Have you ever been somewhere that seems to speak to you? You know, a special place that feels so comfortable and so right that you can't help but feel you belong there. Staying away is impossible and with each return the mystical region's sweet refrains strengthen and swell. Again and again, the grip tightens, drawing you in like an age-old siren song.
Traveling north on Virginia's Route 29, I have to keep reminding myself that the state police are fond of evaluating vehicular velocity on this particular stretch of road. Meandering across the state's Piedmont region, ol' 29 tempts the Kawasaki Vulcan 1600 Nomad with a tasty blend of rolling hills and smooth, sweeping turns. The big V-twin's quiet, staccato thump effectively belies the bike's mellow facade, constantly urging the speedo needle toward the pink copy zone. Lingering memories of having made a couple of small town lawyers' boat payments keep me locked in a constant struggle to stay close to the four-lane's unconscionably low double nickels.
Gliding through Nelson County, not too far from the tour's genesis in Charlottesville, tinges of familiarity hit like clockwork. Sure, I've traveled this road a blue-million times, but this is an awareness that goes much deeper than knowing where to find the coldest sodas. The low clouds enshrouding the tops of the suddenly more rugged mountains extend a mysterious welcome. There are few places more beguiling than the Blue Ridge Mountains. Like the early morning mist, haunting memories of history, both good and bad, roll through these ancient hills along with some of the finest roads in the country. Maybe it's this great riding and the friendly people that keep me coming back, or maybe it's something deeper. Every time I visit I feel an inexplicable connection with the surroundings and a little tug on my ankle when it's time to leave.