Motorcycle rides — plus a hand of poker, a little music, and some camping — are warm-weather pastimes in Hardy County, W.Va., a neck of the woods that’s welcoming to residents and visitors alike.
Folks like Steve Stevenson — you’ll spot him on his big Yamaha cruising around Lost City — will tell you about local rides. And, he’ll share an outlook on life that will help you slow your own pace down enough to enjoy the broad valleys and high ridges of the eastern Appalachian Mountains.
Situated across the border from Winchester and Frederick County, Va., Hardy County is, Stevenson said, simply stress-free.
“My wife and I get on the bike and there’s nothing else that makes any difference except the time we’ve ridden.”
He once joined a half-million other motorcyclists at the famous Sturgis Motorcycle Rally in South Dakota, but he’s lived in Hardy County for more than 30 years. “In this area, there are a lot of nice little places to ride, and nice relaxing places you can go to. Some people camp, and there’s a little local motel with a few rooms.”
Stevenson — and his friends and family in the area’s small communities — organize annual rides, and might even spontaneously suggest a ride while you’re there.
“I’m all for relaxing,” Stevenson said. “Get out of the city and relax. Come out here and ride all day on the backroads.”
Ride for a cause
Each year, on the Saturday before Father’s Day, motorcyclists gather at the Mathias-Baker Fire House starting at 10:00am. They meander along a route that tops out at 100 miles as part of a fundraiser for the fire department. The ride, which has been held for a decade, is in memory of a local, lifelong firefighter. Out-of-towners are welcome.
In addition to being a fundraiser for the firehouse, the ride is also a “Poker Run.” Bikers pick a card at three stops along the ride, plus they draw a card at the beginning and at the end.
The biker with the best hand wins, said organizer Robert Landacre. And, the winner usually gives all or part of the money back in the spirit of giving that surrounds the ride.
Later in the season, the Broken Spoke restaurant in Needmore, W.Va., organizes a ride as a benefit for a scholarship in memory of a young girl who was killed in a car accident. Many bikers camp out at one of several local campgrounds, making a weekend of riding rounded out with music, food, and stories from locals. This year’s ride is Sept. 9.
There’s an “unorganized ride” the day after the organized ride on Father’s Day weekend. Every Father’s Day, Landacre and his brother pick a ride and invite whoever wants to go. It’s not what Landacre calls “an organized ride,” but it’s bound to be interesting.
Last year, the group rode out to the Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum located in Weston. The facility served as a sanctuary for the mentally ill in the mid-1800s, but today is a tourist attraction. The history of the building holds fascinating stories of Civil War raids, a gold robbery, the “curative” effects of architecture, and the efforts of determined individuals to help better the lives of the mentally ill.
Get the details by catching up to Landacre — or someone else — at the fire house.
Hardy Co. Tourism: visithardywv.com