Day 25: Monday 8th October : The long ride back…

With 560 miles to ride to get back to Aaron and Mira’s place, we had an early start, waking at 5am and on the road before dawn. 100 miles or so later we pulled off the highway to get breakfast at a Cracker Barrel before rejoining the highway and Interstate route south east. We stopped every 100 miles or so for fuel and to relieve the boredom of highway riding, then stopped at Valdosta to get lunch at El Toreo, a Mexican restaurant Aaron used to frequent when he had an MRI centre close by. I was still full from last night’s dinner and breakfast, so could only manage half my salad. Then it was back onto I-75 heading south into Florida in increasing heat and humidity, with the occasional heavy rain shower thrown in for good measure.

With about 125miles to go we said goodbye to Dean, who was separating from us to go and stay at a friend’s house. It’s always hard saying goodbye to people who started the trip as complete strangers and through it became good friends, but I’m sure this won’t be the last time we meet or ride together. Now it was just the 3 of us on 2 bikes heading down the familiar last stretch and in to St Petersburg and to Aaron and Mira’s spectacular home. After 11.5 hours we pulled up on their driveway, having covered a total trip distance just shy of 6,500 miles. Once changed I checked in for my flights tomorrow and then we popped out to grab a snack at Zoe’s Kitchen, a Greek “fast food” place that served an excellent Chicken Salad. The only problem was “snack” here doesn’t mean small portions, and this salad seemed to be self-replicating at a rate faster than I could eat it, so that even after 10 minutes of frantic munching it appeared as big as when it was served. It’s not often I leave food, but on this occasion I think if I’d carried on eating, I’d still be there and it would still be the same huge bowl of salad it was originally!

Back at the house I went to bed, exhausted, despite it only being 9:30pm. It has been a great adventure, but now it’s over and tomorrow I head home.

Day 24: Sunday 7th October: Hanging out with the racing stars…

Sick of hotel breakfasts, and unwilling to pay the frankly ridiculous $15 charge, we walked to the nearby Cracker Barrel, where I could get a bowl of cinnamon oatmeal and a hot tea for $5, then caught another Uber back to the circuit. Today was slightly cooler this morning with a little cloud cover so we headed straight to the paddock to have a look around. Here there were lots of vans with race bikes of all sizes and vintage parked up in the shade of the gazebos. The racers, who came in all shapes, sizes and ages, were lounging around trying to stay out of the heat. We got talking to a few as we wandered around, checking out the bikes.

Close to the main control building was a guy I wanted to meet, riding a very interesting race bike. Michael Neeves is the chief road tester for MCN and a guy who won a competition to become a journalist with the paper a few years ago. Now he travels the world riding interesting bikes and is here to ride a very special replica of the bike Mike Hailwood returned to race and win the TT on in 1978, after an 11-year absence. This replica is an exact copy of the bike, including a copy of the prototype Ducati 900cc engine, one the engineers that built it had to re-create from the original drawings. I found him in the pits and went to introduce myself, using the excuse that I thought he might appreciate a fellow English accent. Turns out most of his team in the paddock are ex-pat Brits! We had a good chat, though, discussing the bike and how it handles, the heat, my 6,000-mile journey to be there (MCN is running a “ride 5,000 mile” promotion to get people to ride their bikes more, I’d done more than that in the last 2.5 weeks!) and my trip next year guiding the Globebusters’ London to Tokyo expedition.

After chatting to Michael I rejoined the others at the BMW Motorrad pits, where we got chatting to Nate Kern, the racer campaigning a BMW RNineT against proper race superbikes (and beating them). Nate was a pleasure to talk and listen to again, as he took us through the challenges of riding a boxer-engined bike on track and supporting his racing career on a shore-string. As we sat in the air-conditioned comfort of his rented motorhome, listening to him and Aaron strategise on how to get BMW to make more of the opportunities to promote the brand at events like this and the track-days Aaron runs from his dealerships, it was easy to see them both being successful in the future. The prospect of Nate racing the BMW Boxer Cup 2.0 series that’s being proposed is mouth-watering. I just hope he gets the chance and we get to see him again, racing in the UK.

When we left the motorhome it was once again very hot, so we caught the shuttle back to the museum for a final look around and some lunch. On the basement floor, whilst admiring a collection of racing Porsches, we bumped into Mr Barber himself, so we had the opportunity to thank him personally for creating such a marvelous monument to all this motorcycling.

Then it was back to the hotel for a shower and a walk to the Pappadeaux restaurant across the road, where I had a truly excellent steak and shared a bottle of good wine with Dean. A few beers in the bar of the hotel set me up nicely for the early start the following day!

Day 23: Saturday 6th October : A day at the museum

For our second day at the Barber Vintage Motorcycle Festival we agreed on a late start (to let Aaron sleep in!) and after breakfast caught an Uber to the circuit pick-up point where we met Jordan from BMW and got our “Expo” passes. These give us unlimited access to the circuit, and with the wristbands for the museum already procured we were good to go. Jordan dropped us off at the entrance to the Barber Motorsports Museum and in we went. As they say here, OH MY GOD!!!

The place is huge, built in a dedicated building next to the circuit and housing over 1,400 motorcycles of various ages as well as a large collection of racing Lotus cars. It started as Mr Barber’s own collection of motorcycles and has gradually expanded to what is now believed is the world’s largest motorcycle museum. The exhibits do not appear to be in any particular order, with modern bikes displayed alongside older bikes, although there are dedicated areas for very early American motorcycles, flat-track racers, drag racers and dirt-track bikes. The entrance is particularly impressive, with a large covered atrium-style space with a central lift (elevator) at the sides of which are racks with motorcycles stacked high up into the ceiling. Each of the 4 main floors of the museum has hundreds of bikes on display, some stacked in racks and others on plinths with explanations of what they are next to them. All are immaculately prepared and in pristine condition, with the exception of the few traveller’s bikes which are left in original post-expedition condition.

We spent a good few very happy hours admiring the bikes, which included some particular favourites of mine. These included a Honda VF500FII Interceptor (the first big bike I ever owned, although it wasn’t called the Interceptor in the UK), and a 1974 Kawasaki Z900 (Z1a). The collection is unusual, in that it’s not just rare or significant bikes, but a collection of bikes that are a reflection of the time they were released. Some are obscure one-offs, including two made by the renowned English engineer, Allan Millyard – a Kawasaki z900 (z1) with a home-built 1600cc V-8 engine and a Kawasaki z1300 with a home-built 2300cc V12 engine!

After wandering around we grabbed a sandwich for lunch and then made our way out via the gift shop, where the museum’s only shortcoming became apparent. No fridge magnets!

It was then a short shuttle ride over to Ace Corner ready for the evening’s festivities, only to be told there were none planned for the Saturday. This gave us chance to head back to the cool of the hotel and a shower before heading to downtown Birmingham for dinner. We met up with a couple of Aaron’s friends, including Lee, one of the two owners of Motus Motorcycles, and the other Jeremy, who has a track-day prepared race Ducati Panigale R. The story behind Motus is fascinating as Lee and his business partner formed the company to build an American muscle motorcycle with a V4 engine based on the V8 muscle cars. The resultant bike is, apparently, quite something to ride and Aaron is a dealer for them. Or was, because just recently the finance company that they were reliant on has closed their credit line with no warning, just after they had invested heavily in machinery necessary make the bikes Euro-Compliant with ABS etc. This has effectively put them out of business and Lee was unsurprisingly reticent to spend time around other motorcycle enthusiasts. It was only Mira’s presence that convinced him to come out and I’m delighted he did, as he’s such a charming, intelligent guy with a clear passion for bikes and his company. I only hope they manage to get things sorted out, as I’d love to ride one of his creations!

Dinner was in a restaurant called Chez Fonfon, a recommendation by Lee, and it was fantastic. I had a great chicken liver mousse followed by the burger. Now normally in a good restaurant the only burger would be the cleaner’s lunch, but Lee recommended I try the one on the menu and it was superb! More like a steak that had been chopped up and put into a burger-shape than anything you’d normally get in a bun. Leaving the bread also left me room for the delicious Lemon Meringue Pie too!

After dinner we caught yet another Uber back to the hotel and I was in bed and asleep by 10:30pm, dreaming of the bikes I’d put in my own museum when I won the lottery!

Day 22: Friday 5th October : First day at the Barber Vintage Motorcycle Festival

With the first of 3 days at the Barber Vintage Motorcycle Festival ahead of us, we decided on a slightly later start and agreed to meet at 8:30am for breakfast and to make plans. Dean and I were there, but there was no sign of Aaron. Thinking that he was probably up and networking (he barely sleeps), we weren’t concerned and sat in the lobby chatting. At 9:30am, the hotel PA system announced they were going to be conducting a fire-alarm test just as I messaged Aaron to find out where he was. His reply was “Oh xxxx!, LOL, Just woke up!” – he’d overslept and the hotel PA had woken him up! Clearly knowing that he hadn’t got to organize a route for us to ride that day had allowed him to relax and catch up on some much-needed sleep.

With Aaron opting to go and get a haircut, Dean and I jumped in an Uber and headed to the circuit. Once there we took the shuttle that runs round the perimeter road to the “Fan Zone” where we bought a lemonade (it was already very hot!) and a t-shirt before watching the “Globe of Death” riders from the Urias family do their thing. This is a 16-ft steel mesh globe into which the riders, mounted on endure-style bikes enter and ride around the inside. It’s very impressive, especially when all 3 riders, plus the girl with the microphone are in the cage at the same time, the riders whizzing around the inside high-5’ing her! After the show we met up with Aaron and wandered round, looking at the various stalls. We took advantage of a first-aid stall that had sun-cream, but Dean sprayed some into his eyes so we next had to look for some water to wash it back out!

After that excitement we walked over to the Swap Meet area, where classic bike enthusiasts sell of old bikes or parts for old bikes. It looks a little like a large scrap yard, with gazebos providing shade under which these guys place their rusty parts hoping that someone might need or want them. There are also old classic bikes dotted about, including a very tidy looking 1975 Kawasaki Z1B in the same colour scheme as my new z900RS. By now it was very, very, hot, so we caught the shuttle round to the Ace Corner – a part of the circuit where the Ace Café (of London fame, but represented here by its Orlando operation) had setup. Aaron should have been on the list to get in for free (plus 3), but the girl on the gate couldn’t find his name. That didn’t stop her giving us 4 wristbands, though, reasoning we were honest sounding folk. Inside, Aaron met up with the guys running the show, who he knows well as he works closely with them in Orlando and they apologized, saying his name was first on the list! Here we sat and had a wrap for lunch and watched some of the action on the track. The programme didn’t list the practice or race timings, so it was impossible to know what was going on, but we soon spotted the BMW-supported rider Nate Kern, wrestling his RNineT round the track.

Around 4pm Aaron left to collect Mira from the airport and Dean and I moved down to the main Ace Café area where we saw Nate arrive directly from the track after his practice session ended. Still in his leathers he stood for while in the baking heat being interviewed, explaining how the BMW, with it’s inline crankshaft which rocks to the right, makes right hand bends easier but left-hand ones more tricky. Very interesting, for a petrol-head like me!

Once the interviews were over the band started playing, a mixture of Blues and Country & Western, and Dean and I grabbed a couple of beers and relaxed. We were unsure where Aaron and Mira would head to the track to join us, but when we got a message saying they weren’t we left ourselves in order to get out of the heat and back to the hotel. Dean was feeling unwell, the effects of the sun and having his eyes sprayed with sun-cream taking their toll. I met up with Aaron and Mira and we headed back out in an Uber to Fancy’s on 5th, a busy bar-restaurant in town, where we met up with a number of the BMW guys working the festival. Dinner was a noisy affair, but the burger I had was good and the beer excellent.

Day 21: Thursday 4th October : to Birmingham, Alabama

A second night at Don’s and once again I slept well despite over-eating the night before. Up, showered and packed by 8:30am, we said our goodbyes to Don, sad to leave this amazing 77-year old alone in his beautiful home (his wife passed away just 3 months ago, his daughter shortly after). Negotiating the tricky driveway for the final time we rode a short distance to a local diner for breakfast. I opted for a light one, scrambled eggs (more like an omelet) on toast, then Aaron used the excellent “twisty roads” navigation option on his BMW Navigator VI GPS unit to plot a route towards Birmingham, Alabama.

This took us on lots of small back roads, through more countryside although this time with more houses and less forest. After 2 hours of riding we stopped for fuel then continued, the temperature rising as we headed further south-east, topping out at a very hot 92.5F (34C). The traffic also got heavier the closer we got to Birmingham, so we switched to faster route navigation and jumped on the Interstate. About 60 miles from Birmingham, Aaron, riding at the front suddenly put on his indicator and pulled over to the hard shoulder, stopping under a bridge, the only shade for miles. His back tyre was flat. The cause appeared to be a nail and so Dean (who’s a mechanic by trade) jumped at the opportunity to show his skills and fixed it, whilst Aaron sat on the guardrail and I took pictures. Back on the road we continued on to our hotel, the Double Tree by Hilton, where we will be staying for 4 nights. A large part of the car park was cordoned off for motorcycle-only parking, a sign of the expected number of bikes due to stay here for the nearby Barber Vintage Motorcycle Festival.

Checked in and showered, we ordered an Uber to dinner, Aaron extoling the virtues of this simple way to get a ‘taxi’ that means no paying or tipping in the car as it’s all handled online. The ‘taxi’ is given the route by Uber, but in this case it took us all over residential downtown Birmingham before the driver quit and used Aaron’s Google maps to get us back on track and on to Jim & Nick’s BBQ place. Here we met up with one of Aaron’s BMW buddies, Steve, and had another BBQ brisket and a pint of IPA. The food was good, but not in the same league as last night, but the craft ale was very good. After dinner Steve drove us to the hotel, so no more uber-related navigation issues.

Day 20: Wednesday 3rd October: the first non-riding day

I slept really well in the downstairs bedroom at Don’s house, despite it being a little stuffy with the window closed and no air conditioning. With a late start planned, I showered and crept upstairs, the first to wake up as usual. On the veranda, I sat and looked out towards the mountains but could see no further than a few feet due to the early morning mist – it’s this that gives these mountains the name “Smokey Mountains” as early settlers believed the hills were on fire and the mist was smoke. Today was to be our first non-riding day since leaving Aaron’s house as we rode in Don’s pickup back to Asheville while he rode his GS to get it serviced. We took the opportunity to attend to some chores with Dean buying as new pair of riding boots (his were very worn and offered little support) and new trainers; and me finally finding an ATM that would accept my travel card and let me draw out some more dollars. We also had lunch in a little family-run Mexican restaurant, where the grilled chicken salad was very good.

Back at Don’s house we attended to our laundry before heading back out to dinner. Don had chosen a restaurant called Caffe Rel that was next to a petrol station and looked unassuming from the outside. Inside it was all kitch Italian, but one look at the menu said we were in for a treat. The chef was trained at a place on the east coast that only trains 5-6 chefs per year and the food was exceptional. I had a plate of shrimp cooked in white wine and basil served on bed of bow-shaped pasta and it was delicious. The other 3 were all looking forward to getting back to Don’s where they had a home-made all-American Apple Pie to eat, made by Don’s housekeeper, but as I can’t eat cooked fruit they decided I should get a take-away dessert from the restaurant. So I ordered a piece of the Belgian chocolate cake to go. With organic ice-cream bought from a store on the way back to Don’s we were all set and that’s when I opened the container with my cake in. I know Americans have a reputation for being big eaters, but the portion of cake the waitress had given me was simply HUGE! It would have fed a small family, but undeterred, and because it was delicious, I attacked it with gusto, almost managing to finish it, much to the amazement of my fellow travelers!

Day 19: Tuesday 2nd October : “In the blue ridge mountains…”

Yet another day starting with a hotel breakfast, and like many on this trip that means oatmeal made with hot water and a cup of black tea. I’m getting to like the latter, but the former is not a patch on the Quaker’s porridge I start the day with back home. This hotel also had wi-fi that seemed to only connect for a minute or so before dropping the connection, making my early morning conversation with Tracy difficult and not setting me up for the day ahead in the best of moods. That quickly passed, as soon as we left the hotel and started riding on the Blue Ridge Parkway Road.

This road, as the name implies, follows the ridge along the Blue Ridge mountains from Virginia through North Carolina. We were on the North Carolina section, but that didn’t stop me thinking of the Laurel and Hardy song “Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia”, which I ended up singing in my helmet repeatedly as we rode along. The road has a 45mph speed limit with fitted perfectly with the pace of riding appropriate to such stunning scenery. As it wound its way along the ridge, the views over the surrounding blue-tinged hillsides were superb. We followed this road all the way to Asheville, were we left it to drop down the steep hillside and into town. Here we met up with Don again (he’d left us the day before Baltimore) at a Trader Joes (where we went so Aaron could get a supply of his favorite (sic) organic walnuts). Don lives about 60 miles from here high in the mountains outside Franklin in the Nantahala National Forest. We rode to his house on the highways, arriving at a gate off the main highway before entering the private driveway that leads to the few houses on the mountain that includes his. The driveway was an experience in itself, with a very tight, uphill, off-camber left turn leading to a single track road that rose up a very steep incline before levelling off, becoming gravel for a section and then another tight, steep, uphill dirt section that led to his house. Off to the right of this narrow road all the way up was a drop-off into the forest itself. Not a road for those of a nervous disposition or afraid of heights!

Don’s house is in a remarkable location, though, with a spectacular view over to the distance Smokey Mountains from his veranda. But it was still early, only about 3pm, so we opted to drop off our luggage and head back out down the scary driveway for a “short 100-mile loop”. This took us on some truly fantastic roads that skirted through Tennessee and Georgia before retuning to North Carolina. On the way we stopped off to admire a waterfall called “Dry Falls” (it wasn’t dry) and to admire the view at a spot where the local NRA (National Rifle Association – America’s gun lobby group) had been applying graffiti to drum up support for their cause (which included on proclaiming “ban Democrats, not guns”). The riding was really enjoyable, especially with the bike so much lighter without the panniers and luggage aboard. Back at Don’s by 6:30pm we were just in time to sit on the veranda and watch the sun set over the Smokey Mountains.

A perfect 295-mile riding day needs a perfect meal to end it and this was just such a day. Heading out in Don’s Honda pickup, we drove to the Haywood Smokehouse BBQ in Dillsboro, where the barbequed brisket and ribs were cooked to perfection. The star of the meal, though, were the “Burnt Ends Beans” – baked beans with bits of the burnt ends of the brisket mixed in – I could have eaten a big bowl of these on their own and been happy. Of course, this was washed down with some local craft IPA ale too. A great end to a great day!

Day 18: Monday 1st October : 243 miles and a beer to forget!

Another day, another hotel breakfast. This one was made a little more interesting by the chap we got talking to who was riding a Kawasaki Ninja 650 that we’d seen yesterday and is fitted with dual-sport (on/off-road) tyres. He said he’d ridden part of the Trans-AM Trail (TAT) on it, the dirt-road route across the US Aaron and I rode in 2011! That’s quite some feat on what is essentially a sports-bike, but he did only go as far as Oaklahoma, which is only at the start and on the flat and easy bit.

Straight after leaving the hotel we were back on the twisty back roads of West Virginia, roads that took us through forests and past fields and small settlements dotted here and there, the white wooden houses and immaculate lawns standing out against the rugged tree-lined forests. We also saw weird plant formations, where leaves from the Kudzu plant (also known as Japanese Arrowroot), have surrounded the low plants at the roadside, the trees and even the telegraph poles. Some of these formations looked like animals standing proud and I swore one of them looked like Disney’s Tigger. The plant is invasive, grows like crazy and, having surrounded other plants is killing them off all over the southern states. It does look amazing, though!

After more twisty roads and a section of gravel road we stopped for lunch, opting for a Chinese instead of Subway thinking it would be lighter and more healthy. We were wrong, it was disgusting, swimming in MSG and completely tasteless. Not only that, but it sat heavy on the stomach, detracting from the afternoon’s excellent riding. The afternoon saw us head up into the mountains on a very twisty road, with hairpin bends and great views. The signs at the start proclaimed this to be the “Back of the Dragon”, an obvious reference to the famous “Tail of the Dragon” road near Deal’s Gap that I’d ridden before the start of the TAT in 2011. Googling this later, it is clearly an attempt to bring more motorcyclists to the area, declaring it the “The premier road in North America offers thirty two miles and 438 curves of knee dragging fun” on the official website! I wasn’t dragging my knee (or anything else for that matter!) but it was an enjoyable ride. It wasn’t without unexpected hazards either, as coming into one right hand bend Dean had a massive moment when he hit a large patch of gravel (the only one on a road like this we’d seen), but he saved it well.

Our overnight stop was the Holiday Inn in West Jefferson and with a brewery in with a good rating for its food, we looked like we were in for a good night to end a great day. Only we then discovered this must be the only town in the whole of the US without either a taxi service or Uber. So we had to ride to dinner, which was as good as we hoped, even if we couldn’t wash it down with a cold beer. This being a craft brewery, I asked if they did take-outs and they did, in the form of a Growler (32oz) or Crowler (16oz). Not knowing what either was but not wanting to end up with a lot of a beer I didn’t like, I ordered 2 Crowlers, one of their “Ass Clown Brown Ale” and one called “Ass Clown Ghost Chilli Ale”, whilst Dean got one of their pumpkin ales. The brown ale was very good, but the pumpkin ale tasted, somewhat unsurprisingly, of pumpkin and was, to my taste buds, not very nice. Dean liked it though, his American palate clearly attuned to pumpkins (which we’ve seen everywhere). But the Ghost Chilli ale was something else. Made with Ghost Chillies, it was very spicy hot, to the point where a little sip was enough to bring on the sweats and set my lips on fire. A second sip only confirmed this and that was enough for me. Dean tried it, and the sight of him bouncing around the room, face bright red, coughing and spluttering had me in fits. When he went back for a second go and did the same it was just as funny. The crazy fool kept trying it to see if it would improve with each taste. It didn’t and the rest went down the toilet, where it probably cleared the drains from here to the east coast!

Day 16: Saturday 29th September : West Virginia, home of twisty roads

With nowhere particular to go, and a lot of time to get there, we start the day for the first time without a real plan, apart from heading south-west-ish on twisty roads. As has been the case too often recently, breakfast consisted of oatmeal made with hot-water (no hot milk or microwave available), but it still set me up for the day nicely.

We rolled out of the car park at 8:45am and straight onto twisty, well-surfaced roads that rose up and down hillsides and mountains through forests of green. Before too long we took a road that turned to dirt as it got further up the hillside, and with road tyres and a lot of water in the lower valleys there was inevitable sections of slippery mud. We also encountered a couple of rocky river crossings, and it was in the second of these that I hit a rock and almost lost my balance, stamping my foot down in knee-deep cold water which immediately filled my right boot. All caught on both my helmet camera and Dean’s phone for posterity. But the important thing is I survived without falling off, damaging Mira’s bike or hurting myself, so all is good. Back on tarmac we saw a hot-rod festival in a field, with lots of old Ford cars and pick ups queuing to get in and parked in the field, but we didn’t stop, preferring to keep riding. A short while later there was a flurry in the field of long grass to our right and a deer ran across the road right in front of the car in front of us, which was unable to avoid clipping it. The poor thing fell over, then jumped up and had to hop-and-jump back to the field, obviously suffering damage to its hind leg. It bounded across the field, but I fear it won’t survive too long with what must have been a broken leg.

Riding as cautiously as ever for the rest of the day, we rode on with just 2 stops in 250 miles, one to admire the view over “German Valley” and the other for fuel. At each stop we just stood in quiet contemplation of how great the riding was, smiling knowingly at each other before saddling back up to repeat the cycle of leaning left-right-left-right as the road took us on an endless roller-coaster of a journey.

I’ve had many really good riding days in my relatively short motorcycle career (nearly 28 years since I passed my test) and today has to rank as one of the top 10. West Virginia just has some fantastic riding roads with hardly any traffic (we saw more motorcycles than cars today, which is another indicator of just how good the riding is).

When we finally stopped at the Holiday Inn in Roanoke we had covered 250 miles in 7 hours of riding. A quick shower and an Uber taxi to a highly recommended Mexican restaurant for dinner topped what has been a great day. Back at the hotel having eaten at just 6:45pm also gave me time to bring the blog up to date whilst Dean (who I’m now sharing a room with) attends to our laundry!

Day 16: Saturday 29th September – saying goodbye, then twisty roads at last!

Today is the final day for the main part of the group, who are heading back to Tampa via the auto-train and not continuing on to Barber for the vintage motorcycle festival. So it was all emotional in the hotel lobby as we said goodbye to Darryl, Jeremy, Grant and Rom (OK, it wasn’t that emotional, but for a Brit it was a little unseemly, all man-hugs and back-slapping!).

We then rode together a short distance up the highway towards Washington D.C. before we peeled off and they rode away. Now with just Aaron, Dean and me, the pace quickened and we sped into town where we rode to Aaron’s best friend John’s house. After introductions to his family and a delicious home-baked cookie we rode with them in their car to a local restaurant for lunch. I’m glad to report I had a grilled chicken salad as I was still full of crabs and beer from the night before.

After leaving lunch there was another short section of highway to get us away from the city before we hit the twisty roads and riding heaven through a part of the George Washington forest and on to our Holiday Inn Hotel in Woodstock, Virginia. A light dinner of pizza (no beer) and then off to bed early.