When the weather report states a 90% chance of rain for our entire trip today from Bloomsburg, PA to Sutton, WV, we put on rain gear before we leave the hotel. The first two hours were overcast and gray, but the rain didn't start until 10:30am and we enjoyed riding southwest through the Pennsylvania countryside.
We crossed the Potomac River and then crossed briefly into Maryland before reaching West Virginia.
The rain didn't dampen our enthusiasm for climbing up and down the hairpin turns and 6-9% grades on West Virgina routes 9 and 29. Route 9 is part of the 136 mile George Washington Heritage Trail through West Virginia's Eastern Panhandle. Misty clouds hung down over the tops of the mountains, and when we crested the highest points of the road we were enveloped in fog and clouds. At one point I counted 21 wind turbines on a ridge line, and over the next hour we saw several more wind turbines through the mist.
We stopped for lunch at the Mt. Top Cafe on Route 50 in Romney, WV. I grew up going to the Oasis truck stop in Westville, IN, and the Mt. Top had the same atmosphere and menu, complete with a lunch buffet. People in the South are always friendly, and several talked with us about riding motorcycles in the rain.
We continued west on Route 50 and then south on 219, riding through the Monongahela National Forest and some of the highest elevations in West Virginia, up to 4863' above sea level. The countryside and road remind me of Vermont, with steep forested mountains and green valleys, cows grazing on the hillsides, and fields of hay and corn.
The rain stopped and the temperature climbed into the 70's when we turned west onto Route 33, a busier divided highway. I much prefer the less-traveled local roads but the wind and intermittent sunshine of the last hour's ride helped dry out our raingear.
We're spending the night in Sutton, the geographical center of West Virginia. We rode through three states today, along high ridge lines and up and down mountains, and along river valleys.
We traveled 380 miles today, and have another 180 to go tomorrow until we reach Williamson, WV and the Hatfield/McCoy marathon. Instead of planning our route in advance, we're going to trust the Garmin tomorrow to take us on more motorcycle-friendly roads.