What's going on in a well-known ski area like Snowshoe in the summer? Daniel, Andrea and I find some answers in this curvy paradise.
With that old John Denver tune looping around my mind, I lead my brother Daniel and his girlfriend Andrea from Winston-Salem, NC, toward Snowshoe, WVA. It's a typical July day with blue skies under a scorching sun. Quickly escaping into the shade of the woods we eventually arrive late in the day at Snowshoe, after a great ride on winding back roads through exhilarating landscape.
Hundreds of bikers have gathered here for the annual Freedom Festival. Organized for touring and cruising riders three years ago, this event deserves a starred notation on your summertime calendar of things to do and places to see. It's a great opportunity to meet like-minded folks and to take some breathtaking rides in the surrounding hills.
After checking in, Daniel and I relaxed over a few hearty draughts of hop-blossom tea (beer) and contemplated the next day's routes. It's a tough decision because there are too many interesting possibilities for a nice ride. But within the hour we worked out a great tour.
Good Day Sunshine
The smell of fresh cappuccino and croissants rousts me from the sheets in a nice apartment with two bedrooms, a kitchen and dining room. Two great cooks, Andrea and Daniel, are responsible for breakfast, which is all part of a deal we made before leaving. If I arranged for them to ride a Moto Guzzi Quota, they agreed to be the kitchen managers during the tour.
"Finish your breakfast. Let's go," I urged them, taking my helmet and accessories to the door. "It's always the same with Speedy Tiger," Daniel says. "When he sees blue sky you cannot stop him."
At last we are on the road and in deep breaths I inhale the fresh mountain air on top of the hill. Snowshoe lies at an altitude of 4848 feet and you always have a terrific overlook on a gorgeous day like today. We jump off at a very brisk pace downward to the intersection with Highway 66 and there we take a left toward Cass. The following miles are the best opportunity to warm up our tires and, in my case, the paws of my Tiger. I look in the mirror and watch Daniel sweeping through the curves, and then I grab the brakes abruptly when a very small sign shows me the next turn on route 1. This road is a unique adventure, a small asphalt ribbon that snakes through a thick wood. But be careful here: Behind each curve an obstacle may loom. Twice we luck out. It could have been much worse. First a young West Virginia truck racer cuts the curve into my space and then there's a ton of gravel strewn across my ideal line. After so much adrenaline I need to stop for a breather. We do so in Marlinton: Good coffee for us and some fresh 93-octane for my thirsty Tiger.