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RCR and Deal's Gap Trip Report (Long)




Well I just got back from the RCR ( for those of you that don't know, this is
the Right Coast Ride (RCR) and is an east coast of the US rally which had about
95 people attend for a weekend of food, beer, rides, and comradery) and my
weeks tour down to Deal's Gap and  back. Since I just posted an eight page
trip report from my trip to Germany I think I will keep this one shorter.

My trip started on June 22, leaving the Greater Boston Area with Mark Holbrook,
Dan Guilderson and Dane Walther on Mark's most excellent route south to the
RCR IV. Other than rain as we headed in Thurmont, MD and having to wait for
sometime while the rescue squad pulled a cage out of a ravine on the road into
Camp West Mar, we only had to deal with poorly marked roads and idiots that
offered useless directions that frustrated Mark's attempt to stay on back
roads, but he persisted and we followed willingly(?) and I for one had a great
ride. I bought new gloves before I left and the rain turned my hands into works
of art in black and red! I was disappointed that they didn't have an award for
the best/worst pair of glove hands. Back roads are great, but it is very hard
to estimate the time it will take to get from A to B, because often you end up
going thru D, E, and F and sometimes X, Y and Z also while trying to get to B
from A. (Hope that isn't to complicated to follow :-) On the other hand, it
is just this fact that makes back roads so much fun. But I guess you all knew
that already.

Mark named me "Mr. Glue", on this trip. I'm not sure this was a compliment :)
I like leading, but I am very happy to fly wingman (ie: #2 in a group) if I
trust the leader so 98% of the time Mark made a move or a pass, I was there
in his rear view! It was a good ride and a good pace.

The RCR was great! This was my first and it was fun meeting so many people
that I have seen post in the past. Thanks to:
  Jim Bessette for putting it all together,
  Jon kadis for a great ride on Saturday and for PoPs in his supporting role,
  Ian Howie for the coffee that made the mornings (period), and
  to everyone that showed up for making it a great event.

Well Sunday came too soon and the crew I rode down with was headed in different
directions (I guess noone really wanted to ride with Mark again :) and I was
headed south. After much talk with south-bound groups, a friend of mine (yeah,
you didn't know I had any!!) and Mark Hodgeson decided to head south to
Deal's Gap. We didn't get off before the rain, in fact, we headed into
the storms that flooded most of Virginia and West Virginia, so we had rain every
day for the next 4 days. But on the UP side it was mostly localized and was not
continuous.

My friend Anne, who joined us, had lived in NC in the past and knew her way
about, set off leading our threesome south, after I retraced Jon's route to
Berkley Springs. So here is our route from Berkely Springs and back to Berkely
Springs (I think this falls under the catagory of Deja vu all over again or
maybe a long way to get where you already are) Oh yeah, Berkely Springs is in
West Virginia:

Sunday:
9 S, 29 S, 50 W, 28 S to Dunmore, 92 S to Alvon, back road to Anthony and Vago,
219 S thru Lewisburg, 63 W, 12 S to Hinton and 20 S to Pipestem camp ground on
Bluestone Lake and Camped the night.

We made good time on these roads, but the back road bug got the better of me
and I took over the lead to Anthony and Vago. FIND this road! it is waay cool.

Monday:
20 S to Princeton (breakfast), 77 S exit after tunnel, 52 S, 42 S to Nebo,
back road to Sugar Grove to pick up 16 S to Troutdale, back road to
Konnarock to pick up 58 E, back road thru Taylors Valley to 91 S at VA/TN border,
421 N/W, 67S, 321W, 19E S, 173 S/W thru Erwin, 107 S to Houston Valley Camp
Ground in the Cherokee Nat'l Forest.

I had no idea of how far it was to Deal's Gap (it didn't look the far on the
map!) and while yesterday's roads were scenic and fast, I was itching for more
back roads. These roads were outstanding. One was a mountain pass road that
was 1-1.5 lanes wide hairpin turns that were carved out of the rock face so
you could NOT see around the curve for on coming traffic, which you would NOT
want to meet (there was no place to pass) so Sounding the horn and listening
for a response became standard practice. At the top of the pass was some nice
views, but the sky was very hazy. All these were great, but one had about 1-2
miles of gravel road, but we had no problems with it. The camp was primative
(ie: no showers, in fact we had it to ourselves). High temps and humidity
two days in a row and no showers! Now we were Biker Scum for REAL!

Tuesday:
107 S to Newport, 73 S thru Gatlinburg to Townsend, 321 W to the Foot Hills
Parkway, 129 S thru Deal's Gap, 28 S/E, 19 N/E, Blue Ridge Parkway and camped
just north of 276.

Gatlinburg sucked, it was hot and stop and go traffic for 30 mins, but the rest
was very nice. Mark had come thru Deal's Gap on his way north to the RCR and
grabed the lead as his recognized where we were and we swooped south on 129
thru Deal's Gap. These corners are really tight, so I decide that it might be
appropriate to hang off a little, but I find that there isn't enough space
between the bike and road to squeeze me into it. Most of the right hand corners
we have good visibility to potential on coming traffic and Mark starts using 
both lanes for the tight ones. Hey, it works for me too! Hey that isn't Anne
in my rearview! Ok, wave him by in a straight, damn guy on a dual sport just
blows by like I'm parked. Damn, he has a friend, well I guess I'm just being
too conservative, a little more throttle, the VFR pulls away, now that's more
like it! Shit it getting reeeeal twisty again, oops there goes the dual sport
right around me in the twisty stuff and he's gone from sight. Lights in my rear
view again, shit what was that rocket (a CBR 900 RR) flip-flip-flip-flip and I
don't see him again till I get to the bottom. 318 curves in 11 miles gives you
plenty of time to get warmed up and build a rhythm to the curves. I wanted to
unload all the gear and lugage and go do it again, be it was tiring and would
have meant going up and back, so we decided to get some fluids at the Crossroads
of Time Motel and now we can say "Been There, Done That, and Got the TeeShirt!"
Well Mark left Anne and me after Deal's Gap, he had to make the torturous ride
back thru the gap and continued south to visit relatives. And the two of us,
continued on rt 28 which was very twisty, but felt straight in comparison to
Deal's Gap. After Deal's Gap, I was so wired and confident in me and the bike
I was rippin' thru the curves on 28 and the BRP. In fact I was shreading the
rubber right off my tires! Literally! For stock tires the Dunlop 202D's were
damn good rubber. We had a great trout dinner at the local resturant, but no
showers again, maybe that was why they didn't seat anyone near us! 8=0

Wednesday:
Blue Ridge Parkway to Roanoake, VA and got a hotel for the night. The morning
was great more fast cornering and lots of great view and not a sign the the
dreaded Federal Police. But by 2pm it was raining off and on, and by 4pm raining
hard only to be interupted by much harder rain and thunder and lightning!! I
kept getting water INSIDE my visor to the point that I could not see and had to
stop to clear things up and I was soaked thru and thru. Did I mention how wet
it was today? It was really wet! We took refuge from the down pour at one point
in a chicken house at some historical building. It was a good thing we had
our helmets on because the buikding was not tall enough to stand upright without
getting roofing nails in your head! When I got back to my bike I noticed I had
worn the rear tire down to the cords! We got to Roanoake and I had had enough.
I wanted a shower, to be in dry clothes, a warm meal and a dry bed, We found
a hotel just off the BRP and parked our bikes under the covered walk way and
hung all manner of articles from any and everything that we could find in the
room to dry. And ordered Pizza to be delivered to the room. Hey!, it was raining
outside, there was no way I was gona get back on the bike to go to eat!!

Thurday:
To Honda Dealer in Salem, VA to get new tires!, 81 N, 220 N, 43 S, back road to
Lexington, 251 to Lexington, 60 to 64, back road to Rockbridge Baths is flooded,
64 N/W, 42 N/E, 39 N/W to McClung, back road thru Williamsville, Clover Cr., to
McDowell, 250 N/W, 220 N/E, back road to Blue Grass, (had intended to go to
Cherry Cove but ended up back on 250), 250 N/W, 28 N, waay back road to Spruce
Knob and thru Whitmer, Job to 55 S/E to Senaca Rocks and camped the night.

While at the Honda dealer getting SportMax II put on front and rear, I also
got a set of Motoline rain over mits and over boots. Wish I had done this
before I had left MA. But it worked, now that I had more appropriate rain
gear the sun came out for the rest of the day. I scrubbed in the tires by
riding circles and eights in a local parking lot to the amusement of on lookers.
I the darnest time trying to get on good roads north of Roanoake, because most
of the back roads were under water or had been washed away. The ones list above
were all very nice and I strongly recommend them to anyone in the area with
the notable exception of the waay back road to Spruce Knob and thru Whitmer
which turned out to be 32 miles of dirt tracks and switch backs which were
OK, but more than I would have done on dirt with a fully loaded sport bike.
The side trip thru Blue Grass was one of the most beautiful little valleys I
have ever seen. 

Friday:
28 N, 42 N, back road to Arthur, Medley, Williamsport, Burlington, 50 E,
back road Headsville, cross 46, continue to 53 thru  Cresaptown, here I meant to
pick up PA 96 N, but got lost and took 68 E, 51 E along the Potomac River to
Old Town, crossed low water bridge to Green Spr. and tried to follow the south
side of the Potomac to Okononko, but after 14 miles of dirt roads and a dead end
I took a back road to Springfield to Points Higginsville to Slanesville, 29 N
to Paw Paw, and 9 N back to Berkely Springs where I had lunch at the same place
that we ate on Jon's RCR ride. I then headed north on back roads until dark and
then took slabs up to Princeton, NJ and spent the night with my parents.

The rest of the trip is not very note worthy, except for 1) NJ 519 is a great
road and I must have been flying because stopped to get a drink only to find 
that I was 6 miles from NY and I couldn't believe it and 2) the horrible ordeal
I suffered thru by destroying my right front caliper mounting bracket with my
disc lock :(. I traveled 3400+ miles without any problems, but when
I went to leave my brother place in VT, I tried to ride off with the disk lock
on and BROKE the right caliper mounting bracket. Ouchh! I had to remove the
caliper and seal the the hydralic line and limped home on one front disk.
Parts are ordered and should be at my place on Friday, so barring any additional
problems I will be going to CLASS on Tuesday July 11th.

Other random thoughts and experiences:

I hit the right peg feeler! sometime on Thursday or Friday, which was a surprise
as I have never done that before, So I guess I am getting the bike over a little
in the curves. I also found that I can do fast right-left or vica versa lean
transitions by counter leaning if there is such a term. Basically, you throw the
bike to the right and lean your body to the left, then reverse. I think this
is fast and requires little force because you are not trying to move the CG
(center of gravity) of the system which would require effort. It's not
coutersteering, but couterleaning.

I noticed on the VFR that if I take both hands off the handle bars that I get
a head shake. I first thought this was due to the wear pattern on the front
tire, but it was there on the new tires also. Yeah, yeah, I know don't take
my hands off the bars!! but that is not the point, why is it there and what is
causing it? Oh yeah, I don't have a throttle lock so the bike is always
decelerating when this happens. It will also happen is a hold the bars extremely
loose so I don't dampen the shake.

I like the SportMax II the front has a nice round profile which makes for very
smooth transitions into corners especially at slow speeds. Well enough already,
I did say I would keep this shorter than my germany trip report.


-Steve
------------------------------------------------------------------------
Stephen Woodbridge <sew@cvbnet.CV.com> 95 VFR750 Red HOT!   (( 
Computervision Corp                    79 KZ750B Project     )) Dangerous
100 Crosby Drive  MS:21-108            84 GPz750 (for sale) ((   Curves
Bedford, MA 01730                      DoD# 1480, KotT       ))   Ahead
                                       AMA# 398523          ((
Standard disclaimer - these are my own ideas, views, etc.    ))
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
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Arrgh! I broke my VFR!!!!



Sorry if you see this more than once, I have cross posted this to three lists.

Well I just got home from ~3500 mile 13 day camping tour that started with
RCR IV followed by a ride south thru the Smoky Mountains and Deal's Gap
then north along the Blue Ridge Parkway and north from Roanoake, VA thru
VA, WV, PA, NJ, NY to southern VT and back to the Boston Area.

A more detailed trip report will follow. I was able to get all the way to VT
with the biggest hassle being lots of rain and the fact that I wore up my tires
and had to get new ones in Roanoake. I went to visit my brother and parked
in his field (it was the flatest (and not very at that) area around and locked
up my bike while we 4-wheeled to the top of his mountain.

When I got back to my bike, I was worried about getting the bike out of the
field which entailed get across a small ditch and on to level ground before
loading my daughter on the back for the ride home. I rev'ed the engine to have a
little momentum to cross the ruff ground, slid out the clutch. Just as I get
to the lip of the ditch, BANG! the bike stalls, I struggle for footing and just
barely hold on to it. The adrenelin has pushed my mind into overdrive - and
suddenly it figures out the problem - you didn't take the f*~@ing disk lock off!

I walk around to get the disk lock and stomach sinks faster than the setting
sun as I notice that the brake pads are hanging from the caliper! On closer
inspection I find that I have broken the L-shaped mounting braket for the right
side caliper at the lower mounting point. This stupidity on my part happened
the afternoon of July 3rd and I couldn't find a Honda dealer that was open
which probably would not have solved my problem as it is unlikely that they
would stock this part.

So after going thru the posibilities of loading the bike in my brother's truck,
trying to find a machine shop the could weld the bracket, we stopped at a 
Kawasaki dealer that was open and I was able to get a nut and bolt and two
crush washers so I could seal off the right side hydralic line. This didn't
work until my brother came up with some tefon pipe thread tape to stop the
hydralic fluid from leaking thru the threads of the nut and bolt.
I was able to get the bike home and my hack held up, luckly I didn't have to
stress test it with any hard braking.

I ordered parts which will cost over a $100 including priority mailing, because
I have to have it repaired and tested before next Tuesday when I have an
appointment at Loudon for CLASS. The parts should come to my house on Friday
and hopefully it will go back together with out additional problems.

I know I not the first person and wouldn't be the last to do something so
stupid, but boy am I pissed at myself and I always set the lock close to the
caliper so I won't get any momentum up before it contacts should I be so
stupid as to do what I just did :-( saddly it didn't help.

One more expensive lesson in life!

-Steve

PS: I'm on digest so email important comments directly to me, thanks.
------------------------------------------------------------------------
Stephen Woodbridge  95 VFR750 Red HOT!   (( 
Computervision Corp                    79 KZ750B Project     )) Dangerous
100 Crosby Drive  MS:21-108            84 GPz750 (for sale) ((   Curves
Bedford, MA 01730                      DoD# 1480, KotT       ))   Ahead
                                       AMA# 398523          ((
Standard disclaimer - these are my own ideas, views, etc.    ))