Tag Archives: Favorite Rides & Destinations

Favorite Ride: Hawkeye Backroads – Secrets of Eastern Iowa

Favorite Ride – Hawkeye Backroads
Headed for home on County Road E17. Mid-September and it’s 89 degrees in the shade! Which is why the helmet and the jacket were quickly shed for this photo!

Iowa is not known as a motorcycling destination but a through state. Motorcyclists travel primarily on the four-lane roads thinking that’s all there is to see, and that includes many of those who live in Iowa. Even our maps don’t make it look inviting, as the squiggly lines aren’t all that squiggly. So here are some roads that I enjoy traveling that will be a treat for any motorcyclists looking for lightly traveled, interesting roads, and a highly adaptable route.

Favorite Ride – Hawkeye Backroads
Crossroads of the Universe in Waubeek. This is looking at the bar after you turn right at the bar and cross the bridge. The bar is very rustic but does have food, even a good breakfast.

I start at the intersection of State Route 13 and U.S. Route 151 in Marion only because I live near there. The route begins on what I call “transit” roads, or primarily straight roads. At County Road E34, head east toward the small town of Whittier (a few houses, a Friends meeting house and a small store), then turn north. I should note that terms like “village” and “hamlet” are not common in Iowa, so even a few houses grouped together are called a town. At Waubeek you’ll cross the Wapsipinicon River, where an old mill has been turned into a rustic bar. You’re now on Boy Scout Road, a former gravel road paved in the chip-and-dip manner. It’s narrow, the pavement is uneven but not rough, and it has some tight corners. It’s a short stretch to savor before returning to more traditional Iowa-style main roads.

Favorite Ride – Hawkeye Backroads
he 25 MPH suggested speed on Boy Scout Road is for grain wagons not motorcycles. Be aware of furry forest creatures though!

When Boy Scout Road ends, turn east onto County Road E16 and enjoy some smooth pavement with nice open curves. At a four-way stop, seemingly in the middle of nowhere, turn north on County Road X20. This is a nice paved road off the beaten path where you can enjoy the scenery with a few curves thrown in to keep you from getting white line fever (remember that!). Next take the road toward Hopkinton where you can, and most likely will, encounter horses and buggies, since there is an Amish population that runs several inviting country stores along the route. The road to Hopkinton, County Road D47 / 310th, starts out straight but then gets nice and curvy, with a tight S curve that can catch out the unaware. At Hopkinton, there’s a college that used to be active — it was in business about a hundred years ago and today you can do a ghost hunt/sleepover if that’s your thing. Heading north, you’ll find it is mostly smooth and mostly straight with a few open curves. The road is, however, somewhat rough between Hopkinton and Delhi. Delhi makes for a nice stop, with fuel available and a couple of good restaurants located on the small-town main street. You’ll run into State Highway 3 at a T intersection, where you’ll head left, then in a few short miles turn right onto Co. Rd. C7X. Turn right before the first big grain storage facility — bright metal bins — you can’t miss them.

Favorite Ride – Hawkeye Backroads

The road is smooth and has plenty of curves with gentle elevation changes. As you look around you’ll see what I call “vista views” across the hills that make up this corner of Iowa. You’ll pick up CR X3C at what’s left of Elkport. A flood devastated the community some years ago: they made the best of the situation and created a greenspace camping facility. The curves keep coming along with the views and smooth pavement until you intersect with State Highway 13 — yes, the same highway I started on. Head south toward an Iowa Welcome Center that has information, a small “Iowa Made” shop and displays of Iowa wildlife, making for a relaxing stop. There are plenty of opportunities to get food or gas along the way, but this stop makes for a quiet interlude. Leave the welcome center heading south looking for a right turn, County Road C24 / State Highway 112, heading west to Volga — any guesses as to what group settled here?

Favorite Ride – Hawkeye Backroads
The church is still going strong at Elkport even though the town is almost non-existent.

This road twists and turns, rises and falls, with a few blind turns thrown in as well. At Volga there’s a park that offers camping as well as access to the Volga River for kayaking. This area has become a destination for both leisurely kayakers and whitewater kayaking. Volga, like most of the other towns on the route, has a convenient city park perfect for a picnic. Follow the signs to Wadena and you’ll be on a trip back through time to what many people think of when they think of rural Iowa. In Wadena you can stop at a locker, a no-frills meat market, and pick up travel food like meat sticks and jerky or steaks to take home if you have a cooler. You’ll also see an old hotel turned into a private residence that still has the name Wadena stenciled on the windows (so that when you got off the train a hundred years ago you knew where you were). Been wondering why so many very small towns exist along this route? One word — railroad. These towns owe their existence to having access to a rail line when rail was the only reliable transportation and communication line in Iowa. In Claremont you’ll see an old depot that a local group is trying to save.

Favorite Ride – Hawkeye Backroads
This is looking back at the small city park in Claremont honoring Civil War and all Veterans.

When you reach Claremont, also known as “Brick City,” you can’t miss the turn of the century architecture throughout the town. Claremont was the home of the first governor of Iowa and has a statue and museum to prove it. Wadena and Claremont are still active and offer hospitality in the form of small-town restaurants and bars. These are not tourist towns, though they do cater to hunters in the fall and you won’t feel out of place.

Favorite Ride – Hawkeye Backroads
Even small towns in Iowa usually have some form of Veterans Memorial.

My ride doesn’t end at Claremont, you can reverse it (I like the way the curves string together heading north to south better then south to north), meander back on the other good roads in the area, explore the many graveled roads along the way if you’re so inclined or pick a new destination. I suggest that the best time to ride the route is any time you can — I’ve ridden it four times already this year and plan on riding it at least one more time. So look for the guy on a BMW RT wearing hi-viz gear. That most likely will be me! 

Favorite Ride – Hawkeye Backroads
The expansive view along County Road X3C reveals the gentle hills of northeast Iowa.

Favorite Ride: Hawkeye Backroads – Secrets of Eastern Iowa Photo Gallery:

Source: RiderMagazine.com

An Old Bike and the Sea: A first ride on Highway One

Favorite Ride - An Old Bike and the Sea: A first ride on Highway One
The new-to-me BMW strikes a pose atop a favored section of the Pacific Coast Highway.

Northern California’s Pacific Coast Highway might be the best use of asphalt anywhere. From expansive ocean views to the west, to often fog-shrouded hilltops to the east, this north coast section of the roadway splits coastal prairies, tunnels through cypress groves, twists into stream gullies and, around turns, repeatedly prompts an involuntary “Oh, my!” no matter how many times I’ve ridden it.

This day, I’m heading south from Point Arena astride a 1986 BMW R80RT I’d just inherited. My brother had injured his throttle hand in an industrial accident and his bike needed a home. I volunteered. That’s what brothers do.

Favorite Ride - An Old Bike and the Sea: A first ride on Highway One
Weathered barn / building at Sea Ranch, California.

I’d been smitten with this model since 1983 when I was offered use of the brand-new RT for the day while my year-old bike was in the shop. I remember an irrepressible grin as I sampled a curvy road just out of town. I liked the slightly taller saddle, roomier accommodations, breeze protection and space-age look. Not available 12 months earlier, I remember thinking, “Why couldn’t I have just waited a year and gotten one of these?”

Fast forward 35 years, and one falls into my lap.

Favorite Ride - An Old Bike and the Sea: A first ride on Highway One

The first order of business for this new-to-me old bike was a visit to Point Arena’s Zen House, the place for “the art of motorcycle maintenance,” for a professional service and safety once-over. While I viewed some of the classic restorations in and about the shop, owner David Harris checked out the RT and explained how he would sort my new possession, addressing seals, gaskets and busted parts and even replacing roundels on the tank. “Let’s do it!” I said.

A couple of weeks later, I’m back listening as David walks me through the care and feeding of the old R80 much as a dealer would for a customer about to head out on something shiny and new. His final comment? “You know, you could take this bike around the world if you wanted.”

Favorite Ride - An Old Bike and the Sea: A first ride on Highway One
Author and BMW outside the Stewarts Point Store. Only one of us is particularly photogenic. Perhaps if I were sporting a beret?

Around the world wasn’t on today’s agenda but the day is lovely, and I am already out on the Pacific Coast Highway.

Moments after leaving Point Arena, I’m immersed in mist and splashes of sunlight and the aroma of sea spray and pasture. The ragged fence lines, aging barns, sweeping curves and tantalizing crests of this familiar road are a good kind of different on the vintage machine. Perhaps it’s the rustic thrum of the old boxer’s engine.

Favorite Ride - An Old Bike and the Sea: A first ride on Highway One
The RT gets a thorough sorting at the Zen House in Point Arena.

Gualala offers fuel and food and, across the river, a fine county park to explore, where I pause. A paved path leads to bluffs and the siren’s song of surf and sea lions prompts me to take it. Remnants of cables and concrete remind me that redwood from these parts, transported on dog hole schooners, built San Francisco. Twice.

The Sea Ranch, an enclave of mostly second homes, rests on the bench south of the Gualala River. The highway is wide and well maintained, though damp where shaded. Views of the ocean are infrequent. There is some cross traffic from residents and renters, so perhaps it’s good not to be distracted by the sea.

Favorite Ride - An Old Bike and the Sea: A first ride on Highway One
The Stewarts Point Store offers food, drink, rest and a peek into the area’s ranching and timber heritage. The store offers a sandwich called “the Hog,” in which I indulged even though I was not riding American iron this day.

At Stewarts Point a small country store offers freshly baked breads, a deli producing delectable sandwiches, hot coffee for those days of foggy rides and cold beverages for when the sun shines, along with local wines, sweets and knickknacks. Entering the building I can hear century-old footsteps from when the mercantile was frequented by area ranchers and nearby mill workers. I’m told there’s a dance hall upstairs.

Winding south, I pass through villages and vacation rentals, viewpoints and trailheads. I should stop for a picture of a breaking wave or the roadway slipping around a curve and disappearing into a copse of coastal evergreens, but riding an iconic airhead on this iconic highway is magical—the grin from 30 years ago has returned—and I don’t want to stop.

Favorite Ride - An Old Bike and the Sea: A first ride on Highway One

Fort Ross and its farm fields once served as the grocery store for Russian fur trappers working the Aleutians. Here, I take a break. A handsome visitors center introduces me to those lost pieces of history I often whiz right past and later curse myself for missing. The original wall was repurposed by John Sutter after the Russians departed. The hewn lumber of the old stockade was shipped to where Sutter was building his own fort in what would become Sacramento. Highway 1 once passed right through the parade grounds but has been rerouted and the stockade rebuilt.

South from here, Highway 1 climbs and dives over disintegrating cliffs and benches that were once sea floor. I am tracing the scarp of the notorious San Andreas Fault for quite a distance. Along this windy stretch, two forces are engaged in an epic battle: plate tectonics and erosion versus highway maintenance workers. Pavement in this section slumps and cracks, but the old bike feels solid and surefooted.

Favorite Ride - An Old Bike and the Sea: A first ride on Highway One
Historic Fort Ross reminds us that the Russians preceded our occupation in these parts.

Clear day views stretch forever. I stop at a favored spot with a breathtaking view of the Pacific and snap a picture of my new possession. The photo will join the collection of a half-dozen other bikes I’ve owned whose portraits have been taken here.

Late autumn dusk settles early, and I head inland at Jenner. Winding along the Russian River, I reflect on how perfectly the old Beemer handled today’s first ride. The engine purred in harmony with the sea. The skinny tires devoured the curves. The low center of gravity made handling second nature. And the windscreen and heated grips—quite the innovations for bikes of that era—made the chilly ride comfortable.

It turns out that not having purchased this model three decades ago had an upside. It allowed me to better appreciate the delight that now carried me—make that us—home. 

Favorite Ride - An Old Bike and the Sea: A first ride on Highway One
A short walk at Pelican Bluffs, just south of Point Arena, offers a breathtaking view of the never-ending work of the Pacific.

An Old Bike and the Sea: A first ride on Highway One Photo Gallery:

Source: RiderMagazine.com

Favorite Rides & Destinations Issue 8 is Here!

The Spring 2019 issue of Favorite Rides & Destinations is FREE and ready to view!

Favorite Rides & Destinations Issue #8

Favorite Rides & Destinations is the online motorcycle touring and adventure magazine from the editors of Rider. It includes touring features with printable maps, inspiring photography and gear reviews.

And it’s mobile-friendly, so it’s easy to view and read on your smartphone or tablet.

Click HERE to view Issue 8 of Favorite Rides & Destinations for FREE on your computer, smartphone or tablet. You can also view past issues.

Favorite Rides & Destinations Issue #8 Epic Ride

Highlights from Favorite Rides & Destinations Issue 8:

5 Photos of Epic Rides

Road to Wisdom
A journey of mind and motorcycles from the Midwest to the Rockies.

Chasing Dinosaurs
A fan of terrible lizards takes us on a great tour of Colorado, Utah and Wyoming.

Graded on a Curve
Reviews of products from HJC and Michelin.

Exhaust Note
Tales from the Silk Road.

And more!

Source: RiderMagazine.com

Favorite Rides & Destinations #7 is Live!

The Spring 2019 issue of Favorite Rides & Destinations is FREE and ready to view!

Favorite Rides and Destinations #7

Favorite Rides & Destinations is an online motorcycle touring and
adventure magazine from the editors of Rider.
It includes touring features with printable maps, inspiring photography, reviews
of useful products and expert tips to help you have memorable touring

Favorite Rides & Destinations is mobile-friendly, so it’s easy to
view and read on your smartphone or tablet.

Click HERE to view Issue #7 of Favorite Rides & Destinations for FREE on your computer, smartphone or tablet. You can also view past issues #1-6.

Favorite Rides and Destinations #7
One of the Epic Rides in Favorite Rides & Destinations #7.

Highlights from Favorite Rides & Destinations #7

6 Photos of Epic Rides

Echoes of Thunder Road
Riding Tennessee’s White Lightning Trail—where angels fear to tread.

Onward to Madawaska
In search of the elusive moose in Maine.

The Long Way to Walla Walla
Border to border on the Oregon Backcountry Discovery Route.

Graded on a Curve
Reviews of products from Flying Racing, Michelin and National Cycle.

Exhaust Note
Can you tour on a Honda Rebel 250?

And more!

Click HERE to view Issue #7 of Favorite Rides & Destinations.

Source: RiderMagazine.com