Bald Eagle’s Best Dual Sport Ride
by Robert H. Miller
© 2013 RHM Co. Intl.
Dualsporting is my absolute favorite thing to do on a motorcycle. It combines my love of on and off-pavement riding and I’ve had more fun dualsporting than all my road riding and off-road racing combined. I strongly recommend it for anyone who wants to learn how to control their motorcycle. It will improve your street bike skills faster, better, and farther than a handful of riding schools or track days - and once you purchase your dualsport, the learning is free!
My favorite place to ride is Pennsylvania’s State Forests. With its millions of acres and thousands of dirt roads and trails, it’s dual sport paradise. This ride took place in Bald Eagle State Forest and I’ve entitled it Bald Eagle’s Best. It begins at Poe Paddy State Park where the trail starts right at the campground - no pavement required.
The morning began cool and clear as we rode to the top of Penn’s View and enjoyed one of the most spectacular overlooks in all of Pennsylvania. Then it was down to Coburn and PA 45 East to Woodward where we took Bear Run over to Penn’s Creek Cherry Run.
Then it was across Buffalo Flat, up and down Jones Mountain, and over to Sand Mountain Road before taking some pavement to West Milton and lunch - which we didn’t get until 2:00 p.m. because someone’s GPS insisted food and fuel were available in a different direction when I knew both places had been closed for years. I don’t think the clowns that create GPS software ever step foot in the places they tell you to go. The sad part is they get people to pay good money for bad information - and they don’t care. Isn’t it much smarter to listen to someone who’s been there before taking the advice of someone who hasn’t?
After lunch in West Milton, we backtracked on Spruce Run Rd over to White Deer Creek and made a stop at McCall Dam. Then it was back to Coburn on Cave and Cemetery Roads. We made it back to camp at 6:30 p.m. after 152 miles of forest roads.
On Sunday, Dick (DRZ400S) and Tom from Maryland joined us. We worked our way to the western edge of Bald Eagle State Forest circling back on some new roads on our way to lunch at the Milroy Hotel. After lunch, Jim (XR650) and Dick headed straight to camp and home so they could be at work on Monday morning. Bob (DR650) and I proceeded to find some excellent rocky, muddy, single track and some really bad roads that were really good fun.
We were back at camp by 5:00 p.m. after 106 miles of Pennsylvania dual sport riding. Except for the lack of challenging roads and trails in the morning, it had been an excellent day with the pre-lunch hillclimb the highlight of the morning ride and the post-lunch single track the highlight of the afternoon. For a first-of-the-season weekend ride, 258 miles was a bit much.
The most alarming part of the ride was passing a young couple late in the day on mountain bikes who were twenty miles from the nearest anything, including their car which we passed earlier. The wife became visibly nervous when I told them there was nothing ahead of or behind them. Then I asked if they had lighting on their bicycles (No) - she didn’t seem too happy at that one either. It was one of those places without a cell phone signal just when you really needed one (isn’t that always the case when you’re out riding the forests?) You can find a lot more dualsport adventures complete with maps, rollcharts, and GPS coordinates over at my website www.backroadbob.com. Happy trails!
America On Wheels Transportation Museum - Ahead of the Curve
by Robert H. Miller
© 2013 RHM Co. Intl.
When you turn the corner onto Allentown, Pennsylvania’s Front Street, the three-story grey concrete and glass building looks a bit out of place with an abandoned brick factory building across the street, a football field-sized vacate lot alongside, and the undeveloped river bank right behind. The building’s modern design seems like it would be more at home on a college campus than a gritty urban neighborhood. It makes you think, “This place is way ahead of the curve. Maybe they know something I don’t”. It turns out they do.
The museum is large, 43,000 square feet of large and it’s like five mini-museums plus a garage/workshop, an education center, a theatre, an art gallery, a library, and a gift shop all under one roof. The museum has five vehicle galleries each with a different theme. The two downstairs galleries, not including the lobby, house early transportation history displays. The North Gallery has automobiles, known then as horseless carriages, dating back to 1889 including one built in Allentown by Henry Nadig who claimed to have built the first horseless carrige in America. The South Gallery has an impressive display of Mack trucks including an ‘11 cab to axle, 2-ton GVWR panel wagon (top speed 18 mph) with chain drive. This particular truck is painted in Arbogast & Bastion livery - a tribute to the Arbogast & Bastion meat plant that stood on the museum’s site from 1887 to 1984.
In between the North and South Galleries is a small motorcycle display that tries to cover the entire history of American motorcycling with a half-dozen models. Past the motorcycle display you’ll find a motorhead’s favorite place - a complete auto repair garage from the early days. Scattered throughout the museum you’ll also find stunningly retored antique models including an ‘09 March Metz “Battery Special”, a ‘10 Flying Merkel, an ‘11 Yale 4P, a ‘12 Indian Boardtrack racer, and a ‘13 H-D 9A with its rare acetylene lighting option intact.
Now that you’ve seen the ground floor, it’s time to venture upstairs where the West Gallery with its rotating exhibits, the Art Gallery (The Long Haul Room), the Library, Education Center and the Hup Cap Cafe are located. The West Gallery, the museum’s largest, was diplaying twenty or so 1930s luxury cars from the Golden Age of automobiles.
The museum’s Executive Director, Linda Merkel, is working very hard to bring in additional support by promoting memberships that get you invited to catered soirees at exhibit previews, holding motorcycle, car, and bicycle club events on the grounds next to the museum, and hosting business meetings and conferences in their unique setting. Ms. Merkel is a bundle of enthusiasm who’s former vocation, a school teacher, complements the museum’s educational goals. She says, ” A museum is a lifelong learning experience”, and it doesn’t take long to convince you she’s the perfect person for the job.
This place is full of so full of cars, trucks, and motorcycles it will have your head spinning from trying to look in four different directions at once. This year the museum’s celebrating its fifth anniversary with special events and reduced admission ($8 to $5) on April 20th. The museum’s at 5 N. Front St. (N40.606654/W 75.457176), the phone number’s (610) 432-4200, and their website’s www.americaonwheels.org.
The Original Sport Tourer - Formula For An Inspiration
by Robert H. Miller
© 2004, 2013 RHM Co. Intl.
It’s almost that time of year to begin riding safely again. The snow, ice, and cinders will soon be gone from the roads, but until then here’s a little something I hope you’ll enjoy. It’s from my Motorcycling Lifestyle CD available from my website www.backroadbob.com or as an instant digital Amazon Kindle download from my Motorcycle Road Trips (Vol.23) - The Motorcycling Lifestyle ebook at www.amazon.com. It’s a trip through the way back time machine to the year 1976 when I began riding long distances on the back roads for up to a month at a time. This is the rider that inspired me to do that -
In 1976 the sport touring bug bit me. After learning to street ride on my father’s Honda CB100, I immediately did what any red-blooded young American rider would do – I went to the nearest Yamaha dealer and put down $999 for a brand new pocket rocket. I was a nineteen year old college student with a 1975 Yamaha RD350B - the giant-killing, race-developed, two-stroke twin able to slay four-strokes with twice its displacement. It could embarrass any English offering, even the mighty Norton 850 Commando, in a straight line and on a mountain road out brake and out handle any Italian bike. I’d never had it on anything more than day trips, but only because I didn’t think it was capable of touring, but that was about to change.
Easter holiday 1976 found me in the shadows of West Virginia’s southern Allegheny Mountains for a weekend of rock climbing. That evening while sitting at a roaring campfire I noticed a single headlamp turning into the campground, but after dinner and libations I’d forgotten about the lone motorcyclist.
The next morning he told me he was an engineer from New England who traveled to distant job sites aboard the R90S that he had purchased earlier that year. I asked him about this strange-looking leather thing he called a “tank bag” and why he used it. “Never mount anything behind you on the seat. Mount your gear low and between the axles in saddlebags otherwise it deteriorates the handling”, he cautioned. I told him about my small bore giant-killer, but instead of dismissing it as ill-suited for touring he encouraged me to buy a good tent and sleeping bag, a tank bag and saddlebags and then go see the country on two lane roads.
When my friends began to stir he didn’t seem to have too much left to say so I thanked him for his hospitality and complimented him on his ride. Later, I glanced toward his campsite, but like a ghost, that BMW rider had silently disappeared. I remembered I didn’t even ask his name. I didn’t know it at the time, but his advice had unconsciously inspired me. It took 25 years, 39 states, five provinces, six countries, and 250,000 miles until I realized that long ago I had adopted his sport touring riding formula.
I guess by now he’s long gone or close to it and that BMW is retired, but I’ll never forget that April morning almost 30 years ago when I looked over and saw an enormously self confident man at peace with himself and the world around him. In my head I can still hear his words. As I left his campsite, I promised him I’d take his advice and I’ve been keeping that promise ever since.