Riding WV with First State HOG

On behalf of the staff here at RoadCaptainUSA.com I am proud to bring you our latest state of the art high tech gadget affectionately known as the Dianacam. I put the Kodak equipped Dianacam on the passnger seat of my bike and the rest is history. Now you can come along for the ride! It’s almost like you were there leaning over my shoulder watching as I navigate my trusty Harley through the twisties of West Virginia with the crew from First State HOG. 

New River Gorge Bridge – Fayette, WV

The new River Gorge Bridge

Day three of our West Virginia trip was the climax of the journey. It was Friday July 18th, 2008 and we were off to see the world’s longest single arch steel bridge!

First State HOG in West Virginia

Our group of eight motorcycles left Snowshoe Ski Resort at 9:00am and headed back to Marlinton on Route 219. This was our third time on this road and we were beginning to memorize where the really funny trailer homes were. My favorites are the trailer home that have the old refidgerator on the patio and the one that has all their old trash piled high inside theirs. Riding along the river in Marlinton is beautiful. From 219 we got on Route 150 which is the Highland Scenic Highway through Monongahela National Forest. I really can’t describe how incredible this road is, so I will quote www.byways.org

Travel through a wild and undeveloped portion of the Monongahela National Forest. Hardwood forests cover rolling, mountainous terrain capped by dark spruce at high elevations. Traverse a narrow and steep-walled valley with views of clear mountain streams. Sights include Cranberry Glades Botanical Area, Summit Lake and Falls of Hills Creek.

Monongahela Forest

Diana in Monongahela National Forest 

We approached civilization around lunch time which was a good timing. We took over a Wendys and refueled our bodies. Then we continued our ride to New River Gorge Harley Davidson in Hico. I was riding sweep again and it was at this time that I felt a burning sensation hit my inner thigh. I grew up with terrible allergies and my parents always told me I would die if I got stung by a bee. I have never been stung by a bee, wasp or hornet as an adult… until now. I was riding sweep waiting for my throat to swell up and choke me to death. I affectionately patted my wifes leg and enjoyed the ride as much as I could thinking this could be it for me! This could be my last ride! We arrived at New River Gorge Harley Davidson safely but I still wasn’t sure if I was gonna live. I told Diana I got stung by a bee, she should pick out a cool t-shirt for me in case I live and then I shook hands with some of my friends and said goodbye to everyone in case I was to keel over right then and there. I had a huge purple welt on my inner thigh. Darlene gave me some bug bite ointment to rub on my leg and I was as good as new. New River HD was selling mens tanks and sleeveless shirts at Buy 1 get 1 Half Off… so I got two cool shirts. It was at this time that Lem started asking the employees if they had seen our three members that were going to meet us here. They asked what our friends looked like and he started to describe Gordy who always wears shorts. They asked what kind of shorts. Exactly at that moment here comes Gordy, Al and Chris pulling into the parking lot. “Shorts like that guy is wearing!”

New River Gorge Harley Davidson

We were now 11 motorcycles with 17 members total. It was time to cross the Gorge! I was expecting to cross a rickety old plank eight feet wide by 3000 feet long connecting the two mountains. The ride across the bridge on Route 19 was anticlimatic.

Crossing the bridge

You could see we were high up with the river hundreds of feet below, but other than that it was just another piece of highway. We pulled a U-Turn and crossed the bridge again and pulled into the Canyon Rim Visitor Center.

Once you see the bridge from the two scenic overlooks at the visitor center you grasp the enormity of this structure. The second of the two overlooks is 177 stair steps down… well worth the work out. This was the highest vehicular bridge in the world at 876′ until 2004 when a higher bridge was built in France. Check out the view… you can see the old Fayette Station Bridge down below. OK, lets go down there!

Bridge scenic overlook

A women who worked in the visitor center showed us on a map how to follow the Fayette Station Auto Tour. I will now quote the New River Gorge Scenic Drives brochure…

To travel Fayette Station Road is to travel back in time before the modern New River Bridge was built in 1977. This one hundred year old road of hairpin turns winds down to the bottom of the gorge, across a narrow bridge, and up the other side. Visible along the way are vistas of the river and bridges, a hardwood forest, and a few remnants of the New River Gorge communities that once teemed with activity.

Brake lights

 Fayette Station Road

Twisted road

This road was the high lite of the trip for me, but you have to realize I need professional help! I like a good adrenaline rush to remind me I’m alive. For most of our members riding Ultra Classics with a full load of luggage this was flat out scarey. Imagine descending down the face of an 876′ mountain on a single lane one way 8′ wide 100 year old road that has not been maintained in any way with no guard rails! You are riding along rock cliffs and heavy foliage like a trip back in time. The winding turns were more like a stairwell than a “hairpin” or “switchback”. The road was decorated with pot holes, gravel and sand at every turn! It was awesome! A true test of riding skills.

 Old Fayette Bridge

View from old Fayette Bridge

We finally got to the bottom and crossed the replica of the old Fayette Station bridge. Then it was back up the other side of the gorge. Diana and I were whooping it up and woo hooing when we got to the top! We loved that ride; I think we were the only ones.

The Quality Inn in Fayetteville was close by and a great place for bikers. It’s not a five star motel, but it has a swimming pool, laundry facilty, bar & grill and store. There is a gas station, convenience store and Dairy Queen next door. There is a Walmart 1 mile down the street. There were at least three different motorcycle clubs using the motel on Friday. One group was a Boiler Maker Union with over 30 motorcycles. Diana and I went to the White Water Bar & Grill for dinner while our club went for a second ride. This was a fantastic bar. Lots of beer on ice. I ordered Hawg Wings and I wish I could show you a picture that described how good they were, but you will have to take my word for it. They were kick ass! I drank Mountaineer Pale Ale which was pretty darn good, but I would have preferred Yuengling. Apparently Yuengling is not only unavailable in West Virginia, but it is illegal! After dinner we rode down to Walmart where I bought a pair of jeans and Benedryl cream for my leg which was getting itchy. I tried to wear one pair of jeans for 5 days straight but didn’t succeed. Remember by this time my jeans were full of Gold Bond medicated powder and bug bite ointment. They needed to be switched out or washed. Next we hit the swimming pool which was warm and relaxing, especially since we shared it with some bikers and there weren’t any whiney ankle biters splashing around. I don’t like ankle biters or splashing around. Then we put on dry clothes and headed for the DQ. Some clubs like to drink lots of beer, we like ice cream! Having a DQ next door to us was the bomb! What a great way to end an almost perfect day. Diana and I shared a chocolate covered strawberry sunday in a waffle bowl. We almost called it a night, but instead a few of us went back to the bar for one more round of beers. Killer day! I wish I could relive that day a couple times… without the bee sting!