Thursday, March 19, 2009

2009 Grand Tour of Virginia Launches April 4th

"Mountain to Seashore" is the tagline of a popular Virginia license plate that sums up one of the things we love about the Old Dominion--there's something different around every bend in the road.

Wake up to the sound of crashing waves and the smell of saltwater in a quaint bed and breakfast along the Atlantic. Enjoy a spicy, smoky pulled pork barbeque along the roadside stand for lunch. In the afternoon, wend your way along quiet rural byways through rolling hills carpeted with wildflowers and forests. Stop by the General Store for a cold soda and spend some time swinging your legs on the front porch. Watch the world pass by. At dinner, camp among the stars in fresh mountain air.

This year, enjoy everything the Commonwealth has to offer by joining the Virginia Grand Tour, sponsored by the Governor's Motorcycle Council of Virginia in partnership with the Virginia Tourism Corporation and the Virginia Hospitality and Travel Association.

The tour kicks off with an April 4th launch at Kings Dominion. Register for the tour and you'll get a passport to collect stamps at participating locations around the Old Dominion. Riders who collect the most stamps will be eligible for some great prizes. Regardless how many stamps you collect, you'll be rewarded with great riding around ol' Virginny.

For more info or to register, click here to visit the MotoVA website

Southeastern What??

If you were ever fortunate to spend time with Larry Grodsky, you know that he was a big proponent of the southeatern Ohio region. Any time a discussion of "best roads" would come up, you could count on Larry talking up the roads in the Ohio-Pennsylvania-West Virginia triad.

Clearly, Larry was onto something. Years ago, when I commuted between Virginia and Cleveland for work, we’d often fly over the area. As the plane breezed over ridge after countless ridge, I’d feel the same thrill as an Old World explorer. “Look at all those twisty little backroads,” I’d exclaim. Sometimes out loud. “How about those double-switchbacks on that road there! That’s something!” Fellow air passengers gave me a wide berth on those flights.

I’ve only passed through the area briefly on a few runs to elsewhere, but I recently discovered that Google Maps has mapped the area extensively in its Street View function. If you've played with Google Maps and haven't yet tried Street View, you're in for a treat. Give it a try.

Open Look up "Pennsville, Ohio". See that little "person icon" just above the zoom control? Click and drag that icon over to the map. Wherever the road turns blue, you can tour the road. Drop that little guy on OH-377 somewhere north of Pennsville. Once the first picture loads, you can use the cursor keys on your keyboard to navigate up and down the road, or stop for a moment and use the right or left cursor key to pan around 360 degrees.

Motorcycle Journeys Through the Appalachians is due for an update this year, so I'll be spending a lot more time in Southeastern Ohio, sampling those roads firsthand. From what I've seen from the air and from Street View, I'm really looking forward to it.

Have you toured in the Marietta, OH and Parkersburg, WV region? Send your ideas and suggestions for routes to