In Search of a Bridge
I read about the New River Gorge Bridge in Red Rider Magazine. At least that is where I think I first read about it. It really didn’t register much with me, as the bridge is somewhere in West Virginia and I am in Southwest Georgia. A little far for a day trip and still far off, even for a weekend trip.
Over the years I have made several three day jaunts to places unknown (unknown, because I had no plan of where I was headed). A short ride to the Roanoke area and southern West Virginia (2500 miles) I didn’t know about the bridge then, a trip to North Georgia and North Carolina to see the sights (1400 miles), Key West by way of the east coast of Florida, and home on the west side (1500 miles). This time I had a plan, because I rode to Miami to help Georgia Chapter H get the Region Plaque (we did not get it, but that is another story).
In late February I ordered a Bushtec trailer, which was to be ready around the first of April. If I ride to Jacksboro Tennessee and pick up my trailer on Friday, that will leave me with a good part of the day to do something. This is where “The Bridge” first became part of my thoughts. What bridge? Where is it? Is it worth seeing? I needed answers to these questions so I turned to the first place I could think of, and that was the GL1800 board (GL 1800 Riders Rally). Wow did I get a lot of info. Along with lots of people telling me about it, and I was introduced to this website about the bridge (New River Bridge) .
I still am not sure about my fascination with a steel structure in West Virginia. But now it was becoming clear to me, I had to go to see this bridge. Of Course I am sure it is becoming clear to you also, well maybe not. Me either. Okay, it was a destination, a reason for riding my bike (like I really need a reason to ride my bike). Ever since I threw my leg over this GL1800, I have a hard time getting off.
So now the plan was to go to Bushtec, pick up my trailer, and take off for West Virginia. Sounds like a workable plan to me.
Thursday April 8, 2004
I left from the house at 11am with my sights set on being in the area of Bushtec that evening. It sure does look like it is gonna rain. I got to the intersection of I-185 and I-85, really looks dark due north of me. No problem, I am about to turn Northeast on I-85, I should be able to skirt along the edge of the rain and miss it. I keep getting closer and it keeps getting darker and darker. I realize I am not going to miss it. Just as my front tire hits I-85 the bottom drops out. Of course I don’t have a rain suit on so all I could do is duck behind the windshield and try to stay dry.
Cars are pulling off the side of the road it is raining so hard. If I stop now, I will get completely drenched so I keep on moving as fast as traffic will let me. We are down to 55 now, but still moving. The rain is getting my back and arms wet, but it is bearable. After about 10 miles, the rain stops. I keep going till I get to Newnan, where I stop for gas for the bike and chicken sandwich for me.
When I leave, I don’t take any chances, out come the Frogg Toggs. The rain ain’t gonna get me again. I motor straight through Atlanta in the HOV lane. (Did you know that motorcycles qualify to ride in the HOV lane? Well, they do). By the time I hit the Marietta area, the rain is gone, and the sun is out, and I am burning up. I have got to find a spot to take off these extra clothes. Ah, a rest area just ahead. Off comes the rain suit and jacket. What a beautiful day for a ride.
I arrived in Jacksboro around 6:30 pm, got a motel, and called my wife to let her know I got there okay. The little woman worries about me. Now, so that I am prepared in the morning, I put Bushtec’s address into my GPS and set out to find the plant. I don’t want to make too many wrong turns come morning.
My GPS is a liar. There is no Bushtec plant where it said it was.
Plan B: Get out the instructions sent by Bushtec and follow them. Do you know how hard that is for a guy? I almost wasn’t going to admit that I had to follow directions, and for sure I will never admit it if I have to ask for directions. Only Wimps and women ask for directions.
I am never lost; I’m just exploring a new road.
Friday April 9, 2004
I eat a little breakfast, and head out to Bushtec. I wanted to be sure to arrive early in case there were other people there. Dang!! I am right behind two other bikers (Harley and Harley look-a-like), and they are heading for the same place I was, so much for being there first. It turns out to be two guys from Atlanta. The Harley is getting a new trailer.
I had a bag on my trunk rack, another bag on my backseat, and my hitch mounted cooler, and every saddle bag stuffed full (after all I am going to have a trailer to haul it all back). I took everything but the kitchen sink. I would have taken it too, but I figured my lovely wife might need to wash dishes before I got home. Here’s where she says … “NOT”.
They got my lights hooked up, trailer attached and all of my STUFF loaded in the trailer. They even put my drinks in my new cooler. We got a tour of the plant from Allen Preston and short lesson on how to operate the trailer. While Allen was showing us on my trailer, he opened the trailer, and it was over half full of my junk. The guys who drove up just ahead of me took one look at all the stuff, and said, “How’d you get all that up here?” I didn’t have the heart to tell them I hadn’t unloaded the saddle bags yet.
I kept trying to rush them through everything because it was getting to be 10:30, and I had a bridge to see. By 11:00am I am on the road again, but at a leisurely pace along back roads heading for West Virginia. I am in Virginia when I start to look a little closer at my GPS. I should arrive in Fayetteville WV around 6:00pm. This is not going to give me much time to explore the bridge.
I have to be home Saturday night. I guess the bridge is out, so I turn south and head for the mountains around Asheville and just enjoy the ride. A day later I am home. 1600 miles and “NO BRIDGE”.