Part 2 of 2 – COUNTRY ROADS…


The journey through my home state started … well, feeling like home, but immediately after the last turn it felt more like a playground slide with broken glass at the bottom.

I was blessed to be within a mile of Rainelle, a town where my cousin Joe made quite a name for himself playing football. Coasting into town, I took the first turn into a grocery store parking lot. Putting down the kickstand, sliding off the saddle that had carried me over Route 60, I heard the fearful hiss of my wonderful two-wheeled freedom machine becoming a very immobile unicycle. I leaned down to touch the hole in the back tire that leaking all my positive thoughts into space.

It was Friday at 4:50 pm. I was immediately on my cell phone to my extremely unhelpful insurance company trying to get some ray of hope. It turned out that my premiums went to fund their employee parking garage, and wouldn’t apply to a motorcycle tire, or towing, or anything else I wanted unless it was a covered parking space in Mayfield, Ohio.

I knew the odds were long that I would find my huge and rare back tire anywhere close. It’s tough during business hours, but now, as everyone was trying to leave for a summer weekend it would be nearly impossible. Things couldn’t get worse.

Then it started to rain.

When the state police cruiser pulled up I wondered if my day would get better or take another turn to the worse.   The two officers asked me if they could help. They weren’t on duty yet, but out to get a cup of coffee before starting their shift. They gave me a ride to the only motel in town. They introduced me to THE auto parts store owner who was one of the most helpful people to know if you needed a difficult to find part for your vehicle. They even checked in with me the next day to see if I had received the help I needed.

The next day, it was raining again. After spending some time at the auto parts store getting numbers for every tire store in the state, I walked the mile it took to get me back to my immobile bike. A second cousin picked me up, put my bike on a trailer, and took it to a shop 30 miles away. The shop promised a tire that the parts man found in South Carolina would be there in three days. My Aunt and another cousin picked me up and took me to the family reunion at my Great Grandfather’s house.

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The three days I intended to spend riding, were now spent with people that share history with me. The days were not wasted. After the reunion, my family took me back to the shop, and I was on my way once again.

The hills of West Virginia had proven my suspicion. Every hollow, creek, and town has people willing to reach out to family. They are my family. It will always be my home.


Cue John Denver…

Take Me Home Country Roads


Part 1 of 2 – TAKE ME HOME…

One summer I was headed to a family reunion in West Virginia. Family and the state of West Virginia have almost been the same thought for me for all of my life. The mountains are far more than a collection of rock, dirt, and trees. These mountains have witnessed my history. Not only my lifetime but the lifetimes of the people from whom I trace my life, my core beliefs, and my thrill of traveling this land.

Maybe it’s my imagination working overtime at the thrill of the ride, but I feel like I can depend on the people who populate these hills as if they are my family. A lot of them are. My family gladly traces its lineage to second, or third cousins. We include many of our close friends as “family.” We know that wherever we are in the world, if we knock on a door of a family member, we will be taken in. We will be received with hospitality and care that comes from the duty and respect of our common but sometimes distant history in these mountains.

(Please forgive the philosophy but riding US Route 60 is a motorcycling dream that encourages large thoughts.)

As I began my descent toward Rainelle, I heard my rear tire make a “pow” as if it just spit a large rock. This wasn’t unheard of, but I was surprised I hadn’t noticed a piece of gravel in my path that would have made a sound as pronounced as it did. Then, in the next turn, I leaned the cruiser over, and it felt …heavy.

Now my bike pushes 800 pounds with a full tank of gas, but ordinarily it handles like a crotch rocket in the twistys. I like to imagine it’s a football player body that can still dance ballet. This balance and feel is a careful arrangement of geometry, mechanical design, and great tires.   The next turn and the next told me that the football player was pirouetting like he’d had a few beers.

Suddenly the road didn’t seem as friendly as before.

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