Day 47 – Rolling down the highway to Virginia

Day 47 – I need a beer

Date: 07/18/2016 Monday
Starting Location: Uniontown, PA
Ending Location: Charlottesville, VA
Starting Odometer: 14,534
Ending Odometer:
Mileage Driven (days):  217 Miles
Mileage Total:  7897 miles
Today’s MPG:  40 mpg
Total Average MPG:  41 mpg
States Visited: CA, NV, AZ, UT, NM, CO, UT, WY, ID, WY, MT, WY, SD, MN, WI, MI, WI, IL, IN, OH, PA, NY, CT, MA, VT, NH, MA, CT, NY, PA, WV, VA, (24 States so far)

Leaving PA

After a mediocre continental breakfast, it was time to hit the road.  I left The Lodge at about 8:00 AM, and headed towards Virginia.  This was expected to be a relatively short day, and I anticipated to arrive by about noon.  But, that was not to be…

What’s that bloated feeling?  Is it gas?

Sorry for the misleading heading on this section.  I’m well, and don’t have a stomach disorder, but last night when I arrived in Uniontown, the gas gauge indicated that I had about 19 miles until empty.  After riding the short trip to dinner, and returning the hotel, the mileage indicator read 16 miles.  Given that I was in NY State, and given that I had seen gas stations on a pretty regular basis, I figured I would take a chance, and begin the day heading the right direction, with the assumption that I’d find a gas station in short order.

I started out and headed towards VA, and the miles began to tick down.  Slowly I proceeded, trying to conserve every ounce of gas, just to be safe.  I watched as the indicator read 10, 9, 8, 5, 3, 2, 1…

As the indicator got to 1 mile left, I stopped the bike in a small town.  I used the GPS to try to locate a gas station.  At this point, I need to talk about how GPSs find gas stations for a moment

Brief tangent – We’ll get back to the story in a few minutes

When you ask a GPS to locate a gas station, it will find and point out the closest gas stations, whether they are ahead, or behind you on the route your taking.  When you’re travelling along a route, very seldom to you want to backtrack to find a gas station.  While at the BMW Rally, I attended a seminar about GPSs (remember I mentioned this in my last post), and during this seminar, I learned how to get the GPS to search for gas stations that are in front of me, along my route.  It seemed to me that this little trick would be perfect.  I expected to find a gas station must a mile or two ahead, and the world would once again be in order.

Back to our regularly scheduled program

Continuing where I left off.  The gas gauge was at 1 mile, and I searched for gas stations.  The GPS indicated that the next gas station was 25 miles ahead of me.  So, I decided to use my backup can of gas to get me to the next station.  So, I got off the bike, removed the tire, removed the water can, and then removed the gas can.

I opened up the gas tank, and poured in the gallon of gas that was in my reserve can.  Just as I had finished, another biker on a Harley pulled up, so I asked him where the closest gas station was.  He indicated that I was very close to the Interstate, and that a gas station was only a mile away fro me.

So, what happened to the GPS?

As it turns out, I’m just a little too clever for my own good.  If I had allowed the GPS to search for all gas stations, i would have found the two gas stations that were a mile away.  But, because I was trying to be sure that the GPS found gas stations that didn’t take me out of my way, it ignored those two gas stations, only showing the next gas station that was truly, and exactly on my projected route.

Go figure.  You learn something every day, right?

The roads of PA and WV

With the gas problem resolved, I once again headed out towards VA.  I had lost about 30 minutes in total, which would affect my arrival time, but things were back on track, and away I went.  You can see the overall route in the image below.


It does need to be said that the roads of this part of PA, and of West Virginia are pretty awesome motorcycle roads.  It’s like they have simply laid down asphalt for the sole purpose of pleasing motorcycle riders.

The roads were awesome.  Lots of curves, increasing and decreasing radius curves, climbs and descents, just about everything I could have asked for.

Below, you can see the portion of the route that was through the curviest sections of the trip.



I’ve also included a detailed view of the second section of curvy roads.


So, there I was, riding along on these roads, enjoying myself.  Eventually I looked at the GPS and noticed that I had about 100 miles until I arrived at my destination.  I had not seen a sign indicating that I crossed a state line, so I really was unsure of where I was.  The GPS is an awesome tool, but it’s not especially good at telling you where you are.  So, I needed to find out where I was.

Where am I?

It was now about 11 AM, three hours into a 4.5 hour trip, and I was not sure of my location.  So, I figured I would ask someone where I was.  I pulled into a convenience store, grabbed a Gatorade and as I was sitting in front of the convenience store, sipping my Gatorade, an older couple was making their way towards the entrance.  The woman had a walker, and the man was assisting her.  Both of them seemed to be in their 70s or even 80s.

Its usually pretty safe to ask questions to a couple like this, as they are almost certainly going to be sympathetic to my situation, and will help me out.  As the man walked up to the front door, I asked him if he knew what state we were in.  He looked at me with a strange face, and then seemed to take an hour to answer me.  He probably only took 7 or 8 seconds, but it seemed like it was a long time.  His answer was “Yep”.  I certainly did not expect this kind of an answer from an old guy with a wife that was using a walker.  But I needed to know where I was, so I tried again…

I then asked if he would mind sharing the name of the state with me.  He said, well, you’ll have to guess.  “It’s either West Virginia or Virginia”.  At this point, I was not sure whether he was just being difficult, was playing a game, or was really struggling to understand how I could not know where I was.  But, given the look on his face, which I judged to be sincere, I thought for just a moment, and then I answered…  West Virginia?

He said, Yep.  And that’s when I knew that I was in West Virginia.  I hate to stereotype, but it was kind of odd that this question was so perplexing.  Nevertheless, I now knew where I was, and I left the gas station, with 90 miles to go.

So close to Monticello

As i was arriving in Charlottseville I noticed a sign that indicated a turn-off for Monticello, the home of Thomas Jefferson.  I was intrigued, and never realized that I was so close to Monticello.  I was going to need to visit it, perhaps tomorrow.  For now, it was time to get to Lee’s house.

Finally, I’m in Charlottseville

I arrived in Charlottseville, and said hello to Lee, who helped me bring my gear inside.  We threw in a quick load of laundry, and decided that we were plenty thirsty.  It was clear, we were going to need a beer to celebrate the fact that we’re going to hang out for 2 days, after not seeing each other for about 21 years or so.

Breweries are closed

Lee is proud of his local breweries, and in rapid fire, he listed 4 breweries, all of which were excellent, and all 4 were close to home.  We got in the car, and headed to brewery number 1.  As it turns out, the Star Hill brewery is closed on Monday and Tuesday.  So, we set out for the 2nd brewery.

A few minutes later ,we arrived at the Pro Re Nata brewery.  Hmmm, it’s also closed.  So, we set out for the 3rd brewery, the Blue Mountain Brewery.  We arrived there, and much to our amazement, it was open, and serving beer.  We hustled ourselves out of the 95 degree weather, into the pub, and quickly got an ice cold Lager.

The beer was excellent, and I was now ready to completely embrace Virginia.  With our thirsts quenched, we headed home for a chili dinner.

The new helmet

Remember I mentioned that I got a brand new helmet from the folks at Touratech.  And that I had to install the communicator into the helmet.  Do you also remember that I used the double-back adhesive tape to attache the mounting bracket to the helmet?

Well, as it turns out, that double-back tape kind of sucks.  With about 100 miles to go, the mounting bracket fell off of my helmet, and in order to make it to Charlottseville, I was going to need to press the bracket to the helmet every couple of minutes, each time hoping that it would stay for about 10-15 minutes.  Arghhh, this is why you try not to perform repairs on the road if possible.

Do you remember that when I was back in Belmont, with 2 weeks to go, I did a shakedown run.  Well, now you can see why a shakedown run is so very important.  Nevertheless, the new helmet is working perfectly, and I’ve purchased some Gorilla tape to mount the bracket to the helmet.

Problem solved!

The new tires

Let’s talk about the tires for a moment.  You’ll recall that while at the rally I had a brand new Michelin Anakee Wild tire installed on the back wheel.  I had not really had a chance to put any miles on it while at the show, so I’ve now put about 500 miles on the tire, and I’m really happy to report that the bike now handles pretty damn well.  The Turn-In is precise, and effortless.  The grip through the corner is very good, and the noise level is significantly reduced from the Heidenau that I had on the back wheel before the tire switch.

Once again, problem solved!

What about that spare tire?

And lastly, I mentioned that I had saved the Heidenau tire, and now must deal with transporting it from NY State (the Rally) to South Carolina.  I’ve come up with a solution, although it looks a bit awkward, it works pretty well, and does not cramp my riding position.


As you can see, the tire is secure, and all of the reflective tape, brake and running lights, and license plate are still visible.

What’s in store for me tomorrow?

Tomorrow morning, I’ll get up early and go for a ride with Chuck.  We plan to swap bikes, so that we can each experience the others motorcycle.  I have not ridden a Cruiser bike since I rode a Harley at the Motorcycle show in Sacramento last year, but I’m optimistic that the big Yamaha touring bike will deliver the goods.

About the Author

Cliff Musante

Cliff Musante is a technologist, business leader, motorcycle enthusiast, father, grandfather, and more. In June, 2013 his passion for motorcycles was revitalized, and he set out to ride across Patagonia. Since then, he's logged thousands of miles, ridden across the US, and on July 10, 2019, he began a 120 day trip through Europe, and then on to Russia, China, and parts East. This 'Blog is the story of all of his adventures.