Thurmond West Virginia: Historic Train Town

Oh how I have missed riding the bike!

The passion for travel with my sweetie, the drive to elect women and men who share my values (ie the values of Presidents Obama and Carter), and the hours at work have diminished my time on the bike significantly.  The desire to ride, however, is ever present in my mind and two weeks ago, I finally had a weekend without travel. I spent one whole day riding 225 miles through Virginia and West Virginia. Happiness! The destination was Thurmond, West Virginia, an early 1900s boomtown.

We had many miles to ride before arriving in Thurmond, and our first stop was Bluestone Dam, a popular place for bass, catfish, crappie, and bluegill fishing.  After a brief stop to look at Bluestone Lake and dam, we were off through New River Gorge country.

  While the others took off down a gravel road, I stopped for some photography.  I did not know when shooting this image that I was looking towards the historic Thurmond bridge.

The bridge has been rebuilt and rehabbed a few times, but the original bridge was built in 1889.

If you know me, you know I love a bridge, and I had to park the bike and walk out to capture this image looking down into the river.

The view down river from the bridge

The National Park Service restored the Thurmond Depot as a Visitor’s Center in 1995, and the NPS has made learning the history of Thurmond a walkable experience.

Two major fires, the arrival of roads, and the switch from steam engine to diesel engine led to the town’s decline.  Thankfully, the outdoor adventure industry and commercial whitewater rafting through the New River Gorge National River, have revitalized the area.

“Presently, the park owns approximately 80% of the town of Thurmond, including the historic Thurmond Depot. Three times each week, Amtrak uses the Thurmond Depot as a passenger stop and coal trains continue to roll through town hourly.  Though it is a shell of its former self, the historic town of Thurmond still stands as a reminder of the past. It truly is where the River meets History”! http://thurmondwv.org/about/history

It was a gorgeous day, perfect for riding, only made better by being with good friends.  Learning some history just added to the experience.  One more thing: the movie Matewan was filmed in Thurmond, WVA.

Almost Made It …

Caught in the rain. Worth it … for the ride and the image.

#cellphonephotography #straightfromthephone

Ride: Bent Mountain

It’s fall but it still feels like summer, the earth still rotates on it’s axis, despite the political and weather related turmoil, and I am still posting on WP, even if not as much as in the past.  Election Day is in just 16 days, and with so much on the line here in Virginia, it’s hard to think of anything else.  My home is being used as base of operations for several candidates, and there’s lots going on.

In a nice change of pace, I’ve been home for the last two weekends, and I’m happy to report that I’ve spent some time on the bike, and a little time hiking in the mountains.   Mornings have been quiet and misty and lovely.

It doesn’t take long for the mist to burn away, revealing perfect ride days.  The leaves are changing and they fall down around us as we ride.  The many curves of our Southwest Virginia roads make for challenging and incredibly fun riding and the views are breathtaking.  And then there are the bridges.

We love to explore the detail of the old bridges that we come upon, and always hope to find the plaque that reveals the date that the bridge was built

 

It was less than a 200 mile day, but it was a much needed distraction from the woes of the world.

After enjoying a delicious lunch and a cold beer, we headed back to reality.

Riding Central Virginia

A group of my biker buds rode off to the Outer Banks yesterday headed toward Myrtle Beach, South Carolina Bike Week. Work commitments and a recent vacation meant that a week away was impossible, but I was able to join them for part of the trip.  We rode together for 3 or 4 hours, and then I turned around to head back home, riding on different roads.  Dave plotted the route for me (he knows every road, I swear!) and I was in heaven.

It was one of those ideal riding days.  The perfect temperature, a nice breeze, just the right amount of clouds, and of course, gorgeous central Virgina roads.  I rode curves up and over the Blue Ridge Mountains, straightaways alongside fields of green and yellow, and through wooded areas which provided a canopy of trees over the road.  Another plus: virtually no traffic.

I didn’t do a whole lot of stopping, but I couldn’t pass this structure without taking a few pictures.   I did the best that I could with my cellphone because somehow I walked out of the house at 7:45am without my camera! WTH?!

I did make one other stop at Devils Backbone brewery, a favorite place to visit when we ride in this part of the state.

One quick beer and it was time to head home to do some chores.

What a day! 330 Miles of happy!

Thanks for stopping by today.  I enjoyed visiting a bunch of you yesterday and hope to see more of your blog posts this coming week.  I also look forward to sharing some photos from my trip to the Caribbean.

300 Miles for a Beer


The text came in on Friday: Meet Saturday morning, 10:30am for the first long ride of the season.

Well, it would be the first long ride for me, anyway.  Lots of travel, civic events, and weather have kept me off the bike for other than short trips, and I was determined to devote at least one day of the weekend to riding.

It was a beautiful day for the bike, and our destination was Devil’s Backbone Brewing Company in Lexington, Va.  We rode through multiple counties and across several mountain passes.  Lots of curves and twisties which made for fun riding.  We didn’t stop for photo opportunities along the way, so I’m sharing this photo from a similar ride in 2011.

I was able to pull out the camera at the brewery, though.

I crawled underneath the tower to capture this one.

And a friend took these as I climbed part way up the tower.  I was nervous about going further, not because of the height but because I didn’t want to get fussed at.

Devil’s Backbone Brewery has 2 locations and the one in Lexington is called the Outpost. According to the website, the Outpost “houses our custom built brewery featuring a 120bbl Rolec Brewing system, SBC bottling and canning lines and Tap Room” (I have no idea what those brewery terms mean).  “You can belly up to the bar in the Tap Room for a pint or sampler flight seven days a week”

“or bring some of your favorite local food and have a picnic in our bier garden out back”.

It was a great day on the bike AND I got to wear my new Women’s March hoodie.  Yep! I’m a feminist bike chick and proud of it.

300 miles later, I was home in time to watch my Gonzaga Bulldogs win their Elite Eight match up with West Virginia, which sent them to their first Final Four in school history!

The riding season has officially begun.

It’s also March Madness and this basketball loving biker is happy.

The Perfect Recipe

The photos and stories from my trip to Atlanta are not quite ready for prime time posting, but the photos from an incredible day on the motorcycle are.  It was the perfect recipe for a day ride: great weather, good roads, and wonderful friends.

_MG_3108-2

This past Sunday I rode a little over 200 miles through the back roads of Virginia and North Carolina with three of my favs.

_MG_3081-2

We also spent some time on the Blue Ridge Parkway (BRP) which offers wide sweeping curves and great views.  The BRP which is America’s longest linear park, runs for 469 miles (755 km) through 29 Virginia and North Carolina counties, mostly along the Blue Ridge, a major mountain chain that is part of the Appalachian Mountains.

20160619_150902-2

_MG_3101-4

20160619_154436-2

The BRP celebrated it’s 75th Anniversary in 2010 and while I do not know for sure, I believe these stone walls have been around since the parkway was constructed.

_MG_3094-2

 You may remember that I celebrated my 50th birthday that same year with a solo ride on the BRP, the first of several solo rides.

 5 Days / 3 States / 925 Miles.

You can see photos from that incredible trip here and here.

_MG_3103 - Copy-2

Despite the various stops along the way, which offer the chance to bring out the camera, it is the riding that makes the day so great.  The bike and I rolled smoothly over the miles, and we flowed through the curves with ease.  I was completely content.

20160619_154614-2

Seriously, wouldn’t you be?

Riding on International Female Ride Day

In it’s 10th year, International Female Ride Day (IFRD) is a one-day, globally synchronized ride exclusively for women motorcyclists.

13133109_10208917726198066_6652656793876173769_n

Having found out about IFRD too late to organize a group ride, I was none the less determined to get on the bike.  Okay, let’s be honest.  I was determined to get on the bike even if it wasn’t International Female Ride Day.

20160507_162240-2

I met Dave and Michael, two of my favorite biker buds who I’ve written about before, at 11 on Saturday morning.

20160507_154707-2

We flirted with rain all day but stayed dry, and thankfully so, as the roads we took were full of fun curves and twists.

_MG_2043-2

We stopped at Big Walker Lookout, a 100 ft observation tower on top of Big Walker Mountain.

IMG_2028-2

Built in 1947, the tower offers great views of mountain peaks in 5 surrounding states.

_MG_2035-2

_MG_2029-2

 It costs $6 to climb to the top, and while I’ve made the climb in the past, today we enjoyed the views from the bottom.

_MG_2032-2

_MG_2044-2

In addition to the observation tower, there’s a General Store, a swinging bridge, and this collection of old license plates.

_MG_2037-2

At one point during the day, we got caught at a railroad crossing.  This building caught my attention and I literally ran back, huffing and puffing in my helmet and boots, to take a photo while waiting for the train to pass.  I managed to take a quick shot, but had no time to gather any history, as the crossing bars started to rise signaling that it was time to ride on.

_MG_2049-2

My friend Karen gave me an action camera, similar to a Go Pro, and I cannot wait to start using it.  If I’d been riding alone, I would have stopped far too often for photos.  Since Dave and Michael like to keep on riding, the action camera will allow for some fun shots and video without having to stop so often.

_MG_2046-2

As always, we finished the ride with a cold beer, a great meal, and the chance to make a new Gravatar.

_MG_2060-2

I’ve already marked my calendar for the 2017 International Female Ride Day, and if I get my act together, I’ll try to organize a ride.  Until then, here’s a bit more information about IFRD.

The guiding principles of IFRD are:

  1. Freedom – women are encouraged to participate and enjoy the day in any manner they choose.  Just Ride!
  2. Brandless – the event is not to be taken over by any one motorcycle, manufacturer brand, product, or country.  The idea is to UNITE not exclude
  3. One Fixed Date – IFRD occurs on the first Saturday of May every year.
  4. Open Good Will – to not impose on any rider, group, or club’s charity purpose.