July 12, 2010 : During the 4th of July holiday we had guests from New York who came in on a motorcycle for our And Awaaaaay We Go Special and they attended our annual Independence Concert. Mike wrote a ride report for his biker buddies and gave me permission to post it here:
This being my first ever ride report, I trust everyone will cut me some slack if it’s boring or too long (or both)…
This was the first real road trip for my wife and I on the bike, although I had done long rides before. In fact, I actually participated in the 2006 Utah 1088, but shamefully I wussed and got a DNF…I had a few good excuses reasons, but that’s a story for another time. This was her first time sitting pillion for extended periods, with an overnight or two away from home.
The trip was from our home in Eden, NY (about 30 miles south of Buffalo), down to Shinnston, West Virginia and back. The trip down on Saturday included a stop in East Liverpool, Ohio, to visit the Museum of Ceramics there (the wife collects Halls china and Halls was once made there). The goal was to hit the road by 9am…so we left around 10:30. Since I was aiming to get to Shinnston before it got terribly dark (it would be my first real experience with twisties in unfamiliar territory), we slabbed all the way to East Liverpool to save some time. Once there, we found ourselves in the middle of the town’s annual all-year high school reunion weekend! They were expecting 15,000 for this, and as the GPS tried to navigate us to the museum, we found streets cordoned off for the big parade.
Of course, the parade route started right in front of the museum…
We managed to find our way and were treated to a personal tour of the place. Not that ceramics and china are my thing, but it was actually a very interesting museum.
From there we headed down Route 7 along the Ohio River and then took highway 250 just south of Martin’s Ferry into West Virginia. We started running into some real twisties, and Laura managed to snap this going around one of them:
We stayed on 250 south until just short of Farmington, WV, where we picked up 218 south to cut down to 19 south and on into Shinnston. Now, I hadn’t really had the opportunity to ride really ‘good’ roads on the FJR since my abortive attempt at the 1088 (didn’t own a bike until just last fall, and there aren’t a ton of twisties around Eden), so as I started into the turns in the hills, I had to remind myself of a few things here and there (don’t fixate on traffic in front of you, look ahead at where you want to be, speed kills, etc). I managed not to scare my wife or myself too terribly (really only clenched once or twice) and enjoyed some really tight turns as well as great sweepers. We arrived at the bed & breakfast that was our destination just around 7pm. The Gillum House B&B is a motorcycle-friendly inn run by Kathleen and John Panek, whom we can’t say enough of. They planned our route from East Liverpool for us, gave us a great day ride on Sunday along with a packed picnic lunch and even suggested a routing for the return on Monday that included my favorite stretch of pavement for the whole weekend. John used to be an owner/tuner for his BDA Gold Star flat-track racer back in the ’50s and will gladly talk BSAs and racing in general with anyone who shows an interest. He’s also a tremendous artist in several mediums, and vintage motorcycles are a favorite subject. Kathleen provides some of the best routing directions I’ve seen, plays a mean baritone sax in the Shinnston Community Band and provides some fantastic meals (including warm, home-made pretzels just before bed time!)
On Sunday, we set off on our ride around 11am (again, right on time for our 9am launch… ) Kathleen provided a route that included several covered bridges. The first was the bridge at Phillippi, WV. This was the site of the first land battle of the Civil War.
This wooden bridge has been restored, burned, restored again and flooded, but it’s still kickin’.
Another stop on Sunday was the West Virginia State Wildlife Center in French Creek. It was originally established to help repopulate endangered species into the wild, but since pen-raised animals don’t develop any real survival skills, that program wasn’t successful. Now it serves as a recreational and educational facility with examples of many native WV species, including elk, otters, bobcats, bears and more. We took several photos of the animals, but I won’t post them here for fear of exciting certain forum members’ prurient interests. We did take advantage of the picnic areas there to enjoy our packed lunches.
The rest of the day included more great roads, and even an out of the way stop at a local winery in Weston. I of course refrained from any samples while there…now if this had been a brewery, I might have caved, but I stood firm for safety’s sake…
That evening we walked down to the town park and enjoyed an outdoor concert that included local artists and the aforementioned Shinnston Community Band, followed by fireworks.
Monday morning we loaded up and said goodbye to our hosts,
then made our way north again following Kathleen’s excellent routing, up the slab on I-79/I-68 until changing to 119 North just north of Morgantwon, WV, then onto Route 857 to Uniontown, PA, where we got on US Route 40 East towards Farmington, PA.
And if we thought it was hot in our full gear in the 95 degree temps along the way, these guys had to be hating life just as much. At least we could crank it up to 60 or 70 to create a breeze.
At Farmington we picked up 381 North and I was initially unhappy to find miles of relativley fresh chip-seal, so the seemingly endless row of loose gravel in the center of my lane lead to seriously-sub-light speeds. However, after a while the surface changed and 381 became my favorite stretch of the whole weekend. Nothing too tight, just lots of excellent sweepers, and great scenic vistas in between.
We made a short traverse of 30 East at Ligonier, PA over to Route 219 North just south of Johnstown, which we were able to ride all the way up through PA and into NY, just about to our own back yard by around 8:45pm. Total mileage for the weekend was about 875 miles. No Iron Butt, but an otherwise great weekend with my wife and a memorable celebration of our nation’s independence.