been cut with an axe, instantly no more sound, somebody done beat me to it, a lucky grunge rock camper just dodged being killed with an ice pick.
Dusk approaching, and a new pickup pulled up two doors down the row, packed with junk to overflowing, kayaks, bicycles, chairs, coolers, everything in triplicate, and a load of firewood. The activity was furious, a young couple with their six year old daughter, camping for the weekend, determined to get set up and organized while still light.
Huge tent enthusiastically erected, the little girl inspecting everything, skipping around, mom getting dinner ready, dad about to light the campfire
and thats when a pickup pulling a 30 travel trailer pulled up and stopped directly in front of their campsite. An animated discussion was taking place, I wasnt a freakin genius, didnt take one to figure this out
that unoccupied kiosk, hmmmm.
They both left to find Dickie, no fist fight quite yet, and when they came back, the camper man started packing up before he even spoke to his wife, yup, the guy with the trailer had reserved that site, the only one big enough to fit a thirty footer. I walked over, no reserved sign on the number post, asked if they needed a hand, and together with a bunch of other campers who showed up via the grapevine, the family was moved lock, stock, and barrel one campsite west. Took ten minutes, including firewood, the little girl puzzled by the commotion, soon everyone was smiling, on vacation again.
Sun hung low in the west, suspended, then dipped behind the ridge, the mountain outlined for a minute, and it was dark. I was sitting at the picnic table, writing in the journal by headlamp, drinking cheap bourbon, it wasnt Pappy Van Winkle, but would do. Scribbling my notes, tired, I needed to get enough down on paper to recall certain events, the ingredients and flavors of the days adventure. Finally fumbled into the tent, stretched out, near comatose, faint sounds of the southern night, I was done.
(to be continued
I don't care what all these folks on here say...you really do have a knack for this
Would like to share a campfire & some cheap bourbon with you sometime. Nicely done.
So what am I doing? planning; hopefully some of this works out.
You've got your prose flowing like old coffee at the local greasy spot. It sounds a might better actually, so keep your nose to the grindstone and see what flows out next.
thanks, so here's the deal...
get your hands on a bottle of Van Winkle Reserve, the 20 year, a favorite son product of your home state. i'll ride over, build a big fire in your backyard, we'll sit there and drink it all up.
warning, plan ahead, that bottle contains unobtainium, might take two or three years and 500 bucks, cheap at that price. everythings relative.
i already know what flows when something grinds on my nose, no guesswork needed. yup, lettin' it rip, a throwback for me, my informal style had been contaminated by decades of business correspondence, meaning...direct, correct, structured. forget it.
spill the beans, where are you riding?
psycho tat man coming, stay tuned.
Western MT CDR, among other things. We're doing it in 4 days instead of 2.
in that case, here's your road...
Where is that at?
you've been on that road already, back in the olden days, baling hay in western montana. i caught it in some thin smoke haze, might look different.
bring the best camera you have in your inventory, you can't capture that country without a darn good one. i wished for a better one while there.
Up early again, wanted to get the jump on the day, twelve hours of riding ahead in a push to get home by dinner. I had just brushed my teeth, then turned the bike around, when a middle aged couple walked by in the road, a little unusual at 6AM in a campground, I mostly see a senior citizen or two out for a stroll. What caught my eye on this zombie dude was the shoulder to elbow sleeve tattoo on his right arm, flowers, scrolls, elaborate as heck, and it read DIANA RIP 97 in flowing script, lordy, a psycho stalker had pursued her beyond the grave, scheming in a probable chemical cocktail delusion, there couldnt be another explanation. She might have had an unfortunate meeting with this creepster in real life if airfares had been lower from Rocky Top to the UK back then. I was tempted to get the camera out but, bottom line, I figured Id see him again on Americas Most Wanted, that tattoo would be in HD, he had the look, a thin dime away from the big house. Good luck there buddy, youll meet some guys whose idea of cockfightin has nothing, absolutely nothing, to do with chickens.
The Jetboil was lit, I needed my Italian press coffee, way better than coffee from those French gizmos, and instant coffee, ha, that was out of the question, no way.
My real preference was for either perc coffee or old time cowboy coffee, black as freakin coal, much grass, gimme another cup. Man, Ive put away a tanker truck of that kind of coffee in some out of the way places, no room in the panniers this time. Still no Starbucks in my future, Ive managed quite well so far.
The day was spectacular, sun, a light breeze rising on the lake, no motor noise this early, slick cam in the shallows as my home boys would say.
A light breakfast and I was packed up, bike loaded, ready for the road. I didnt feel too bad about starting up the bike this early, the guy directly up the hill from my campsite had been chopping firewood since 6AM, damn, must have a least a cord by now, heck of a racket anyway, good luck with the neighbors, be ready for that fooyoo salute by way of a greeting
and dont leave the axe where that hungover witch next door can get her hands on it.
Started a slow idle out of the place, little noise, uncomprehending stares from early rising adults sucking on that first cig, shy waves from the kids who had snuck out and away from parental control, and into a near impenetrable fog of bacon grease, it smelled like someone up top was cooking no less than a hundred pounds of bacon, maybe the whole damn pig. I wanted to track down that smell, put on a bib, invite myself for breakfast
theres always room for bacon, a known fact, goes with everything, I coulda eaten up two pounds with my last remaining breakfast bar.
The road was calling, had to pass, took a few big sniffs just for the memory, turned out of the campground, ran past that now infamous kiosk, charged the stop sign at the bottom of the hill, nearly hitting three deer in the road. The shrill howl of the three to two high rev downshift had frozen them stiff legged on the center line, no apparent idea of what was coming at them. One jumped, then the other two, but it was very, very close. At the stop sign, bike all warmed up, me too, eyes wide open, big as freakin saucers.
A turn on 39 took me southeast, down the grade through the hairpins, no traffic, deer everywhere. I was about to take another of those defining turns, a transition from outbound to inbound, a passage to another dimension, inevitable. The turn east on 42 opened the door, the turn northeast on Big River sealed the deal, and I would be riding this direction for hours, transitioning to a big run of gravel soon.
Big River was meandering narrow pavement following the west side of this small valley, no traffic out here either, and I was rockin back and forth through the gears, on the brakes, off the brakes, dodging deer
and then the farm truck that suddenly skidded out into the road, driver not looking or caring. If I hadnt already slowed down for the deer, I would have hit him, no doubt.
The small river running through the valley was not always visible, but when the bridge at Ramsey Gap came up, heres my turn, and I was back on gravel.
Ramsey Gap started out of the valley in good shape, then turned to a challenging washed out mess, ridable but slow, deep ruts everywhere the road changed direction on the grades. I was picking my way through, threading the needle, bouncing along, sprinting when given a short opportunity. Passed a hubcap on the road, someone had come across in the family car, cant be much left of it now.
The road turned into Archer Run, still climbing, but now a grader had been working the road ahead of me, loose, unconsolidated aggregate and fines 4 deep, no tracks of any kind, I was the first through, damn slow going on my loaded bike, get off this narrow road around here, youre dead, its straight down hundreds of feet. The road is flat across the top of the mountain, smooth, and top dressed.
I was hoping the grader quit at the Hite Hollow intersection, nope, it was following my route, the grader had turned due north, churning up the surface. It was like riding a newly plowed field in places, although a few vehicles coming up from the southeast at 42 had started to pack it down.
Watch for packs of riders on those expensive mountain bikes on this road network if the surface is in good shape, more dangerous than deer, out of control on the steep downhills, using the whole road three or four abreast, and in your lane at blind curves and corners. I had seen them in the area, with one of the bicycle boys nearly hitting me head on while I was stopped in my lane.
I was chasing the grader up Hite Hollow, a reminder of chasing other graders on those northern gravel roads, visions from long past days. I should have turned on Cold Spring, heck with it, I had bacon on my mind. There was a bacon and egg biscuit waiting for me a little farther north, a corner block of the food pyramid in these parts, and I was on the gas, faster, if not smoother, then Rocky Spring and pavement. Whew, this was a push of gravel road for an old man, up and over the mountain, rough as heck, my riding friends would understand, unfazed by the challenge or danger, nobody else. It aint worth the effort to mention, would be lost in the static, Say, dear fellow, I did order two olives with this martini.
A few more turns on paved roads, farm country, poultry houses, and I was northwest on DeerfieldValley, soon up to the intersection with 250
and country store bacon, a destination in itself. No cuisine in these places, if ah remembered right, cuisine is supposed to be for folks who still had most of their own teeth. There was a statuesque young gal walking through the front door, I kinda thought Id head over thataway, check out them bisquits.
(to be continued
Yeah, hope to get some good pics. I'll have to see if I can do a little more exploring while I'm down in Centenial Valley and find the ranch. Right now they just have a straight line from Lima to West Yellowstone on the route chart.
i'd make a loop out of those roads between 20/87/287 and I15, camping available on at least two of the lakes, rather than just ride from Red Rock Pass over to Lima. good cowboy cafe at Lima.
that country was full of red shouldered hawks when i went through.
jdrocks, been enjoying all your posts and pics. I have been reading as I try and follow your path on Google Earth. What an awesome ride, is there any chance that your GPS saved your route for uploading in order to retrace your path? I am trying to find the best way to do rides like this that can be preprogrammed in my GPS. I am a bit new to this, so I am learning by trial and error, for now I have to stop a lot and zoom in and out on the GPS to see my future route ahead. Once again, great write up and looking forward to more!
i hadn't thought about anyone following along on google earth, but it's very doable, and would be most interesting in hybrid to see the terrain. i purposely named the roads so others could ride it, i didn't intend it to be a secret, after all, some of the roads are Blue Ridge Trail roads.
as a reminder, some of these roads can be in rough shape, be prepared in every sense, there are plenty of ways to get yourself into trouble on these roads. you can find roads that look ok in my photos barely passable in spring, or after heavy rains.
you can find lots of information on GPS tracks/routes in the "Layin' Down Tracks" subsection of ADV, with plenty of areas to explore closer to Florida to get you started. if you get north to the roads described in this report, i can set ya up with a gpx file for this custom route, no problem.
Yep. Not sure what we'll do. We'll be coming from Butte to Bannak and across to West. They're not much into camping so probably looking for a hotel in West. We might have time to do that loop.