2009 East 50 motorcycle trip

On our Colorado bike trip in 2004 we rode US50 to Pueblo, CO, enroute to Colorado Springs. Since then I've been interested in riding US50 to the east coast. On our 2005, 2007, and 2008 motorcycle trips we've ridden various parts of the Blue Ridge Parkway. I've always wanted to do the whole thing.

In early June our normal gang had taken a two week trip to South Dakota. Later that month Mike Padgett from work and I had taken a weekend trip to Pigeon Forge. Both were great trips. In mid-July, triggered by some turmoil in my personal life, I started planning another trip to get away for awhile.

I knew the trip would be based on riding US50 to the coast. From there I started looking at the maps and seeing different routes in my mind. I wanted to do the whole Blue Ridge Parkway. How about Skyline Drive? Maybe the Cape Hatteras region? After many additions and deletions I came up with the following route:

- US50 to the coast
- Down the eastern penisula of Maryland and Virginia across the Chesapeake Bay bridge/tunnel
- Looping back up to Waynesboro via I-64
- Riding the entire Blue Ridge Parkway
- Spend a few days in Pigeon Forge riding the roads in the area and staying in a mountain cabin

I had the plan. Now the actors. I sent emails to the normal bike gang, my brother, friends, and guys at work. I didn't expect a big turnout on relatively short notice. In the end it would be Mike Padgett and I again. I pestered my brother about going up until the last moment...literally. He's single, has a Goldwing, and has never been on a long bike trip like that. He would have loved it, and three GL1800s would have been a good number.

With the number set at two I rented the Angels Nest cabin in Walden Creek near Pigeon Forge. I had stayed at the Beautiful Views cabin next door in 2007 and 2008. I knew the Angels Nest cabin had a flat and larger parking lot that would be good for motorcycles.

After some consideration of things work related I settled on September 4-13 as the dates. The Labor Day weekend meant one day less of leave I would have to accrue/take. We had planned to pack things on our bikes, but about a week before the trip I decided to take the Dumpster. We could take what we wanted without loading down the bikes.

September 4

6:41 am. Under a nice, full moon I packed the trailer and made sure I had everything. We were meeting at 7 am at Jim Day's gas station like last time. I headed the 3 miles towards town, got gas, ice, then pulled over and waited for Mike.

Bedford, IN. 7:00, initial mileage is 35,715 - Mike arrived right on time. We piddled around for awhile, loaded his bag into the Dumpster, and enjoyed the beginning of our adventure.

At 7:07 we fired up the bikes then shoved off to begin our adventure.

The sky was partly overcast and did a great job of keeping the rising sun out of our eyes. Temperatures were in the low 60's. There is very little chance of rain forecast for the whole trip. I passed within a few blocks of my girlfriend's house on the way down US50. At this hour she was still sleeping or maybe getting her girls ready for school. I blew her a kiss to be safe while I was gone.

Between Seymour and North Vernon we passed this police car on a traffic stop. We would see lots of police stops over this Labor Day weekend. Thankfully none would be us.

Mike is in his familiar tailgunner position. I will try to perfect my 'on the move' picture taking.

Versailles, IN. 8:52 - Mike is very low maintenance. All he asks for is some coffee in the morning. We pulled into the McDonalds. Mike got his coffee. I got my Coke. We both had a breakfast sandwich.

When I drive the stretch of US50 east of Seymour it reminds me when I was coming back from Operation Get Goldwing. It was way past midnight and the moon was full as I headed home with my Goldwing tucked safely inside the trailer...the same one I'm riding on today. It will be riding in the same area it came from.

About 8 miles east of Versailles US50 becomes 4-lane most of the way through Cincinnati. We're able to pick up the speed a little. One of the downsides of a 2-lane highway is the occasional slowpoke. So far we haven't had a problem with that. I always enjoy the drive through Aurora and Lawrenceburg. They are scenic towns.

Cincinnati, OH. 10:37, mileage 35,847 - We stopped for fuel near the airport. We didn't know what to expect driving through Cincinnati. It was mostly expressway type roads with a minimal amount of stoplights. Our fear was blocks and blocks of stoplights and creeping traffic. US50 follows the Ohio River about half way through Cincinnati affording some scenic views.

Once we cleared Cincinnati the area and road took on more of a rural feel. US50 became almost a state highway quality...narrower than back in Indiana. I enjoy riding the old US highways...seeing Americana the way it's been for many decades.

We passed another traffic stop.

I smiled as we passed through the community of Fayetteville. I enjoy seeing other similarly named places like Fayetteville, Bedford, Eureka, etc.

I got a few pictures going through Hillsboro...

...and Bainbridge. I enjoy these small towns. Mike is still right behind.

The terrain is starting to show some hills.

Chillicothe, OH. 13:10, mileage 35,946 - We ending up stopping a little east of Chillicothe. I try to find a gas station on the right side of the road to minimize crossing traffic. Chillicothe was hosting the Easyriders Rodeo Tour and there were tons of bikes around. It was fairly hot now so we hydrated in the shade of the store for awhile.

Going through the town of McArthur I took a picture of this hotel. I thought it had a unique look.

Sixteen miles east of McArthur US50 meets OH32 and becomes 4-lane all the way to Clarksburg.

Clarksburg, WV. 16:21, mileage 36,108 - This was originally planned to be our stop for the day. Since it was still early we decided to press on. We still had a few hours of daylight available and Winchester was about 150 miles away.

When we left Clarksburg two things happened. The road became nicer and it became VERY curvy in spots as it went up and down the mountains of West Virginia. Unfortunately we soon got behind an old lady in a silver Jeep Liberty. For THIRTY MILES she drove 10-15 mph under the speed limit through some of the nicest parts of the road. At one point we got behind a log truck going slowly up the hill. Once he topped the hill and came to a pulloff he moved aside for traffic to pass. Unfortunately the old lady wouldn't show the same courtesy. When we finally reached a straight stretch Mike and I blew passed her. Grrrrrr.

In the Maryland notch we came upon windmills as far as the eye could see. Near the town of Mount Storm, WV, the fire department was standing in the roadway taking donations. I stopped and donated. I know how it is.

West Virginia and US50 offered lots of curvy roads and scenery.

A section of US50 was closed near New Creek which required a five mile or so detour. Through part of the detour we got behind a Toyota truck going very slow. It was silver.

We stopped at convenience store in Romney for a stretch. I got a pop and an apple fritter. Just took a couple bites and saved it for later. As I've read the travel adventures of others I've often heard of Romney. It's a nice little town. While we were here we had the GPS search for hotels in Winchester. We decided on the Holiday Inn Express, and I called and made reservations.

By now the sun was going down and was being replaced by the full moon. The moon glow added coolness to the adventure. I was on alert for deer. I used the high beams as much as possible to find the green-eyed monsters. At one point I flipped on the driving lights to see how they would illuminate on the curvy roads and I got nothing. Hmmmmmmm. Wonder what's wrong?

Winchester, VA. 20:55, mileage 36,264 - Under the moonlit sky the GPS led us right to the hotel. We checked in, dropped our stuff in the room, and went to the Arbys next door for supper. When we finished at Arbys I went to the bike to get my log book and under the night light I checked my driving lights. Sheepishly, I found the problem. I had turned on the switch for the fans. The driving lights worked fine when I used the correct switch. Doh!

It was nice to have gained 150 miles the first day. It'll add some flexibility to the rest of the trip. We might even spend some extra time in Washington DC tomorrow. Mike crawled in his bed, turned on the TV, and was asleep in about 30 seconds. I took a shower, then downloaded the GPS track and pictures from the day. Then I, too, went to bed.

549 miles.

Click here for our next day's adventure.

Day 1 Day 2 Day 3 Day 4 Day 5 Day 6 Day 7 Day 8 Day 9

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