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Asylum from Boredom in Southern WV


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    The last weekend in September was the time for the MSTA's Fall Colors Ride centered around Lewisburg, WV.  Two friends and I left Ohio Thursday morning prepared to get wet, as the entire Mountain State was covered in rain clouds according to the Weather Channel.
    We met at the bottom of OH 555 in Little Hocking at 9 am and headed east.  Our first stop would be the Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum in Weston.  We rode rain-free on US 33, WV 74 and US 119.  Seventy-four is torn up.  It was no fun.  We stowed our gear in the museum office and took the 45 minute tour.  The interpreter who led our tour was great, but she did not try to put a positive spin on the sordid past of this facility.  Quackery and cruelty mixed with humor and history would be the briefest of summaries.  I appreciated the reminder of how recent is our progress as a humane people.  It was worth the side trip.
[span]     [/span]The tour ended around 1 pm and we were ready for lunch.  Online reviews had promised that Deb's Diner was as good as any, so we donned the rain gear and rode 1/2 mile then circled the block once before finding a parking spot.  The specials included "hamburger and macaroni soup" with a grilled cheese sandwich.  Think of it as a more liquid version of Johnny Marzetti.  It was quite good and just what we needed for a chilly ride in the rain.
[span]     [/span]We proceeded down US 19 to WV 20 and US 60 arriving in Lewisburg in time to clean up and meet 20 or so others for dinner.  The second half of the day's ride was not a happy one for me.  I hated the stock suspension on my recently purchased (just 3 weeks before) FJ.  It is completely inadequate for rough roads.  Arrangements have been made to replace the shock and upgrade the forks.  Also the throttle response in combination with thick heated gloves and a Cramp Buster added to my disdain.  This too shall be fixed.  Along the way my phone got damp in my "waterproof" pocket.  It died after I called home to say I'd arrived safely.  I left it disassembled in the hotel dresser for the rest of the weekend.
    Friday featured early fog, late sun and smooth pavement to and from Roanoke, VA.  I was following and don't remember all the roads, but we circled Smith Mountain Lake a couple of times.  Lunch and ice cream at the Homestead Creamery was excellent.  We rode around on state routes and smaller roads never wanting for more curves until almost dark.  Having worked our way back toward the hotel in Lewisburg, we dined under the swinging bridge in the Paint Bank General Store.  Locally raised bison was on the menu, mine in the form a ribeye that was too big for me to finish.   We completed our ride watching for deer in the headlights.
[span]    [/span]Saturday was a day to swear foul oaths against my old nemesis - my Garmin 660.  Don't waste your time telling me about your experience with YOUR GPS unit, because mine is messed up.  Blah blah blah.  I've heard it, done, it, updated it, etc...  On this day it started and ended each of two different routes (not of my making) within a few blocks.  No one else among the 20 or so attendees at the evening BS session seemed to have had this problem.  Eventually I left town without guidance and stopped to pull the battery out and restart in Athens, WV.  There were no further problems with the GPS. 
    We finished early, so I led a side trip to Droop Mountain Battlefield.  We just missed the open hours for the museum, however.  Leaving the park, I looked at my trip odometer and found that I was 23 miles into my reserve.  In all the fuss over where to go and when to get back I had let myself neglect filling up.  My riding buddies were in no danger of running dry, but I had no real idea how far the FJ would go on a tankful.  I made it to within 1.9 miles of a gas station, having stopped twice and tilted the bike to the left to get fuel to the petcock.  I pulled off in a wide driveway.  The odo read 189.6 miles on that tank.  One guy stayed behind and we chatted about the new 1250 BMW's while another went for a can full of fuel.  Meanwhile three groups of MSTA riders went past and stared.  Back at the hotel, people were waiting to ask about the incident and others walked by muttering, "Is that the bike?  I think that's the bike."  We dined at the Moose Lodge Country Club that night.  The place is far more casual than it sounds.  I was thinking fish when we arrived, but the waitress told us that they smoke then grill  their steaks.  Hearing this I ordered my third and best steak of the weekend, which is totally out of character for me.  Next time I'll get the trout, I promise.
    Sunday there were just two of us heading home.  This was great luck, because neither of us had to hurry home.  I reassembled my phone and it worked.  I called home to warn that I'd be late - 9:30 to exact, but I didn't know that at the time.
    I led a search for a half-remembered road.  We traveled east then followed the Cowpasture River north in Virginia.  It was a relaxing cruise through the sparsely populated valley.  We took a break in McDowell, WV.  US 33 was newly paved and curvy, US 220 was less fun, but then we came to our highlight - Smoke Hole Road.  Seventeen miles of narrow, twisty diversion, this has been a favorite of mine for several years.  From there we went to Seneca Rocks and watched the climbers as we ate lunch.
    The trip home was simple and winding.  We took US 33 west to US 250, and 250 west to the Ohio River.  From there we took OH 147 and OH 265 to Cambridge and OH 209 to near Zanesville.  In the dark we split up and headed for our respective homes.
[span]    [/span]I put a little more than 1300 miles on the FJ09 over the weekend and became familiar with its potential.  While I thoroughly enjoyed 3 out of 4 days on the bike, that was dependent on the road surface.  I consider the stock FJ to be unfinished.  By next spring I will have addressed it's shortcomings. 
    If you're looking for a great hub to center a weekend of riding, Lewisburg is a strong candidate.  The downtown restaurants are very good and the roads are better.
My souvenir of the Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Aslum:
My 2015 FJ09 at Pipestem Resort State Park

https://ridemsta.com/oh-tmr/  Riding makes me happy. "Do it or don't do it - you'll regret both." - Soren Kierkegaard

2015 FJ-09, 60k miles, Hord Power ECU, K-Tech suspension, MC Cruise

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