Autumn Roads
         Leaf Chasing the Ohio Valley and New England

Fall was at last here, and it was time for my annual ride.  I had really been looking forward to this years ride, because I was going to the place everyone wanted to be-New England.

After I finished school, fall became my favorite time of year.  After a long, hot south Alabama summer, fall is a welcome relief, but if you blink your eyes you miss it.  It is still 80+ degrees here this time of year, but the occasional cool, crisp days are savored.  

I last experienced a New England fall in 2001, and longed to return.  Last year, I spent my fall tour in the Heartland, so it was once again time to head north.  As my departure date neared, I kept careful watch on the leaf status.  Preliminary reports said to look for a outstanding fall show.  For the first time in years the weather fully cooperated bringing the northeast plenty of late summer rain.  A early frost came and lingered, kick starting the leaves into their magic show.   I was confident my trip window would bring me fall leaves at their peak somewhere along my route.

The tour followed this route-North to West Virginia, then east through Pennsylvania, Northern New Jersey, New York, Vermont, and New Hampshire.  From there, it was back south to the lovely Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina, to close out the riding season with my brother riders.  I spent the last 3 days of the tour in Western North Carolina riding and leaning those awesome roads with my friends.  A great place to finish the season.

The ride through West Virginia was a 300 mile lean-a-thon.  I've never seen so many curves.  It was just like riding Deals Gap or NC 28 for 12 hours.   I've never experienced anything like it, I totally picked the routes for that day at random.  This tour brought out how staying off the interstates can bring great surprises and fun.

Folks, let me say this, I had perfect timing, catching the leaves at or near peak in West Virginia, and in full peak in most of Vermont, New Jersey, New York, and New Hampshire.  The color and beauty was outstanding.  Many locals told me this was the best fall in 20 years. 

 had a few setbacks along the way.  I dumped the ST in a parking lot in WVA, rode off and left my check card in a New Jersey ATM, fell behind and was unable to ride Ohio 555, and skipped going to Maine, although I would not consider that a failure.  I chose to do so to spend a day in the White Mountains of New Hampshire.  A wise decision.  I also had to deal with the anxiety of a downed brother rider in the Blue Ridge. 

I planned on camping more then I did, but that didn't work out.  The days were short and most afternoons found me struggling to meet my goals.  Dark usually found me miles short of where I wanted to be.  It was no big deal, I just got out my phone and booked a room.  My tent did not come out of my bag till I reached the Blue Ridge.  Funny, I looked forward to sleeping in my tent on my way south.

My fall tour has a very different look and feel then summer trips.  Riding to California in June, a Long Rider is blessed with 15-17 hours of light, this time of year in the northeast you might get 9.  The short days, and town sprinkled roads of the area preclude any 500 mile days, unless you are on a interstate.  Somehow, I looked over that when planning this trip.
I also enjoyed a new digital camera and made good use of it.  I feel it greatly improves the storytelling.

The weather was about what I expected.  Mostly good, bright sunny days, with cool nights.  I did not spend any significant time in rain, but I did ride all day in the strongest winds I've ever been in.  It was ridiculous, worst then anything I've ever battled out west.

 This journal has all the details.  Pull up a monitor and come along for the ride.

October 20th, 2003