WELCOME to the 5th Annual Camp & Ride, Sponsored by Romney Cycles
April 28-May 1, 2016
Welcome to the Romney Cycles sponsored Camp and Ride 2016. This event is a meeting of friends, acquaintances, and strangers for socializing, camping outdoors, and riding motorcycles on fantastic paved and dirt roads. We have people riding long distances from all over the US and Canada to participate in this event. Below is some information for anyone coming to this area for the first time, whether you are coming from the land of straight roads and have never experienced the twists and turns that West Virginia has to offer, or even if you just have not ridden this area since last season.
There is no registration fee, we only require that you check in by signing a waiver, get a wrist band, and carry a sheet of paper which is described below. Registration is just inside of the door under the exterior SERVICE sign. It’s also where we have event shirts for those who pre-ordered, plus we have a few spares for this year.
We have no knowledge of who will attend, camp, ride together, or the conditions which any individual may encounter. You are arriving in the company of strangers from any potential segment of society and are going to meet a lot of people who you share interests with. It is your own responsibility to exercise appropriate caution for yourself and your belongings, as well as to show respect for others. Over the next several days, many of those strangers will magically become your friends.
We expect that each rider will fill out and carry an “In Case of Emergency” (ICE) paper, preferably in a chest pocket. If you are involved in an accident at Romney or while riding, having your basic information available will mean that nobody will need to guess at what your name is, who to contact, or other information. The forms also is a resource sheet for you, containing contact info and lat/long locations for many hospitals in the area. If you lose one, simply ask for another.
Before each ride, it is in your own interest to exchange names, discuss your ride’s ground rules, potential stops, and expectations. Get gas before getting to the dealer each evening, so that you have will not force others to wait for you in the morning. They may not wait.
Although people have volunteered what they found to be great roads, all riding at this event is conducted as individuals who elect to travel on common routes. You are totally reliant upon your own capabilities and experience and each individual assumes their own risk. The fact that a rider in front of you is able to negotiate a curve or other maneuver does not assure that you will have the same outcome. We actually had a mid-group rider go off the side of a road and nobody saw him do it.
There are no proper group leaders for this event. We regard the person in front of any ride to only be an individual with navigational knowledge who the group agreed to let be in front. If a person wants to go faster and take over the front position - let him. If the people ahead of you are faster than your comfort level, they will need to wait and count noses at the next stop or turn. It’s how the mid-group rider in the previous paragraph was found. (He was OK but needed help getting the bike out.)
Something which happens regularly is that after a ride starts, a couple of riders will realize that they want to go faster or slower than the group they began with. Before splitting off, it is imperative and good manners to let everybody in the group know the group is splitting. To simply leave could result in everybody in the original group vainly searching for a rider they think has gone off the road.
So with that, welcome to paradise for all sorts of motorcyclists and what follows is some basic info about riding this area of West Virginia and Western Maryland.
The people in this part of the country are super friendly and normally go out of their way to help a stranger. Everybody gives a friendly wave and it comes from the heart. We like to wave back. If you are following a vehicle into a fun section of road it is not uncommon for that vehicle to pull to the side to let you pass. Be aware that on dirt roads they may pull over to the left or the right. Overall you're likely to have a positive experience with the residents of West Virginia.
At the same time, they expect visitors to respect their property. When you see No Trespassing, respect what the sign says! Kids play in the middle of gravel roads. Please be a good visitor so we can keep coming back.
There is a lot of diversity in West Virginia roads. The major highways and primary roads are usually in very good condition.
Get off the primary roads and you'll see a wide range of different conditions. Everything from very good smooth asphalt, to chewed up asphalt with lots of patch work. Bituminous (chip seal, tar and chip) is also a fairly common road surface on deeper secondary paved road. Bituminous still usually provides a relatively smooth ride with very good traction.
There are a lot of blind corners in WV and it is common for these roads to have a decreasing radius curve or gravel. The gravel or sand can be anywhere, but the car tire track paths are generally the most clear. The sandy corners are not something to fear, just to be aware of. On a related note, just because the bike in front of you goes cleanly through a turn, you will not put your tires precisely where that person did and may encounter gravel through the same corner. Be ready for it. We don't criticize people when they slow more than we would, because that caution keeps us safe and there will always be some person just a little faster.
As you decide your corner entry speed, assume it will tighten and will have a pickup truck coming the other direction that is taking half of your lane. It’s also not uncommon to come face to face on narrow corners with large trucks involved with logging, coal, or other heavy uses. Entering all blind corners with the bike as far right as safely can be done helps to prepare for cheating cars and trucks coming the other way. Of course when you move towards the edge of the road watch for that gravel.
Another reason to go into blind corners at less than maximum speed is that something may be on the road halfway through the corner. Things fall off of pickup trucks going around tight curves. A standing joke is that arrows indicating that a curve lies ahead may also be pointing to where something is in the road, be it a parked car, person, rock, or animal.
Trees and power lines are wonderful indicators when twisty road riding in WV. Looking ahead of the blind hill or corner you can often get a good feel for which way the road is cutting through the trees. But there are exceptions to the rule and the power line or trees seen before the crest may go the wrong way to follow a driveway, power line right of way, or something else.
We are honored to have a number of Canadian riders join us. Those not familiar with the area should be aware there are differences between here and home, in that Canada generally does not pave a road until it has been engineered, with good drainage and minimum necessary turns. By comparison, many paved roads in this area may be more primitive. It is not unknown for a paved road in this area which is in very good condition to suddenly change in the middle of a curve, so the surface suddenly changes to old cracked pavement or even gravel. Do not assume a paved road in WV is well engineered and predictable. Unexpected change is part of the fun and adventure.
If you are unfamiliar with twisty roads the biggest risk is YOU and the biggest hazard is over-confidence. Believe it or not, it takes a lot of practice to master these roads, and it cannot be done in just one weekend. If you ever scare yourself on these roads, you are riding too fast. Never enter a corner around in this area at the limits of your skills. You must have enough reserve skills remaining to deal with the surprises which may lie half-way around that blind turn.
UNPAVED ROADS AND PATHS
Most of the commonly traveled dirt roads are in good condition, hard packed dirt with some level of gravel on top, but not always. The biggest problems are rain-ruts which can grab the front tire and loose gravel. The gravel is usually not very deep and does not take special riding skills. While there can be some roads with deep gravel which are more challenging, these are pretty rare and unless you are there shortly after the gravel is put down, this is not likely going to be an issue. Dirt roads may suddenly become muddy paths if they go into low lying areas or if it rains. The area is not known for sandy roads.
All of the blind corner information is even more important on the dirt roads deep in the woods. Do not assume that you are alone in the woods because of all the ATVs and side-by-sides. (One group member jokes that a lot of the locals have traded their ATV for side by sides because they carry more beer. The 4-wheelers are frequently going fast, frequently driven by under-age kids, using most of the path, and may be fully at the inside of any turn. A blind curve in the woods must be approached with real caution.
If it has been raining a lot there could be a slippery sheen of mud on top of an otherwise solid dirt road. Be cautious, it can be more slick than it looks.
This year, be aware that we are in the middle of turkey hunting season. There ARE a lot more cars and trucks on the dirt roads than we’ve had in previous years, and some of those drivers have no idea how to drive on gravel. The rangers are out in force, too.
This year also, we have had rain affect the roads. Stream crossings last weekend were deep and fast turbulent brown water. The speed of the water will move rocks and change the stream bottoms. Mud holes can be deeper and longer than returning people may remember. Roads with any kind of drainage along ridges and hill-sides may have some rutting but are generally the same as you will remember.
With this many riders and the variety of conditions, we’ve had a couple of people need hospital visits, one of which required a helicopter ride. We’ve learned to both better educate our attendees with this intro sheet, and have adopting preparations similar to what the US Government uses. Our ICE form and Emergency Preparedness Plan are based in the US Forest Service model.
Earlier we mentioned the mid-group rider who just seemingly disappeared. The people at the front and rear of the group were happy to have a bluetooth connection and it was the sweep counting heads who alerted the front person that a rider was missing. Lesson: If your group has bluetooth, link up before your ride. Two riders were sent back along the route to find him.
In a serious 2014 accident, a rider left the road and his head struck a tree. Imagine the frustration when people in the group could only remember his avatar name and knew nothing more about him. Be aware that we have provided copies of blank ICE sheets to the State Police and others who normally respond to accidents in this area.
Fortunately, Maryland State Police helicopter "Trooper 5" is based only 20 miles north of Romney and a medivac agreement exists agreement with West Virginia to cover a large portion of the area in which we ride. Plus there is a Level II Trauma Center in Winchester, Virginia, which is less than an hour driving time (roughly 20 minutes by air) east of Romney. The injured rider was flown out and has recovered. Nobody wants to repeat what happened.
Both of these riders were very experienced guys from the Mid-Atlantic region, whose skills are not in question. The lessons for all of us are to be prepared, have a completed ICE form, and take nothing for granted. Please do not ride beyond your comfort level.
CAMPING AND HAPPENINGS AT ROMNEY CYCLES
The staff of Romney Cycles built the showers, arranged for the Porta Potties, and has electricity available in the small out-building for charging cell phones and other devices. The event has grown to the extent that we even expect to again have factory representatives and demo rides available at this year's event. We have the attention of the factories!
The organizers are Dirt Dad (Jon) and Wreckchecker (Bob), who will be in red shirts. One of us should be around for the duration. We also are in our first year of having the help of volunteers, who will wear yellow shirts. The volunteers will be there for parking, registration, firewood and the fires, and whatever else we can wangle them into doing.
Camp almost anywhere you like on the grounds of Romney Cycles within reason, remembering that the business will be open to the public on Saturday. The driveway is not a dragstrip and we try to stay within the area past the end (south) of the parking lot in back. That area largely belongs to the Potomac Center, which assists people with disabilities. When you see people across the grass, please give them a friendly wave. Be aware that at the edges of the grass near the trees may have extensive poison ivy, poison oak, or other vegetation that you may not want to go into!
Places we can not camp this year are:
1. Outside of the Romney fence, especially as you come into the property. It belongs to the county.
2. On the soccer field until Friday evening, as it will be used for the off-road class.
There are 4 big lights on the dealership which illuminate the parking lot. Three will go out at a pre-set time – the one over the loading dock can not be turned off. Something to remember when you pick a place to put your tent.
The fire pits are being spread out and we hope to make at least the second one bigger than we had last year. Pull up something to sit on and make new friends.
Also be aware that Romney Cycles contributes to the West Virginia Schools for the Deaf and Blind, located in Romney. Any money raised from our charity auctions, T-shirts, or other activities will go to the Schools.
We will have some really nice big-ticket items to raffle and an auction on Saturday evening to look forward to. There will be people who can answer any tech question and probably help fix anything that breaks.
The dealership brought in a food vendor this year. It means that food prices will go up a little but we shouldn’t have the lines we did last year.
Everybody has a cell phone, so be aware that data reception is not good where we camp. We disable the data on our phones at night, because they will continually search for service and empty the batteries. While the dealership provides power in the small building (along with coffee pots!) it is at your risk to use whatever is there.
Immediately to our south and visible across the grass are the buildings of the Potomac Center, which serves people with disabilities. The West Virginia State Police are located on the far side of the Potomac Center, which means that they will probably be able to hear us at night. There are also a lot of private homes, we have been good neighbors in previous years, and intend to remain so.
With this many people comes the possibility of somebody who is a danger to others and the question of what should we do? When you sign the waiver and get a wrist band, you are being granted permission to be on the property. This is not a free-for-all. IF need be, that permission will be revoked and the person escorted off of the property. If the person refuses to go, the police will be called. The decisions of the organizers (Jon English and Bob Swaim) or of ANY staff of Romney Cycles will be final.
Two points to remember about the use of alcohol: First is that West Virginia regularly sets up sobriety road checkpoints, stopping all traffic. Do not be surprised to see this happen on Route 50 or any other road and obviously do not drive or ride after consuming any alcohol. If you are going to sleep in a local hotel room, this is something to consider when socializing around a fire in the evening.
Second, there are no detox facilities in the area. Getting drunk enough to result in a law enforcement response will result in you being arrested, charged, and going to jail. Watch out and take care of your drinking buddies, be they new friends or old ones.
We want everybody to enjoy themselves and do not want to scare anybody from participating. This is a fun area with great people and places to ride, deserving of the motto "Wild and Wonderful West Virginia." Just be alert when riding in this area and ride your own ride, because the people in front of you have no special knowledge to keep you safe. Almost certainly they are just a nice people like you who are happy to show you around. But in the end, only you can keep yourself in control and within your comfort zone, so keep yourself safe.
Please come, enjoy, ride within your comfort levels, and return home safely at the end of the event. After all, we want to see you here again in 2017.