Starting the BDR:
Its spring here in NC, which often means its wet. While we were fortunate to have multi-day stretches of great weather that weren’t too hot, riding this route in the fall definitely improves the chances for having dry weather. We delayed our trip start by half a week, avoiding a weather system that would have had us riding in the rain all day for several days. This meant we had a smaller window of opportunity to make the trip before we had to be back home, and meant we ended our trip by riding during the dreaded Memorial Day holiday weekend (dreaded if you are trying to enjoy the outdoors with the rest of the country at the same time and would like to a place to stay (including camping) without needing reservations).
We spent the morning of Day 1 on a lovely ride to the start of the BDR:
We didn’t quite make it to the official start in Damascus, VA. Scattered storms meant that while we mostly stayed dry, the timing of storms passing through the Damascus area meant we gave up and started riding the BDR north from Marion, VA after lunch instead.
Here is where I want to note that since we moved houses last year, I still have not located my helmet camera. At first I didn’t care about not having it on this trip, as it meant there was one less thing to manage, but as the trip went on, I really regretted not having it. We’ve gotten some fantastic pictures with the helmet mounted camera in the past, and I think not having it on this trip really takes away from showing what the bulk of our adventure was really about. The only pictures I have are from when I bothered to get out my cell phone. We didn’t even bring our real camera this time (space was at a premium).
The back country and unpaved roads at the start of the BDR in VA are mostly familiar territory for us. (We’ve ridden Tub run road numerous times on different motos, for example). Its still fun every time.
Our preference on moto trips is to camp, but I’m not so enthusiastic about camping in the rain if it can be avoided. Night 1 of our trip was going to be wet, so we took the opportunity to follow the promotional materials for the route and stayed in the Mountain Lake Resort hotel. They make sure you know that Dirty Dancing was filmed on location at this resort. (Dirty Dancing is not the cultural touchstone for me that it clearly is to the plethora of middle aged women wandering the resort in Dirty Dancing tshirts).
Mostly, I was just glad to be warm and dry. The access to excellent food didn’t hurt either. Already, the BDR is taking me places in my own back yard I hadn’t been to yet. Shrines to Dirty Dancing or not, the resort is a neat place I would like to go back to.
Scenes from the route in VA:
While none of the MABDR is particularly technical off road riding, my pictures are definitely of some of the easy cruising sections. VA and WV in general seemed to have more variation in road types and conditions than what we found in the northern sections, and were comparatively slower traveling.
Taking a moto trip when one person has extreme dietary restrictions means really odd logistics (even more so than “normal” moto travel logistics, which can already be challenging). It also leads to scenes like this in the Walmart parking lot:
After a somewhat later start from the resort in the morning, some somewhat slower sections, and a diversion into town to re-supply, we made it as far as Douthat State Park in VA for the night. I typically love to get pictures of our bikes at our campsites, but somehow failed to do that at almost every camp spot this trip. Oh well.
We stopped at the first campsite we got to, which was nice enough, but the one next door within walking distance down the road had this lovely view (and was more crowded):
The middle of section 3 in VA (there is a tiny bit in WV here too) is where we came upon our first and the most significant of the water crossings on this route, just south of Brandywine, VA. The pictures and video crack me up, it looks so tame and shallow compared to the actual experience. Fortunately, the rain had stopped long enough for the crossings to be passable; I suspect they are not if there has been a lot of rainfall recently.Kevin went ahead first, and was quick to park his bike and get out his phone and point it at me. He swears he was not rooting for me to dump it. I don’t believe him:)
He did catch some fun video. Here I am almost looking like I know what I’m doing:
Here is the second of the “bigger” crossings:
There were three crossings about like that, with round, softball size rocks that weren’t actually visible on the bottom. You can’t actually see the best line or where to place your front wheel. Is there really a technique for this other than carry a little speed and just go for it? (This is not my first water crossing, but I definitely don’t get to do it very much).
There were many smaller crossings after this that did not get photographed, but were heartily enjoyed as we picked our way through the woods.
This is near the end of section 3, where we join back up with paved roads for a bit.
What we did not do while we had the chance was check the weather (how dumb is that?). We ended the day riding into “the smoke hole canyon,” which is an excellent inclusion on this route. The big bend campground is in a neat location in the river bend, and would have been great if we hadn’t gotten rained on all night and all morning as we packed up. Oops. The cabins at the smoke hole resort looked like paradise to me from my soggy seat as we rode by it the next morning.