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The Tentacle


June 24, 2008

Enjoying What Life Brings on Two Wheels

Nick Diaz

You’ve seen them on the road – all those guys on motorcycles, parading down the boulevard, on Saturdays or Sundays. Where are they going? I’m sure many of you have wondered the same thing.

 

            As usual, there are several answers to that question. On a typical Saturday morning, the Harley-owning clones like to ride down to a typical Harley dealer, kick tires, tell lots of lies, and spend too much money on overpriced Harley things.

 

            Then they all typically leave, en masse, to the next Harley dealer, where they do the same thing, ad infinitum.

 

            And finally, they end up, en masse again, at a typical watering hole where too much beer is consumed.

 

            Then you have the “squids,” the guys on sports bikes that are actually street-legal racing motorcycles. Just like the Harley “bad” boys (and girls) enjoy flashing their “bad” leathers, do-rags, and make it a point to look “bad” all around, the squids show off their racing leathers, enjoy passing everyone else, on two or four wheels, on the right, and make total nuisances of themselves.

 

            Where do the squids end up? Usually in the ditch next to the road. That seems to be their goal and destiny. These guys and gals are stereotypically young and thin; they make me feel old and fat, which I proudly am.

 

            What do these two diverse groups have in common, if anything? Simple: They enjoy being seen. In my 38 years on two-wheeled motorized contraptions, I’ve been told that the idea behind riding is not to be seen, but to see. To see and explore the countryside in our mid-Atlantic states, to admire its beauty and solitude, and to enjoy every curve, every hill and dale, every scenic overlook – away from the hustle and bustle of daily life.

 

            So, here’s a typical spring Saturday in April or May. For a change, there’s no rain in sight, and a group of us in the “Between-the-Sheetz” Gang come together and go riding.

 

            Where do we go? Not to be seen or heard, that’s for sure! We all ride “quiet” motorcycles, and we seek the “invisible roads” I’ve so passionately described in my last couple of Tentacle essays. As you know, the “invisible roads” can be our destination, in and of themselves.

 

            Trouble is, we don’t eat off the road. After all, the motto of the “BTS Gang,” along with that of many motorcyclists of our ilk, is, “Eat to Ride, Ride to Eat.” We ride too fast, lie too often, and eat too much – all for the sake of enjoying our lives on two motorized wheels.

 

            Having lived in the Frederick area for 35 years, I’ve become rather well acquainted with the “invisible roads” in our four-state region. That’s why I often lead rides; I just know where I’m going, and know how to get there on my invisible roads. I define a four-lane or a federal two-lane highway simply as a connector between invisible roads. The idea is to avoid the first-class roads, and seek the ones no one else likes to take, and are known only to local farmers on tractors and pickup trucks.

 

            On this typical Saturday a group of us may meet at the Mickey D’s in Brunswick, which is right across the road from – what else – a Sheetz station with lots of pumps. So we take off, cross the Potomac into Virginia, hit a country road that takes us into Hillsboro, on south toward Round Hill in the direction of Front Royal.

 

            Across the Shenandoah River at the very shallow ford, then west toward Middletown (the Virginia variety), to find one of the most gorgeous invisible roads in the Shenandoah Valley, County Road 623, known as “Back Road” to the locals. This road sits on a ridge that parallels Interstate-81; on one side is the Allegheny front, and on the other are the Blue Ridge Mountains.

 

            On to Edinburg, over Massanuten Mountain in George Washington National Forest, to Luray. US 211 (one of the few four-lanes I enjoy) over the Blue Ridge to Sperryville. Back in the Piedmont, we take VA Route 231 south toward Madison and Charlottesville. Twenty miles later we make a right to Syria, and our lunch destination:

 

            Graves Mountain Lodge!

 

            One could easily have taken US 340 to US 522, to US 211, to VA 231 to get to Graves Mountain. It’s an easy 90 miles on relatively fast roads.

 

            We of the BTS Gang don’t do things the easy way. We go touring; we go for the roads. After all, we have to work hard to develop the appetite necessary to do Graves Mountain Lodge justice.

 

            Number of miles going the crazy way I described? About 150. We take a break along the way at a country store on Back Road – one with wooden floors, a hot muffin and coffee, and a friendly disposition.

 

            What is it about Graves Mountain Lodge that appeals to us? Simple: Lots of cheap food. Lunch is served family style, no menu – one eats what is served. Everyone gets seated next to anyone else on long 10-person tables. No limit on the amount of food.

 

            And what food – comfort food, wonderful food, plentiful food. All you can eat. For $10.50 plus tax. Incredible!

 

            We pay for our meal, go outside the lodge, sit on a rocking chair, tell more lies, but only after loosening our belts. Life is good.  Rocking chairs rock!

 

            We head for home a not-so-crazy way. Still, it’s mostly on invisible roads, though these may well be slightly less invisible and perhaps more direct.

 

            A 270-mile day, highly satisfying, wonderful roads, great company, gorgeous scenery, cheap food to die for – everything right.

 

            I invite you to do the same. Take out your Virginia map, find Syria, go to www.gravesmountain.com, and plan on having a wonderful touristy day. Don’t let the fuel price hikes deter you from acting like an American and enjoying our beautiful countryside, in a totally guiltless manner.

 

            And you don’t even need a motorcycle to do so. If you wish to contact me for help in finding and following the invisible roads in our region, let me know at gssuzukiguy2004@yahoo.com.

 



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