Aug. 8-12 2002 Hatfield-McCoy trails

Thursday August  8th.

With a long 420 mile day ahead of us Cory and I  left Leesburg VA just after 8am. According to my mapping software if we averaged 50mph that would get us to the campsite around 4:30pm. I figured that 6:30pm was more realistic but  we would still arrive with plenty of daylight left to setup camp and get our bearings.

Cory had told me the day before that his luggage was causing the plastic panels of his bodywork to come in contact with his muffler so he was going to stick a block of wood in between the panel and the muffler to keep it from melting. By the time we reached our first stop on the other side of Thorton's gap he noticed that the piece of wood had fallen out and that his bodywork and luggage where beginning to melt. So we went to Plan B. Which was to stuff a t-shirt between the bodywork and pipe. About 30 miles later we where in a little town still on 211 when Cory motioned that we needed to pull over so we darted into a gas station to find the t-shirt smoldering and on the verge of catching fire. After putting out the flames we proceeded to Plan C. Which was to wratp the exhaust in aluminum foil  in an attemp to insulate the the body panel and luggage from the exhaust pipe. This seemed to work for a while but by the time we stopped for lunch the heat from the pipe was again melting his bodywork and luggage which led us to going with Plan D. Plan D called for stopping by a hardware store and getting a strip of stiff metal and some large hose clamps so that we could attach the metal  rod to the existing heat shield. This worked great. For a little while. Which led us to Plan E which to just let the bodywork and his luggage melt  away. Needless to say all of this futzing about with the incredible melting motorcycle put us a a bit behind schedule and we didn't get to the Devil Anse campground until just before 8pm.

Since the purpose of this trip was to do some pretty serious offroad riding I had replaced the stock tires with some barely street legal MT21's. And boy do those things suck on the road. Of the 430 miles it took to get to the campground at least 350 of them where on serious twisty roads which  had the tires sliding and the whole bike bucking around through the turns in a very unpleasant manner. I should of just slowed down but damn those roads where just to much fun and if I was perfectly smooth I could get some decent lean angles but I saw God way more often then an Atheist should on the ride down. The fact that I was carrying 90% of the gear that I'm planning on taking to South America didn't help matters much either. One of the highpoints of the ride down was taking 42/259/613 down to route 33 instead of taking 81. 613 a great road with fantastic scenery and anyone heading down to Seneca Rocks in the future should seriously consider instead of 81. We then did just under 200 miles on 33 which except for ~20 miles where all fantastically twisty.

Once we got  our camp set up we headed to the Mecca Drive In which was to be a regular stop for us over the next 4 days. The Devil Anse campground at which we where staying had direct access to some of the trail heads so we wheren't surprised to see lots of dirtbikes around. What we didn't know is that the AMA Amateur Hill Climb Nationals where going on that weekend just a few miles away so there where a lot of race bikes their also and some pretty cool folks.

Friday August 9th.

On Friday morning got our passes and maps and headed out on the "easy" trails. While sections of it where easy other sections had me completely freaked out and only inches away from plunging to my death. I ended dropping my bike twice on the first 14 mile loop but no damage was done except to my pride. Cory apparently dropped his bike once also but he had the good sense to do it while he was out of sight. It took us about 2.5 hours to do those 14 miles and when it was done I wasn't sure if I wanted to do any more. But after chilling out for a little while and talking to the campground manager the sense of terror that had been my constant companion earlier in the day began to ebb and so Cory and I decided to tackle a 10 mile Intermediate loop. The main difference between the intermediate loop and the easy loop was that the intermediate loop didn't have any easy sections but the hard sections that we did didn't seem much harder then the bad stuff on the easy loop. At one point during the easy loop we got sidetracked and ended in a strip mine which had wide tracks full of loose sand which was a blast to go roosting through. It became pretty obvious that we where lost and some gool old boy miners got us pointed in the right direction. Once we got back to the Intermediate loop we where faced a with a very steep muddy hill. We watched a quad unsuccesfully try to go up it a couple of times and then Cory dumped his bike only about 30' up a ~200' ascent so we decided that discretion was the better part of valor and save some of our strength for the evenings festivities.

Saturday August 10th

Ahhh, nothing like waking up to the sound of two strokes at dawn. After our now standard visit to Mecca we decided that we where going to try and take it easy that day and just go exploring on all of the mining and dirt roads that we had seen in the area. While the roads where a lot wider then the trails they tended to be pretty steep and almost entirel composed of loose stones. Since we where taking it easy Cory had me leading on the mining roads and after heading about 1/3 of a mile down a nasty road I decided to stop to see if Cory wanted to continue going down or turn around and head back up. But when I stopped he was nowhere to be seen (oh oh). It took all of my concentration to just make it down the hill so I didn't have any time to check behind me to see how he was doing. So I turned around and go back up the hill and still no Cory! I'm thinking oh shit if that twirp fell off the side I'm gonna kick his ass. Any ways I started calling out his name and he responded almost immediately so I back tracked the way we had come to find him standing beside his bike. It turns out that a malicious tree had jumped out and knocked him over pinning his leg under the bike (and breaking some bones in his foot) while I rode merrilly away. I mean the guy's been riding dirt bikes since he was 5 years old and if I could do it I figure he wouldn't have a problem. Geez how much of a twirp can a guy be. Since Cory wasn't gonna be able to do any more dirt riding we just cruised around on some of the great twisty roads and checked out  the local towns before heading to the Chief Logan state park which had a nice swimming pool. After soaking in the water and eyeing little girls with bad intent we made an early night of it so that we could check out the National Hillclimbs on Sunday.

Sunday August 11th

After hanging out with hill climbers the previous three nights we were pretty excited about going to see the races on Sunday and they didn't dissappoint. We spent about 5 hours at the races enjoying the spectacle and turing a bright shade of red before heading out around 4 pm to start towards home. We had decided to split the ride back up into two days so it wouldn't be quite so grueling and we where pretty beat from the previous two days. We endied up slabbing all the way up to route 50 and stopping in Bridgeport. When we got into Bridgeport I saw a cheap motel I had stayed in 2000 when I got a flat tire on my VFR coming back from the VFR list COTU ride and when I realized that LJ Lucious Ladies was only located about a 100 yards down the road I knew where we where spending the night. LJ's has a $10 dollar cover charge but once you get in all the beer is free!!! Unfortunately LJ's closed at 3 am so I had to back to the motel.

Monday August 12th

On Monday we had a good ride down route 50 then 7 back to Leesburg. 50 is a good road but it has way to much traffic and seems to be getting worse over the 4 years I've been going down it. I ended putting about 1,000 miles on the DR with nearly all the gear I plan on taking to South America and with some decent tires I think the bike will still handle pretty well. I think the trails we rode where all so much more technical then anything we'll likely do on the SA trip so I'm pretty confident that the bike and I can handle it. Other then Cory's mishap on Saturday it was a great trip.

Till next time