HSTA Rally in Marietta, OH
The weekend of August 22-24 I attended the Mail Pouch Fly By, an annual HSTA (Honda Sport Touring Association) rally in Marietta, OH. This was my first time to attend this rally, as in years past I have instead gone up for the Mid-Ohio Superbike races which take place nearby a couple of weeks before the rally, but this year I decided to pass on the races and attend the rally instead. It was about 470 miles straight up I-77; interstates are often straight and dull, but I-77 through Virgina and West Virginia is scenic and curvy and enjoyable to ride. Had a great lunch at Backyward Burgers at exit 82 in NC; I used to enjoy eating there when I was in college but have not seen one in a long time. Enjoyed it so much I stopped there again on the way home on Sunday. :-)
It is a well-run rally with a long history and strong attendance (about 150 people attended this year.) I had a great time visiting with several old friends and many new ones. A local caterer provided some excellent barbecue on Friday night and roast beef on Saturday night. The hotel was very accommodating, giving us pretty much free reign of the western end of the grounds for parking our bikes and visiting and eating. The HSTA is made up of some really great, respectful people, so we didn't abuse that hospitality and make a nuisance of ourselves like some other biker groups would surely do (no burnouts in the parking lot :-) )
The organizers provided three recommended routes that showcase the awesome roads that southeast Ohio and northern West Virginia have to offer. Daryl Cassada, Bob Primeau, and I elected to ride a route almost exclusively in West Virginia, with a few variations on the recommended route. We covered about 250 miles of awesome, twisty roads and were treated to some beautiful landscapes in the process. We had a great lunch at a little local restaurant in the middle of nowhere at a 'Y' where two highways split, named fittingly enough, the Y Restaurant. :-) Later in the afternoon we stopped at the Hills Covered Bridge, built in 1878.
We also stopped at one of the many Mail Pouch barns in the region; they're similar to the "See Rock City" barns around Lookout Mountain.
On the way home I stopped at an overlook in West Virginia and took these two photos:
Further along the route home I visited the campus of Concord University in Athens, WV, which features a carillon with 48 bells. I was hoping to hear it and hung around until the half hour in hopes that I may get a small sampling, but so such luck. It's difficult to see into the tower, so I'll have to take their word for it that they have 48 bells stuffed in there:
An extra bit of significance about this journey is that I passed the 100,000 mile mark of 2-wheeled miles.