Thursday, September 13, 2012

ESTN Day 2: Extreme Sport-Touring & Negotiating

Friday morning, we met Shane and Andrea in the breakfast room of our motel at 7:30 AM. Chris was ecstatic to find Fruit Loops as a breakfast option; apparently, he'd been jonesing Fruit Loops! Who knew? Once our bellies were full with continental breakfast goodies, we returned to our rooms to grab our bags and top case so we could get on the road.
We hit the road at 7:58 AM and found it to be kinda chilly!

Passing the Staunton Post Office...probably should have mailed Mom's birthday card from there!
(More on that later.)

Following Shane & Andrea through Staunton. Check me out in the shadow!

As soon as we left Staunton, we ran into quite a bit of fog and temperatures in the high 50s/low 60s.

Nice chevrons!
We stopped so Andrea could put on an additional layer under her mesh jacket, so Chris took advantage of the nearby "facilities."

We came upon a work zone and had to wait for the pilot truck to return to escort us through. We were stopped long enough that I hopped off the bike to stretch my legs.

Such a pretty blue bike!
Away we go behind the pilot truck!
Pilot Car...Follow Me!

Passing the Greenbrier Grille & Lodge in Marlinton, WV
A barn in fog.
Shane led the ride on Friday and, as you can see in the pictures above, we were on "real" roads. That "real road" phenomenon came to a SCREECHING halt when we hit Shady-Whitby Road in Raleigh, WV. This..."road" (and I use that term quite loosely) was one that we honestly had NO BUSINESS being on with an FJR and a Concours. Hell, I would be hard-pressed to take my AWD Subaru down this road, and it has a rally-inspired racing heritage! 

Actually, the first 90% of Shady-Whitby Road was OK. Just OK. It was gravel, but it wasn't anything we hadn't encountered before. Then things went downhill. Literally. Like we were losing elevation...steeply! And the road went from gravel to rocks the size of baseballs and softballs. We had the slight advantage of following Shane and Andrea so Chris could see Shane's lines and I could watch just how much Andrea was getting tossed around and prepare myself for the bumps and dips.

Ironically, just the day before, Chris and I had been talking about encountering bad situations and the mantra, "when in doubt, throttle out!" So when a large rut swallowed our front tire - despite Chris' best efforts - and threatened to send us off the "road" into a gigantic ditch, two things happened. First, I mentally prepared myself for the worst. I simply resigned myself to the fact that we were going down and tried to make myself as loosey-goosey as possible. Second - and most importantly! - Chris cracked the throttle and rocketed the bike (and us!) out of the rut and kept us going. That's when I started with the lamaze breathing! I couldn't believe we made it out of that alive, much less still upright! My hubby has MAD SKILLZ!!!

We stopped at the bottom of the hill from hell to collect ourselves (we were all a bit frazzled). Chris and Shane agreed that road was the worst one they've ever been on, two-up or otherwise! Almost immediately after we stopped, a guy on an ATV rode past us. Presumably he heard us coming down the hill (and feared we were going to find his 'shine still!). Thankfully, the worst of "that road" was behind us and after about another five minutes of a flat (thank God!) gravel road, we returned to asphalt.

Not sure you can see my smile, but that asphalt behind me is definitely reason to smile!!!

Welcome to Welch...Chris' Dad's hometown.
Coming into downtown Welch.

Downtown Welch.

Check out the coal chute that crosses the road!

Coal chute.
We took another stretch break before hitting VA 16 through Hungry Mother State Park. My goodness, I love VA 16!!! Wowzers!  

Had to take a picture of Happy's in Marion, VA for our friend Sara!

Friday was an absolutely beautiful day for riding!

Catching a picture of Shane and Andrea as they come out of a right-hand hairpin; caught us, too!


Welcome to North Carolina!

This. is. SPARTA!!!
We arrived in Sparta around 6:15 PM, checked in, and retreated to our rooms pretty quickly so we could get cleaned up for dinner. When we emerged from our rooms, we found lots of our friends mingling about in the parking lot - Garry, Doug, Jack, Frank, Scott (BEANS!), and Ben to name a few. The rest of our PA contingent - Jerry, David, Jeff, and John - arrived shortly thereafter. Once the guys were cleaned up, we all walked to JB's (in the motel parking lot) for dinner. 

After dinner, we stood around in the parking lot talking (shocker!) and enjoying a few adult beverages, including sampling a little moonshine that Jerry picked up in West Virginia. Jeff introduced a few of us to Wild Turkey American Honey Bourbon. One word. YUM! (I guess we'll be adding that to the shrine to alcohol at The Homestead soon!) I shared the Clementine's Dark Chocolate Chip Walnut Oatmeal Cookies that we brought. I usually make the cookies we take to motorcycle meets, but Chris made them this time to help me out last week (it was a short, but very busy week!). Everyone seemed to enjoy the cookies we brought, as well as the ones that Leisa sent with Jerry. 

Before we all scattered and turned in for the night, Chris and I agreed with Shane and Andrea that we would meet for breakfast at JB's at 7:30 AM. Day 2 and our extreme sport-touring and gravel road negotiating was over! 

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