Returned Saturday afternoon from a 3000 kilometer ride and tour of West Virginia. This included Summerville, New River Gorge and Bridge, Carnifax Ferry Battleground, Hawk's Nest State Park, Thurmond, Cass, Highland Scenic Drive, Monogahela National Forest, Cranberry Glades, Hinton, Blue Stone and PipeStem, Greenbriar River and Valley, and many other places. The ride included Rts. 41, 39, 19, 60, 64, 69, 15 and 55 and probably several others that I have forgotten.
What I liked best: The awesome views and the great motorcycle roads. Followed by the historic places to visit like Cass and Thurmond.
What to be careful about
: Deer - everywhere and all day long. I had some close calls on curves. Have to look through the curves as there are plenty of dangers waiting around everyone including the deer. Along with deer, look out for gravel - seems to be in every curve. I also found wood - from lumber trucks, diesel, and on coming traffic straddling or crossing over the double yellow.
How did the Versys do? Great - it's trully an all roads bike. Even with the stock tires the bike handled flawlessly in the curves. Plenty of power in the engine to haul me, three cases plus a 55 litre dry bag of gear up the mountains. I got caught in the worse downpour of my riding career and the bike handled very well in the wet. I had my vents open on my jacket and the water just poured in - it took about a 1/2 hour to drain all the water out. The best part is that I got lost in some back woods logging roads and ended up doing some dual-sport mud wamping with the Versys. Even with all the cases the V handled the dirt very well and the engine was very manageable in the whole event. I can attest to the Versatile name of this bike.
Overall what did I think of the ride: The curves were technically challenging. The posted speeds were very close to what you could take the curve at safely. But, throw in the gravel, deer, oncoming traffic and usually a local that knows these roads riding your butt - it amounts to a lot of stress. I found that I would be 10 to 15 mph over the posted limit and found someone right on my tail. I hated that part. Some of the curves were so tight especially in the Hawk's Nest State Park area that the road appeared to fold in on itself. You can see the scrapes in the roads where cars have taken the curve too sharply and bottomed out.
Best roads: By far FR 150 - Highland Scenic Drive. Some curves but a lot of awesome straights to get up to speed. The views are spectacular up there. In second is 39 through Monogahela National Forest that leads to 150. And for third 15 heading to Helvatia.
Here are some photos:
Ignore the elevation - that's my current elevation in Niagara Falls.
Highland Scenic Highway (FR 150)
Overlook for Sandstone Falls
If you are interested in the full set of pictures: