by Mario Caruso
Look around. These days motorcycle travelers are everywhere. But motorcycle tourists aren't like car tourists. Your average family cooped up in their sedan or RV seek out popular destinations and easy ways to get there. For motorcycle riders though destinations (if they even have one) serve merely as excuses for the ride. It's not about where they go but how they get there. It's about scenery, winding roads and the obscure places to take a break from a great ride. This is what makes West Virginia the perfect motorcycle state and the West Virginia Rider's Guide the perfect companion. The West Virginia Rider's Guide is written not with all the traditional destinations in mind but the most scenic, winding and obscure way to cross the ruggedly spectacular Mountain State.
West Virginia is one of those states that not every motorcyclist first thinks of as a great riding destination. Mistake! The Mountain State (should give it away) offers a variance of intimate to grandiose scenery webbed with asphalt strands and hardly a straight one in the bunch. West Virginia's mountains crowd each other like city subway riders at rush hour. the only way to forge roads through the mess is to follow either the crooked contours of the mountain's feet or climb their undulating sides and ridges. Grasping the mountainsides, impenetrable, rich green forest fed by fertile soil and abundant moisture claw at the edges of the asphalt threatening to seize back the land the roads tenuously covet. Innumerable creeks and rivers, small and large grind their way through rock on their way to natural and man made lakes. It doesn't hurt either that the state government has realized that we motorcyclist tourists represent a growing income source and welcome us with open arms. This is the third Rider's Guide (Arkansas and Colorado came first).
With input from readers we have maintained the same format but made some tweaks.
Chapters 1 and 2 are general information about West Virginia riding.
Chapters 3 through 7 give background information on 5 of our favorite hubs, Marlinton, New River Gorge, Davis or Thomas, Parkersburg and Charleston including lodging and dining. Then we give 2 to 4 day rides from each hub with route descriptions, maps, pleasure ratings, detailed directions and possible stops along the way. 14 in all.
Chapters 8 through 12 route out the best motorcycle routes to connect the hubs, 5 in all.
In Chapter 13 Around the State in Eight Days we pick and connect some of our favorite roads to make a circuitous, entertaining tour of the Mountain State.
Chapter 14 rounds it out with 20 Favorite Roads.