Jettas and Smokers

September 27, 2015 | By Mike Seate

Sept. 24, 2015

An unusually warm fall in these parts has meant riding the regions many challenging backroads nearly every single day. The weather has been dry in addition to unseasonably warm, so the odometers are rolling like its mid-June in the CRM garage and we’re actually wearing out sets of tires on our fleet bikes (meant both as a noun and adjective here) like we seldom get to. Among the more memorable roads we’ve ridden as of late: Route 50 West from Bridgeville, PA. is a well-known motorcycle artery as it winds through Cecil and Washington County before feeding onto West Virginia’s undulating, asphalt roller coaster that is Route 88. This one winds its way through postcard farmland with amazing hairpin turns, quick sweepers that are a slice of two-wheeled heaven (if taken around 55-65 MPH: anything more and the suicidal deer can make life hazardous!) and pulls to a stop in scenic Olgebay Park in Wheeling, a great place to grab a bite before heading back to Pittsburgh. Many of the turns are fairly tight in radius and you seldom find your bike moving very fast so the route is a dream for vintage bikes that are comfortable in their engine’s torque-happy midrange. If you run, say, a British twin of the 1960s which doesn’t feel at home on the Interstates, roads like these are your cuppa.

With several colleges located along this route, I’ve been noticing an unusual number of youngsters driving extremely fast in Volkswagen Jettas- the diesel sedan seems to be the car of choice for a generation of go-getter twentysomethings and they’re nearly always being driven as if the owner has seen one too many Vin Diesel movies. The others vehicle that’s been making its collective presence known in recent months are oversized Dodge Ram pick-ups. Inevitably equipped with USNC stickers and loud, smoke-belching exhaust stacks and driven by a slight, twentysomething man with a backwards baseball cap, these jokers hiog the road and ride the rear wheel of our motorcycles as if to challenge us to a race through whatever twisty road we happen to be on, despite the scientifically-proven fact that four-wheel drive trucks, especially those equipped with tall profile tires and high-lift suspension systems don’t corner very well. This is a lesson these usually catch onto after we wick the throttle and zoom away, but damned if it isn’t growing annoying teaching this one ad nauseum. Oh well, at least the youngsters make riding interesting…