Old John and His New R1150RS Try to Get In Trouble
Friday I decided that I would go somewhere for the weekend, or part of it. I had no idea where and considered the Mississippi, the Ozarks (Missouri and/or Arkansas), Kentucky and Tennessee and finally settled on West Virginia, mostly because it looked like the weather might be more moderate in that direction. I left about 8:30 Saturday morning and took US 40 to Springfield, Ohio and then went southeast on a variety of non-Interstate roads to the river (Ohio) then followed the river to Huntington (W.VA). I was thinking of overnighting at Huntington but I got there with much of the afternoon still left so I stopped at a welcome center to get a map and investigate lodging possibilities. I didn't know how hard it might be to find a room with the holiday travel so I checked the map and one of those motel guides and decided that Parkersburg would be a better stopping point. I called a Red Roof and made a reservation and then set out along the river to Parkersburg. Got in about 6:30 and got directions to a "place to get steak and beer." I set out looking for an alleged Outback Steakhouse but never found it. I was on one of those roads that have multi lanes flanked on both sides by never-ending shopping centers and the need to watch all the traffic, all the time (ATT,ATT) meant I never did see the Outback. I did find a local place, River City Tavern & Grill, that looked promising and stopped there. I ate at the bar, of course, and had an excellent steak and good conversation with an elderly (my age) lawyer and Democrat party activist who was sitting next to me. He told me the owners of the place were two former Outback managers, which explained the food, like Outback but better. We discussed politics and politicians and engaged in a lively bit of Bush bashing along the way.
The next morning I was up and out by 6:30 (5:30 my time). The first thing I had to do was stop for a deer on the entrance ramp to the highway. The deer seemed none too concerned about me and just wandered slowly away as I waited. I continued north along the river intending to cross back to Ohio by ferry but found the ferry didn't start till nine on Sundays. So I kept going north toward a town with a bridge. Stopped for breakfast at a local place on the main street of new Martinsville, an old river town and had a very good breakfast buffet while being entertained by listening to some local guys telling stories about other local guys. I had found a couple of promising looking roads (twisty) on the Ohio side that I wanted to try so I crossed over and went back south along the river and then made a loop through a national forest on the first of the twisty roads. It was one tight turn after another with only really short straight sections between the turns. I rode it hard and fast. The first part of the loop (OH 260, if you are following on your map) lacked those little speed advisory signs for the turns and that made it challenging since most of them were blind turns. The second leg (OH 26) was just as twisty but at least had speed clues posted. Decent pavement, for the most part, some gravel in some of the apexes but not too bad overall. It was about a 45 minute run and I was back to the river. About 30 miles down river I came to OH 555, famed as "The Triple Nickel." This has been called the most technically challenging road in Ohio and I had to try it. I had only gone about a half mile and was laid over pretty far in the middle of a turn when a state cop went by going the other direction. I slowed and waited for him to turn around but he didn't so I got back on it.
The first 30 miles or so was curvy and fairly fast with lots of sweeping turns and a few tight ones but I didn't think it was as difficult as my earlier loop. Then I came to the part of the road responsible for its reputation. Holy ****! This thing was nothing but corners for the next twenty miles, no straight section longer than a hundred yards, and very hilly. Every corner seemed to be right over the crest of a hill. I was reading the tree line over the hills to get a clues to where the road would go on the dark side of the crest. I was starting to lose concentration, I had been riding hard for more than an hour and was finding myself one turn behind a lot of the time. I'd screw up a corner and I'd be still thinking about it when I should have been thinking about the next one. I kept telling myself to, "get in the game," but it wasn't working and I started looking for a place to pull off - not easy to find since the road has no shoulder at all. Finally found a spot and got out of my jacket and had a smoke. I was wearing my "big" clothes for protection and it was starting to get hot.
The break helped and I was quickly back up to speed, brake hard into the corners, downshift, lean way over and accelerate hard to the next one. Then I crested a hill and the road went hard left - right now! No way was I going to make this one. Hard on the brakes, really hard, the ABS brakes make the tires chirp as they lock and unlock rapidly. Straight ahead is a rough gravel driveway and and I love it and hate it at the same time. It gives me a place to go without hitting anything (or falling down) but it is the the driveway's fault that the tree line gives me bad information. The rest of that leg went without incident, though I may have slowed some. At Portersville I grabbed a Gatorade, noticed a blister on my right palm, changed into my summer suit and started for home. Except for the cop, I didn't see a single car on either twisty route and saw only two other bikes, both going the other way and being ridden conservatively.
Day one was 401 miles and day two was 425. I felt good at the end of the first day but I was really tired by the time I got home on day two, I think because I had worked so hard in the early part of the day. I did manage to scuff the chicken strips on my tires but I may be getting too old to be playing boy racer. I just wasn't sharp much of the time, really sloppy some of the time and, clearly, my ability to concentrate over long periods is a thing of the past. Maybe I need a track day. On the other hand, none of my joints hurt at all. That glucocamine/chondroitin regimen must be working. Is there something similar for the brain?