Saturday, April 19, 2008

Good morning West Virginia

We woke up to a beautiful morning. It was chilly still but was supposed to warm up in to the mid 70’s with a chance of rain in the evening once we reached PA. The sun hadn’t even come up yet by the time Mike and I went downstairs to check out the free breakfast selection at the AmeriHost Inn in New Martinsville, WV. The selection was OK, we could have ate some cereal and grabbed a pre-packaged muffin except that next door the golden arches were burning brightly and for some reason we were craving some McDonalds breakfast this morning.

No, McDees's does not sell Red Bull, I brought this one with and it was chilling overnight in my hard case

After breakfast we walked around the back of the motel to check out the Ohio River. It was really neat having this huge river just a few steps away, I don’t think I’ve ever stayed this close to a river. There were many people finishing this morning. We walked around some but when the sun came up and we needed to get packing and get on the road soon.

The Ohio River in New Martinsville, WV

By 7:30AM the four of us were at the bikes loading up our hard luggage, departing just before 8AM. It was nice to leave the motel and immediately be riding twisty roads.

At the motel getting ready to leave

Yesterday we were a bit rushed, not wanting to waste any time and wanting to get through a lot of the planned roads before sun set. Today the pace was a bit more relaxed, so if anyone wanted to stop and check stuff out along the route they could.

Alex, Rick and Mike

I stopped to smell the flowers

Road side scenery in West Virginia along RT 20

Our route was taking us a bit out of the way, since instead of heading for the PA state line which was less then 35 miles away, we were going to ride through West Virginia and less than 30 miles from the Maryland state line, we were going to head North and enter PA from the bottom of the state. This way we could avoid Pittsburgh and ride more roads, although that meant more miles for us to Clearfield, PA where we wanted to be tonight no later then 7PM.

The roads were great; again hardly any traffic and curves everywhere. We rode as a group and at times we road separate re-grouping along the route.

Our friends Jay and Dan send us a text message this morning they were already near the Indiana and Ohio border. They were making really good time and we figured that after lunch there was a strong possibly of us running into them along the route. Friday after work they rode from Chicago to Indianapolis and this morning they were riding from Indy to Clearfield, PA riding just south of Pittsburg and then using some of the same roads as us.

By 11:30AM we took a break, this was our third one already today. We were starting to get really hot, so we took the rest of our layers off and opened all the vents. The day was sunny all morning but now we could see some clouds forming in the distance. It was already 80 degrees and still early in the day. We decided to grab some lunch somewhere in about an hour or hour and a half.

Each time we stopped to take a break we shared some stories from the road. This one was particularly amusing; I just wished I had been there to see this. The guys rode together ahead of me but at some point the route wasn’t clear on where to turn so they pulled over to wait for me. They pulled over on the side of the road and turned their bikes off, just waiting and looking around. They had the sensation that they were being watched but at first glace there was nothing there. Then, looking closely just on the other side of the road from them, in between the trees and bushes, in the midst of all the green foliage, there were humans watching them wearing helmets and camouflage fatigues. Not only that, they had guns pointed at them. They guessed they caught the military guys in the middle of practicing something, but they didn’t want to stick around too long to find out.

We all rode through the next town together and after we got separated, but this time not intentionally. Mike signaled that he needed to pull over and for us to continue, so we did. I was following Rick and Alex for a while but they got on it through some twisties and I didn’t see them again. I haven’t seen Mike either, but knew he was behind me, so I kept riding to catch up with Rick and Alex. But after about an hour still no sight of them. I entered Pennsylvania, but I was in the middle of no where and my phone wasn’t working.

At this point I figured Rick and Alex made a wrong turn somewhere, so I was just waiting now for Mike to catch up, riding at about speed limit. Next town again no phone service. I wanted to pull over somewhere where there was phone service and at least a gas station, so I kept pushing forward finally arriving at an intersection that had a gas station and there was a stop sign at this intersection and my route turned right on to the other road, so the guys would have to stop and I’d see them and they would see me. It was 1:30PM already, way passed our lunch time.

The phone was also working, well, kind of working. I could retrieve my voice mail but couldn’t really understand my messages since they were full of static and every word was broken up. My phone rang twice but I couldn’t pick up the call. Really frustrating, so I started to text message everyone. From what I could gather, Mike ran in to Rick and Alex and now they were together and I was way ahead of them. At least we knew everyone was OK. So the plan was for me to sit and wait here and for them to catch up. They all arrived 45 minutes later. We gassed up and went to the Subway across the street to have lunch. I guess Rick and Alex had pulled off the road to some restaurant and they thought that I’d be able to see the bikes from the road.

I looked really hard the whole time I rode but didn’t see any bikes, but then again I didn’t look off the road. Usually if I want to pull over and I want the people behind me to see my bike, I’ll leave it as close to the road we’re riding as possible. So Rick and Alex kind of messed up and I messed up because I went trying to catch them instead of pulling over to wait for Mike. He rode alone for a bit not seeing anyone either. We all had the route but at times people will interpret the route differently, so you can still loose riders.

We didn’t get any updates from Jay and Dan and we couldn’t continue our route, too many twisty roads left and not enough time to ride them. It was already 3PM. Jay and Dan were either running late or have taken another route; otherwise we would have seen them by now. From here we took off taking a more direct route and a larger roads but unfortunately those roads went through some towns and at times we were in a bit of traffic.

We continued until finally stopping in Punxsutawney, PA to gas up. After a very short break we finally reached some curvy and empty roads. We arrived in Clearfield just as the sun was setting. There was still no update from Jay and Dan, which had us a bit worried.

Mike and I dumped all our stuff in Rick’s and Alex’s room for now since we were sharing a room with Jay and Dan.

The four of us went to the Dutch Pantry restaurant down the street. This was our 3rd time eating there while staying in this town. It was within walking distance of the motel and they had some really good and affordable food. I highly recommend this place even though they don’t sell any alcohol and if I drink alcohol it’s usually with food.

Mike walking through the store section of the Dutch Pantry

Our appetizers, onion rings and these things that kind of looked like cheese curds by they had creamed corn inside and you were given honey to dip them in - yummy

I think Mike had meatloaf

My dinner: shrimp, shrimp and more shrimp

Mike and I really splurged tonight, we both had dessert, he had some apple turnover I had a strawberry shortcake sundae

After dinner walking back to the Day’s Inn, we ran in to Jay and Dan who just got there. Mike and I got all our stuff and moved it to Jay’s and Dan’s room, then all of us walked to the bar at the Day’s Inn. I had my obligatory Yuengling beer which I always have when I’m in the area. Pronounced "Ying-Ling', the beer is brewed in America’s oldest brewery located in Pennsylvania about 3 hours east of here.

We did a bit of socializing with others that had also rode here for tomorrow’s event, but I was way too stuffed from dinner to finish all my beer and wanted to get some rest since tomorrow morning we were going to do a morning ride before riding back to town for the event.

As Mike and I walked back to our motel room, I was amazed how lucky we got with the weather so far. It was supposed to rain on Friday morning in Chicago but it didn’t and it was supposed to rain here by this evening but so far it was cloudy but dry. Where Jay and Dan rode in the rain both days. Tomorrow’s forecast was calling for rain all day, would our luck continue?

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