I am ready to start the second half of this adventure. Sunday’s trek was one of the best motorcycle rides I have ever taken. Heading to Williamsburg, Kentucky, on Route 90 through Daniel Boone National Forest, the road was exciting with elevation changes and plenty of twisties for 20 miles. The trike handles beyond my expectations. The wider front tire makes a big difference in the handling and tracking of the trike. If you have ever driven a trike with a regular small tire on the front aggressively in turns, I am sure you have noticed that the front tire can hop and/or skip to the outside of the turn. With this new 180 frontend, there is no hopping or skipping to the outside. It goes around the corners like it is on rails. At one point, I was behind a Harley Softail for about seven miles. I would have passed him but decided to follow him instead. I am sure he was wondering how a trike caught up with him and stayed with him.
Up early Monday, I plan on making it home today to pick up Carol, my wife, for our trike trip. About 600 miles today should get me home. The trip from Williamsburg, Kentucky, to Galax, Virginia, was just as good as the ride out with back roads and twists until you get to Galax. From Galax to home is a four-lane divided highway. The temperature today at noon is 96 degrees and the humidity is very high. When I stopped to fuel up, I put on my cooling vest, neck band and skull cap. All soaked in water and designed to evaporate underway, thus pulling heat from my body. Once on the road, I start to feel cooler and it feels more like 80 degrees now. After a long day, I finally got home around 6 p.m. The trike handles very nicely. The next day, Tuesday, June 3, 2015, I take a day to get some things done around the house and get ready for tomorrow’s departure. We pack up the trike before going to bed.
The next morning, my wife and I head back out toward Galax, Virginia, to the Hampton Inn. As I said earlier, 58 is a fou-lane divided road to Galax, with long, sweeping curves through the country. It is fun riding but can get a little boring. Yet it is the fastest way out to where the riding is great. We check in at the hotel around 4 p.m. We are still able to park the trike underneath the overhang out front, which is great protection out of the elements. One of the reasons for staying at this hotel is the hot tub. It sure feels good to take a dip in the pool and top it off with a 15-minute soak in the hot tub . We walk to Koyto restaurant where I ate on the way out. The food was just as good as before. The glazed carrots that come with the meal are fantastic.
In the morning, we take 58 west which turns into a nice two-lane road up through the mountains with some nice twisties. We finally get to 16 and head north. What a great road. We hit Marion, Virginia, and continue north to Tazwell, Virginia. This section of road is called The Back Of The Dragon” It is 32 miles of twists, switchbacks, vistas and mountains. The elevation changes are fantastic. It’s probably not a road for beginners. I really pushed the new trike. Charging hard two up, this trike really impresses me. It handles beyond my expectations. It is like driving a really fine sports car.
The views from this road are fantastic. Hungry Mother State Park is right off of Route 16. What an amazing run to Tazwell. In Tazwell, we stop for lunch at an Italian restaurant called, Italian Village. I highly recommend this restaurant. The food is very good. I had the Baked Spaghetti. It consisted of spaghetti with mozzarella cheese on top and pepperoni on top of that. All in a deep bowl, they place it in the pizza oven to bake. It came with salad and garlic bread all for $9.95. What a deal. Carol had the Chicken Pineapple salad that she says was great. Again $9.95. After lunch, we head to the Hilton in Blacksburg, Virginia, via all the back roads. You know you are on the back roads with no lines or marking on the pavement. Yes, I have the Hilton Card, hence our stay at these specific hotels. And yes, the hot tub (spa) is on the agenda for this evening; it always feels good after a day of riding. The day’s ride two up on The Back of the Dragon was the real test of the trike’s performance. I made the right choice in the Hannigan trike.
The next morning we go on a short day’s ride to Lynchburg, Virginia. Again we take the roads with no markings on them. We cross over the Blue Ridge Parkway again for the second time in a few days. As we are going along, I spot an old tractor off to my right but cannot stop right away. I turn around just down the road and head back. There is no plaque or sign telling you what it is. However, it appears that it is a steam driven tractor used to plow the fields many years ago. So, I park next to it and take some pictures of the trike with Carol on it next to the steam tractor. Just think about the difference in technology here. This tractor was state of the art in its time and a step up from plowing the fields with horses or mules, using wood or coal to heat the water to produce the steam to drive the wheels, at probably no more than 3-4 miles per hour at most. And then there is the trike that uses a gasoline engine to drive the wheels at more than 100 miles per hour. To top that off, the trike has satellite radio, color weather radar, traffic reports, cruise control, etc. What a tremendous difference in technology.
We picked Lynchburg as a stop because we wanted to stop and see friends, Sue and Kevin Hegg. Up the next morning, we head to Smith Mountain Lake in Western Virginia. The lake has 500 miles of shoreline. It is also referred to as the Jewel of the Blue Ridge. The Blackwater and Roanoke Rivers were dammed in 1966. This flooded the Smith Mountain Gap and electricity was produced for the area. Today, Smith Mountain Lake boasts upscale communities with houses that sell in the millions of dollars. It is a great summertime destination. We get up in good time this morning and head to Sue and Kevin’s place ,which is right on the lake. They have a very beautiful home that sits up high on the lake with a great view, nice boathouse and plenty of toys to cruise on the lake. We had a lunch of some really great chili. Sue and Kevin have been making some of the best vegetarian chili I have ever tasted. This was not my first time, and hopefully, not my last. No, I am not a vegetarian but you don’t have to be to enjoy this chili. We had a great visit and headed back to Lynchburg. The plan is to head to up to
Charlottesville, Virginia, to see Monticello, the home of Thomas Jefferson, one of our founding fathers and the third U.S. president.
Next morning, we are up in good time and headed to Charlottesville. We get to the hotel too early and cannot check in, so, off we go to explore the Thomas Jefferson Winery. What a good choice that was. It is only 11 miles from the hotel and we are there in no time. The ride is rather nice. We went through Charlottesville by the University of Virginia and then the nice little winding road past Monticello to the Jefferson Winery. Luckily they were having music entertainment on the lawn. Everyone spread out a blanket and broke out their wine and cheese and enjoyed the live music. The wine was great and the cheese and crackers complimented the wine. We had a great time. This was the first commercial winery in the United States started by Thomas Jefferson and Philip Mazzei in 1774. It was abandoned in 1776 when the Revolutionary War started. Stanley Woodward refurbished the site in 1981.
The next day we are up early and eat breakfast before going to Monticello for the day. We get there and park in a nice spot with shade. We get the entire package tour so we can see it all. You are not allowed to take pictures inside the house. The guided tour was well worth the money. There are three 45-minute tours for the same price — one inside the house, one in the gardens, and one in the slave quarters. They have a behind-the-scenes tour also but you have to make reservations. We learned that the University of Virginia was started by Thomas Jefferson. He designed and oversaw the construction of the university from his property up on the top of the mountain. He would watch the construction through his telescope. If something was not going to his liking, he would get on his horse and make the three-hour ride down to the construction site and ensure the crew was doing as he wanted. Monticello was built in 1772, however, construction continued for many years afterwards. The family cemetery is on the grounds and is still used by the family today. This was a very good experience and one we are glad that we had. I would recommend you stop in and take the tours but plan on being there all day.
In the morning, we headed down to the Main Street shopping-walking area in Charlottesville. All the streets are for walking. No vehicles are allowed on them. We go back down near the University of Virginia. The shopping was really good. We looked at every store and went into many. Some items were purchased for the family. We had a nice lunch of steamed dumplings at one end of the avenue and then walked back down the other side of the street/walkway to where we started. Luckily, thetTrike now has lots of storage, so we have the room for our purchases.
On the way back to the hotel we decide to make another stop. We head over toward Monticello where yesterday we had seen a sign for vineyards. We turn before Monticello where a big, red apple sign sits by the road. We wind up a narrow mountain road to the top where there are grape, apple and peach vineyards. The view is spectacular. They have some really tasty homemade peach ice cream and we both partake of a large cone. We end up buying a few bottles of wine to take back. Thank goodness again for the ample trunk space.
The next day, we are headed toward home. We could make it there easily today on I-64 but instead, we stick to our back-road plan and head to our daughter Lisa’s house west of Richmond, Virginia. She and our son-in-law, John, live a few miles off of U.S. 360 in Midlothian, Virginia. We take the nice winding two-lane road past Monticello and the vineyards again. We take U.S. 53 and U.S. 6 and wind our way through the back roads to their house. We had a nice visit for two days and then headed home via U.S. 10, which is another lovely country road, which parallels the James River. We get to the Suffolk, Virginia area, and then jump on I-64 for a few miles to get us over the southern branch of the Elizabeth River. Then it’s all back roads to home.
The entire process of going to Hannigan, coming back and picking up Carol, and taking our enjoyable little trip ended up being more than 3,400 miles. We had a great time. The trike handles above my expectations and is a dream to ride. I should have made the conversion earlier. The experience I had at Hannigan Motorsports was absolutely fantastic! You cannot meet a better, friendlier, more helpful group of people. They are very professional and accommodating. Carol and I plan on making many more trips on the trike. We have already taken a few short day trips with our fellow GWRRA Members from VA-B, the Virginia Beach Chapter, Wings By The Sea. During our trip, many people came up to us and complicated us on how beautiful the trike looked. And we got the usual questions of — How much does that cost? What is the gas mileage? Is it hard to ride? We received a lot of thumbs up while riding. Riding the trike puts a smile on my face.
Next June, I plan on going with a friend, Matt, from Virginia Beach, Virginia, to Dead Horse, Alaska and back. Matt will ride his BMW 1200 and I will ride my Hannigan Gold Wing trike. Matt has planned a 28-day, 12,000-mile trip. That is another article for another time.
Stay safe and ride safe!
– Robert “Rex” and Carol Franklin, GWRRA #330964 and #330964-01, live in Virginia Beach, Virginia.
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