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The Tentacle


June 10, 2008

Great Rides, Great Roads

Nick Diaz

In my last installment, I brought up the idea of “invisible roads,” and the fun involved in discovering and riding (or driving) them.

 

Let me resume by reiterating the description of “invisible roads,” according to my old friend Jim Ford, who coined the term:

 

            “Invisible roads are unknown except to locals on tractors or in pickup trucks. These offer challenging riding conditions, great beauty, and wild, natural surprises. They run along remote ridgelines and stretch along shaded creeks of clear, splashing water.”

 

            This time I’ll give you some pointers on how to find these invisible roads, right in our own neighborhood. It’s simply too bad that too many Frederick County residents, whether long-time or newly arrived, don’t know much about our own roads. It’s easy to get mired in the muck of U.S. 15, I-270 and 70, U.S. 340 and 40 – strictly utilitarian roads, main arteries designed to move people and goods to destinations.

 

            One arrives home from work, after negotiating our horrible commuting routes on these main roads, tired and weary. Our view of Frederick County roads may well be prejudiced by our limited experience with these crowded roads. What I’m asking you to do is not to let unpleasant commuting experiences get in the way of enjoyment of the “invisible roads” in Frederick and neighboring counties.

 

            So, whether you’re two-wheel fanatic, motorized or not, or an ordinary “quadracycle” owner, let me suggest that you go out and hit our invisible roads, and thus get a new perspective of how good life is to us who live in the mid-Atlantic States – how serene, picturesque, historically significant, pastoral, and idyllic our countryside is.

 

            Now you may voice an objection concerning the price of fuel these days, and how you can ill afford the fuel to feed your motorized beast. My reply would be to think about how much money we all blow on trinkets and useless gadgets. Make it a point to become emotionally and spiritually re-charged by enjoying the beautiful roads in our area, in a totally guiltless way. We all need occasionally to refresh our bodies, minds, and hearts, to forget our daily commutes, jobs, and chores, and to get out and see, hear, smell, and taste our beautiful surroundings.

 

            Where to go if you don’t know the area, you may ask. I do have an answer: Great Roads, Great Rides. This is a book self-published by two old friends of mine, Jennings Glenn and Dan Bard. I’ve known these two gentlemen for years, and have shared many invisible roads with them on our respective motorcycles. To quote from their website at http://www.greatroadsgreatrides.com/ :

 

            “We are first and foremost motorcyclists who want to share our love of the many roads across this great land of ours. We encourage our customers to mount their motorcycle and head off to points unknown.

 

            “We know our ride guides will spark your passion for up-close discovery of our American back roads. Our ride guides will lead you to your own type of inspiration. All you have to do is act on it.”

 

            Lest you conclude that this book is meant for motorcyclists only, let me state that many sports car owners and clubs have purchased this book since it first came out in 2005. The roads are open to everyone, not just motorcycle riders.

 

            Great Roads, Great Rides has 97 pages, with 30 carefully researched routes to follow. Think of the time you have wasted in looking for a good route to explore on your motorcycle, sports car, or bicycle. These 30 routes add up to 8,000 miles of beautiful, challenging roads for you to discover in our vast Mid-Atlantic region in Maryland, the Virginias, and Pennsylvania.

           

            The 30 routes include 21 day-long rides, five two-day rides, and four trips that should be attempted, if one wishes to enjoy them properly, over three days or longer.

 

            Let’s be specific and mention a few of the 30 rides available in this book. The shortest route is a 72-mile loop around the Catoctin Mountains; most of the road miles are right here in Frederick County. To me it’s fascinating how so few county residents are aware of the history, natural and human, of our own region. This ride is a must for anyone who wishes to renew his or her appreciation for our region.

 

            A 172-mile route in this book is entitled “Apple and Peach Orchards in North Central PA.” This is an all-day ride, obviously to be done in August, September, or October.

 

            A third day-long route, and one of my favorite, is the 234-mile long “Leesburg, Route 9, and Oldtown Bridge.” Very few folks know about the bridge over the Potomac at Oldtown, MD, in Allegany County. It’s a rickety, one-lane wooden bridge, the last toll bridge over the Potomac, which is quite narrow, comparatively speaking, at that point.  If you can spare a quarter, you’ll be able to cross from Maryland into West Virginia, very slowly and carefully.

 

            You may order this book by going to the Great Roads, Great Rides website I’ve already mentioned; you may also sample a copy at local motorcycle dealers such as Dutrow’s Honda or Fredericktown Yamaha and buy it right then and there.

 

Following any of the 30 routes suggested in this book will acquaint you with the “invisible roads” I’ve mentioned in my last two Tentacle articles. Get away from the hustle and bustle of U.S. 15 and other congested county arteries, sample the beauty of the unique countryside that surrounds and eludes us.



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