Tuesday, August 10, 2004

EKIII Rides w/ Me

I had to make this run. Eddie, a founding member of r.m.h, was injured in March of 1994 in a motorcycle crash. His friends used the net to raise funds for a conversion van, and the EKIII trust fund continues to provide Eddie support through online auctions and various fund-raisers. See Eddie's story here. In my mind, r.m.h's support to Eddie is a noble story of a group's effort to take care of their own. I had to meet Eddie, and the fine folks who surround him, in real life.
I decided to bring my 13yo, Joey, along for the ride and create some memories. He was all for it.
EKII wheels EKIII into Eddie's Grill
Our concept was to take US 50 well into West Virginia, cut NW on state highways through Maryland's panhandle and into Pennsylvania, skirt the SW side of Pittsburg, then run north along the Ohio River to the campsite. No slabs and lots of ice cream stops.
Most of that worked out.
Friday morning, I slugged down some coffee, packed the bagger with all the essentials, got Joey dressed for battle, and we were on the road by 0530. We hooked up with Ray Burns in Middleburg, just on the edges of the frontier, and the three of us headed into the mountains.
We had just had several days of brutally hot wx, but the front had gone offshore and a high pressure area dominated the mid-Atlantic. Translation: It was friggin' cold! None of us were ready for it. Bank signs reported mid-fifties, and it was colder at altitude. We donned everything we had and just shivered through it.
Ice cream was no longer on the agenda!
But, US 50 through WV is truly one of the GO2Ls. The homeland of the Shawnee Indians, giant hemlocks and great sweepers. It traverses across Appalachians, so it climbs over a ridge, descends into a valley and repeats. It runs through small towns with names like Capon Bridge and Gore which consist of a few homes, a gas station, a tavern, and a post office.
We headed north on WV42 through the Potomac State Forest, crossed the WV/MD state line at Kitzmiller and entered the Laurel Highlands. MD135, US219 and PA281 took us to the National Pike (US 40). Coming down out of the Highlands towards Uniontown, there's signs warning truckers of the long, sweeping, steep grade ahead "Dangerous Mountain!"
Right on!
From there, we heading north on PA18 to US 22 across the Ohio River into Steubenville. That suspension bridge is one hellofa sight. From a few miles out, it looks like a modern representation of a teepee. Going across I could not help but be mesmerized by the symmetry of the design. We followed the Ohio River on OH 7 north to OH 11 all the way north to OH 307 a few miles west of the campsite.
A few miles shy of 307, the skies opened up, sending us for the shelter of an overpass. Wildflower passed by in her cage with the heat on laughing at us. The rains stopped, the sun came out, and we pulled into the campgrounds around 5:00 having ridden ~400 miles.
One bourbon, one scotch, and one beer
Hawgeye performs emergant chrome repair on Doc.  Others supervise. That rain assured a muddy campground, but didn't dampen any spirits. The Enchanted Forest was filled with tents and folks kept pouring in. A truly international event as several Canucks showed up, along with one Kilifornicator. Fires were lit, Ann sprung for pizza, beer was iced down, we got to meet and greet Eddie and to check out his new suave van. Traci's bike needed emergent chrome repair, and a contingent of beer-swillers swooped in to supervise Hawgeye. The newest Asshole™ is admonished for shirking his shitter duties, and proceeds to set new standards for crapper cleanliness. The boys found cool ways to play with fire.
Bear passed around a fine bottle of single malt, which was followed shortly by a bottle of Knob Creek which came outa my saddlebags. Songs were sung, lies swapped, promises were made in the dark.
Run with Eddie
TL gets up early Saturday morning to make coffee and someone allegedly offers to perform unnatural acts as a show of appreciation. Wx was perfect, and round 'bout 11:00, we headed out to Broadfield Manor to pick up Eddie for the run to Geneva on the Lake.
Some 29 bikes rolled down the road in perfect staggered formation with Philly Hoodlums serving as menacing road guards at each intersection.
At Eddie's place, many of the other residents came out to greet the group. Cheryl rolls Eddie out and begins to play "Spin the Eddie" to see who was gonna get to give him a big kiss on the lips. Roger Elmore won. Roach squeezed into Traci's sidecar for a photo op. Eddie got in his van and we were off to Eddie's Grill for burgers, fries and shakes.
Eddie outside Broadfield Manor
Traci says "Chicks dig scars!" That evening, as we settled down to another evening of debauchery, Joey and the boys were stripping bark off sticks to burn some weenies. Joey slips with the knife, and lays his wrist and palm open ... Deep too. Sunshine was an angel of mercy. She assisted with the first aid, and offered a ride to a hospital.
Three hours and eight stitches later, we were back at the campsite. Joey is dubbed The Black Knight ("It's only a flesh wound").
Soon, only Roach, Sunshine, Oboe (ne Nemo) and myself were still stoking the campfire. A bottle of Woodfords was consumed while we tried to remember old Grateful Dead songs, and Roach proved that the blues could indeed be played on a ukulele.
Coffee, black - Stat!
Sunday morning we were all awakened way too early by the malodorous sounds of snoring coming from Oboe's (aka Nemo, aka Foghorn) tent. After coffee and donuts, the Black Knight and I struck camp, said our goodbyes, and hit the road.
It was another perfect day. Sun was shining, the sky was dotted with big puffy cumulus clouds, temperatures were in the mid 70s, and there was no rain in the forecast. Roach's directions to US 322 were spot on. Took OH 46 south out of Jefferson through rolling farmland. Jump on US 6 east at New Lyme. The roadway turns into OH 85 at Andover, while US 6 takes a detour to the north to go around the Pymatuning Reservoir. OH 85 goes straight across the reservoir on a causeway, crosses the PA border, turns into PN 285, links back up with US 6 a few miles to the east and intersects US 322 in Meadville.
The Twenty-Eighth Division Highway, is another GO2L, carved out of the north bank of French creek to the Allegheny River. A great ride through rolling country with gentle sweepers. The route takes you thru towns on good ole Main Street and around traditional town squares. We stopped at a roadside drive-in and had lunch by the creek. At Brookville, we picked up PA 36 south to Punxsutawney - Home of Punxsutawney Phil the famous gopher.
As we were coming into town, a sign indicated a right turn to get to US 119. I probably turned too soon, and we ended up on a two lane country road through a canopied forest, with tight "S" turns along a creek. Joey said "Wow!" We stayed the course and eventually found our way back to US 119. Apparently, my GPGPSPSS was well calibrated, 'cause that side trip was worth the time!
From there we picked up the Buffalo-Pittsburgh Highway (US 119), through the Laurel Highlands. An ice cream stop was indicated at a drive-in where we met an Army Reservist riding his softail home in his cammies from weekend duty. We zig-zaged through the mountains on US 422 and US 219 to PA 56 just south of Johnstown (Flood City). That road runs thru Galitzin State Forest and climbs over Babcock Ridge at 2700' - our highest elevation for the trip. A sign in Bedford County pointed to Snook's covered bridge, and so we took that detour and crossed Dunning's Creek on a 121 year old, burr truss design, covered bridge. Snook's Bridge in Bedford County, PA
At the intersection of PA 56, and US 220, we saw an old gent pulled over looking at his chromed, custom-painted Ultra Glide so we stopped to make sure he was ok. He said he had been out for about three hours and was just checking out the bugs on his windshield. We both agreed that it was a perfect day to be smashing bugs! US 220, aka the Appalachian Thruway, was demoted to the I 99 roadway till I 99 peters out a few miles south of Bedford. From there, it's a great 2 lane through rolling green farmlands, in the narrow Cumberland Valley, down to Cumberland.
After a fried chicken dinner in Cumberland, we crossed the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal into West Virginia, got on WV 28, and rode along the south branch of the Potomac River to Romney, WV. There we picked up US 50 and headed home.Total for the day was about 440 miles with about eleven hours in the saddle.
Total for the trip was just shy of a thousand. Got to meet Eddie and the folks who care for him, saw some old friends, met some new ones, sampled some great whiskeys, rode some great highways, and certainly created some memories for Joey (aka the Black Knight).
Tim Morrow's

The 2004 EKIII No-Slab Route
The route as taken