Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Fishersville VA. Weekend Ride

In three days of riding, I just put 1,023 miles on the odometer of my bike.

On Saturday, March 8th, the old girl and I set out for Fishersville, VA. First on my agenda was to arrive at my intended campsite, get the bike unloaded, my tent set up, and back on the road to explore Fishersville and Charlottesville. In order to accomplish this feat, I chose to ride the quick way up…on I-81 from Bristol. That's what I did for the most part; except for a small stretch where I just got so damn bored I thought to try US-11north.

Problematic, as it was slow going through all the small towns it ran through. I ended back on I-81 until I came to exit 132. Exit 132 was my planned stop over, Dixie Caverns and Campgrounds.

I decided on this stop for the price only. Eight dollars for primitive camping and included with it was the heated shower and toilet facilities. Comparable sites closer to where I was going…and that's if they were open to campers yet, was $22.00 a night. Hell, I like riding well enough, the hundred miles I was shy of my true destination for the next day (Fishersville, and a swap meet held by Departure Bike Works of Richmond VA.) should be a breeze….

Having unloaded my gear, put up my tent, blew up my air mattress, stowed my gear in the tent…well I suppose I was ready to go exploring. I again jumped onto I-81 north and rode the hundred miles to Fishersville. I was there in search of the Augusta Expo where the event was planned for the next day. On my way up there, I had decided to find Departure Bike Works, and have them take care of a niggling little problem that was driving me crazy. You guys remember I told you that my tail light assembly was loose and vibrating really bad? I still hadn't gotten it fixed. Now you also remember I just said that Departure was in Richmond? I hadn't realized that at the time I decided to go look for them…for some unknown reason, (beyond the fact I was born a blonde,) I had it in my head they were in Charlottesville. I ride to just outside Charlottesville on I-64, stop and give them a call, it's 4.30 PM and I wanted to find them, make sure they would still be there when I got in, and that they would fix my problem….WHOOA… I get Brenda on the phone from Departure…and she says to me… "Do you know where we are located at?" "Well…no, that's why I'm calling…to get directions from here…." Says I… "Chessie, we are in…." OK so you can guess how the rest of the short conversation went.

I got off at the next exit, and chose to get lost on some back roads. I found my way to Batesville, stopped at what was touted as a general store to get a bottle of water and some directions…whoa again sister, when I entered that "general store" what I found would have made me feel I was in some large city. This place was quite large, it was decorated to have a home town feel to it, but it also had computer ports, a bakery, a healthy sandwich shop, goodies that were out for tasting…I was wishing I had a laptop, I would have dragged it out plopped my butt right down and assaulted as many of the wonderful pastries as I could lay my hands on. To hell with a diet when your on vacation right? Ahhhh, no laptop, no stopping. Get your directions and get the hell outta there, as it is Chessie…your not getting back to your tent until after dusk.

Got back to my tent, lit a small campfire, drank a half gallon of water, took a really long hot shower to help ease the cramping muscles that are relearning how to ride for a distance…and head off to la la land….it's to be 40 degrees tonight, so I sleep in my very warm comfies…and dream of pastries all night long.


I'm up the next morning before 6AM. I wanted to get dressed and get outta there by 6. I also wanted to stay the night one more night, so I thought better than to crank up my bike at 6AM on a Sunday morning, I waited until 7AM. I once more jumped on I-81 north, making my way up to Fishersville and the Expo building. I pulled in behind a truck pulling a trailer loaded with bike parts. The parts were loaded up to the gunwales…I figured he was headed to the swap meet. I figured right. He led me right to the back door, I followed him in and found Brenda from Departure Bike Works, introducing myself to her, we got on friendly footing and I started making my way around the building visiting the vendors who had come and set up shop or were in the process of setting up shop.

According to Brenda there were to be about 25 vendors who had expressed a desire to attend. But by the end of registration, and the opening of the doors to the public, from my count there were 15.

OK…folks, I can't get into the rest of the story here…cuz I am selling this part to Bandit at BikerNet.com….but I just wanted y'all to know…there was a swap meet going on…and the people of VA. were attending!

I left outta Fishersville around noon. Heading southwest on Tinkling Springs Road, I'm off to explore the world. Tinkling Springs RD. will eventfully dump you off into Route 340, which I crossed and jumped onto SR 608 through a town known as Stuart's Draft. Over the railroad tracks and down the road just a tad, route 1530 becomes known to the traveler through road signs, it appears to be a great route, not mention, it heads off into a southwesterly direction, and that's just the way I was hankerin' to head off to. Locally I guess the road is known as Cold Springs Road, it has a few nice little curves in it, and some nice hilly countryside to look at when your not navigating the curves. In a few miles, it dumps you into US-11south, and I'm still heading in a tent-wardly direction. For those of you who don't know, US-11 is kinda like the East's version of Route 66. Before I-81 came along, US-11 was the main drag through VA. and because of this, you'll find some pretty cool and interesting sights along the way. Once your main road closes down, it's easy for the map makers to forget you exist, so these little towns come up with some ingenious ways of attracting attention.

There is on place known as Natural Bridge. I was getting pretty excited about seeing a site that provides a natural bridge…in fact I was willing to stop and pay to get in and see it up close, as well as soak in some history about the area. They pissed me off though. The road will take you right past the natural bridge, but they have walled it off with a very tall wood structure, thus preventing the passer-by from getting any kind of a gander at it all. Sorry little town of Natural Bridge. You lost me with that trick. I see nothing clever about blocking off a natural landmark from casual view. It struck me as being so unethical, I lost all desire to leave the road and see this piece of natural workmanship. I'm not sure, but I may have shot myself in the foot with that feeling…all the same, I felt as if I had been cheated of something…and I wasn't about to give in to their ransoming to see it.

Before you get to the town of Natural Bridge, you will come across a little junk yard on the left side of the road as you travel south. You will see a worn out sign high in the air advertising eggs and bacon…I saw that, and the junk yard, I had to turn around and get a picture of it. As I pulled off to the side of the road with my bike, an elderly man comes running spritely over. "Hell, young man" he yells at me, "you've stopped at the right place! I've owned 15 of those over the course of my lifetime…"

He walks over to me sitting on the side of the road…and continues to regale me with his stories. The old codger is 80 years young, has an 18 year old daughter who is just graduating high school and entering university…His first bike was 1933 Flatty….so he tells me. This guy is just too happy to have someone to listen to his tales of travel with his motorbikes. Listen is exactly what I did…he had some wonderful tales.

After leaving the old man, I head back south…and come across this place.

How weird is this?

Finally around Buchanan, I've had enough of all this, and jump on the Blue Ridge Highway. Talk about a scary 4 miles from Route 11 to the on ramp at the Blue Ridge? Good lord, I was thinking heavily about turning back, they used chipped shale to keep the road graveled during winter…and it was as slippery as gorilla snot. My shoulders, hands and teeth hurt by the time I got onto the Parkway…I just jumped on, headed south and breathed a huge stress relieving sigh. Soon I was enjoying the spine of the Blue Ridge Motorway…and it was beautiful…so beautiful.

I ended up getting off the Blue Ridge around Webster and started making my way back west toward I-81 and Route 11. Heading toward the city of Roanoke on Route 221, then switching to Route 460 West in the city of Roanoke, I soon make my way to Route 11 once more and the small town of Salem. It was in Salem I had to assume something wicked my way came. It became apparent to me that vehicles were staying too far back from my rear fender. Knowing that I was about to lose my tail light assembly…I figured that I finally had. I kept going, looking for an Auto Zone or something. Seeing one, I stopped, looked at my fender where my stop light assembly was…and seeing it was still there was a bit of a relief. What wasn't there, was my lens and light bulb. OK…this was much better than losing everything. Walking inside, the older guy behind the desk is a biker too. He helps fix me up…I have a nice red lens and a new 1157 bulb in the socket. I'll make it home the rest of the way with no problems. My tent site was only a mile away.

Pulling into my tent site, it was still daylight. I gathered an armful of wood for a fire that night, I drank about a gallon of water, I ate a hotdog with a small bag of chips (which I bought at the campground store) and relaxed.

Feeling quite pleased with myself, later I showered and was in bed by 8PM.

I slept well through the night awakening only twice, once because of a thunder storm passing overhead and the second time was a nature call. I visited the natural outhouse rather than making that dreaded trek to the shower house….it was quite a walk away, and my body was stiff as hell. I didn't want to get chilled, and I'm lazy cuss who doesn't mind peeing in the woods.

Getting up the next morning, I get myself dressed to ride. It's a bit cool this morning, weather says it won't be as warm today as yesterday…so I dress in layers. Good thing. It was a tad bit chilly my Florida thinned blood. I don't care how long you live outside of Florida, once you have had your blood thinned by the tropical heat, it's hard to get it thickened up again.

I pack up my stuff, bungee everything back on the bike and head south on Route 11 once more. I continue on 11until I get to Fort Chiswell in VA. At Fort Chiswell, I jump on Route 94 South until I come across Route 619 at Porter's Crossroads. Here I 619 west to Route 69 west…and keep on that till I hit US 21 South at Speedwell.

Wow, all I can say is…if y'all haven't taken this Route, you should. I took US-21 South to Route 58 west. It's all great riding, once you get on Route 58 west, it's designated as a scenic byway…and good lord is it ever!

The road has as many bent crooks in it as a knurled bent grandfather oak. It twists around this stream and up that mountain. It affords views of checkered farm lands and grazing animals

…or of acres of primal forests. Route 58 west is not to be ignored. One really needs to take this ride! I got pictures of dams,

of forests, of fertile valleys…and you don't need to worry about gas stations. While they aren't every ten miles along this route, they do come often enough to keep you fueled and ready to ride.

Soon, it was time to jump on Route 91 south into Tennessee and home.

I was happy to see the state line sign…I was happy to see Mountain City when it came up…I was happy to get myself onto Route 321 and into my home town of Elizabethton TN.

Soon, my driveway was in view, and I was putting my kickstand down for the last time that day. It was time for a reunion with my family…then a hot shower, and some dinner. I was in bed by 8PM. What a great weekend…with some wonderful miles under my ass!