Inspiration for a motorbike journey can come from many avenues – maybe by phrase of mouth about legendary using locations just like the Tail of the Dragon or seeing iconic places like nationwide parks on tv or in films. Inspiration for this West Virginia bike journey – together with using a part of the Midland Path – was inside; I needed to problem myself and get out of my consolation zone. However earlier than I departed, I felt anxious.
Why the Hesitation to Take a West Virginia Motorbike Journey?
I had been on earlier solo moto tenting journeys, however a visit to central West Virginia from my house in northern Kentucky can be my longest journey, the farthest from house, and in a state I had by no means ridden. Doubts and insecurities have been plaguing me, as I used to be nonetheless comparatively new to bike tenting and using lengthy distances. I had additionally been raised in a city the place girls didn’t journey alone, and positively not on a motorbike. I couldn’t assist however marvel if I used to be getting myself in over my head with a visit this bold.
Whereas I yearned to journey to the New River Gorge space and journey the Midland Path alongside U.S. Route 60, concern was holding me again. That’s, till my husband encouragingly requested me, “You actually wish to go, don’t you?” When my reply was a honest and wholehearted “Sure,” it was clear to each of us what I wanted to do.
I made a decision to go the subsequent weekend – I virtually had the entire route deliberate already anyway – and commenced packing.
An Unlikely Information in Maysville, Kentucky
After heading out from my home in northern Kentucky with a full pack on my Kawasaki Versys-X 300, my first cease was Maysville, Kentucky. I wasn’t anticipating the quaint, darling downtown with completely painted previous brick buildings and well-maintained streets. Nor was I anticipating the restaurant I selected on-line to be quickly closed. Struggling to stability my helmet and equipment whereas I appeared for an additional restaurant on my cellphone, a person approached me together with his small canine and requested if I wanted assist.
After telling him of my plight, he eagerly supplied to point out me to “one of the best restaurant in Maysville” and escorted me down the road a few blocks, sharing historical past concerning the city because the three of us strolled. Delite’s Downtown had an vintage signal befitting the diner’s ’60s-era inside decor, and you can inform it was all authentic. I ordered biscuits and gravy – a highway journey favourite of mine – and whereas I couldn’t decide if it was certainly one of the best restaurant on the town, I left glad.
A Signal from Strangers
After a couple of hours of using with solely a cease for fuel, I used to be relieved to reach at a German restaurant in Huntington, West Virginia, referred to as Bahnhof WVrsthaus & Biergarten. Stretching my legs as I walked into the restaurant, I used to be enthralled with the indoor/out of doors multiple-story eating space and the ambiance of the place. I ordered the currywurst topped with a candy raisin chutney and a facet of buttery herbed spaetzle.
The meals was scrumptious, however the actual star of the expertise was a rowdy group of males and a lady sitting on the bar. Their energetic exchanges have been not possible to not overhear, and so they quickly struck up a dialog with me.
They requested the standard questions – “The place are you from?” and “The place are you going?” – and once they heard I used to be headed to New River Gorge, they yelled out in unison, “Fayetteville!” All three started speaking on the similar time, gushing over the meals, drinks, views, and roads in that space. I used to be capable of make out “Kanawha Falls” and “Gauley Bridge,” two locations I deliberate on visiting, in addition to “hairpin turns” – that’s all I wanted to listen to. I felt a rush of encouragement, having acquired a transparent signal that I used to be headed in the proper path for a terrific journey.
Driving the Midland Path
As I left Charleston, I used to be proper the place I needed to be – on the mouth of U.S. Route 60, also called the Midland Path Nationwide Scenic Byway. Route 60 runs from Kenova, close to the Kentucky border, clear throughout West Virginia and east to the Virginia border. Providing a mixture of mountain terrain, low-speed cruising by means of small cities, and rolling countryside, it’s a favourite bike journey in West Virginia.
The route began out with straightforward, flowing curves, however as soon as within the mountains, it was exhilarating hairpin after thrilling switchback for miles on finish. After scraping my peg on a decreasing-radius proper flip, I put extra care into my physique positioning and slowed it down just a little. The turns rivaled a few of my favourite curvy roads within the Nice Smoky Mountains of Tennessee.
Pulling as much as my campground at Babcock State Park, I used to be welcomed with a clear, fairly campsite not removed from the bathhouse and a few good bushes from which to hold my hammock. I used to be exhausted after a full day of using – essentially the most miles I had ever ridden in in the future – and it confirmed. I struggled to arrange camp and put together some dehydrated meals for dinner. Fatigue is a critical concern on bike journeys, and I used to be relieved that I used to be safely at my house away from house.
An Ethereal Glow and a Well-known Bridge
Waking as much as a stunning view of my bike from my open tent, I used to be wanting ahead to consuming some actual meals. I made my first cease on the Cathedral Cafe & Guide Retailer in Fayetteville. A transformed previous church, it nonetheless has the attractive stained-glass home windows intact, which glowed ethereal colours on the within with the daylight shining by means of. A breakfast of croissant French toast and domestically made chorizo hit the spot, and I used to be able to hit the mountain climbing trails.
I hadn’t performed a lot planning when it comes to the paths I needed to hike, so I ended on the New River Gorge Nationwide Park & Protect Welcome Middle. It has an overlook of the New River Gorge Bridge, so I unexpectedly caught my first glimpse of its expansive type. As soon as contained in the constructing, the pleasant state park ranger prompt I head to Lengthy Level Path for one of the best view of the bridge, so I set out with their map, kindly marked up with my route.
The Lengthy Level Path was a fantastic, reasonably tough hike, however the magic was on the prime of the overlook. Sheer cliffs dropped off dramatically on all sides, whereas miles of forest prolonged out into the gap. The woods have been solely interrupted by the three,030-foot-long, 876-foot-high New River Gorge Bridge, at one time the very best bridge within the nation and nonetheless the very best east of the Mississippi. I as soon as stood on the highest of the 75-foot-tall Pure Bridge on the Pink River Gorge in Kentucky, however this was much more magnificent.
There have been two unstated guidelines on the prime: First, you’re taking an image for the subsequent individual in line on the sting of the cliff in entrance of the bridge, and second, nobody places anybody else at risk. When visiting treacherous pure wonders, I’m all the time amazed that folks have a lot belief in everybody round them – and themselves – to not fall off. After the picture trade, I sat down on a rock close to one facet of the cliff and loved a leisurely bagged lunch.
Extra Exploration on My West Virginia Motorbike Journey
Earlier than heading to the sights advisable to me the day earlier than, I crossed the New River Gorge Bridge. I used to be capable of steal some glances over the guardrail of the four-lane freeway and was rewarded with views of the forest stretching so far as I may see and the winding New River lots of of toes under me.
Again on Route 60, I noticed the signal for Kanawha Falls and pulled off. It’s an impressively extensive waterfall, because it spans your complete width of the Kanawha River. The viewing space is a bit removed from the falls, so I felt disconnected from the highly effective water. Cathedral Falls, simply down the highway, is far nearer to the viewing space and is staggeringly tall, however the car parking zone was so busy that I couldn’t pull over to get a better look; I solely caught glimpses as I rode previous. Gauley Bridge additionally ran proper alongside the highway however was just a little lackluster after viewing the New River Gorge Bridge.
An Unlikely Driving Companion
It was getting late within the day, and I nonetheless needed to go to Lewisburg. I left Gauley Bridge and headed out, feeling some nervousness about making it again to my campsite earlier than dusk. I used to be not wanting ahead to traversing mountainous roadways after darkish, however I pressed on nonetheless.
One other rider on a big journey bike, loaded down with onerous circumstances, turned onto Route 60 behind me. It was enjoyable to journey “collectively” for the remainder of the best way to Lewisburg. I zipped round curves by means of attractive surroundings with this unknown bike tourer. After I pulled right into a parking spot simply inside Lewisburg’s downtown strip, he gave me a wave over his shoulder as he handed. There’s nothing just like the camaraderie of a fellow rider, particularly once they’re additionally clearly on their very own distinctive journey.
The Sudden Reward
After consuming an overpriced (however nonetheless scrumptious) plate of lasagna at The Humble Tomato, an upscale-but-casual Italian restaurant proper on the strip, I made a decision to stroll downtown for a bit earlier than heading again. I ended within the Lewisburg Welcome Middle to see if they’d any worthy souvenirs and was greeted by a pleasant older man. He was shocked, as many individuals are, to discover a younger lady on a solo bike journey, and he had loads of questions. After I bought a couple of stickers, he started fumbling across the money register and counter, mumbling that he had one thing particular for me.
After a couple of awkward minutes, he lastly discovered what he was searching for – a Route 39 pin and coin – and handed them over proudly. “I give these to all of the Harley guys,” he stated with a chuckle. I pocketed the trinkets, just a little embarrassed as I hadn’t really ridden Route 39 on my journey however thanked him however. Then I saddled up and headed again to my campsite at Babcock State Park.
A Distinctive Mix of Surroundings
Having been distracted earlier by my journey rider buddy on the best way to Lewisburg, I had zipped previous the great thing about the countryside alongside that part of the Midland Path. On my return journey, it was the magical “golden hour,” and the surroundings was lit with a heat glow. It was like a captivating mix of surroundings again house – the inexperienced rolling hills of japanese Kentucky rural farmland punctuated with the mountainous terrain and sharp corners of the Nice Smoky Mountains of Tennessee.
Driving on the light slopes and curves of hills as inexperienced as a jewel, I may see Appalachian ridges seemingly on all sides. Peaks would loom straight forward within the distance, rising nearer and nearer till I used to be on them, climbing switchbacks, solely to descend minutes later after which do it once more. It was a dream journey.
Returning Residence from My West Virginia Motorbike Journey
After a pleasing night time at my campsite sitting by a roaring fireplace, I wakened and commenced grudgingly getting ready for my return house. There was a lot I didn’t get an opportunity to see.
I hopped on the freeway for a faster return journey, and whereas I wasn’t planning on stopping in Charleston, the view of the 23-karat gold-leaf gilded prime of the Capitol, with a dome 5 toes increased than the U.S. Capitol, lured me in.
My final cease was the Griffith & Feil Drug and Soda Fountain in Kenova, West Virginia, actually the final exit earlier than the Kentucky border. I loved the intense and colourful neon lights inside and ordered a root beer float – the best possible I’ve ever had, with unbelievably creamy vanilla ice cream and fizzy, sweet-and-spicy soda.
Plans for the Future
Whereas returning my pockets to my bike jacket after paying for my deal with, my fingers brushed towards a steel object – the Route 39 coin the sort man in Lewisburg had given me the day earlier than. Not solely had I survived the journey I had been nervous about taking within the first place, I had additionally confirmed myself to be a succesful bike camper and tourer. Pleased with my accomplishments, I pocketed the steel coin, pondering to myself, “I’ll come again to journey this mysterious Route 39.”
I gathered up my issues, excited on the prospect of arriving house after a profitable solo journey. I used to be additionally wanting ahead to planning my subsequent journey to West Virginia, impressed by a easy reward from a stranger – one thing I wouldn’t have acquired had I not taken that leap and simply rode.