Day 2
October 8th, 2004
Hungry Mother State Park
Near Marion, Virginia

I was border line cold in my thin sleeping bag.  The temps had dipped to the high 30s, and I rolled my sleeping bag up to my chin.  I knew I had to face the inevitable; striking camp, and loading the 13.  I loathe doing such stuff on cold mornings.

I was blowing smoke when I finally got out of the tent and started packing. The air was brisk and cloudy, and a fine mist hung low in the trees.

Thirty minutes later, I was loaded and moving down the narrow road from the campsites to SR 16. The lake near the park was oozing steam from the surface, and the trees on the far banks were decked in fall colors.  I kept a sharp lookout for deer and saw 3 fawns and 2 does near the tree line.  They scampered back in the woods when they saw me.
​The scene at Hungry Mother State Park
My goal for the day is Parkersburg, West Virginia, but what I really intend to do is travel SR 20, one of the many gems in West Virginia.

A right turn out of the park put me on SR 16, a demanding, taxing highway that drifts toward West Virginia.  The road quickly gains elevation a few miles north of the park, and before I know it I’m leaning the 1300 in tight curves with horseshoe like configurations.  I remembered the highway from last year, but none of the details.  A few curves are littered in gravel and sand, others are clean and smooth, but I could never see far enough into the turn to see what it was going to be.

Walls stick close on the right slanted switchbacks, a tip off to look for debris on the highway.  SR 16 is a tricky, complicated piece of roadwork, and one that will test your mettle, if you take the challenge, don't say I didn't warn you.
The challenge of Va. 16.  If you make a mistake south bound
you get plastered by a wall, make one riding north and 
you drop a hundred fee
A bright eastern sun broke out complicating matters. The bright sunlight on occasion blinded me, and when I came in the shadows my pupils were still constricted, making it hard to see the surface.  I kept my speed down to stay safe, and leaned when I could to have at least some fun.

The shield of the Arai tried to fog but I beat it back by sliding open the bottom vent.

I rode to the crest, leaning and turning the 1300.  Temps were in low 40s, but climbing as I came down from the peaks into warmer air and sunlight.  I was treated to an impressive view of the valley, and stopped to take a picture.  The curves spaced out on the approach to Tazewell, and the riding was good as I moved past the quiet farmland and valleys.

In Tazewell I went to SR 61 and rode east to I-77.  On the interstate cars and trucks pulled the steep grades as best they could, but were no match for the powerful 1300.  I swallowed them up in huge chunks as I rode north to Beckley.

West Virginia is a very mountainous state, and not much flat ground can be found anywhere. Cities and farms are huddled together in the valleys.  Flat land is scarce, and as a result agriculture is hit or miss.  A guy plants wherever he finds a flat spot.

I saw several cows grazing at the top of a hill.  It reminded me of the story Uncle Phil tells of cattle in this part of the country having shorter legs on one side.  I always chuckle when he tells it, and shocked by the number of jokers that believe it.
​The reason cows in this part of the country are short legged
to one side.

Beckley is one of the larger cities in the state, and it took me awhile to make my way through.  The city was busy on this Friday morning.  I exited on US 19 north, and looked forward to crossing over the New River Gorge Bridge.  The highway is expressway style and I was able to dispatch the few miles to the Gorge quickly.

I waved at several Gold Wing riders riding south.  The lead bike was yellow, and the rider wore a leather vest with lots of rally buttons and patches.

Located on the north side of the bridge is the visitor center and overlook.  I  pulled the 1300 in and found a parking spot near the walkway.  A man and his wife were trying to herd their 2 young kids back into their mini van, but the kids were not having any of it. They took off for a slide across the parking lot.

I strolled down the pathway and took a few pictures.  The New River Gorge Bridge is the longest single span bridge of its type in the country.  A great bridge, I’ve always had a thing for them and the New River is one of the better scenes in the East.  Having satisfied my need for a few pics, I got back on the road.

In Nebo I was scheduled for a route change to SR 129.  I found 129, but after a very short ride a sign appeared, "129 END."  I took a glance across the highway at a road that had no markings or name.  I checked the notes on my left arm, "yeah 129 takes me to SR 20." For lack of a better option, I took it in the hope it would take me SR 20. The narrow local road was splattered in potholes and grooves.  The scenery was good, but I had little time to enjoy it, I was too busy picking my way through the minefield.  I followed the road till it grew very narrow, and because I feared it would soon turn into dirt, I turned around.
​One of the many rural churches I passed on my way through
West Virginia.

When I returned to the crossroads I found a long closed down store and took out my map.  I decided I would ride up to Summerville and pick up SR 39 and let it take me to SR 20. I was determined to ride 20 because I had heard so much about it, despite the fact it was not on the way to Parkersburg, but who cares, I’m on a trip.

Temps had warmed up to the 60s, it was a perfect day to be on a ride.  The sun was bright and the sky clear.
I took a short break after gassing up at a gas mart in Summerville.  I pulled a diet Dew out of the cooler and sat on the grass of a nearby hillside.  A man came by to air up his tire and made a comment on how nice the 1300 looked.

Before leaving I switched to the leather AGV sport gloves. They looked really good with the Roadcrafter, and the blue and red Arai.  From this point they were the only gloves used.  Decked out in the blue and silver Roadcrafter, red and white gloves, and colorful race replica Arai, I looked something like a long rider from the pages of GQ.

The route out of Summerville was SR 39, I don’t remember much about it, other than it took me to SR 20.
West Virginia 20 and is a great road. The road surface is glass smooth (like most roads and highways in the state) soon after entering the highway I’m leaning like crazy. Colorful trees stood like columns over the road as it twisted its way through the hills. Mountain towns would come and go, and I would slow down and ease my way through.
The road surfaces in West Virginia are some of the best
in the country, to match the great scenery like here 
on SR 20.

Many curves are on blind hills, I approached the crests cautiously because I had no idea which way the road would bend when I went over the top.  I had the screen trimmed down to the sport position and spent most of the day in 4th.  The few cars I came to where easy prey for the 13.  I took them with ease, disobeying the yellow line a few times.

Many houses were so close to the road their mailboxes were right on the edge of the asphalt.  It was literally dangerous to check your mail, at anytime a car could surprise an occupant and brush him back.

The route is a lot like SR 16 a little further to west.  I kept riding north leaning the 13 over and over. Left, right, hugging the right of the lane as best I could to make room for any wayward south bound cages drifting over the line.  I kept working hard reading the road surface, but it was clean and free of crud.

If the Dragon is 300 curves in 11 miles, than 20 is thousands of curves in 60 miles.  It gave me all I wanted and I was glad when I came to US 23.  I took a butt break in Weston at a McDonalds.  I went inside and ordered a diet coke then broke out a Cliff bar for lunch. I took a late lunch, but earlier I was having too much fun to stop.  I called my wife and son, then booked a room at the Motel 6 in Parkersburg, after all that I loaded back up.

The parking lot had 8 SUVs parked in a row when I went back to the 13.  Americans complain about gas prices but it most not be all that bad.  No one in West Virginia is giving up his 9 mpg SUV.

I took SR 47 out of Weston and had a nice late afternoon ride to Parkersburg.  It was Friday evening and everyone had just been paid off and was looking forward to the weekend. I passed a few honky tonks (taverns for y’all up north) with filling parking lots.  In the north taverns can be found in the middle of the village, but in the south the honky tonks are generally located just outside the city limits.

All day I noticed a sweet smell from time to time, and riding 47 the scent was even more pronounced.  I took a quick look around to see if I could find the source.  I saw a field of fresh cut hay and guessed it to be from there, but I wasn’t sure.  It was a soothing aroma, and I found it enjoyable.
​This pastoral scene was somewhere on SR 47.  West
Virginia is a green and scenic state.

The curves of 47 were more of the sweeper variety, and not the tight switchbacks of 20, it was a good change of pace.  The sun was going down and the air was cooler.  I was down several degrees on the air temp gauge, and looking forward to arriving in Parkersburg.

It was late afternoon when I arrived at the Parkersburg Motel 6.  I checked into room 155, a ground floor room thankfully.  A Suzuki 1000 GXR was parked a few places away.  I threw my stuff on the bed and took a hot shower.  It was too late and cool to try and run so I had to let it go.

I rode 334 miles, leaning most of it.

I stayed here last year, and knew a Shoneys was nearby, and that’s where I went for supper.  I walked in to find a crowded dining area but was quickly seated.  I had the chicken and rice, and after eating I called home.  I had my atlas with me and was looking over and checking routes for the ride in southeast Ohio the next day.  A small gray haired man noticed me from the next booth and said-

"on the road?"

"yeah, kinda a mini vacation"

"where ya goin to?"

"well, thats what I'm tryin to figure out, but I have no definite place in mind.  I'm just ridin and seein the country"

"you're on a bike?  The blue one at the Motel 6?

"yeah that'd be me"

About that time a middle aged lady came back to the booth and sat across from him.  She had on plaid slacks and a baggy sweatshirt.  From their manner of dress and sound (meaning NO accents of ANY type.) I guessed them to be mid western, and I was right, their home state was Illinois. 

"honey, he's the rider on the blue bike at the motel, from Alabama on a ride north to see the leaves"

In a stern voice she shot back, "I thought he was going to wreck the car when he saw you pull in.  He's always wanted a motorcycle, but noway I'm EVER gonna go for that."

I looked to the man while he shrugged.  He knew it was pointless to have this conversation.  Not wanting to cause an argument I said, " well ya better do like she says, you can see all you need to see in y'all's camper."  I rose up from the booth and nodded good bye, left a 2 dollar tip, and walked back to the Motel 6.

Back at the room I made journal notes and worked on the routes for southern Ohio.  I hear the roads there are good.  I  clicked channels for a couple of hours then went to sleep.  Not much was on TV and I needed an early start in the morning.