these 7 tips will ensure that you and your pillion enjoy many safe and enjoyable miles together.
Jamie and I have enjoyed many years and miles riding together on Two Wheels. This has not always been the case. Yes we have always enjoyed the riding part of the two wheeled experience, however there were times, when our riding experience created frustration and possibly placed our safety at risk. Here are a few things that we have learned that makes our two up riding experience a great one.
1- Keep your pillion involved. One of the things I do, is to ensure that Jamie knows a few key details before heading out on a ride. First I let her know where we are going, the route we are taking to get there, where we might stop or how many miles the scheduled stops will take place. This allows her to know what the general plan is and if I miss a turn she can let me know about it. (yes, sometimes I ignore the GPS haha) I would not advise all pillions to do this, especially newbies to the two up lifestyle, but Jamie takes an active role in documenting our rides. She takes pictures from the pillion seat and she has captured many incredible photos from the back of the bike. Jamie also knows there is a time for this activity. While we are enjoying a spirited ride on a twisty road is NOT the right time. I think you all get the picture. The more involved the pillion is in the ride, the more they will want to continue to ride.
2- Mounting & Dismounting This may seem like a simple action, however getting on and off the bike is a dance and one that can end up with toes being stepped on if rider and pillion are not on the same page. This simple act can cause a number of bad things to occur, like dropping the bike or hurting the pillion or rider, so why not start off on a good note. Here is how we do it. The passenger should ask if it is ok to get on the bike. I know this sounds odd, but when this occurs all parties are aware of what is about to happen and can prep for the action. . The same could be said for dismounting. Jamie places a hand on my shoulder when she wants to get on, this allows me to say yes or hold on a second. She also taps me on the shoulder before starting her dismount. This works well for us. Find out what works well for you and do them each time. Trust me, it will make for a great start and end to a ride.
3- Be Smooth Be composed when accelerating, braking, shifting and cornering. It is the riders responsibility to make the pillions riding experience a good one. Being a pillion is all about trust, hard acceleration and clunky shifting does not lend itself to building trust. There will be times when action must be taken, to avoid an accident or for the safety of both parties, but these actions should not be the norm. Ride smooth and your pillion will gain more trust in you and in turn enjoy riding more. If you have not seen the trend here the goal is to keep the pillion feeling safe and having fun, thus increasing the likelihood of more rides together.
4- The Correct Gear Ensure that your pillion has the correct gear to be comfortable on the ride. Spend some money and get them gear that fits and will be the most protective for them. Nothing ruins a ride and dampens the spirit of a pillion more than not having the right gear. When the rains come, correct fitting rain gear is a game changer. If the temps drop, having a good set of warm riding gloves will make for a great riding experience. Take the time and spend some money on riding gear. Your pillion will thank you.
5- Accessorize Jamie feels really safe with a top box installed on the bike. Besides being a great tool to store things, it makes her ride more enjoyable. It was an easy decision to have one on the bike. Communication devices have changed our two up game. It has enhanced our riding experience more than anything we could have added to the bike. Having the ability to communicate with just a touch of a button is a true game changer. It also allows for the pillion to listen to music or even talk on the phone if the mood strikes. I will be honest, there are rides where we go for many miles without ever keying up and talking to each other, but having the option to talk is a great feeling. If Jamie wants to stop for that much needed bathroom stop, she can make it happen with a mere push of a button. We feel that having a communication tool is essential for a great two up riding experience.
6- It takes two Remember that there are two of you on the bike. This means you have to adapt your riding style. I personally don’t mind riding tank to tank without a stop. Jamie does not agree with this mind set, so we take a short break every hour or so just to get off the bike and stretch. It does not have to be a long break, but it works well for the two of us. You have to be flexible as things will come up that need to be addressed. You just stopped and 10 minutes down the road one of you has to take a potty break. It happens. Roll with the changes as one of my favorite groups used to sing. Understand when tensions are on the rise. Jamie knows that I hate arriving to our destination in the dark, so we do everything we can to avoid that situation. Jamie is not a big fan of riding in high winds or on the interstate for any extended amount of time, so again we change course if needed.
7- Have Fun! If you have found that one person who loves riding pillion, the one person who wakes up on a Sunday morning and asks “where are we riding to today” then take advantage of it! I liken it to winning the lottery. I get to enjoy riding a motorcycle, creating memories together and seeing great destinations with the love of my life. It is an amazing feeling and I know that I am so lucky to have “hit the lottery”. So doing the small things listed above are not a chore. It is a privilege.
I hope that you all read this and take a few things from it that will enhance your two up riding experience. I love riding a motorcycle and have been doing it for over 40 years. However I will say that the last 18 years of riding with Jamie has taken my joy of riding to an entirely different level. We have seen so many things, met so many great people and enjoyed numerous miles of exploration together. Being able to do this on Two Wheels is a mind blowing experience and one that we hope you all will get to enjoy in the near future.
The biggest downside to a 2dr Jeep Wrangler is the lack of available space to pack adventure gear.
We get asked all of the time how we do these longer Jeep adventures in a 2DR JK and still be able to take everything that makes an enjoyable camping experience. I will be honest, it takes lots of trail and error and understanding what “REALLY” is needed for the trip. I also feel we have a little advantage, because we have done many camping trips together while riding a motorcycle. Talk about being creative with the space you have available. Today we do more base camping so we take the Jeep and trailer the bike. Those old school trips on the motorcycle sure prepped us for camping in a 2DR JK.
Many of you are doing the same thing we are doing this week, and that is packing for the Rendezvous in the Ozarks event. This is a fantastic family fun event and is a must for any overlanding / camping / dual-sport enthusiast. You can see last years report here. Today I got out my list and started to get all of our gear together. If you would like a copy of the list we use, just sign up and we will send that out to you.
This is not hard for us as we have everything in Plano Totes, which allows us to grab and go. I like going over the list to ensure we are not missing anything. Below is a list of the totes and what is included. (The totes we use are found here. The links below is for the gear that we use. If you order via our link we get a little kick back. Your cost does not change, it just helps us out) “As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.”
Tote #1 – Camping gear. This includes sleeping bags, hammock, headlamps, various bug sprays, camp hats, Solar lights, Door mat, USB fan, Farkle and our favorite card game for camping; Cribbage.
Tote #2 – Cooking station, We keep our Everest 2 Camp stove, our 1lb bottles along with our extended hose for the propane. We also keep lighters and fire starters here as well. It also takes care of the best thing ever designed for motorcycle camping and that is a Jet Boil camp system. Love this for my early morning coffee.
Tote#3 – Cooking Utensils, things like a skillet, pots, plates along with all the utensils needed for cooking. Foil, ziplock baggies, clorox wipes and our collapsible dish washing pan.
Tote #4 – The food pantry. All dry goods including chips, crackers, seasonings, boxed food and all other food items that do not need to be refrigerated.
Jamie and I are very cost conscious so we are always looking for the best deals and value. One of the best deals we have come across is the F40C4TMP portable fridge. This item has been a game changer. We first found out about it on Softroadingthewest. If you have not seen the channel, it has great outdoor content. This little fridge is great for 2 people and at the cost of less than $250 it is very affordable. No, it is not a Dometic. It is not the top of the line and does not have all of the features as a Dometic, however I can buy 4 of the F40C4TMP for the price of admission for the Dometic. Maybe someday I will own one, but this works well for now.
The Rigid case above is part of a 3 piece set. I use only two pieces for my recovery gear. I keeps everything nice and tide and easily accessible. I have tools, gloves and misc items in the small top section. One of the things you have to think about is how to access the recovery gear or tools. Having a soft top JK all we have to do is unzip a window and BAM! Everything is right there.
All of the Camp chairs, blow up mattress, buddy heater, tables and moon shade are stored behind all of the totes. This allows for easy access as well. We strap everything down using the amazing ROK straps. They keep everything in place and are easy to use.
You might ask about clothing. We use compression sacks and they will fit anywhere in a small cubbie hole. We place our Gazelle T4 tent on the back of the jeep. Then we are ready to hit the road.
This about covers everything we take with us for a camping trip like this weeks Rendezvous. Jamie and I will be at the event early Thursday setting up. If you see the JK come by and say hi! It looks like it could be a little wet for Thursday and Friday. Don’t let that stop you from attending the event! A little rain never hurt anything, plus it makes for some good trail fun. I will be teaching a class on Trip Reports Friday at 10AM at the pavilion, so take a moment and stop by. We hope to see you all later this week!
Jamie and I went and picked up our newest addition on Sunday. We loaded up the Subaru with the motorcycle trailer and headed off to Kansas. We saw an ad on the 390 Adventure site on FB from a guy and the bike had all the additions like Rear Rack, Bigger offroad pegs, larger Givi Windscreen, Leo Vince pipe, Bar Risers, Heated Grips, Coober Air Box, crash bars and KTM Skid Plate. It had everything that I wanted. The cost was fair and the KTM only had 4200 miles on her with new tires and a fresh oil change. So Jamie and I are now proud owners of our 3rd motorcycle. Stay tuned for more videos about the new KTM.
Thank you for taking the time to watch. We hope you liked the videos. If you have any questions, feedback or comments please contact us.
Jamie and I are so proud to have another article in the MSTA STAReview Magazine. This time it is the Ride report I did for the Big Lynn Rally that took place in July. If you are not a member of the MSTA, please consider joining. It is a great group of motorcycle enthusiast. You can download a copy of the magazine here:
As always we are honored to play a small role in this great publication. I enjoy reading the articles and love the feedback we get on the articles that we write.
Stay tuned for some big news, as we might have an opportunity to write articles for another large motorcycle audience. We will let you know more about this in the near future. So stay tuned.
Twisty roads and scenic vistas – what a great place to ride!
Earlier this spring, I had to make a decision on what rally I would do over the summer. Last year I attended the Red River Gorge Rally in Mt Sterling KY. That was a great event and I will return in the future. However this year I had to choose between the Red River event and the Big Lynn Lodge gathering. I had not been to Big Lynn so that event won out.
I booked my room and started to look for a roommate. My friend Rob Burditt was the obvious choice. Our riding styles are compatible and we seem to get along. The two things that make up good roommates on these motorcycle events. We spoke and decided that since we would be trailering to the event we might as well bring our non touring machines. Bob has a beautiful ZRX that he can load up into his little transit van, so he was set. About a month ago we went and purchased Jamie a new motorcycle. She is a newly licensed rider and she has not been able to break in her new machine. What better way to break in the Z400? I would take the little Z to Big Lynn and I have to say I am so glad I did!
Bob would meet me at the lodge as we were coming from different directions. I had to work on Wednesday so I had the Z400 loaded up and ready to go. I made it through the day and headed out around 4PM. It was HOT and I was glad that I made the choice to trailer instead of riding the Big Versys. This was a much more comfortable ride. I made it all of the way to Paducah KY before stopping for the night. I was glad I had driven so far, as now the trip on Thursday would be an easy one.
I got up early Thursday morning and hit the road. Visions of twisty roads in my head. I was really looking forward to a break from work and I could not think of a better way to do that than riding these great roads. The drive was pretty easy and I rolled into the Lodge around 12PM. I could not check in that early, so I decided to unload the Z and run down the road to have lunch at the Little Switzerland Inn.
While sitting at the bar enjoying a burger, a lady and her son came to the bar. She seemed a little distraught. Come to find out her some was having a little diabetic issue and needed to eat right away. They ordered food and sat down next to me. I started to chat with Corbin her son. What an engaging young man. He told me that he creates greeting cards, drawing and painting the pictures himself. He gave me his card and was so excited talking about his website. His eyes lit up when talking about his art. It was a great experience and this young man warmed my heart. I picked up this young mans tab for his lunch. Corbin made my day and made me smile. Thanks Corbin! Go check out his website.
I rode up and down 226A a couple of times, getting used to the little Z. That bike handles so good and once I got used to keeping the revs up, the bike was a blast! I checked into the lodge and unpacked and got a nap in before bob arrived. We helped him unload his ZRX. It was a tight fit in his van, but Bob has it down to a science. It is cool the way he can load it up and secure in in that little van. We enjoyed the evening catching up and walking around the lodge kicking tires and talking with all of the riders. There was a great mix of machines. The weather was amazing and I could not have thought of a better way to end the evening. The lodge includes dinner in the price, so when the dinner bell went off it was cool having everyone in the same area, enjoying each others company. Fun times for sure!
I got to meet Dave Brickner the organizer of this event. I had chatted with Dave over e-mail and facebook, but never had met him face to face. What a great guy. I volunteered to do the ride report for this event. (yes this is it!) He made all the riders feel so welcomed.. His smile greeted the riders at the check in table, making for a great experience from the beginning. Thanks Dave for letting me be a part of your wonderful event.
Before we called it a night, we sat on our porch and enjoyed a few adult beverages while chatting with some new friends. I got to meet Chris Parker for the first time. We have spoken a number of times via e-mail. It is always good to place a face to a voice. Chris made our logo for the Ozark Escape and will also be working on a few other projects for Jamie and I so stay tuned. We have big news coming soon! Chris invited us to ride with him and a few others the next day. We were all in.
We woke up to a foggy Blue Ridge type of morning. Breakfast was good and by the time we finished eating, the sun was out and the promise of great riding was ahead. Dan Steinberg would lead the ride today. It was a group of 8 bikes, consisting mostly of sport touring bikes. We were assured that the pace would be spirited and that it was! I was afraid the Z400 would be outclassed. The good news was the roads were mostly tight and twisty so the Z400 was right at home. In fact it held its own very well. Only in the few straightaways did the big bikes run off from my little stead. It was so nice having a local leading the ride. Dan knew all of the great roads. We had a ball. We experienced narrow back roads, twisty roads with little margin for error, and everything in between.
At one point we stopped for a break at the Mast General Store. The general store has been in this area since 1883, it is a great slice of Americana! What a cool place. We took our time looking around and chatting. The weather was great and it was starting to turn into one of those magical motorcycle days of riding.
One of the things I have seen at multiple MSTA events is how accommodating riders are to take along new riders. This group did not know Bob and I , yet they invited us to ride with them. I think we got a good compliment when later in the ride, we asked about how we did and they responded by saying, that we kept up and did not crash, so we took that as a win! I have ridden this area in the past, but have never taken in the SNAKE. The Snake is a road full of 489 curves in 22 miles of pristine tarmac. It was a treat and a blast to ride! We were fortunate not to have a lot of traffic, so the experience was a great one! The little Z had a ball on this road and it was a grin inspiring. I don’t know if we could have asked for a better day to ride.
One of the coolest things about this ride was watching Dan and Matt. I remember riding with my dad and his friends back in the day and it was one of the best memories I have of him and I. It brought back a flood of memories watching these two interact, enjoying some motorcycle bonding time. I made sure to tell them to stop and enjoy these moments. I wish I would have ridden more with my father before he passed. Watching these two made me realize how special those times were with my dad and I on our bikes. Just another reason to love motorcycles and how it brings people together.
As we made our way back to the lodge, I was thinking to myself how much fun I had on the Z400. It was one of the best days of riding I have had in a very long time. We got back had some dinner, enjoyed more adult beverages while listening to the tunes from a very good live band. Sorry I did not get the name of the band. It was a beautiful evening. just another day of amazing riding was in the books. I felt so lucky to be here, enjoying my time with old and new friends. What a great day!
Saturday morning arrived and it was another foggy morning. We took our time and enjoyed the early morning. Coffee always tastes so good on road trips. We walked around and kicked tires. Today would be an easy day. We wanted to rode in the morning and get back in time to load up the bikes before the rains came.
Bob and I explored the famous Blue Ridge Parkway while making our way up to Mt Mitchell. We enjoyed a little hike to the peak to take a few pictures. The Blue Ride was in great shape and on this early morning the traffic was not bad at all. I forget how beautiful the BRP can be. After playing tourist, we made our way back to camp. We did stop at a cute little coffee place to take a break. The owner was very friendly.
We rode back to the Little Switzerland Inn and had a great lunch. We took our time, had a couple of beers and spent some good time, to reminisce about the past 3 days. We got back to the lodge in time to load up the bikes before the rains came. Just to hit on it again, the Z400 was amazing. It was the perfect tool for the job! The day was highlighted by one of the biggest rainbows I have ever witnessed.
Sunday morning arrived and at 4:30am, the alarm went off and the day was started. It had rained most of the night and I would drive for a few hours today in rain as well. It was a long drive home, but a good drive. It was nice being able to put my thoughts together after such a great weekend. I made it home by 5PM. Looking back on the weekend, it was so much fun. I can’t wait to do it again next year and I hope to see you all there! Let’s Ride!
Canaan Valley WEST VIRGINIA was the home for this years MSTA National Event! Our First STAR!
We were so disappointed that due to the world events, STAR 2020 in Cape Girardeau was cancelled. We were so excited to attend our first STAR. When the decision was made that 2021 would be held in Canaan Valley in West Virginia, Jamie and I were all in. We signed up early and started to look at how we could make it a good 10 day vacation. The wheels were put into motion and the planning started.
After a few days of planning, we decided that we would head out to STAR on Thursday June 10th after I got out of work. We would continue early Friday morning and get into Canaan Valley sometime around late afternoon. This would be easy to do as we made the choice to trailer the bike. We wanted to be able to camp during our stay and this is the easiest way to do that.
Black Water Falls SP was our destination for the rest of the week. We would camp there and spend the rest of the week exploring the West Virginia landscape. The stage was set for an epic journey, so let’s ride!
Thursday June 10: The adventure begins.. after work of course!
It is always a long day when you start vacation at the end of a work day. The good news was, the day went by quickly. Jamie met me at the store around 3PM and we were ready to hit the road. We rolled a few hours down the road and stayed at a hotel in Rolla Missouri. Looking back on it we probably could have drove a few more hours and have gotten closer to our destination. We ate a quick dinner and made it an early night, as we wanted to get going early the next morning.
Friday June 11: West Virginia here we come! The rain joined us as well!
We got up early, grabbed some coffee and was in the Jeep headed to Canaan Valley by 6am. We beat the Friday morning traffic in St. Louis and enjoyed a nice drive across Missouri, Indiana and Kentucky. We did not stop much as we were making great time. Jamie and I love road trips. It is a great time to chat and solve all of the worlds issues. The weather was great until we rolled in West Virginia. As soon as we crossed the border the skies opened up and it rained… HARD, for the next 5 hours! We were very happy to be in the nice dry confines of our Jeep. There are times when a trailer is awesome and this was one of those times.
We arrived at the Canaan Valley Resort around 7pm, wet and a little stressed out after driving hours in some of the hardest rain we have seen in a long time. We left the bike on the trailer since it was still raining and more importantly we were starving! The rooms were decent at the hotel, but the lounge was awesome. It was open, served cold beer and had some pretty darn good pizza. It was not a long night. We had been on the road all day and the visions of great roads were in our heads. We slept very well.
Saturday June 12: Today we ride! What a Beautiful day!
I got up bright and early to grab a cup of coffee before heading down to the jeep to unload the Versys. We slept very well, and we were excited to hit the road. We had set up a ride on Facebook earlier in the week. We did not know who would be coming, but it really did not matter. We wanted to enjoy the wonderful sights and smells of West Virginia.
Jamie and I have gotten the routine down in unloading the Big V. We had her off the trailer, bags installed and ready to roll with 30 minutes. We went inside had breakfast and then geared up to ride. As we approached the lot, we were greeted by Tom Ernst, his wife Kelly is the new treasurer for the MSTA, so he was solo for the day, as she attended to MSTA business. He would be joining Jamie and I on the ride today. He was the only rider who joined us, on this fine day. We had a wonderful day riding. This is one of the reasons we love riding events. It is a great opportunity to meet new riding friends. Tom was great to ride with. We look forward to riding with him and his wife real soon.
We got back to the hotel in time to register, get some swag and to relax and kick tires for the rest of the evening. It was a wonderful way to start our first STAR experience. The lobby was full of riders and the smiles and laughs could be heard all over the resort. It was a great feeling. It had been a long time since gatherings like this had happened. Everyone was making the best of it.
Walking the parking lot is always one of my favorite things to do, during these events. It is so cool to see all of the bikes, to speak with new friends and to catch up with others. The evening cooled down and the rains stayed away, so the rest of the evening was very pleasant. Tomorrow would be another day of good riding and exploring some of the most beautiful countryside in America. Life is good and we were just starting our vacation.
Jamie and I enjoyed the evening together, as we enjoyed a few beers and just relaxed, hanging out around the resort. The rooms had a nice little balcony and that is where our evening ended. It had been a wonderful day.
Sunday June 13: Drones, COUNTRY ROADS, camp set up and oh yeah the Rains Came!
We woke up to a rather wet forecast for the day. It looked as if the skies would open up in mid afternoon. We enjoyed a nice cup of coffee in the early hours of the morning, taking in the cool temps and the amazing views. It could not have been more perfect of a set up to fly the drone. So off I went. I took the drone up and was able to capture some pretty cool video, along with some great photo images. It was a beautiful Sunday morning.
Yeeha, Tommy Victor and his friend (sorry I forgot his name) joined us for a short ride to breakfast. Jamie and I had to be back by 11am to check out of the room. We had reservations at Black Water Falls SP for the remainder of the week. We are more comfortable with the camping life instead of the resort life. The ride was great and the company was even better. We had a great morning and enjoyed each others company. Breakfast was good and the short ride was just what the doctor ordered.
We ate at the Brandywine Family Dining. A small quant place with good food and service. If you are ever in the area, you should go check it out.
We took the backroads back to the hotel. The roads in West Virginia are wonderful. It was a great way to start the day with a good little breakfast ride. We got back to the hotel in plenty of time to pack up and check out, without having to rush around. The campground was only 10 miles form the resort.
Black Water Falls SP was easy to find and we were surprised at how nice the campgrounds were. Yeeha Stephen from Ft Worth Texas was already set up on the site next to ours. Jamie and I would call this campsite home for the next few days. It took about an hour to set up camp. We were fortunate for that, as the rains came and continued for most of the evening.
We went into town and had some dinner at a local pizza place called Sirianni’s Pizza cafe. The service was slow, as the place was packed, but we were not in a hurry. We took our time, had a couple of beers and got back to the tent to sleep the night away. Tomorrow we would ride again.
Monday June 14: Yeeha recovering, Bacon waffles, wind turbines and twisty roads!
Monday morning rolled around and the weather cleared. We had rain most of the evening, which made it great sleeping weather. Our friend Yeeha was struggling with some food poisoning from earlier in the week. He decided to stay close to camp and do some smaller rides for the day. We loaded up a route that was supplied from the STAR event and hit the road. It was a route that took us on narrow country roads, outlined with huge wind turbines, with beautiful valley views of rolling farmland. It was a great morning to explore.
Our first stop was breakfast at a local place called the Breakfast Nook. The food was very good and the owner took time to tell us the story of the restaurant. He talked me into getting a bacon waffle and I have to admit, it was tasty. Jamie had the biscuits and gravy. I got a little taste and DAMN they were good. I would be getting that the next time we ate there.
The roads in this area vary in width and surface. Most of the roads are small two lane roads with little margin of error if you go off the side of the road.
The roads are all twisty and the grin factor is set at 100!
The road surface was not the best, however when it was rough, it allowed for a slower pace and some time for us to take in the breath taking scenery. We really enjoyed the riding and the various change of scenery made it a wonderful day of two wheeled excitement.
We met up for a late lunch at the Main Street Grill in Romney WV. The theme for this trip, was not to be in a hurry for service. Most places were under staffed and it could be felt. We were not in a hurry so it was not a big issue. The food was good and our server was very nice.
We enjoyed the rest of the afternoon, at the camp site. We just hung out, took a nap and enjoyed the cool weather. There was a couple that came in from Virginia camped next to us with the greatest little trailer. We spent some time taking a quick tour of their awesome rig.
You can check out more information about the Sylvanssport Go here on their website.
We really enjoy doing the basecamp thing. We love setting up camp and being able to sleep in the great outdoors, cook our own food and mingle with other like minded people. It gives us the best of both worlds. We get to bring enough camping gear to be comfortable, we enjoy the savings that camping provides and we have the Jeep to explore in if the weather turn bad.
We love motorcycle camping, however this type of camping allows for some creature comforts that could not be enjoyed if we had to carry all the gear exclusively on the bike.
We spent the afternoon, taking some pictures and video. It was so relaxing, just hanging out at camp. We made dinner and watched, as the deer made there way around the back of our camp. We got the drone up and took some pictures of the surrounding area. Just another great day here in West Virginia.
Tuesday June 15: Yeeha joins us for a ride. Seneca Rocks, Door prizes and campfires.
Today was awesome. Yeeha started to feel better, so we loaded another route from the STAR archives and hit the road. We did breakfast again at the Nook. As had been the case earlier in the week, the food was great, the service was better and another day was started in the best of ways. Good food and coffee makes for a great day! We rode up to the resort to check the door prize list. Jamie and I won a couple of gifts. The day was getting better by the minute.
Today was the most technical riding of the trip so far. There were many twisty roads with plenty of challenges to keep us on our toes. Today was an amazing day of riding. Jamie and I have rode in many states. CO, NM, UT, TN, NC, KY are some of our favorite places to ride and today West Virginia joined that list. WOW! This was one of the best days of riding we have had in a long time. We enjoyed a spirited pace on some of the best roads in the country. It was in a word… SPECTACULAR!
On a side note the Versys rolled 18,000 miles on this trip.
The afternoon was filled with more great roads, with spectacular views around every corner. The valleys and farm images stood out like we were reading a national geographic magazine. For those people that do not enjoy our two wheeled hobby, it is hard to explain how grand the day was. The sights, the smells and the pure adrenaline of spirited riding is one that we will not soon forget.
We ended up with a little stop at Seneca Rocks. We had to do the stop at Yokum’s to get a drink and to take some pictures. We spoke with a number of riders that came in and out for fuel and gas. It was a great place to take in the views along with enjoying all the motorcycle traffic.
We headed back to camp to to cook some dinner and to enjoy more of the great outdoors. We have a good set up for cooking at camp. I love cooking while camping and nothing tastes better than food by a campsite. Throw in a few adult beverages and it makes for a wonderful evening.
Wednesday June 16: More spectacular riding, hiking Black Water Falls, MSTA group picture and banquet.
We awoke to the sound of birds on this chilly morning! The temperature was a very pleasing 42 degrees! While we had been enjoying very comfortable temperatures for the entire length of our journey, we were seeing that back home in Arkansas, summer had rushed in with a vengeance. We were so thankful to be waking up in beautiful, cool West Virginia.
We got up, enjoyed a nice cup of camp coffee, then geared up and headed to MSTA central. We enjoyed a nice breakfast and then loaded up to go for a ride. Like I mentioned before, the weather was very comfortable and it made for a wonderful morning to ride. We explored the countryside and just took our time meandering around the area. We were in no rush, just soaking in the freedom that only two wheels can provide.
We stopped and had lunch at a neat little place that had been recommended by someone on the MSTA Facebook page. Melanie’s Family Restaurant located in Aurora WV.
The staff was very nice and they expressed genuine joy that some of the riders from STAR had been stopping by and eating in their establishment. We had a great time, chatting with the locals and explaining why so many riders from all over the country would come to their little slice of the world. We smiled and expressed our gratitude, for having the opportunity to ride around the area and mingle with the locals. We told them how lucky they were to live in such a beautiful place.
One of the great things about exploring on our motorcycle is finding little “mom & pop” treasures like Melanie’s. On these trips we do our best to help support the local community. Time and time again we are not disappointed.
We finished up lunch and reluctantly got our gear together and got back on the road. Today was a big day as the STAR banquet was this evening, so we wanted to get back in plenty of time to hang out and attend our first STAR closing event.
We arrived at the camp site sooner than we had anticipated, so we put on some comfy clothes, jumped in the Jeep and headed down to Black Water Falls. This trail and waterfall was only a mile down the road from the campsite. The area had some serious rainfall in the past 48-72 hours so the falls were flowing with aggression. It was a nice little hike to the falls, however the time spent was well worth it. The falls were spectacular. If you are ever in the area, this is a “Must See” spot.
Jamie and I were attending our first STAR Banquet so we did not know what to expect. The hotel was buzzing with laughter and activity. Everyone was starting to understand that this great event was coming to an end and most folks would be loading up and heading home the next day. We spent a couple of hours enjoying everyone’s company and taking in a few adult beverages.
Before dinner was served the group was escorted outside for a group photo. I had spoken with Patrick, our illustrious president and he thought it would be cool to take some drone shots, so I launched my mini and took a few shots. It was a lot of fun hanging out with all of these motorcycle enthusiasts.
After the group picture we all made it inside to grab a table and to share a meal together. The food was decent, I don’t recall what we had, so it must not have been that good. However the company and the conversation made up for any deficiencies in the area of food. We all had a wonderful time and the highlight of the evening was Calling Peter on speaker phone to let him know he had won the motorcycle they had given away! It was a great way to end the evening.
We finished up saying our goodbyes and headed back to the campsite. Jamie and I were so glad that our trip would not end for a couple of more days.
Thursday June 17: Goodbye Yeeha, Meeting the famous 2Wheeled rider, Harpers ferry and Antietam
We got up in time to say our goodbyes to Yeeha. He had come from the Lone Star state to hang out and camp with us. He had battled severe traffic, a serious bout of food poisoning, and a leaky tent, but never let it dampen his trip. (at least he did not show it to us). I have ridden many miles with Yeeha and it is always a treat to be around him. We look forward to our next journey together.
We loaded the Versys onto the trailer last night for the long drive back to Arkansas. Today we would be exploring in the Jeep. We were headed off to visit Harpers Ferry and then go visit the Antietam National Battlefield.
First we had made plans to meet up with Mario from 2WheeledRider on Youtube. He lives in the area and was gracious enough to meet up with us. We love watching his channel and one of the cool things about social media is meeting folks that you probably would never run into, except for that great thing called the internet. Go check out his channel.
We jumped in the jeep and hit the road. Even on 4 wheels, the journey was a good one. This area is so scenic. We arrived at the Mountain View Diner and grabbed a table. Mario arrived a few minutes later. It was great meeting him and exchanging some stories. It was a good breakfast and I think we all had a good time. We were thrilled that Mario took sometime out of his day to hang out! Fun times indeed. Maybe someday we will all get to ride together.
As I was planning this trip, I knew that I wanted to go and explore the Harpers Ferry and the surrounding area. The small historical town of Harpers Ferry is located at the confluence of the Potomac and Shenandoah rivers where Maryland, West Virginia and Virginia meet. We found a parking spot and spent the next few hours walking these historic streets. Famous for the John Brown’s raid on the Armory here in Harpers Ferry, there are many buildings to explore and to learn more about this pivotal time in U.S. History. We could have spent the entire day in this quant little town.
We enjoyed lunch and headed to Antietam National Battlefield. This place…. on then, Union soil was home to the bloodiest day in American history as a combined 22,717 were either killed, wounded or missing.
Jamie and I spent the rest of the afternoon driving and walking the grounds. It was very sobering. Such a bad time in U.S. History. We were both glad that we got to experience this hollowed ground.
We enjoyed a leisurely drive back to the campsite, going over all that we got to take in on this amazing Thursday. We stopped and had a BBQ sandwich at the Mountain State Brewing Company, before we ended the night, sitting by a fire and enjoying each others company. I love that we get to experience these trips together. It was a wonderful evening in West Virginia.
Friday June 18: LAST DAY in West Virginia, River Gorge Bridge and a evening with family!
It was a sad morning, as Jamie and I made some coffee and rolled up the rest of camp. It only took us an hour or so to get completely packed up and stowed away. There is always a let down when the reality hits, signaling the end of our vacation is near.
We hit the road with Lexington KY as our ending destination for the day. Jamie has family in Lexington and we were going to spend the evening with them, getting some food and catching up. It has been a couple of years since we got to spend anytime with them.
We had a scenic drive and made pretty good time on the roads. We were surprised at how busy the park around the bridge was. We did a nice little hike and enjoyed the time at the bridge.
It was starting to get late in the afternoon so we needed to get back on the road and make up some miles. We love these road trips and this day was another example of why. Great scenery, and wonderful conversation made the miles easy to do.
We had a great visit with family and enjoyed some really good pizza. What a great time with family. It was a great end to a wonderful day.
Saturday June 19: The end of a fantastic journey & sushi!
We woke up early and hot the road. It was an uneventful day. We got home early in the afternoon, in fact we got home in time to clean up and go get some sushi for dinner. This was a fantastic trip.
Every time we do the basecamp thing with the motorcycle and the Jeep we understand more and more that this is the way we love to travel. It allows for us to be comfortable, to and from our desired destination, avoiding fatigue from excessive weather and long straight boring days on the interstate. We love the fact that we can stay fresh, place only true quality miles on the motorcycle and it allows us to have a vehicle if needed. It is the best of all worlds.
We also love the fact that we can camp, save some money and enjoy the great outdoors. It has become our favorite mode of travel.
To answer the question at the beginning of this post. Was it worth the trip?
Absolutely! Jamie and I enjoyed the MSTA STAR in Canaan Valley West Virginia. We met some great folks, got to ride some amazing roads and we felt like part of a group that is interested in growing our great hobby! I want to take a moment to thank the Executive Committee for all of their hand work in making our FIRST STAR a memorable one. Patrick, Norm and the rest of the team, deserve kudos for organizing such a wonderful event. The routes were well thought out and the venue was perfect for the size of our group. We loved the fact that we could camp close by and still take part in all of the events. We are already looking forward to attending next years event. So until that time comes, be safe out there.
2nd time was the ticket! Jamie now has her motorcycle endorsement!
Jamie took a couple of weeks to recover from her first class, both mentally and physically. Yesterday she got up with the excitement of a kid on Christmas morning! She seemed very confident and was looking forward t getting back on the bike.
She called me a couple of hours after her practice time to let me know that she passed the riding portion of the class and never even came close to dropping the bike! I am so proud of her.
Jamie went and took the Arkansas state written test and passed easily. She is now a fully licensed M endorsed rider!
Now the fun starts! We will be practicing a ton in a parking lot, allowing for her to get familiar with her Z400. She fully understands that she will be practicing for many weeks before we jump into a real world situation. We are in no hurry for her to hit the road.
I want to take a moment to thank you all who wrote and gave support to Jamie when she had failed the class. Our family and friends along with our social media community was so positive and it really made Jamie and I feel good. Thank you all for the great support!
Stay tuned for more of Jamie’s motorcycle adventure.
Jamie signed up and took the Rider Safety Course offered by our local Pig Trail Harley Davidson. She signed up for the three day class. She was so excited and ready to take on this new challenge. Here is how it played out.
On Monday June 28th, Jamie arrived at the dealership early and ready to go. She had her gear on, as the class description explained that they needed to have their gear available all three days of the class. Unfortunately on this day she would be doing book and class room training so the gear was a little overkill. They spent the entire day doing the reading and going over all of the rules of the road and what to expect for the class. She got to meet her class mates and share their riding experiences. The class started with 6 female and 1 male rider. When she arrived home, she was so excited! So ready to be on the bike.
Tuesday June 29th rolled around and excitement was in the air. Jamie arrived early as to avoid the traffic in getting to the dealership. That morning she climbed onboard her Harley Street 500. She could sit on it firmly with both feet on the ground. She did notice that the weight of the bike (516lb) was substantial. On a side note I was surprised that they would do the class with bikes this big. I remember back in the day crawling my large body onto a 250cc Honda rebel. This bike was bigger and more powerful.
Jamie struggled with the weight of the machine, along with the distance from the clutch and front brake levers. She dropped the bike multiple times on Tuesday morning during the rider drills. She struggled with latching onto the front brake with too much force, making the bike come to an abrupt stop, allowing the weight of the bike and gravity to take over. That is not a good equation.
She sounded so defeated when I spoke with her at lunch that day. I told her to hang tough, listen to the instructors, relax her grip on the bike and most of all to have fun. She had a much better afternoon. She learned the basic of counter steering and to look where she intended to go. She did not drop the bike the rest of the day. her spirits were high when she got home.
The good news was she was gaining confidence on the machine and adjusting to the weight. On the opposite side of good news, Jamie looked like she had been a member of “Fight Club” she was battered and bruised. The goal is to get a good nights rest and go back at it tomorrow. The group would get to practice in the morning and then they would break, eat lunch and then take the written test before jumping on the bikes to complete the road testing session.
Wednesday June 30, test day is here! Jamie woke up and was not feeling 100%. She was in pain from the previous days dropping and picking up of the bike. She said she felt exhausted, but knew that later in the day she would feel better. The morning session did not go well for her, as she was not feeling like herself. She dropped the bike a few more times and even worse than that, was the fact that she started to doubt herself. The group stopped for lunch and Jamie started to feel a little better.
The riding session arrived as all of the riders started out doing the different exercises. Jamie’s first exercise was the dreaded U-Turn. As she was doing a left hand turn, she took the turn too slow, then compounded the issue with grabbing onto the front brake. As described prior, the weight to gravity factor was not in her favor, as she dropped the bike. Little did Jamie know, that this one mistake on her first exercise would yield a failing score. However the instructor allowed her to do the exercise again, where she completed it with no issue. Jamie did the rest of the exercises with little to no issue. Had she not dropped the bike she would have passed the assessment.
After all the riders completed the ride test, they went inside to cool off and take the written part of the course. She crushed the written test scoring a 98%. The test results were tallied and the riders were told their scores form the riding part of the test. Jamie did not pass. She was not the only rider to fail the riding portion.
I arrived at Pig Trail HD, around 4pm, as they were having a celebration of learning event to end the class. We all gathered in the class room and shared some stories, along with a few slices of pizza. The spirits in the room were elevated and the group was having a ball. The instructors gave a little talk to the group, even giving little awards out to the particapants.
As the event came to a close, the director of the riding Academy, pulled Jamie and the other rider to the side and explained that they would be able to take part in another 4 hour practice session, then take a quick break and return to retest. There would be a fee of $125 to take part in this session. We did not really care, as we just wanted the additional chance to practice and retest.
The cost for the initial class was $350, so adding another $125 was not a big deal. I do feel the class is a little pricey, but Jamie had a wonderful experience.
Friday July 9th – We have an update as of this evening. Jamie will retake the test on Monday July 19th. She should be healed up by that time and ready to roll! We posted Jamie’s video account on YouTube and asked for some thoughts and feedback. We had so many great comments and well wishers reaching out to wish Jamie the best. It was awesome. You can see the video here. Leave us a message and tell us your thoughts. Did you pass the class on the first try? What motorcycle did you take your motorcycle course with? Have you taken more advanced riding courses since you completed the Motorcycle Safety Course?
Windscreen & Frame Sliders are added – Jamie is ready to ride!
The time is almost here! Jamie starts her riding class on Monday June 28th. She will be attending the riding academy at Pig Trail Harley Davidson here in Rogers Arkansas. I don’t think I have seen her this excited in a long time. She is ready to go!
However before she can ride her new Z400 we wanted to add a couple of modifications that will make her riding experience a better one. The first mod we decided on was the taller windscreen from Kawasaki. The Meter Cover is a taller screen that covers more of the dash and allows for a little more coverage from the air.
The installation was very easy and it only took Jamie and I 30 minutes to get it all taken care of. Our first impressions are positive. Jamie liked the look and I think it will add a little more wind protection. It did not take away from the look of the bike. We are both pretty happy with the outcome. What do you all think?
Next up was the Kawasaki Frame Sliders. We know that the odds of Jamie dropping her bike over the next few months while she gets accustomed to the weight of the Z400 are high, so we want to ensure we can protect the bike as much as possible.
As we were breaking out all of the items to install the sliders we soon realized that we were missing one of the locking nuts. Jamie jumped in the car and headed to Sunrise Marine & Motorsports. They gave her a new nut and she was on her way in no time. Special thanks to the dealership for the quick fix.
I have to give a shout out to Fabiricio Solanes as he had a great video showing the installation. Even in Spanish the visual was a huge help. Once Jamie arrived with the final nut we finished the installation in less than an hour. Very simple and should offer a great level of protection for the new Z400. They do stick out some but we knew that would be the case. I think they look ok on the bike. What do you all think? I wanted to make sure we did not have to cut on any body pieces. This was pretty much a plug and play assembly.
We will be adding a few more mods in the near future. I will be getting her a tank bag along with some spools so we can use a Pit stand to help with oil changes and adjusting and cleaning the chain. We will be ordering these items soon, so stay tuned for those mods as well. Thanks for reading and if you have any suggestions for any additional mods for the Z400, shoot us a note and let us know.