Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Don Wood Tested. Don Wood Approved.

On my return from Laconia, NH. Bikeweek 2011 I had the time to do some mountain riding. I decided I would ride my motorSickle threw the Adirondacks and the Catskills of NY. Other than rain, I had a great ride threw an area that I had only traveled in a Freightliner truck years ago. It was a wonderful and very mountainous area. I made my camp at the end of the day close to the NY, PA. state line and I pulled out my map. I decided to break my own rule and travel a bit on the interstate. My reason was to get out of the populated area I found myself in. I pulled off the interstate in Strasburg, Va. and I found state highway 55. and this is where my journey begins. Within 15 miles of the interstate I found myself on a two lane mountain road with 9% grades and corners that were labeled at 15 and 20 mph. Switch backs and hairpins were the recipe for the rest of my day. There were more than a few times that I had to slow down, not that the bike couldn't handle it. It was more for a chance to get my mind to catch up. Do twisties for 30 minutes straight and know this. Your mind can get to the point of overload and the only thing you can do is slow down.
This road led me into The George Washington National Forrest. Not a house or store for miles after miles. The topography of this area was set back when 2 large land masses collided and they called the area Pangaea. Unlike the spikes and peaks of the Rockies, this area is dominated by a heaving of the earth that ended with ridge lines all of the same heights. This area is also known as The Allegheny Mountains which is the northern section of the Appalachian Mountains. Highway 55 led me into the area known as The Seneca Rocks National Rec. area.

Seneca Trail

From West Virginia (WV) Cyclopedia

The Seneca Trail, or Warrior's Path, was the Native American highway from upper New York into deep within Georgia. In West Virginia, it followed, in general, the Alleghenies. From the South Branch of the Potomac, at Seneca Rock, it crossed the Allegheny Mountains near the headwaters of the Cheat River, then, by way of Cheat Mountain and Shavers Fork of the Cheat, it led almost direct to Elkins. From there it continued westward, with a branch to the south.

When the King of England in 1763 issued a proclamation forbidding further settlement beyond the mountains and demanding the return of settlers who had already crossed the Alleghenies, a line was established roughly following the Seneca Trail. That line formed the boundary of "the frontier" during the French and Indian War. The highway comes into Tucker County near the famed Fairfax Stone (http://www.wvexp.com/index.php/Fairfax_Stone), a boundary between West Virginia and Maryland.
When I came out of the Seneca Area, after another series of twisties I entered The Monongahela National Forrest. A beautiful undisturbed  area That was just begging for me to push my moterSickle to the edge of its abilities.  I have at times rode on the razors edge but I am only 6 months into recovery from the last crash so I kept the throttle on the safe side of that razor. I'll tell ya. I have ridden all over and I was having a ball. The roads were well maintained and well marked. All the corners were posted with a recommended speed limit and milage signs to the next town were posted often enough to keep me from fretting about my gas situation.

Shortly after exiting the Forrest I came down a steep grade as I looked at the landscape of the city of Elkins, WV. A small town of around 8,000 people. This town is big enough to have some good food stops and services if needed. Thankfully I needed nothing from this town except for 30 minutes in a car wash bay as I waited for a heavy rain to pass. I continued south west along the valley floor with mountain ridges to my left and to my right. Threw a couple of smaller towns in the valley and once again I was twisting up the side of a mountain and back into the National Forrest. My road ended for the day in the small town of Summersville, WV.  at The Tractor Bar listening to Jasmine Cains Band. ( She was quite surprised to see me.)
The total route from Strasburg to Summersville was 240 miles. I took a total of 5 hrs to get to my destination. I was packed for all weather conditions and I was thankful for how I packed. You can plan on hitting all forms of weather from hot and cold to wet. I'm sure that there are times in winter months that this road is completely closed to all human traffic.
In closing I will say this... Highway 55 through Virginia and West Virginia is in my top 5 roads in the US. Time of year could be a deal breaker on this road. Plan on doing this ride alone. It doesn't matter if you are in a group of 50, you will need to be alone on this one. No formation riding on this road.

State highway 55 through VA. and W.V. is DON WOOD TESTED. DON WOOD APPROVED.

1 comment:

  1. I like learning history when I read your posts