All of us have beliefs about what’s anticipated of a motorbike camper, and generally it takes a sure state of affairs to carry these expectations to the floor. For me, it took heavy rain on a mountain highway throughout a West Virginia bike experience to level out my rules on bike journey and what kind of particular person I believed I wanted to be to do it.
A Lovely Starting
The whole lot was going in line with plan. I used to be on a solo bike tenting journey throughout central West Virginia alongside the Midland Path Nationwide Scenic Byway (U.S. Route 60), and I spent my first evening on the Kanawha State Forest campground. My campsite was pleasantly distant and on prime of a bridge that crossed a scenic working creek. Waking as much as the sound of gently flowing water was an energizing begin to what could be a tremendous day – or so I believed.
I packed up my gear and headed into Charleston for an early lunch. I selected Adelphia Sports activities Bar & Grille within the historic downtown space and loved one of the best dish I’ve eaten on any of my dozen or so bike tenting journeys to this point: gyro macaroni and cheese, completely spiced gyro meat atop pasta shells and a creamy, tacky sauce. I used to be in heaven.
The First Rainstorm
Having completely loved my meal, I took off alongside the curvy Route 60 on my option to Lewisburg. Alongside the best way, it began to drizzle, however my waterproof gear was doing its job. Then the rain intensified from a drizzle to a bathe and finally a torrential downpour. The highway turned curvier, with switchbacks and hairpins that might have been pleasant on dry pavement however had been treacherous when moist. Not trusting my tires as sheets of water ran throughout the corners, I used to be stiff and tense. Having nowhere to cease for canopy, I had no selection however to press on.
Searching for reduction, I consulted the navigation app on my telephone and located a shortcut. To my dismay, the shortcut turned out to be a one‑lane highway with no shoulder – my least favourite kind of highway – and was no much less treacherous when it comes to cornering. I by chance took a incorrect flip onto a abandoned aspect highway, after which the navigation rerouted me to a pointy, steep downhill left flip that might result in one other aspect route. I froze, uncomfortable with such a good activate moist floor.
Deciding that I ought to return to Route 60, which a minimum of had lane traces and a shoulder, I all of a sudden seen two large German shepherds close by, evident and growling at me. As they each began working towards me, I rapidly accelerated and turned down that steep incline to get out of there sooner than they may run. That’s one option to provoke a flip you don’t need to take.
I continued on the slim, curvy highway. My nerves had been frayed by this level, and I even had a determined thought that I ought to pull over and name my husband to come back get me – a ridiculous notion, provided that I used to be almost eight hours away from residence.
I lastly made it by means of the not‑so‑shortcut and again onto Route 60, bitter that I may have simply stayed on it the entire time. I began seeing indicators for Lewisburg and have by no means been so relieved as after I pulled into Hill & Holler, the pizza place I had programmed into my telephone.
After taking off my soaking moist gear and ordering a 12‑inch pizza all for myself, I settled in and let my frazzled nerves chill out. I wasn’t certain what to do subsequent. My reserved campsite was nonetheless an hour away – additionally alongside mountain roads. This time, the roads had been ones that I had by no means ridden earlier than, and on the map, they appeared as curvy as the place I had simply been.
Deep down, I wished to get a resort. The considered driving one other hour or two in unrelenting heavy rain and establishing a soggy campsite sounded downright depressing. I messaged my husband and a few of my driving pals; he supported the resort concept, however they inspired me to press on. They mentioned it will be value it, that I may do it, that there was no giving up or turning again. I felt responsible for interested by giving up and getting a resort, although I knew it was the most secure factor to do.
By no means one to again down from a problem, I made a decision to proceed, leaving the pizza place after cleansing up the large puddles my dripping gear had left on their flooring. As soon as exterior, I found it was raining even more durable. I hopped on and rode to the closest fuel station to replenish, and as my visor fogged up fully, I made a decision sufficient was sufficient. I discovered a resort lower than half a mile down the road and checked in. After carrying my baggage up the steps and stripping off my water‑logged gear, I collapsed onto the mattress.
At this level, I felt horrible about myself and my determination. I had given up, taken the simple method out, let down myself and everybody who was cheering me on. I noticed I had excessive expectations of myself as a motorbike camper – that I ought to be robust and resilient, however as an alternative I used to be a wuss. Different feminine moto campers I had seen on social media portrayed themselves as “hardcore” as they slept sitting up or spent the evening beneath a bridge. Why couldn’t I make it by means of somewhat rain?
After a scorching bathe and a few takeout, I began feeling higher about my determination. Staying in a resort allowed me to regroup and chill out, and it was good to float off to sleep in a dry, snug mattress.
Bears and Boulders on a West Virginia Bike Trip
The following day, I awoke to sunny skies and headed north on U.S. Route 219, also referred to as the Seneca Path and a part of the Seneca Skyway loop route. The experience was thrilling. For some time, I forgot I used to be on my Kawasaki Versys‑X 300 journey bike because it was dealing with the curves like my Ninja 400.
After a completely fulfilling half‑hour of driving, I dropped my kickstand at Beartown State Park, a should‑cease for an avid hiker like me. Beartown has one of the vital distinctive mountaineering trails I’ve ever skilled, a half‑mile stroll on picket boardwalks that wind by means of imposing rock formations on all sides. I used to be one of many solely individuals there, so strolling by means of this “city” of enormous boulders was quiet, somewhat eerie, and the proper reward after the trials I’d been by means of the day prior to this.
Route 219 took me all the best way north to Elkins, an enthralling historic city that serves because the seat of Randolph County. Elkins was a coal and timber city within the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Its revitalized downtown has eating places, bars, retailers, lodging, and museums centered across the restored Elkins Depot, the place you may take a scenic prepare experience on the Durban & Greenbrier Valley Railroad. Scottie’s of Elkins, filled with locals and serving hearty, scrumptious consolation meals, was the proper place for lunch.
Using east out of Elkins, U.S. Route 33 follows a winding path up and over the Allegheny Mountains, crossing a number of rivers alongside the best way to Seneca Rocks, a scenic rock formation that’s well-liked amongst climbers. I stayed on Route 33 to Judy Hole, the place I continued south on State Route 28, having fun with curves and sunshine all the best way to Watoga State Park.
After establishing my campsite, I walked to the bathhouse and was stopped by a person in his 70s who was in higher form than I’m. He yelled out from throughout the yard, “Are you the biker girl?” I laughed and responded, “Sure sir, that’s me.”
He requested the place I had come from and the place I used to be going. Once I talked about I had deliberate to spend the earlier evening right here however stayed in a resort as an alternative due to the rain, he exclaimed, “Oh, you sissy!” I used to be greatly surprised and momentarily damage till he laughed and adopted his insult with the comment, “Yea proper. I’ve by no means even seen a feminine on a solo bike journey right here in 17 years of being a camp host.”
Level taken: I couldn’t presumably be a sissy given what I used to be out right here doing. This realization and the exterior validation had been a reduction.
Return to Route 39 and Bike Camaraderie
Rain began once more within the night, and whereas it had stopped by morning, my tent and tarp had been nonetheless moist after I packed them up. My closing campground of the journey was at Beech Fork State Park, however I had a couple of stops I wished to make alongside the best way. Plus, I wished to experience State Route 39, which was the opposite cause I had come to this space – a person on a earlier journey had given me a coin and pin commemorating this highway (see “Alongside the Midland Path: A West Virginia Bike Journey”), however I didn’t get an opportunity to experience it at the moment.
For this journey, I had taken a laissez‑faire method to planning: Choose a couple of locations and the routes in between them and see what occurs. This was completely different from my standard meticulous planning, and I ended up lacking out on a couple of alternatives. I assumed that Route 39 could be a curvy highway by means of cities and countryside like Route 60, nevertheless it runs by means of a nationwide forest, isn’t notably curvy, and has loads of vacationer stops alongside the best way. Attempting to beat the oncoming rain and figuring out I had restricted time to get to my subsequent campsite, I didn’t cease at any of them, which I remorse.
I continued south on U.S. Route 19 again to Route 60 after I acquired caught in one more rainstorm, this time on a 4‑lane freeway. Given the latest relinquishing of my harsh, self‑imposed guidelines about urgent on in distress, it was a straightforward determination to cease in Fayetteville at Water Stone Outdoor – a befitting title for my state of affairs.
The shop had a restaurant inside, and my climate app mentioned the rain would cross in about an hour, so I settled in with a heat and comforting chai latte whereas perusing their clothes choices, once more dripping puddles all around the flooring.
A neighborhood lady approached me and mentioned they didn’t see many bike vacationers round there. She requested if I used to be alone. Once I replied that I used to be, she gave me a fist bump and mentioned, “Wow, so that you’re a badass!”
This lady didn’t know that I had stayed in a resort to flee the rain nor did she care that I had ducked into a restaurant to do it once more. She simply knew I used to be out right here touring on a motorcycle, and that was sufficient in her ebook. It ought to be sufficient in my ebook as properly.
Because the solar peeked out of the clouds and the rain stopped, I headed to Beech Fork State Park. On earlier journeys, I had gone to 1 homebase campground after which branched out on day journeys from there. This time, I had deliberate an precise tour the place I finished at a brand new place every evening and packed up camp within the morning.
I discovered this to be exhausting, even with my resort keep in the course of it. After packing up my equipment at Watoga, I had thought briefly about pushing by means of and driving the eight hours residence simply so I wouldn’t should arrange camp once more. However I reminded myself that tenting was half the rationale I used to be on the journey and I might get pleasure from it as soon as I used to be there, feeling the load of my beloved camp tools in my arms as I unpacked it. And for as soon as, the climate appeared clear for the following two days.
Associated: Bike Tenting Ideas…From the Yard?
I arrived at Beech Fork State Park and located an ideal campsite with a shocking view of a lake. I arrange camp and loved the quiet solitude till I heard the acquainted sound of a motorbike exhaust. A big BMW journey bike loaded up with gear and piloted by a person in matching textile attire pulled across the circle in entrance of my campsite.
“I heard there was one other motorcyclist within the campground,” he mentioned by means of his helmet. “I believed I would cease by and say hey.”
We chatted briefly about the place we had been from and the place we had been headed. “You’re the one different touring motorcyclist I’ve talked to on one among my journeys,” he advised me, and I indicated that he was the identical. I used to be reminded of my latest realizations because of the camp host at Watoga and the lady at Water Stone Outdoor. That they had each taught me that being out on a motorcycle was sufficient, no matter whether or not you’re touring the world over or simply throughout a state, roughing it each evening within the backcountry or sleeping in a campground with facilities, braving the weather or having fun with heat and protected shelter indoors.
Taking a look at this fellow adventurer, figuring out we had been each uncommon people amongst vacationers, sealed the deal that my expectations of myself as a moto camper had been unfair and unrealistic. I shrugged off the pointless emotional weight proper there on the shore of Beech Fork Lake.
If you happen to want permission to ditch staunch expectations about what kind of particular person you have to be to journey in your bike, take it from me: You’re sufficient, simply as you’re.
See all of Rider‘s touring tales right here.