Fog hung low over U.S. 221 north and reflected the lights back at the motorcycle.
I left early to get to the State Capital in time for an 11 a.m. legislative roundtable hosted by the Virginia Coalition of Motorcyclists, a group backed by Richmond attorney Tom McGrath, a champion of rights for those who ride two-wheelers.
The weather radar on my Garmin showed the rain should let up north of Roanoke but I wondered if it was right when both the rain and fog intensified as I approached Bent Mountain. I headed down the mountain carefully with four-way flashers going until the fog eased and the rain let up near the bottom.
By Cave Spring both the rain and fog cleared but wet roads remained. The pavement finally began to dry on I-581 past Elm Street in Roanoke and was dry by the time I turned north on I-81.
With sun peeking through the clouds, I turned east on U.S. 60 and stopped for gas and coffee in Buena Vista. From there, 60 is a run ride with lots of twists and turns over the mountains to Amherst. At least it was before rain and fog again enveloped the Harley about five miles west of Amherst. With a steady rain falling I stopped for coffee again in Amherst and let the shower pass before setting out again.
More rain at Cumberland Courthouse and again at Buckingham before the clouds cleared just west of Richmond. I pulled into the Marriott on Broad Street at 10:25 a.m. — plenty of time for coffee and a bowl of fruit before heading into three-and-a-half hours of intense discussion of issues affecting motorcyclists.
The legislative team for VCOM has a good track record of getting laws through the labyrinth of the Virginia General Assembly. Thanks to their efforts, motocyclists can use the HOV lanes in high-traffic areas of the Old Dominion, increase visibility with modulating headlights, use headset intercoms for communications and enjoy other benefits that add to safety while riding.
About a dozen riders gathered at the Marriott this year to craft a legislative package for the next session of general assembly. I wasn’t the only attendee from Southwestern Virginia. Riders from Woolwine and Basset also made the journey to Richmond.
As the meeting broke up, a light rain began to fall and I rode over to U.S. 360 to head to Farmville and U.S. 460 for a westward shot back to Roanoke. Sun broke through the crowds again near Farmville — the Prince Edward County town where we lived for five years in the late 50s and early 60s. I stopped for coffee at a Sheetz on U.S. 15 and realized that the station sits across the road from what was our house when we lived there. A drive-in theater used to occupy the land that is now the Sheetz and a competing Valero station nearby. The theater is long gone and the farm that surrounded the now-abandoned house is now a sub division hidden from view by a chain motel.
The sun played hide-and-seek with the clouds as I rode along 460 in light traffic towards Roanoke. The skies darkened and ominous-looking clouds threatened once more as I headed the Super Glide up Bent Mountain for the final leg home. Another shower began as I turned onto Poor Farm Road and intensified right after I pulled the bike into the garage for the end of a 448-mile day.
More rain expected Sunday.
We need it.