May 12 - 18, 2008

A Long Way Around

May 12, 2008

I spend most of the day at work, expecting the riders for the Triple P to start showing up around 3:00 PM. Jason S. from Kentucky calls me about 1 PM and lets me know he's with 100 miles of Nashville. I tell him -

"Well, I should be in the Holler no later than 2:30, so I'll see you then."

I leave the office and head for the Holler, only to find nobody's arrived yet. I swing by the Super 8 and see Joe M.'s ST1100 sitting there, so I gas up the SweetTreat and head back to the Holler. Before long folks start arriving, and we start making plans for supper. Sharyn and I follow the ones that showed up back to the Super 8 where the rest of the group has put in for the night. It's good to see many old friends and some new friends.


The decision is to walk to Jim & Nicks for supper instead of driving, so that works well for me. When we arrive, we are shuttled off to a back room where they put some tables together for us. The food is excellent as usual and nobody leaves with an empty stomach. After the feast, we walk back to the motel for some more problem solving. Soon, Jamie shows up with his 'spare' tires strapped to the back. We mount up a posse - Jason, Dennis, and Ron - to ride to the Holler in my truck so we can fix him up. With all the expertise present, it takes us less than an hour to retread his V-Strom.


I tell the fellers -

"We'd best get back to the motel so we can get some sleep. Be at the Holler between 7:00 and 7:30 AM. It'll be 7:30 with kickstands up at the Holler tomorrow."

With that announcement of the time, there is a long, collective sigh, Jamie decides to spend to night at the Holler so I ferry the rest of the crew back to the motel and give the rest of the riders the start time instructions. It's a quick drop and we're back at the Holler to catch some sleep for pull out time in the morning.

May 13, 2008
  As usual, the Holler Motorcycle Inspection crew is on the job, making sure everything is in proper working order.  
  But sometimes extra consultation is needed to be sure the bikes are roadworthy.  

The chief inspector is somewhat unfamiliar with the Jamie's V-Strom, but she is up for the challenge.


The crew has arrived except for a few stragglers which show up a little late - and shall remain nameless.

  Once again, I take the crew via one of my favorite back roads to the Loveless Cafe for a little pig meat and hen fruit. Their special motorcycle only parking pad is just about filled up with the Triple P crowd.  
  There are 14 total riders starting out and they sure look hungry.  
  They make quick work of what is set before them, like termites in a dead log. Soon we mount up and are off for what the road holds for us.  
  It's a nice visual to see a long line of STs and other bikes as we make our way down the Natchez Trace.  
  Since we are doing the 'drop and sweep' method, there are several opportunities for riders that are marking a turn to get pictures like this one. Using this method, the train just keeps rolling along.  

Our first break is about 100 miles into the ride near the little town of Woodbury. I warn the group to be careful as the local police keep a close watch on the speed limits in this part - not that we would ever exceed them.


The weather is cooperating nicely and some of the folks use this as an opportunity to shed some gear that they needed this morning.

  We snag lunch at Hebert's Restaurant in Gainesboro. After that breakfast, some folks eat pretty light. Those that need fuel use this opportunity as the rest of us are geared up and ready to roll on to the next set of curves.  
  I know that the challenging prison road is just few miles ahead so I give the group a good break at Clarkrange before we tackle it. One of the challenges of organizing a ride like this is finding places that have a parking lot out in the country big enough to handle all of the bikes.  

When we make it to the Lake City Days Inn, everybody seems to have gotten their money's worth - especially on the Prison Road. We also have a real surprise - Jerrol from California, a wounded Iraq War veteran and good friend of mine, has landed and is waiting on us. Those that are hungry walk over to the Cracker Barrel for some more grub and a little talk time. I tell the folks -

"Okay, I'm going to give you break tomorrow. Kickstands up at 9 AM so you can sleep in if you like. We've got a shorter day so we can start a little later."

Of course, we are in the Eastern Time Zone now, so it's really 30 minutes later than yesterday in the Holler. But it seems later to them.

May 14, 2008
  Everybody seems to have rested well. At this point, Joe has to head back home, but we've picked up Jerrol, so the number stays the same. Everybody is pretty much ready to roll, except for one. But I understand with a group this size, sometimes things like that just happen. We are a little late getting away, but we do get away.  
  The weather weenies have predicted rain all day, so some have put on their rainsuits in anticipation. I figure if they do that, I won't have to, so I don't. The Lord is good to us and the rain pretty much stays off our route the whole day.  
  After some great backroads, we make our way through Bristol TN/VA. The city has a rather unusual 'gate' you can ride through.  
  But here is where the 'drop and sweep' has problems. Unknown to me, at our last stop some riders missed the 'markers' while GPSing and get separated from the rest of us. At this point, I have run out of 'bread crumbs' to drop so I leave Andy here and go back to see what has happened.  
  I see the rest of group coming up so we are finally back together. I know lunch is less than an hour away, so we head out again. The group reassembles at the Shady Valley Country Store where we get a good lunch at a good price. It is at the intersection of highway 421 and highway 133 in some prime riding territory.  

After lunch, highway 133 takes us to Damascus and the wonderful highway 58 that runs to Volney. As the sign indicates, it's not the place for trucks but it is sure the place for motorcycle.

Out of Volney, we take highway 16 to Marion where we will be spending the night. It's a nice 'wind down' road in this part of it. It gets much more interesting farther north.

Thankfully, once again we all make it to the motel safely with no broken body or motorcycle parts. Supper is at the La Puerto Mexican Restaurant down the street. The food is good but I'm not sure that our server has a pulse. Although I know tomorrow is going to be a longer day, I announce -

"Kickstands up at 9 AM in the morning. See you then."

I wander back to my room and Andy and I have a short race to see who can get to sleep first - but we just don't know who wins.

May 15, 2008
The Best Western has breakfast, so we have a good chance of getting away on time this morning. Most folks are up and ready to ride.
On our north, we pass farm that ain't raising roosters for Colonel Sanders you can be sure.

North of Tazewell where highway 644 turns off highway 16, we stop for a break and a chance to regroup. Miss Deb and Al break out the BC smoked salmon and it is mighty good.

Looking down the road from where we stand, there's just another set of curves we will be forced to negotiate. It's a tough job but somebody has to do it ...
Just past Bluefield, WV we pull in for a fuel and hydraulic break. This store is located right at the Virginia/West Virginia line.

Soon we arrive at our lunch stop in Union, West Virginia called the Kalico Kitchen. It's one of my favorite places to eat when I'm passing through this area. Jim, who lives in the area, is a frequent visitor and we get a special room just for us. I tell our group -

'Yep, they want to put all that motorcycle trash back in the back away from the good customers."

  Here's what I order - the heart attack special. You won't find a burger like that at McDonalds or Burger King I can assure you. Enough stuff to clog your arteries in a single bite - but at least you die with a big smile on your face.  
  Once by one, the stragglers waddle back from the Kalico Kitchen to mount up and ride.  

We make a final fuel stop at Huttonsville, WV which should get us the rest of the way to Canaan Valley if all goes as planned.


Unfortunately, the best laid plans of mice and men go oft astray - to borrow a line from that great poet of Scotland. When most of the group arrives at the intersection of highway 219 and highway 72 we are missing some folks. I leave voicemails for the people that I know are missing and send the rest of the group on. As I head back the way that we came, I see the remaining 'breadcrumbs' - Andy, Reg, and Ron - who had been waiting 45 minutes for the others - heading my way. They had great stories to tell of how folks (including a few policemen) would keep checking on them to make sure they were okay and such. We figure the remaining two riders decided to take the highway 33 'shortcut' and I receive a voicemail that confirms that. We finish up the ride up highway 72 - reminding me of a Scottish single track lane - and soon we are all in one place again. What a ride - everybody eventually gets to the resort with no wrecked bodies - motorcycle or human. Supper with friends is good to me, knowing that the Triple P folks had a good time and relieved themselves of the extra tread that was on their tires.

  I look across and Ken is listening intently to a tall tale that Jaybird is spinning.  

When my meal arrives, it is quite the picturesque foofoo platter. I can't help but remark to those nearby -

"Those little round things remind me of what the mice leave in my pickup truck when it sits outside."

I feel sure that enhanced appetites all along the way.

  The food is quite good and Andy and I retire for a good night's sleep. We are supposed to meet the group from CampSToc at Mrs. Rowe's at 11 AM in Staunton, VA so I know we have to be out on the road no later than 8:30 AM. So I settle down for some much needed sleep.  
May 16, 2008

Most of the folks are concerned about the rain coming down, but I figure I said I was going to be there so I'm going. We pull out just past 8:30 AM and hit the first place that has gas. I'm pretty quick at the pumps, having had so much practice over the years. I pull off to wait for the others.


It will be a pretty simple route today, highway 33/220 to highway 250 on into Staunton. We manage to stay in a beautiful path of blue for the ride down, thanks to the Lord.

  As we move along, I begin to calculate the miles versus the time. I realize that if I am going to be there by 11 AM, I'm going to have to wick it up a notch or two. Since the route is so simple, I begin to pull away from the group, knowing they should have no trouble at all finding the place. But as soon as I get into Staunton proper, they are paving a section of highway 250 and the detour directs you in to a parking lot. The SUV driver in front seems a bit confused since there are no signs pointing out. I motion to the only alternative and they finally get it and we escape. I arrive at 11:02 AM to a parking lot full of riders.  
  There's probably more ST1100s and ST1300s in this place than have ever been anywhere in the state of Virginia.  
  I go in to warn them that we are here, and they already have tables put together just for us.  
  It's great to meet new friends and see old friends. The food is good and the service is good, and I do manage to knock Mac's french fries out of the waitress's hands while I'm talking - right into Mac's lap. Oh well, if they tied my hands, I guess I couldn't say a word. The pies are ordered and it is quite a collection to lay your eyes upon.  
  In fact, one rider are so much pie than Miss Ellen had to help him back up his ST1300 due to the extra weight.  
  I share a few moments with my special friends from Ohio and Vermont just before I pull out.  
  On the way back, we have a special surprise. Seems as if a tree has decided to block our path in a serious sort of way. Fortunately a man that lives nearby has a good Stihl chainsaw and we make short work of it and get back after it.  
  I stop along the way to admire the beautiful mountain scenery. West Virginia is quite green this time of year.  
  It's starting to rain, so I am glad to be back at the resort. Andy has checked out some of the places nearby and had a great day also. We hit the buffet at the resort and then wander up to the area where most of the folks are gathered for a time of tall tales and other such stuff. When a band sets up and begins to make rather loud noise, I bid the crowd a fond adieu and go check out my eyelids for holes.  
May 17, 2008
  Today, Andy from Canada has a special road he wants to ride, recommended by Charlie who lives up here. So we decide we'll just follow him. Since he has already eaten breakfast, Andy, Ron, Joe and I decide to head in the general direction in search of breakfast.  
  The Yokum Restaurant looks good enough and is right on the road, so I wheel it in and we check it out. Before long, Andy and Ken pull into the lot also.  
  The food is good and the so it the service. Evidently this is kind of little mini-resort area on the river.  
  The roads for day are really nice and the scenery is peaceful.  
  Just to be able to ride and follow the taillights in front of me is great change of pace after three days of riding lead. I take leading a group of riders very seriously and understand what can happen when things go sideways.  
  I get more of chance to take some shots today, since the group stays fairly close together on this ride.  

We ride the Smoke Hole Road which has just recently been paved and it is a delight. In fact it is so good, we decide to run it back the other way. I tell the group -

"I believe I'll just ease on ahead and see you at the end of it."

Riding by myself, I crank up the wick and just enjoy the curves with nobody in front of me or behind me. When I get to the end, I find a nice place to pull over and wait for the rest of the group a while. Soon it's time to feed the mechanical beasts that we ride, so we make a gas stop at Petersburg at the intersection of highways 28 and 220.

  Then it's a quiet ride back to the resort and I just kick back enjoy the view.  
  We get back to the resort early, because tonight is the 'formal' dinner and the auction. We get a group shot before the festivities begin, with the West Virginia mountains in the background.  
  The BBQ dinner is quite good and I enjoy the chocolate chip cookies. A lot of lively conversations take place as they prepare for the auction.  
  This year the auction proceeds will go to Moff's son David, in England. He was born premature and is blind and has limited hearing. So I start burning up the wallets for a good cause, trying to live up to my billing as the 'Unarmed Robber'.  
  Folks start getting tired as the night goes on and the sugar kicks in. I threaten to break out weapons to wedge under the fingernails. Finally the last item that will sell is purchased, and we have set a new auction record. I am completely bushwhacked and head back to the room for some much needed rest before the long haul tomorrow back to the Holler.  
May 18, 2008
  When we get up, it looks like it is going to be one of those nasty, rainy old days. Dennis, Andy and I are riding out together and we figure we'll get breakfast somewhere along the way.  
  The prospects for a dry ride don't look good, so we all are suited up in our rain gear and head for highway 33 and the interstates.  

I keep looking for a Cracker Barrel or such for breakfast once we reach I79 but there just ain't nothing. Finally just outside of Charleston I see a Bob Evans sign and we head for it. It's been raining pretty steady, but once we are inside, the bottom drops out. It sure is nice to be enjoying a great breakfast instead of motoring through the rain. By the time we finish up, the rain has really slowed down so we are off again. Somewhere along the way, Dennis pulls off to take off his rainsuit and we lose him. When we pull off for the next gas stop, we wait, but Jason comes by and says he hasn't seen him. So we gas up and it's back to slabbing. Before long we make the turn onto I65 which will take us to Nashville. I've done this part of the Interstate so many times I could almost do it with my eyes closed. As Andy and I approach the north part of town, he heads east for his house and I head west for the Holler. It's hard to believe he and I have been riding together since bicycle days and I took him to get his first motorcycle on the back of my 73 Triumph Trident. It's been another good ride with him and as always we give each other the thumbs up as we part. I have managed to ride another 1,800 miles and to see a lot of folks and get to enjoy a lot of curves. And once again I thank my Lord as I pull into the Holler for a special time with my friends.