Day’s distance: 247 miles
Total trip distance so far: 6,033 miles
Temperatures ranged from high 60’s in the morning to the low 90’s in the afternoon. Fluffly cumulus clouds and bright sun shared the day with a bit of humidity.
I chose my route today based primarily on a ride reviewed in motorcycleroads.com , titled SW Corner of West Virginia on Route 10. It was rated 5 stars for scenery and 4 stars for road quality. Described as having “… a couple of sections that are up and down a mountain with constant switchbacks from start to end of the up and down”, it sounded like it would be a good ride.
Instead of traveling south, I would be heading north, starting in Princeton, WV. To get there from Willville, I would take Hwy 58 to I-77 and I-81. Before getting on the interstate, I stopped to get gas, top off the oil and check the pressure in both tires. I saw two other bikers, one local and one traveler, and answered the local rider’s questions he asked about my bike.
It was a late start for me. Packing up camp involved drying off the dew from the rain fly and ground cloth of my tent as best I could and letting them air dry a bit more before packing them away. This is important because the tent and sleeping bag are packed side by side in the top case.
Anyway, it was 10:30 before I got onto the first of the interstates. They were 65mph and 70mph, so the first part of today’s ride went quickly.
On reaching Princeton, I headed to the Starbucks my GPS told me was about 5.5 miles away. It turned out to not exist. 🙁 Garmin maps have, in the last week, directed me to a total of three phantom Starbucks. That is really annoying. I gave up on the idea of a latte and grabbed a sandwich at a Subway, instead.
It was time to hit Highway 10.
I first passed through a number of unincorporated towns and very small communities, all of which seemed to be terrible run down, very poor areas. Many businesses were boarded up and many former industrial buildings in extreme decay. For someone from Seattle, a vibrant town – one of the fastest growing areas in the country, it was shocking to see the conditions here. I presume this is a result of the rapid shrinking of all things related to the coal industry.
I didn’t take photographs of most of this, not because I didn’t think about doing so, but because it somehow didn’t seem comfortable. I didn’t want to dwell in the sadness that is the daily life of the folks who are still living here.
Much of Hwy 10 follows a narrow valley. Homes filled many of these valleys, along with train tracks and small creeks and rivers. Some of the areas were pretty and appeared to escape the economic blight I first saw.
The three or four twisty sections of roadway were the highlights of this route. I recorded the southern most section on video and posted it to my YouTube channel without much editing. I reposted it here.
Outside of the twisty sections, I would not recommend this ride.
Besides the towns interrupting the flow, there were homes and businesses along a vast majority of the ride. This means lots of hidden driveways as well as cars and homes along the side of the road. Also, there were few turnouts and much of the roadway lacked shoulders, making sections a zero-tolerance-for-mistakes type of roadway. Finally, traffic steadily picked up as I approached Huntington. The ride became simply a parade of cars towards the late afternoon.
After checking in to the motel and cleaning up, I rode to Frostop, a drive in that was established in Huntington in the early 60’s. The best part was a cool root beer float.
I have learned to read the routes recommended in motorcycleroads.com more carefully. I was already using filters for scenery and road quality. Going forward, I will also look for the opinions of reviewers other than the author.
Using what I’ve learned, I’ve decided to shorten tomorrow’s ride by eliminating the first section. It was reviewed by others but only deemed to be average. Tomorrow is predicted to be another warm day.
I got some suggestions from the staff at Frostops about visiting some caves in Kentucky. I might save that for the next trip, but I appreciated the suggestions very much.