Classes Realized on a Wandering West Virginia Motorbike Experience


West Virginia Motorcycle Ride Kanawha Falls State Park Kawasaki Versys-X 300
My campsite at Kanawha Falls State Park on my West Virginia motorbike experience.

All of us have beliefs about what’s anticipated of a motorbike camper, and generally it takes a sure state of affairs to deliver these expectations to the floor. For me, it took heavy rain on a mountain highway throughout a West Virginia motorbike experience to level out my ideas on motorbike journey and what kind of particular person I assumed I wanted to be to do it. 

A Stunning Starting

All the things was going in accordance with plan. I used to be on a solo motorbike tenting journey throughout central West Virginia alongside the Midland Path Nationwide Scenic Byway (U.S. Route 60), and I spent my first evening on the Kanawha State Forest campground. My campsite was pleasantly distant and on prime of a bridge that crossed a scenic working creek. Waking as much as the sound of gently flowing water was an energizing begin to what can be a tremendous day – or so I assumed.

West Virginia Motorcycle Ride

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I packed up my gear and headed into Charleston for an early lunch. I selected Adelphia Sports activities Bar & Grille within the historic downtown space and loved one of the best dish I’ve eaten on any of my dozen or so motorbike tenting journeys up to now: gyro macaroni and cheese, completely spiced gyro meat atop pasta shells and a creamy, tacky sauce. I used to be in heaven.

West Virginia Motorcycle Ride Adelphia Sports Bar & Grille Charleston
I had by no means seen a gyro mac and cheese dish provided wherever earlier than I ordered it at Adelphia Sports activities Bar & Grille in Charleston, and it turned out to be one of the crucial comforting dishes I’ve had.

The First Rainstorm

Having completely loved my meal, I took off alongside the curvy Route 60 on my approach to Lewisburg. Alongside the best way, it began to drizzle, however my waterproof gear was doing its job. Then the rain intensified from a drizzle to a bathe and finally a torrential downpour. The highway turned curvier, with switchbacks and hairpins that will have been pleasant on dry pavement however have been treacherous when moist. Not trusting my tires as sheets of water ran throughout the corners, I used to be stiff and tense. Having nowhere to cease for canopy, I had no selection however to press on.

West Virginia Motorcycle Ride Kanawha Falls State Park
Kanawha Falls State Park has campsites in a serene panorama coated in comfortable moss, which muffled surrounding noises and created a sense of full solitude.

Looking for aid, I consulted the navigation app on my cellphone and located a shortcut. To my dismay, the shortcut turned out to be a one‑­lane highway with no shoulder – my least favourite kind of highway – and was no much less treacherous when it comes to cornering. I by accident took a unsuitable flip onto a abandoned facet highway, after which the navigation rerouted me to a pointy, steep downhill left flip that will result in one other facet route. I froze, uncomfortable with such a decent activate moist floor.

Deciding that I ought to return to Route 60, which not less than had lane strains and a shoulder, I abruptly observed two large German shepherds close by, obvious and growling at me. As they each began working towards me, I shortly accelerated and turned down that steep incline to get out of there quicker than they may run. That’s one approach to provoke a flip you don’t wish to take. 

I continued on the slender, curvy highway. My nerves have been frayed by this level, and I even had a determined thought that I ought to pull over and name my husband to return get me – a ridiculous notion, provided that I used to be almost eight hours away from dwelling.

I lastly made it by way of the not‑­so‑­shortcut and again onto Route 60, bitter that I may have simply stayed on it the entire time. I began seeing indicators for Lewisburg and have by no means been so relieved as once I pulled into Hill & Holler, the pizza place I had programmed into my cellphone. 

Carbohydrate Remedy

After taking off my soaking moist gear and ordering a 12‑­inch pizza all for myself, I settled in and let my frazzled nerves calm down. I wasn’t positive what to do subsequent. My reserved campsite was nonetheless an hour away – additionally alongside mountain roads. This time, the roads have been ones that I had by no means ridden earlier than, and on the map, they appeared as curvy as the place I had simply been.

Deep down, I wished to get a resort. The considered driving one other hour or two in unrelenting heavy rain and establishing a soggy campsite sounded downright depressing. I messaged my husband and a few of my driving pals; he supported the resort concept, however they inspired me to press on. They stated it might be price it, that I may do it, that there was no giving up or turning again. I felt responsible for fascinated with giving up and getting a resort, though I knew it was the most secure factor to do.

West Virginia Motorcycle Ride Charleston Kawasaki Versys-X 300
Charleston, West Virginia’s capital that’s bisected by the Kanawha River, has an enthralling historic downtown district.

By no means one to again down from a problem, I made a decision to proceed, leaving the pizza place after cleansing up the large puddles my dripping gear had left on their flooring. As soon as exterior, I found it was raining even tougher. I hopped on and rode to the closest gasoline station to refill, and as my visor fogged up utterly, I made a decision sufficient was sufficient. I discovered a resort lower than half a mile down the road and checked in. After carrying my baggage up the steps and stripping off my water‑­logged gear, I collapsed onto the mattress. 

At this level, I felt horrible about myself and my determination. I had given up, taken the straightforward means out, let down myself and everybody who was cheering me on. I spotted I had excessive expectations of myself as a motorbike camper – that I ought to be robust and resilient, however as a substitute I used to be a wuss. Different feminine moto campers I had seen on social media portrayed themselves as “hardcore” as they slept sitting up or spent the evening underneath a bridge. Why couldn’t I make it by way of a bit of rain?

After a scorching bathe and a few takeout, I began feeling higher about my determination. Staying in a resort allowed me to regroup and calm down, and it was good to float off to sleep in a dry, snug mattress. 

Bears and Boulders on a West Virginia Motorbike Experience

The subsequent day, I awoke to sunny skies and headed north on U.S. Route 219, often known as the Seneca Path and a part of the Seneca Skyway loop route. The experience was thrilling. For some time, I forgot I used to be on my Kawasaki Versys‑­X 300 journey bike because it was dealing with the curves like my Ninja 400.

After a completely fulfilling half‑­hour of driving, I dropped my kickstand at Beartown State Park, a should‑­cease for an avid hiker like me. Beartown has one of the crucial distinctive mountaineering trails I’ve ever skilled, a half‑­mile stroll on picket boardwalks that wind by way of imposing rock formations on all sides. I used to be one of many solely individuals there, so strolling by way of this “city” of enormous boulders was quiet, a bit of eerie, and the proper reward after the trials I’d been by way of the day gone by.

West Virginia Motorcycle Ride Beartown State Park
Beartown State Park was named as a result of the pioneers thought it resembled a city for bears for the reason that rocks are roughly the scale and form of buildings.

Route 219 took me all the best way north to Elkins, an enthralling historic city that serves because the seat of Randolph County. Elkins was a coal and timber city within the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Its revitalized downtown has eating places, bars, retailers, lodging, and museums centered across the restored Elkins Depot, the place you may take a scenic prepare experience on the Durban & Greenbrier Valley Railroad. Scottie’s of Elkins, filled with locals and serving hearty, scrumptious consolation meals, was the proper place for lunch.

West Virginia Motorcycle Ride Elkins
West Virginia actually lives as much as its nickname, The Mountain State. Tucked between the rolling Appalachian peaks are cozy burgs like Elkins, that are nice locations to remain, eat, and revel in different off-bike actions.

Driving east out of Elkins, U.S. Route 33 follows a winding path up and over the Allegheny Mountains, crossing a number of rivers alongside the best way to Seneca Rocks, a scenic rock formation that’s standard amongst climbers. I stayed on Route 33 to Judy Hole, the place I continued south on State Route 28, having fun with curves and sunshine all the best way to Watoga State Park. 

After establishing my campsite, I walked to the bathhouse and was stopped by a person in his 70s who was in higher form than I’m. He yelled out from throughout the yard, “Are you the biker girl?” I laughed and responded, “Sure sir, that’s me.”

He requested the place I had come from and the place I used to be going. After I talked about I had deliberate to spend the earlier evening right here however stayed in a resort as a substitute due to the rain, he exclaimed, “Oh, you sissy!” I used to be shocked and momentarily harm till he laughed and adopted his insult with the comment, “Yea proper. I’ve by no means even seen a feminine on a solo motorbike journey right here in 17 years of being a camp host.”

Level taken: I couldn’t presumably be a sissy given what I used to be out right here doing. This realization and the exterior validation have been a aid. 

West Virginia Motorcycle Ride Elkins Depot
Elkins Depot has a welcome middle with details about the world. You can even board a prepare for a special kind of scenic experience by way of the mountains.

Return to Route 39 and Motorbike Camaraderie

Rain began once more within the night, and whereas it had stopped by morning, my tent and tarp have been nonetheless moist once I packed them up. My last campground of the journey was at Beech Fork State Park, however I had just a few stops I wished to make alongside the best way. Plus, I wished to experience State Route 39, which was the opposite cause I had come to this space – a person on a earlier journey had given me a coin and pin commemorating this highway (see “Along the Midland Trail: A West Virginia Motorcycle Trip”), however I didn’t get an opportunity to experience it at the moment.

West Virginia Motorcycle Ride Seneca Trail
The panorama of the Seneca Path (U.S. Route 219) is a exceptional combination of rolling hills and mountains.

For this journey, I had taken a laissez‑­faire method to planning: Decide just a few locations and the routes in between them and see what occurs. This was totally different from my traditional meticulous planning, and I ended up lacking out on just a few alternatives. I assumed that Route 39 can be a curvy highway by way of cities and countryside like Route 60, but it surely runs by way of a nationwide forest, isn’t notably curvy, and has loads of vacationer stops alongside the best way. Making an attempt to beat the oncoming rain and figuring out I had restricted time to get to my subsequent campsite, I didn’t cease at any of them, which I remorse. 

I continued south on U.S. Route 19 again to Route 60 once I obtained caught in one more rainstorm, this time on a 4‑­lane freeway. Given the latest relinquishing of my harsh, self‑­imposed guidelines about urgent on in distress, it was a simple determination to cease in Fayetteville at Water Stone Outdoor – a befitting identify for my state of affairs.

West Virginia Motorcycle Ride Kawasaki Versys-X 300
My Kawasaki Versys-X 300 dealt with nicely within the rain, however I nonetheless felt tense and nervous on steep, winding roads.

The shop had a restaurant inside, and my climate app stated the rain would go in about an hour, so I settled in with a heat and comforting chai latte whereas perusing their clothes choices, once more dripping puddles all around the flooring. 

A neighborhood girl approached me and stated they didn’t see many motorbike vacationers round there. She requested if I used to be alone. After I replied that I used to be, she gave me a fist bump and stated, “Wow, so that you’re a badass!”

This girl didn’t know that I had stayed in a resort to flee the rain nor did she care that I had ducked into a restaurant to do it once more. She simply knew I used to be out right here touring on a motorbike, and that was sufficient in her e-book. It ought to be sufficient in my e-book as nicely. 

Because the solar peeked out of the clouds and the rain stopped, I headed to Beech Fork State Park. On earlier journeys, I had gone to at least one homebase campground after which branched out on day journeys from there. This time, I had deliberate an precise tour the place I finished at a brand new place every evening and packed up camp within the morning.

West Virginia Motorcycle Ride Kawasaki Versys-X 300 Beech Fork Lake
My campsite at Beech Fork Lake was an attractive retreat.

I discovered this to be exhausting, even with my resort keep in the course of it. After packing up my package at Watoga, I had thought briefly about pushing by way of and driving the eight hours dwelling simply so I wouldn’t should arrange camp once more. However I reminded myself that tenting was half the explanation I used to be on the journey and I might take pleasure in it as soon as I used to be there, feeling the load of my beloved camp gear in my palms as I unpacked it. And for as soon as, the climate appeared clear for the following two days. 

Associated: Motorcycle Camping Tips…From the Backyard?

I arrived at Beech Fork State Park and located an ideal campsite with a shocking view of a lake. I arrange camp and loved the quiet solitude till I heard the acquainted sound of a motorbike exhaust. A big BMW journey bike loaded up with gear and piloted by a person in matching textile attire pulled across the circle in entrance of my campsite.

“I heard there was one other motorcyclist within the campground,” he stated by way of his helmet. “I assumed I would cease by and say whats up.”

We chatted briefly about the place we have been from and the place we have been headed. “You’re the one different touring motorcyclist I’ve talked to on considered one of my journeys,” he instructed me, and I indicated that he was the identical. I used to be reminded of my latest realizations due to the camp host at Watoga and the lady at Water Stone Outdoor. They’d each taught me that being out on a motorbike was sufficient, no matter whether or not you’re touring internationally or simply throughout a state, roughing it each evening within the backcountry or sleeping in a campground with facilities, braving the weather or having fun with heat and secure shelter indoors.

this fellow adventurer, figuring out we have been each uncommon people amongst vacationers, sealed the deal that my expectations of myself as a moto camper have been unfair and unrealistic. I shrugged off the pointless emotional weight proper there on the shore of Beech Fork Lake.

West Virginia Motorcycle Ride Beech Fork Lake
The solar rising above the mist on Beech Fork Lake was the proper send-off on my last day in West Virginia.

When you want permission to ditch staunch expectations about what kind of particular person you have to be to journey in your motorbike, take it from me: You might be sufficient, simply as you’re.

See all of Rider‘s touring stories here.

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