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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
I spent the last couple days of an extended weekend on my motorcycle. I've ridden the Skyline Drive in Shenandoah National Park (in Virginia, USA) a few times before, plus drove it in my wife's SUV last spring during our return from Florida. I'd normally do this as a 3-day trip, but I only had two days, and I was curious to see whether I could do the Skyline Drive as an overnight trip. Short answer -- yes, I could. ;)

Before I get to the details of the trip, I want to share something a little personal: I suffer from occasional bouts of depression. It's not debilitating, and I've never seen a counselor for it, nor taken any medication. Thankfully it usually isn't too bad, and doesn't usually linger more than a few days. Last week, however, was a rough one. I was in a funk all week. I really needed a little time off and I wanted to get as far away as possible. 400 miles would have to do.

Though it was a holiday weekend here in the US, I wasn't able to leave as early as I would have liked. So I left around 9:30 am Monday morning, and planned to take US 250 east from Ohio all the way to the southern entrance of the Skyline Drive.

US 250 in West Virginia and Virginia has some really nice curves. Not usually a lot of traffic, which is great for motorcycling, especially when you're "in the zone." The weather was great, and the road was good. I missed a sign or two (or the signs were missing) on US 250, so that added a few miles and time to my day. Somewhere along the way I stopped to book a hotel in Waynesboro, just a short distance from Shenandoah National Park. Day One = 392 miles, mostly 2-lane highways and a little bit of interstate/freeway, aka 'slab.'

Tuesday morning I had the free breakfast at the hotel and was on the road by 9 am. My wife and I bought a national parks annual pass back in March, and honestly another reason I did this trip was to get more use out of it.

If you've not ridden the Skyline Drive (which is similar to the Blue Ridge Parkway), well, you should ride it at least once. There are amazing views at tons of overlooks along the 105-mile route. The road surface is usually terrific (though they are laying down new blacktop on one section right now, which caused a short delay) and traffic is usually minimal. You need to watch out for critters, cyclists, and motorists entering and exiting the overlook pull-offs. Remember to bring a layer or two with you for this ride. It's cooler up in the mountains.

There are places to pass slower vehicles when necessary, but the speed limit is 35 mph most of the route, with 20-25 mph in the areas around visitor centers, etc. For about half the ride I tried to stick to 40-42 mph, but it gets hard to ride that slow. The second half of the route I probably averaged more like 45 mph -- partly because I knew I could ride faster safely, but also because after a while I just wanted to be done and make better time to get home at a reasonable hour. As much as I love riding the Skyline Drive, 105 miles divided by 35 mph is three hours, which is a long time, and that doesn't even include stopping at several overlooks and a couple short breaks. You risk getting a speeding ticket going any faster than 35, but I just can't ride that slow for that many hours.

By the way, there is a gas station at the Big Meadows Wayside, about halfway along the Skyline Drive. I was fine on fuel as I had gassed up in Waynesboro the night before, but I topped off my tank in Big Meadows just in case.

After I finished the drive and left the park, I made my way through Front Royal, VA, and toward US 50. I planned to take that highway all the way west to US 250, and to take 250 most of the way home. US 50 has some terrific twisty sections. There was one very bumpy section though, including some curves with those bumps. Kind of unnerving, but fine with reduced speed. I would have loved to turn back and do a couple of the great sections again, but I had to get home. Hopefully next time I can double back and enjoy those sweet mountain road sections a couple times.

I did make it to US 250, but had to alter my route home and ended up slabbing it about 130 miles out of the last 180 or so. I hated to do that, but I needed to make time to get home, plus the sun was setting and I'm not comfortable riding deer-infested rural roads at night anymore. Thankfully, even with a top gear that isn't cut out to be an overdrive gear, the R9T will happily chew up the miles at a constant 70-80 mph. I made it home last night at 9 pm. Day Two = 466 miles, most of it good two-lane roads, including of course the Skyline Drive!

As usual, my knees ached a little (especially the right one), my butt was sore from sitting on the motorcycle so many hours for a couple days, and my neck was a little sore from being in a bit of a crouch on the interstate and looking "up" while in that more aerodynamic position. It wasn't as bad as the last couple years I had my VFR though, where that crouch was the default riding position.

The bike ran perfectly. Zero issues. I did hit a couple nice milestones yesterday on my one-year-old motorcycle: 10,000 miles on the odometer while on the Skyline Drive, and 7,000 miles so far for the year during the trip home.

Two final thoughts:
  • One of the few things I miss about my old VFR is the OEM lockable, waterproof cases. I'm using a roll-top dry bag for luggage, and it's fine, except it's not secure. There were a couple times yesterday during the trip home I wanted to run into a gas station convenience store, but there were too many (or sketchy looking) people around for me to trust my bag would still be there when I came back out. During such stops I usually tank my tank bag with me, and just drape my riding jacket over the bag on the rear rack to hide it, but I didn't feel comfortable doing that yesterday.
  • While I love the all-arounder qualities of my R9T Pure, as I've said before if I ever do a lot more motorcycle touring, I'm going to buy a sport-touring bike, probably an RT. I think the sweet spot for the R9T is up to 300-400 miles. More than that, or more than 7-8 hours on this bike is kind of tough. I was pretty jealous of the folks I saw on big GS bikes the last couple days, knowing they were way more comfortable than me. Also, I've been putting it off, but I'll definitely buy an Airhawk before my next trip.
To sum up: Two days, 858 miles, 10 gas stops, one cheap but decent hotel, a couple meals, some terrific roads, and much fantastic scenery - plus I think I managed to shake my blues. What a great couple days! :)

Edited: Sorry for the double paragraphs earlier. I'm usually better at cut and paste!
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Nice write up Tim! And it sounds like a great trip. I love Skyline too, but yeah, the speed limit does get a bit old, doesn't it? The general 45 mph on the Blue Ridge Parkway is more reasonable.
 
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Thank you for sharing and your honesty. One of my favorite reasons for being active in motorcycle forums is reading postings such as yours.
 

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Wow, I’m actually a voyeur … I enjoyed that trip, thanks Tim. Great detail in the write up.
I appreciate the time it took. BeWell my friend, depression when self recognized as a chemical imbalance can be controlled with logic and distraction. UpOn2 is a great distraction! I suffer from the same disorder. A bit of cancer mixed with a bit of PTSD and a quick ride offsets the down side and time warps me back to the days when I didn’t have a care in the world ….
SemperFi my friend … Always faithful … to thy self be true … you can do this. …..Blitz
 
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Great write up! I’ve done Skyline to BRP down to Asheville about 6 or 7 times and its always incredible. Good call with the annual pass - Skyline raised their prices last year to $25 for a motorcycle!
 

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Another excellent post, Tim! (y)
 
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I'm fortunate enough that I live within reasonable distance of Skyline Drive.

Here is a fun little story:

In the early days of the pandemic when everything was beginning to shut down my friend and I heard a "rumor" that the full park service was furloughed and gates were open. So naturally we had to verify the rumor. We investigated it at about 65+ mph for about 85 miles of Skyline Drive before we were worried and needed to verify if the gas station was open. So we turned around and discovered that the gas station was also "closed" but the pumps still accepted credit cards. We also found that there were some Ranger vehicles parked at some spots, but there were absolutely no troopers in any of the vehicles. It was all very important investigative work we were doing. We decided that we had enough verifying and then we went and hit highway 211 which crosses Skyline but is much curvier. All in all very fun research.
 

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Great write up! Sounds like it was a much needed and enjoyable get away. Thanks for sharing the details with us!
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Thanks for reading and for the replies, everyone!

One kind of humorous anecdote I forgot to include above...

Once I was back in Ohio I headed north on Route 11 (which is a limited access freeway along most of it's length), cruising around 70-75 mph (in a 70 mph zone). It was between dusk and dark, so just a little light left in the sky. I had just passed a car but hadn't yet moved back over into the right lane when a big sportbike zoomed by me, cutting between the passed car and me. It came up so fast I didn't even see it in my mirrors, so it surprised me a little. It had to be doing at least 100. I thought at first it was a Suzuki Hayabusa, but after looking at taillights online just now, from the shape of this one I think it was a Kawasaki Ninja ZX-14.

I suddenly thought, "Why not?" I tucked down, twisted the grip hard on my R9T and it just took off. (I love this boxer twin!) In a moment I was up to speed and gaining on the other bike. I caught up with the big Ninja and slowed a little to maintain a safe distance. I could see the rider check his mirror, and I imagine he was surprised to see me there! I thought he might really hit the gas and take off, but he didn't. I stayed there for maybe a minute, then rolled off the throttle, gave a friendly wave in the air, and slowed back down to a more responsible speed.

I don't pretend for a moment I could really keep up with a ZX-14 or Hayabusa, motorcycles which are capable of 170+ mph. But it was fun hanging with one for a couple minutes! :)

By the way, the pass the other rider made wasn't one I'd make myself, as it was too risky for my taste. If I had signaled and started to move back to the right without checking my mirrors and over my shoulder while the other bike was coming up on me and starting to pass on the right, it could have been disastrous. But the way it was, there was adequate room to pass, even if it was the wrong thing to do. I'm not excusing that rider's decision making, but I've seen worse and in much heavier traffic. Basically, I didn't chase the guy because I was pissed off and reacted badly; I was just having a little fun.
 

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I spent the last couple days of an extended weekend on my motorcycle. I've ridden the Skyline Drive in Shenandoah National Park (in Virginia, USA) a few times before, plus drove it in my wife's SUV last spring during our return from Florida. I'd normally do this as a 3-day trip, but I only had two days, and I was curious to see whether I could do the Skyline Drive as an overnight trip. Short answer -- yes, I could. ;)

Before I get to the details of the trip, I want to share something a little personal: I suffer from occasional bouts of depression. It's not debilitating, and I've never seen a counselor for it, nor taken any medication. Thankfully it usually isn't too bad, and doesn't usually linger more than a few days. Last week, however, was a rough one. I was in a funk all week. I really needed a little time off and I wanted to get as far away as possible. 400 miles would have to do.

Though it was a holiday weekend here in the US, I wasn't able to leave as early as I would have liked. So I left around 9:30 am Monday morning, and planned to take US 250 east from Ohio all the way to the southern entrance of the Skyline Drive.

US 250 in West Virginia and Virginia has some really nice curves. Not usually a lot of traffic, which is great for motorcycling, especially when you're "in the zone." The weather was great, and the road was good. I missed a sign or two (or the signs were missing) on US 250, so that added a few miles and time to my day. Somewhere along the way I stopped to book a hotel in Waynesboro, just a short distance from Shenandoah National Park. Day One = 392 miles, mostly 2-lane highways and a little bit of interstate/freeway, aka 'slab.'

Tuesday morning I had the free breakfast at the hotel and was on the road by 9 am. My wife and I bought a national parks annual pass back in March, and honestly another reason I did this trip was to get more use out of it.

If you've not ridden the Skyline Drive (which is similar to the Blue Ridge Parkway), well, you should ride it at least once. There are amazing views at tons of overlooks along the 105-mile route. The road surface is usually terrific (though they are laying down new blacktop on one section right now, which caused a short delay) and traffic is usually minimal. You need to watch out for critters, cyclists, and motorists entering and exiting the overlook pull-offs. Remember to bring a layer or two with you for this ride. It's cooler up in the mountains.

There are places to pass slower vehicles when necessary, but the speed limit is 35 mph most of the route, with 20-25 mph in the areas around visitor centers, etc. For about half the ride I tried to stick to 40-42 mph, but it gets hard to ride that slow. The second half of the route I probably averaged more like 45 mph -- partly because I knew I could ride faster safely, but also because after a while I just wanted to be done and make better time to get home at a reasonable hour. As much as I love riding the Skyline Drive, 105 miles divided by 35 mph is three hours, which is a long time, and that doesn't even include stopping at several overlooks and a couple short breaks. You risk getting a speeding ticket going any faster than 35, but I just can't ride that slow for that many hours.

By the way, there is a gas station at the Big Meadows Wayside, about halfway along the Skyline Drive. I was fine on fuel as I had gassed up in Waynesboro the night before, but I topped off my tank in Big Meadows just in case.

After I finished the drive and left the park, I made my way through Front Royal, VA, and toward US 50. I planned to take that highway all the way west to US 250, and to take 250 most of the way home. US 50 has some terrific twisty sections. There was one very bumpy section though, including some curves with those bumps. Kind of unnerving, but fine with reduced speed. I would have loved to turn back and do a couple of the great sections again, but I had to get home. Hopefully next time I can double back and enjoy those sweet mountain road sections a couple times.

I did make it to US 250, but had to alter my route home and ended up slabbing it about 130 miles out of the last 180 or so. I hated to do that, but I needed to make time to get home, plus the sun was setting and I'm not comfortable riding deer-infested rural roads at night anymore. Thankfully, even with a top gear that isn't cut out to be an overdrive gear, the R9T will happily chew up the miles at a constant 70-80 mph. I made it home last night at 9 pm. Day Two = 466 miles, most of it good two-lane roads, including of course the Skyline Drive!

As usual, my knees ached a little (especially the right one), my butt was sore from sitting on the motorcycle so many hours for a couple days, and my neck was a little sore from being in a bit of a crouch on the interstate and looking "up" while in that more aerodynamic position. It wasn't as bad as the last couple years I had my VFR though, where that crouch was the default riding position.

The bike ran perfectly. Zero issues. I did hit a couple nice milestones yesterday on my one-year-old motorcycle: 10,000 miles on the odometer while on the Skyline Drive, and 7,000 miles so far for the year during the trip home.

Two final thoughts:
  • One of the few things I miss about my old VFR is the OEM lockable, waterproof cases. I'm using a roll-top dry bag for luggage, and it's fine, except it's not secure. There were a couple times yesterday during the trip home I wanted to run into a gas station convenience store, but there were too many (or sketchy looking) people around for me to trust my bag would still be there when I came back out. During such stops I usually tank my tank bag with me, and just drape my riding jacket over the bag on the rear rack to hide it, but I didn't feel comfortable doing that yesterday.
  • While I love the all-arounder qualities of my R9T Pure, as I've said before if I ever do a lot more motorcycle touring, I'm going to buy a sport-touring bike, probably an RT. I think the sweet spot for the R9T is up to 300-400 miles. More than that, or more than 7-8 hours on this bike is kind of tough. I was pretty jealous of the folks I saw on big GS bikes the last couple days, knowing they were way more comfortable than me. Also, I've been putting it off, but I'll definitely buy an Airhawk before my next trip.
To sum up: Two days, 858 miles, 10 gas stops, one cheap but decent hotel, a couple meals, some terrific roads, and much fantastic scenery - plus I think I managed to shake my blues. What a great couple days! :)

Edited: Sorry for the double paragraphs earlier. I'm usually better at cut and paste!
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View attachment 146753
Great review of your trip and wish that there was more of this in the group. I should try harder, regards, Joe.
 

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A few years back I running the BRP from Little Switzerland to Boone. The night before a Park Police officer told me that all the officers had been furloughed so there would be no Sunday coverage. My wife and I were in our BMW Z4M Roadster and we left about 0600. We encountered no traffic at all, it was a very quick ride! I almost ran into a flock of turkeys, almost.
 

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I spent the last couple days of an extended weekend on my motorcycle. I've ridden the Skyline Drive in Shenandoah National Park (in Virginia, USA) a few times before, plus drove it in my wife's SUV last spring during our return from Florida. I'd normally do this as a 3-day trip, but I only had two days, and I was curious to see whether I could do the Skyline Drive as an overnight trip. Short answer -- yes, I could. ;)

Before I get to the details of the trip, I want to share something a little personal: I suffer from occasional bouts of depression. It's not debilitating, and I've never seen a counselor for it, nor taken any medication. Thankfully it usually isn't too bad, and doesn't usually linger more than a few days. Last week, however, was a rough one. I was in a funk all week. I really needed a little time off and I wanted to get as far away as possible. 400 miles would have to do.

Though it was a holiday weekend here in the US, I wasn't able to leave as early as I would have liked. So I left around 9:30 am Monday morning, and planned to take US 250 east from Ohio all the way to the southern entrance of the Skyline Drive.

US 250 in West Virginia and Virginia has some really nice curves. Not usually a lot of traffic, which is great for motorcycling, especially when you're "in the zone." The weather was great, and the road was good. I missed a sign or two (or the signs were missing) on US 250, so that added a few miles and time to my day. Somewhere along the way I stopped to book a hotel in Waynesboro, just a short distance from Shenandoah National Park. Day One = 392 miles, mostly 2-lane highways and a little bit of interstate/freeway, aka 'slab.'

Tuesday morning I had the free breakfast at the hotel and was on the road by 9 am. My wife and I bought a national parks annual pass back in March, and honestly another reason I did this trip was to get more use out of it.

If you've not ridden the Skyline Drive (which is similar to the Blue Ridge Parkway), well, you should ride it at least once. There are amazing views at tons of overlooks along the 105-mile route. The road surface is usually terrific (though they are laying down new blacktop on one section right now, which caused a short delay) and traffic is usually minimal. You need to watch out for critters, cyclists, and motorists entering and exiting the overlook pull-offs. Remember to bring a layer or two with you for this ride. It's cooler up in the mountains.

There are places to pass slower vehicles when necessary, but the speed limit is 35 mph most of the route, with 20-25 mph in the areas around visitor centers, etc. For about half the ride I tried to stick to 40-42 mph, but it gets hard to ride that slow. The second half of the route I probably averaged more like 45 mph -- partly because I knew I could ride faster safely, but also because after a while I just wanted to be done and make better time to get home at a reasonable hour. As much as I love riding the Skyline Drive, 105 miles divided by 35 mph is three hours, which is a long time, and that doesn't even include stopping at several overlooks and a couple short breaks. You risk getting a speeding ticket going any faster than 35, but I just can't ride that slow for that many hours.

By the way, there is a gas station at the Big Meadows Wayside, about halfway along the Skyline Drive. I was fine on fuel as I had gassed up in Waynesboro the night before, but I topped off my tank in Big Meadows just in case.

After I finished the drive and left the park, I made my way through Front Royal, VA, and toward US 50. I planned to take that highway all the way west to US 250, and to take 250 most of the way home. US 50 has some terrific twisty sections. There was one very bumpy section though, including some curves with those bumps. Kind of unnerving, but fine with reduced speed. I would have loved to turn back and do a couple of the great sections again, but I had to get home. Hopefully next time I can double back and enjoy those sweet mountain road sections a couple times.

I did make it to US 250, but had to alter my route home and ended up slabbing it about 130 miles out of the last 180 or so. I hated to do that, but I needed to make time to get home, plus the sun was setting and I'm not comfortable riding deer-infested rural roads at night anymore. Thankfully, even with a top gear that isn't cut out to be an overdrive gear, the R9T will happily chew up the miles at a constant 70-80 mph. I made it home last night at 9 pm. Day Two = 466 miles, most of it good two-lane roads, including of course the Skyline Drive!

As usual, my knees ached a little (especially the right one), my butt was sore from sitting on the motorcycle so many hours for a couple days, and my neck was a little sore from being in a bit of a crouch on the interstate and looking "up" while in that more aerodynamic position. It wasn't as bad as the last couple years I had my VFR though, where that crouch was the default riding position.

The bike ran perfectly. Zero issues. I did hit a couple nice milestones yesterday on my one-year-old motorcycle: 10,000 miles on the odometer while on the Skyline Drive, and 7,000 miles so far for the year during the trip home.

Two final thoughts:
  • One of the few things I miss about my old VFR is the OEM lockable, waterproof cases. I'm using a roll-top dry bag for luggage, and it's fine, except it's not secure. There were a couple times yesterday during the trip home I wanted to run into a gas station convenience store, but there were too many (or sketchy looking) people around for me to trust my bag would still be there when I came back out. During such stops I usually tank my tank bag with me, and just drape my riding jacket over the bag on the rear rack to hide it, but I didn't feel comfortable doing that yesterday.
  • While I love the all-arounder qualities of my R9T Pure, as I've said before if I ever do a lot more motorcycle touring, I'm going to buy a sport-touring bike, probably an RT. I think the sweet spot for the R9T is up to 300-400 miles. More than that, or more than 7-8 hours on this bike is kind of tough. I was pretty jealous of the folks I saw on big GS bikes the last couple days, knowing they were way more comfortable than me. Also, I've been putting it off, but I'll definitely buy an Airhawk before my next trip.
To sum up: Two days, 858 miles, 10 gas stops, one cheap but decent hotel, a couple meals, some terrific roads, and much fantastic scenery - plus I think I managed to shake my blues. What a great couple days! :)

Edited: Sorry for the double paragraphs earlier. I'm usually better at cut and paste!
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View attachment 146752
View attachment 146753
Damn Tim you should’ve come by for some tent space and or lodging space. I live 12 minutes From Swift Run gap.

Sheepskin and a bead rider works well. Or pull trigger on a Sargent seat. Well worth it. Great burgers and custard place in front royal next rime down. Spelunkers.
Great ride report.

Reach out the next time down. The invitation is extended to the rest of you knuckleheads.
 

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Great trip!!!. Don´t be jealous of folks riding GS...Yes, I know they are more comfortable but not sure if they are more satisfied...I prefer ride 80 miles less but enjoy all riding day than ride 80 miles more and get boring...All you need is a better seat (Sheepskin+airhawk etc) and big windscreen to improve comfort.

I agree with you about taking care of your luggage everywhere and everytime...Probably aluminum panniers with key lock can help in these situations: You need to go to toilet or want to take a coffe and you can´t see and look at your bike...I usually avoid tourism during riding day. Only when I arrived destination and book hotel/motel etc and bike is in parking, and I take luggage with me and go to the room. Shower, change cloths and go for dinner or walk etc etc .

Probably I will take a lock (Tomtom, Garmin etc have available special locks) for GPS. Every time I fill tank in gas station I get a bit nervous while I am paying gas...Always looking and watching over the bike while waiting in the queue until pay.

Don´t forget: Riding your ninet is the best therapy. No one counselor will be better.
 

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Thanks for reading and for the replies, everyone!

One kind of humorous anecdote I forgot to include above...

Once I was back in Ohio I headed north on Route 11 (which is a limited access freeway along most of it's length), cruising around 70-75 mph (in a 70 mph zone). It was between dusk and dark, so just a little light left in the sky. I had just passed a car but hadn't yet moved back over into the right lane when a big sportbike zoomed by me, cutting between the passed car and me. It came up so fast I didn't even see it in my mirrors, so it surprised me a little. It had to be doing at least 100. I thought at first it was a Suzuki Hayabusa, but after looking at taillights online just now, from the shape of this one I think it was a Kawasaki Ninja ZX-14.

I suddenly thought, "Why not?" I tucked down, twisted the grip hard on my R9T and it just took off. (I love this boxer twin!) In a moment I was up to speed and gaining on the other bike. I caught up with the big Ninja and slowed a little to maintain a safe distance. I could see the rider check his mirror, and I imagine he was surprised to see me there! I thought he might really hit the gas and take off, but he didn't. I stayed there for maybe a minute, then rolled off the throttle, gave a friendly wave in the air, and slowed back down to a more responsible speed.

I don't pretend for a moment I could really keep up with a ZX-14 or Hayabusa, motorcycles which are capable of 170+ mph. But it was fun hanging with one for a couple minutes! :)

By the way, the pass the other rider made wasn't one I'd make myself, as it was too risky for my taste. If I had signaled and started to move back to the right without checking my mirrors and over my shoulder while the other bike was coming up on me and starting to pass on the right, it could have been disastrous. But the way it was, there was adequate room to pass, even if it was the wrong thing to do. I'm not excusing that rider's decision making, but I've seen worse and in much heavier traffic. Basically, I didn't chase the guy because I was pissed off and reacted badly; I was just having a little fun.
Wow Tim, scary. Same thing happened to me … and in Texas, unless the traffic has stopped completely ie. Traffic light, it’s illegal. No lane splitting. Never expected him to pull up beside my and then squeeze by me and many cars ahead of us both. He didn’t come from my lane and appeared out of no where, he could have taken us both down and down hard in 45 mph traffic. That dude is headed for a fall, I hope it’s not a fatal fall in moving traffic. Glad the angels were on our shoulders Tim … good lesson, study what’s going on in those mirrors and be prepared. 👍 ……Blitz
 

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Great write-up and ride. Loved reading it. Done that myself a loooong time ago on an old R80G/S with Krauser hard panniers. My mate was done for speeding!

I nowadays have those same style vintage Krausers on my R nineT, fitted by myself. You can get the whole thing, panniers and frames, on eBay for very little. I also have a Givi top box. Everything is lockable and waterproof. They are just great when tour riding. The Starlets are the smaller less posh version and the Stars are the big stars. We recently finished the Wild Atlantic Way here in Ireland and thoroughly enjoyed the bike.
 
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