Road Riding in West Virginia

With a wide variety of roads, there is no place like Motorcycle riding West Virginia

West Virginia street riding is a rewarding experience for the passionate motorcyclist. Virtually every type of road style exists within the state – smooth, sweeping asphalt valley roads, twisty mountain climbs with multiple switchbacks. There are long, lazy river roads and challenging paved/unpaved back roads. West Virginia has it all.

Some are great US Highways, such as US 219, US 220, and US 19 and other are state highways, WV 92, WV 38, and WV 73.  While many of these roads are in the north central part of the state, there is no limit to great roads throughout. WV 28 is in the eastern mountains, US 250 diagonally cuts across the state, northwest to southeast, and the old granddaddy east/west US 50.  Even some interstates, I79 and I68 have beautiful and challenging sections.

For those of us who live and ride regularly in West Virginia, these great roads are kind of a well-kept secret.  Many riders from neighboring states, Virginia, Maryland, and Pennsylvania can be often met on various West Virginia roads at many stopping places such as Seneca Rocks, Elkins, and Cool Springs, to name a few, but most riders seem to hail from the Mountain State. 

The two-lane highways, in general, have little traffic, and where there is traffic, there are many passing opportunities.

Most of the posted speeds are 55 mph, but road type, curves, and mountains often make this a challenge even for the experienced rider.

The roads are mostly in good repair, but there are times when one of the better roads has suffered too many harsh winters and too many  coal trucks.  Yet the WV DOT does a pretty good job of repairing these roads. West Virginia spends about 1 billion dollars a year on roads it really needs about 2 billion to get it all done.  So, it is no surprise that some roads are a little rougher at times. When one finds a newly paved favorite road twisting through the mountains, it is an extra riding reward.

There are several coal and gravel trucks sharing the two-lane roads and occasional tractor-trailer truck. Large trucks frequent the interstates while coal and gravel trucks are on back roads.

There are often drivers that are extra cautious on the two-lane roads.  While the speed limit on these roads is usually 55 MPH in all the open places, there are drivers that do not feel comfortable at much over 35 MPH. When driving in most cars or trucks, this can be difficult since many of the passing zones are just not long enough for your car to pass one or two cars or trucks.  However, any modern motorcycle or scooter above 600 cc’s has little difficulty in passing in these conditions.  The only exception is the slow moving “parades” – where several cars or trucks are moving along at 35 MPH. 

There are two strategies for the rider in this situation.  Carefully pass a couple cars or trucks at a time until you have eventually passed the entire parade.  I recommend extreme caution if you are trying this and recommend never passing a parade if you are riding with a group of motorcyclists.  The danger is that many times in these long parades an individual car or truck will suddenly make a left turn into a street or driveway, or angrily swing out and try to pass while you are already cranked up passing to get around everyone.

The second, much safer strategy is to pull over and chill.  Even at the parade’s slow speed, you would be amazed how a 10-15-minute break will separate you from them.  And, usually, these processions are caused by one vehicle, a slow-moving car or truck. These slow-movers are local to the area and will reach their turnoff and be off the road.  Those in the string behind them will then generally pick up the pace to 55 MPH again, so by the time you have had your break, you have safely cut a possible passing hazard and are refreshed for your ride.

Even with the long line of cars  at slow speed, you would be amazed how a 10-15-minute break will separate them from you.

The second, much safer strategy is to pull over and chill.  Even at the parade’s slow speed, you would be amazed how a 10-15-minute break will separate you from them.  And, usually, these processions are caused by one vehicle, a slow-moving car or truck, these slow-movers are local to the area and will reach their turnoff and be off the road.  Those in the string behind them will then generally pick up the pace to 55 MPH again, so by the time you have had your break, you have safely cut a possible passing hazard and are refreshed for your ride.

Also, there are several coal and gravel trucks on the roads.  These trucks can be found most anywhere, but most often, they are in certain areas of mine activity.  As in tracking an animal, watch for the signs of the trucks.  There will be telltale signs of truck activity – dusty, grayish dirt on the roads, and gravel in turns where the truck tires have left the pavement and kicked up  from the berm. 

Fortunately, this gravel debris mostly happens in consistent areas and once you have passed those areas, there is not a lot more.  Still, a rider always needs to be aware of potential hazards on all roads, especially those where traction is at a premium like cranked over in a tight turn. 

If there have been signs of gravel, keep the lean angle safe and look forward to a twisty gravel-free road in the future.  A low side spill is not fun, and any road accident can be very hazardous on the West Virginia roads.

West Virginia two-lane highways are mostly marked at 55 MPH – which is a fun and safe speed limit for most motorcycles.  However, if you have limited lean angle on a large touring or other type bike, be aware that there are plenty of opportunities to “drag parts” in some of the turns.

Spring through fall, the West Virginia highways have a lot to offer.  With safe riding, and a little planning, wonderful day or overnight trips can be had.  For free riding routes and plans, email me at:

 grant@wgnorman.com

Leave a Reply

Close Panel