14 September 2002

zr riders take west virginia
Yesterday I took a vacation day and headed south. I slept in, packed the bike, and headed south for Chillicothe, OH. The 45 miles south towards the Ohio border were quick and productive--but as soon as I crossed into the Buckeye State I slowed and tried to keep it within 7 mph of the speed limit, or keeping with traffic, which ever was faster. Ohio is notorious for speed enforcement and is rather opportunistic with their speed traps and ticket writing. None for me, thanks.

I motored all the way down past Columbus (the range on my ZR is great) and stopped in Shadeville for gas and a sandwich. Shadeville appeared to be a Shell station and little more, but they had very amusing customers. The best was a greying man, probably in his early fifties dressed up in Fubu-ware. Big baggy shorts and matching shirt, black beret and thin sunglasses topped his big fancy white sneakers. He came in driving a pimped out green Firebird booming out some popular sounding hard hip-hop. The man had an extremely thin mustache drawn down meeting his extremely thin beard outlining his jaw. This was complimented with a pointed soul patch. His partner in crime dressed similarly, but looked more the part being about 17. Father and son, who knows? Other customers were less interesting, they mostly drove really beat up cars, struggled with the concept of prepare or fought with the credit card machine, and did fun things like filling windshield wiper fluid bottles with gasoline. Apparently the south reaches all the way to Columbus now.

In Chillicothe I met up with several other ZR Riders, Bill Jr, Joe, Tim E, and Tom at Tim H's house. We rested for a while before heading straight out for the campsite. Grabbing dinner along the way we made North Bend state park after dark. The ride in goes up and then back down a large hill providing many tight hairpins in the dark--that's completely blind!--with deer all along the way. We were lucky because these deer seemed to be quite used to people. Only one I saw really freaked out. The rest of them just stood at the side of the road or walked away.

We set up in the dark while the other riders--who had unfortunately been waiting for us to get dinner--sought a DQ for the only nearby "resturaunt" still open at 9 pm. I'd yet to set up my tent in the light, but I thought I'd be clever and use my headlight to illuminate my work. After getting the tent up I went start the bike. ERRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR, warned the starter, no juice for me. It seemed that my battery was too weak to start the bike. Damn. Well, someone had jumper cables, so I choose to ignore this particular issue 'til morning. The ZR riders sat around, drank some beer, caught up from the last year, and planned for the morning.

That morning we had a plan to meet Triumph group 150 miles away for lunch, so we needed to be on the road by nine. Surprisingly, and unlike last year, we were all moving and ready to go early in the morning. After Joe and Tom helped me jump start my bike (4 screws, two bolts, 3 pairs of hands, a pair of cables, and 2 bikes) we even had time for breakfast up at the lodge.
the camp site
joe resuscitating my bike, tom ready with the juice
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robert's camera mount
the guest bikes, tom's yamaHOG and bill sr on his bmw gs 1150
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joe looks like a storm trooper in his nolan flip-face helmet.
The first 10 or so miles out of North Bend took us across old, beat up, construction truck-carrying road. There was a lot of gravel in the corners and wet roads showed Valdez-like oil slicks. 16 miles in at our first gas stop for the day Joe declared that if everyone had made it through that stretch we'd definitely survive the day. Thankfully he was right.

The roads greatly improved and our groups speed gradually rose and we loosened up and found our chops. Some of the ZR Riders are lucky enough to live in the Appalachian foothills or at least close to them, but some of us live 6 hours away from truly interesting roads.

Very soon after a gas stop along the New River we were halted by a very long train. We could see the train crossing the river in the distance and moving towards us--it was clear we had some time on our hands. I popped off my helmet and took some pictures of the crew. While I photographed Tim H walked up to the lead truck, spoke for a moment, and returned charging his arms above his head. Tim H and Bill Jr rode up in front of the front truck, eventually convincing the rest of the group to follow. We really didn't have a clue why Tim did this, but it became clear quickly. Not only had our 10 minutes with train given the road a chance to drain of cars going our direction, the upcoming section of road was one of the best we'd travel that day.

Tim H took off and we followed up the mountain full-twist. Our speed was only a little bit faster than we had been riding before, but the road was much more challenging. We were inspired, adrenaline for all! Taking my bike from full lean in one direction over to full lean in the other quickly is one of the coolest feeling things to do, and the road provided many opportunities for this maneuver.

Robert had an awesome suction cup camera mount on his tank and used it to record many great parts of the trip. These frames are from the first up the mountain after the train. The movie is great, you can hear Robert scraping away his pegs and yelling, "Woo Hoo!" Part way up the mountain he had a scary off-road experience, street bikes don't generally do well off the road, but he skillfully directed the bike back to pavement. During the extreme shocks of the uneven ground his camera mount broke loose from the tank and Robert caught the camera! I know I would have let the camera drop and concentrated on getting my ass back on the road in one piece, but Robert had it under control. In the video you can see him mounting the camera back on the bike and he's still going 40 mph! A great recovery!

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Pulling into Hawk's Nest for lunch we parked taking as much space as possible. Our mood was quickly dampened as Tim E discovered the clutch cable snapped on his ZR750. After many phone calls he decided the bike was not fixable and rented a U haul. After lunch the group help Tim tie the bike down.

The return ride was awesome, but unfortunately there were more cagers on the road and many of them had something to prove. Over time we separated into 3 or 4 groups. For the last hour I rode with Joe E (and Thom followed for a while, but he was eventually held back being unable to pass a car) back to the camp site. Joe cut a fast and exciting line through the small town and back roads of norht-western West Virginia. I followed Joe's line working harder than I had during the entire trip. We spent most the day riding through curve after curve, often setting up 3 or 4 good corners a mile. This work was tiring and I eventually had to easy up as my mind wore down.

Back at North Bend Joe, Thom, Tim E, and I were the last people to eat at the lodge. The kitchen was out of half the menu and 3 of us settled on chicken parm because they had some. At the campsite we found that the beverly hillbillies had moved in next door. We built a fire, reviewed Robert's footage for the day, and drank the Champagne of Beers while bs'in away. Bill Sr, having ridden all over, include the Yukon, Alaska, and Newfoundland (I must return there on a motorcycle some day) had plenty of stories to tell. Bill Sr appreciated the different style of riding, carving mountains instead of exploring miles and miles of far off places, "I like riding with you guys on your Kawasuckies."

clown parking
nice view, let's eat.
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Thom posing next to Joe's teeny tent.
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The hillbilly neighbors' horse-dog pissed on bill jr's tent.