Ride Local - Virginia is for Motorcycles
Updated: Apr 2, 2022
Destination rides to far-off places always make for great stories. When I tell people I’ve ridden in Iceland they are immediately intrigued. But the greatest joy in riding comes from being able to do it as often as possible. Which means riding local. For me that means riding in Northern Virginia. Specifically, western Loudoun County to the Shenandoah, north to Harpers Ferry and south to Luray. This is my back yard and I’ve explored nearly every inch of it on two wheels.
Whether you enjoy the views from Skyline Drive, the Civil War history of riding past battlefields or getting your speed fix at Summit Point Raceway this area is great for riding and a big reason I choose to live here.
It’s still largely rural, so traffic is a non-issue. The rolling hills make for miles of winding roads to explore. With many horse farms, wineries and miles of stone fencing lining the roads the riding is very scenic. Roads are well maintained for carving corners on my Ducati Monster. And the recent opening of several Farm Breweries provide great rest stops. Several historic no-traffic-light villages also make for great day-trip destinations. My favorite is to stop in the Plains for a pour-over at Happy Creek Coffee and bicycle shop.
For all that is great about motorcycling in Northern Virginia what it lacks are public lands to get my off-road fix. To get muddy, I would haul my Honda CRF450X to trails in Pennsylvania or a small trail network in the George Washington Forest. But where there’s a will there’s a way.
Something very unique about this area is, while being only 35 miles from our Nation’s Capital, Loudoun is home to over 300 miles of dirt roads. Providing the opportunity for some great dual sport riding!
Wanting to get more use out of my Honda without having to haul it, I installed a Baja Designs dual sport kit and petitioned the state to make my bike street legal. This was no easy task, and may be a topic for a future blog, but I was successful in getting a plate. Legalizing this bike opened whole new world of riding and was well worth all of my arm wrestling with VDOT to make it happen.
Being able to string together a 100 mile loop from my house and having 80 miles of that being on the dirt is a real treat. Many of these roads are now protected as historic routes and remain largely unchanged since they were first cut through the woods. Encountering stream crossings that can range from a single-lane bridge, to just paved culvert pipes that allow high water to spill over top is not unusual.
And few crossings still ford the streams with no bridge at all. This does mean that these roads are not always passable, but really adds to the adventure!
With my dirt bike street legal I had to try the next step. I installed a set of Marchesini aluminum wheels, soft compound tires, and dropped the rear sprocket by 14 teeth, making a legit Supermoto. Riding with this setup just makes me laugh. It’s fast, light, smooth, great handling, has no wind protection and always makes me feel like I’m getting away with something I wasn’t supposed to do. It’s hard to know for sure but since legalizing this bike I may have the highest milage Honda CRF450X in existence?
Regardless of where you live, adapting your bike to get the most use out of it is never a choice you will regret. Part of being a rider is being opportunistic. When the mood strikes, you can throw a leg over your bike and be virtually ensured of a good time!
If you live and ride in the DC metro area be sure to make a day trip out this way. A word of caution, this is this is horse country. If you ride assuming that you will encounter a truck towing a horse trailer around the next corner, you will keep everyone safe and allow the motorcycles and horses to co-exist. Keep the shiny side up!