I took a trip the length of the BRP over 30 years ago on my 1971 R75/5 and have not been back since, partly because I now live further away from the Parkway and mostly because I didnÔÇÖt have the opportunity or time to repeat this trip. With my recent retirement, I now had time for this trip.
The BRP is 470 miles of two-lane road perfect for motorcycling with limited access and no traffic lights or stop signs. My plan was to take three days, which ultimately wasnÔÇÖt enough time, to ride the Parkway and camp along the way. To maximize time on the Parkway, I planned to ride the interstates down and back.
I left my house at 5:30 Monday morning. It was pretty chilly and I started with my GerbingÔÇÖs jacket and gloves on. Somewhere in VA my dual controller stopped working so I switched to my backup single controller for the jacket and did without the heated gloves for the remainder of the trip.
On the ride down as my mind was wandering, it occurred to me that I had forgotten to pack my "medicinal" sippinÔÇÖ whiskey. Lack of heated gloves I could tolerate, but no sippinÔÇÖ whiskey?? I tried without luck to find a liquor store in Waynesboro, VA - the start of the BRP. My GPS doesnÔÇÖt have a ÔÇ£liquor storeÔÇØ option, which would've made it easier to locate one.
I got to the Parkway around noon and there were two guys from Ontario on R1200RTs just waiting to take my picture.
They were also riding the Parkway but were headed to Roanoke that evening and a hotel.
I stopped at the visitorÔÇÖs center to confirm the campgrounds were open. My destination was the campground at Otter Creek at milepost 60.
The speed limit along the Parkway is 45, which actually is a reasonable speed, as the Parkway is to be savored. I rode almost exclusively in 3rd gear, which kept my speed somewhat legal and provided good engine braking so I could just roll on or roll off the throttle and it made for a really relaxing ride.
There are many overlooks along the Parkway and I stopped at a few.
It had been cool and cloudy all day, and I had ridden through some light showers on I-81 earlier in the day. Eventually it started to rain again so I put on my rain suit and tank bag cover.
I arrived at the campground around 2:30, and was the only soul around, and no one else ever showed up. I picked a site along a stream and set up camp as a light rain fell.
As it was still early, I headed south on the Parkway to do some more riding. I was a short distance from the James River visitor center.
The James River is the lowest elevation along the Parkway and after you cross the river, the road climbs and climbs and twists and turns and was great fun to ride. As I got to higher elevations, it got cooler and foggy and started to rain.
I turned around as the weather deteriorated and the ride back down in the fog was ÔÇ£interestingÔÇØ, due to a fogged faceshield and wet glasses. It was good to have a GPS and have an idea which way the road turned. It took a little while to get below the cloud ceiling and I was very happy then to just be riding in rain.
I was relieved to arrive back at my wet camp.
Dinner was freeze-dried lasagna, and as I was preparing it, I realized IÔÇÖd also forgotten to pack a spoon. I mixed up my meal using a stick and poured it into my coffee mug to eat.
As I was taking my trash to find a dumpster, I ran into the camp hosts, who IÔÇÖd chatted with earlier, and they pointed out the dumpster. They then asked ÔÇ£would you be interested in a vodka tonic?ÔÇØ They didnÔÇÖt have to ask a second time.
Three hours later they deposited me back at my tent after spending an enjoyable evening in their warm trailer listening to the rain fall drinking more than one vodka tonic. They also gave me a spoon, so my two forgotten items turned out not to be an issue. I was a happy camper and fell asleep to the sound of a gentle rain falling on the tent.