Guess what? Its moto trip time!
Those who know us know that we’ve had some obstacles in recent years that have prevented us from taking our beloved extended motorcycle trips. As of spring 2018, however, we were able to dip our toe back in to our favorite mode of travel with a most excellent week long adventure on the MABDR.
First, some definition: MABDR stands for Mid Atlantic Back Country Discovery Route. The BDR group is a non profit organization “whose mission is to establish and preserve off-highway routes for dual-sport and adventure motorcycles. Through education, advocacy, and promotion of responsible motorcycle travel, BDR seeks to preserve backcountry motorcycling opportunities for generations to come.” (BDR website here: https://ridebdr.com/About-Backcountry-Discovery-Routes)
“The Mid-Atlantic BDR (MABDR) is the eighth BDR route developed for dual-sport and adventure motorcycle travel.
MABDR is a scenic ride for dual-sport and adventure motorcycles that uses dirt, gravel and paved roads to wind through remote parts of Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland, and Pennsylvania. Starting in Damascus Virginia, and ending in Lawrenceville, Tioga County, PA, this 1,080-mile route, primarily uses forest roads and rural country lanes, to lead riders through the Appalachian mountains, majestic forests, bucolic farming landscapes, Amish country, and locations that played pivotal roles in early American history.”
The mid atlantic route is their most recently developed route, and their first in the eastern part of the US (where it is admittedly much more difficult to develop off-pavement routes due to an older, denser road network that is largely paved, and much less public land). We’ve had our eye on some of their western routes for a while, but being residents of NC, making the trip to the western states to go ride has been more of a commitment than we’ve been able to make yet. The effort to develop “adventure” routes in the eastern US was undertaken specifically for people like us, which we think is just fantastic. The route was officially made public in March of this year, so we clearly jumped at the chance to take a trip so close to home, and we’re probably among the first wave of people to ride this particular route.
The overall BDR looks like this:
To follow the route, its essential to use the GPS tracks downloaded from the BDR website. We also had the physical Bulter map, and think the trip would have suffered without it. The Butler map is incredibly well done and very useful, but there is simply no way to make a paper map with enough detail required to follow the route by that alone. It would take a stack of very detailed maps, and even then, you’d have to stop to navigate at every turn, which are sometimes in very close sequence in close proximity with many other (wrong) options to choose from. There are hundreds of turns, many on undistinguished and unlabeled forest roads. Sometimes there are only one or two roads to choose from, and the way is clear, other times, more than two roads diverged in the wood, some paralleling each other for awhile, and its not a matter of picking the one less traveled. Even with the GPS tracks, we made many a u-turn trying to stay on course (which sometimes is part of the fun).
Ok, introductory context out of the way, time to get started. Sort of. First, we needed to drop the dog off with my parents. Geographically, since we had to go there to drop the dog off anyway, it made sense to start the trip from their house. This meant we had to get both motorcycles (and all the gear), plus the (85lb) dog to their house. So, our obligatory start of the trip photo looked like this:
Kevin rode in the rain for a couple of hours, while I trucked my bike, the dog, and a bunch of stuff. Wearing my helmet while driving meant we could use the SENA radios to talk during the trip, just to make the whole affair that much more eccentric.
After all the prep and trying to make work go away long enough to take a vacation, it felt great to start riding in mostly dry weather the next morning.