An ode to motorcycling from someone who is still not recovered enough from crash injuries to ride and misses a chance to be on his Harley.
Archive for Doug Thompson
As regular readers know, I have been off motorcycles this year because of a prolonged recovery from last fall’s accident in Roanoke County. While I can’t ride, I can still edit footage from shoots and look forward to the day when I am cleared to ride again.
The Roanoke Valley Harley Owners Group, which includes members from Floyd County — including Stayce Eller, this year’s chapter director — won the Virginia Championship Chili Cook-off today.
The group can represent Virginia in the national cook-off in Palm Springs, California, later this year.
Motorcycles were out in force in Floyd over the weekend as riders near and far took in the colors on the Parkway and then came to town for food and shopping.
A one-minute ode to motorcycling.
Fog hugged the ground as I set out in the pre-dawn hours of Monday for a long day on the Harley, participating in “Million Mile Monday,” an annual day when members of the Harley Owners Group try to log as many miles as possible in a 24-hour period.
Rode 971 miles last year. Wanted to beat that number this time around.
Headed southwest in the murk, towards Johnson City, TN for breakfast at a truck stop, then north towards Kentucky, to Hindman, KY. Watched the sun rise over the Kentucky mountains.
Just south of Hindman, stopped to rest next to an old country store and talked Charlie Swank, a lifelong resident of the area. Said he rode a Triumph back in the day.
Out of Hindman, headed south, then east and swung through Floyd, then to Christiansburg and northeast to Winchester, VA. Amy and I spent a lot of time in Winchester when we lived in Northern Virginia, often eating breakfast or lunch at the Triangle Diner. The diner closed some years ago but was bought by new owners who are restoring it.
Rested my sore butt for a while before heading over to Fredrick, MD, then swung by the eastern edge of Washington, DC and headed south to Richmond.
Arrived back in Roanoke just in time for a 6:30 p.m. meeting and then took the scenic route home up the Blue Ridge Parkway, stopping to photograph Mother Nature’s light show from an approaching storm.
Pulled into the garage late after 1,154.7 miles on a long, but enjoyable day seeing the sights of five states. A long soak in the hot tub and I was good as new.
The nine women parked with their motorcycles alongside U.S. 11 between Buchanan and Troutville waved as I rode by late Saturday afternoon.
The wave, however, wasn’t one of greeting but anxious waves of desperation.
They needed help.
So I turned around and headed back.
Sure enough, they had trouble. An ’02 Ultra Glide quit running as they headed north on the road just after filling up at a gas station a quarter mile away.
I tried starting the bike. It turned over but wouldn’t fire.
Bad gas? Each of the ladies filled up at the same station. Each bought premium. No one else had the same problem. The engine didn’t sputter and die. It just quit. Sounded more like an ignition problem. While I could diagnose the possible ailment I didn’t have the tools to fix it.
Late on a Saturday afternoon is not the best time to get service on a broken motorcycle. They were about 10 miles from Roanoke Valley Harley-Davidson but the odds of getting the bike there before they closed were long and that shop is not open on Sunday. Shenandoah H-D in Staunton does have Sunday hours and one of the stranded nine belonged to the Harley Owners Group — which has a roadside assistance plan — so she called the help number on her cell and they dispatched a truck and trailer.
All nine rode out of Pennsylvania and belonged to the Motor Maids, the oldest women’s motorcycle riding club in the country. My mother rode with the Motor Maids when she worked as a civilian employee for the Navy in Norfolk in World War II. She never officially joined the club but enjoyed many a ride with those who did.
I waited with the ladies until the truck and trailer arrived around 7:30 p.m. We talked motorcycles, road trips and the history of the Motor Maids. I told them about her ride alone from Meadows of Dan to Tampa in 1946 and her memories of riding with the Motor Maids in the Norfolk area.
While there, more than 20 motorcyclists passed by on the road. Only one stopped to see if they needed help. They said dozens passed them by before I stopped. That’s both a change and a shame. Motorcycle riders used to always stop to see if another rider on the side of the road needed help. The fact that only two stopped to help these ladies in distress on busy highway on a Saturday afternoon is a sad commentary on the state of motorcycling today.
- More Women Buying Motorcycles; Harley Sponsors Ride Day (jenx67.com)
- Transportation History: The Motorcycle (pro2sell.com)
- The sounds of thunder (capitolhillblue.com)
Rode the Harley from Roanoke to Bluefield, West Virginia today as part of an escort for an American flag retired from military duty and en route across the country to a new home. It’s something that many riders do when the call comes for such escort duty.
I doubt you will find a more patriotic group of Americans than those who ride motorcycles. Many are veterans or come from families of vets. All share a common love for this country and most are quick to fight anyone who tries to put it down. Most of us will drop anything we’re doing to participate in something that honors country and flag.
Nineteen riders — some with passengers — filed out of Roanoke Valley Harley-Davidson at 0900. After a brief stop at New River Valley H-D we headed up U.S. 460 towards Bluefield, arriving at Cole Harley-Davidson at noon for a brief ceremony to hand off the flag for the next leg from Bluefield to Pikeville, Kentucky.
Welcome home grand old flag. You served your nation well.