Tag Archives: Favorite Rides

Riding Wisconsin’s Waumandee Valley River Roads

Where Motorcyclists Roam
Riding Highway 88, aka Black Lightning. Photos by Kathleen Currie

Buffalo County, Wisconsin, is a hidden gem for motorcyclists. Located in the northwest part of the state, its southern border is the Mississippi River, which is the dividing line between Wisconsin and Minnesota. This is rural farm country, and the entire county has only one traffic light.

Buffalo County boasts dozens of fantastic motorcycling roads that twist along river banks, climb steep bluffs, dive into coulees and steep ravines, and cling to the edges of sandstone ridges. Numerous creeks and small rivers flow through the Waumandee Valley on their way to join the Mississippi, and they influence the shape and slope of these roads.

Where Motorcyclists Roam
Buffalo County appears to have the most curvy road signs in Wisconsin.

The best starting point is the town of Mondovi, located in the northeastern corner of Buffalo County. A quick fuel and food stop is recommended, as gasoline stations, restaurants, and other amenities are sparse as you head south. After a bite at McT’s Diner we follow County Roads (CR) H and ZZ south to a hook up with State Highway 88 at the Buffalo River.

Known as “Black Lightning,” Highway 88 has approximately 130 corners and curves in 40 miles as it runs from Gilmanton to the Mississippi River, making it one of Wisconsin’s highest-rated biker roads. It gives riders — and their brakes — a real workout as they ride the ridges and slash through a sandstone cut north of Praag.

Where Motorcyclists Roam
This tour route is available on the REVER app in the Rider Magazine community.

Link to Waumandee Valley River Roads tour on REVER

At CR U, we head east until we reach CR C at a crossroads just north of the village of Montana. CR C dishes up a variety of steep climbs and hairpin curves as we work our way south along Swinns Valley Creek, on our way to State Highway 95 just west of Arcadia. A short jog going west on 95 takes us to CR E, which heads northeast through Pansy Pass and Glencoe to Waumandee. CR E east of Waumandee has such steep hills that many homeowners have large angled mirrors mounted on posts at the foot of their driveways to help provide a view of any hidden oncoming traffic.

The village of Waumandee — Chippewa for “clear and sparkling water” — is worth a stop. It dates back to the 1850s, and Waumandee House, which was built in 1879, is still an active inn and restaurant. Every September the village hosts the Waumandee Hillclimb, a unique event for sports car enthusiasts. A two-mile stretch of Blank Hill Road west of Highway 88 is closed for a day of timed runs up an 18-turn hillclimb road course.

Where Motorcyclists Roam
J & J BBQ in downtown Nelson is a favorite biker stop.

Crossing Highway 88 we take a shot at Blank Hill Road, which is as challenging as advertised. Take care along the section of road that clings to the side of a cliff and has no guardrail. At CR N, we head north along Alma Ridge, which has some white-knuckle descents on its way to the Buffalo River at State Highway 37. A short jog up Highway 37 takes us to Highway KK on the west side of the Buffalo River.

Where Motorcyclists Roam
The lunch crowd heading down Great River Road (Highway 35) to Nelson.

Want a taste of riding the Isle of Man TT? Much like the famed road circuit, the CR KK south of Modena has climbs and descents chiseled into the sides of ridges with few guardrails, testing our binders and our nerves as we plunge down to CR D.

CR D winds west through rolling farm country to its junction with State Highway 35, which is known as the Great River Road and hugs the northern shore of the Mississippi. Overlooking the river, the town of Nelson has several recommended dining stops. On the day of our visit, J & J Barbeque and Nelson Creamery are overwhelmed with two-wheeled customers. We find an empty table at Beth’s Twin Bluff Café, and enjoy the best lemon pie we’ve ever tasted.

Where Motorcyclists Roam
Picturesque farms are everywhere in Buffalo County.

We headed north on State Highway 25 along the eastern edge of the Tiffany Bottoms Natural Area. At the village of Misha Mokwa, we turn east onto CR KK and complete the circle at the junction with CR D. Twists and turns command our full attention on our way to the village of Modena. Visit the general store in Modena to see two large motorcycle sculptures made from scrap metal, and pick up some cheese curds for a snack. We continue east on D until it dead-ends at Highway 37, then we follow the Buffalo River north and return to Mondovi.

The roads on this 110-mile loop are challenging, but most of the pavement is in good condition (be mindful of gravel in some corners). Part of what makes Buffalo County a great riding destination is the traffic — except for Highway 35, there is none! On a full day of weekend riding we encountered two tractors, two pickups, seven motorcycles, and one corn picker, which was blocking a narrow farm road. The only thing missing for a perfect riding weekend is a motorcycle class at the Waumandee Hillclimb so we can clock our time going up Blank Hill Road!

Where Motorcyclists Roam
Snaking roads and incredible scenery in the Waumandee Valley.

The post Riding Wisconsin’s Waumandee Valley River Roads first appeared on Rider Magazine.
Source: RiderMagazine.com

Rim of the World Scenic Byway

Rim of the World Scenic Byway
California Route 38 follows Mill Creek Canyon as it climbs into the San Bernardino Mountains.

There are rides we’ve ridden only once and they became favorites, and then there are favorite rides we’ve ridden over and over again. This ride falls into the latter category. I’ve lost track of how many times I’ve ridden Rim of the World Scenic Byway, but I’ve done it on pleasure rides, solo tests, comparison tests and press launches, on cruisers, sport-tourers and adventure bikes.

RELATED: 2021 KTM 890 Adventure R | (Off) Road Test Review

Rim of the World Scenic Byway

Click here for the REVER route shown above

This route is entirely paved, but it goes through California’s San Bernardino National Forest and provides easy access to many unpaved forest roads and OHV routes. And although I describe the route from its eastern end in Redlands to its western end at Mormon Rocks, it’s just as enjoyable when ridden the other direction. The route is about 100 miles and can be ridden in just a few hours, or it can serve as the main artery for a weekend of adventure, from camping and hiking to boating, fishing or relaxing in mountain communities like Big Bear and Lake Arrowhead.

Rim of the World Scenic Byway
Most of Rim of the World Scenic Byway is above 5,000 feet, so snow and ice are common in winter and early spring. The road is plowed regularly, but shaded sections can be dicey.

Redlands is part of the Inland Empire, a vast metropolitan area east of Los Angeles that covers parts of Riverside and San Bernardino counties. State Route 38 begins in Redlands, at the junction with Interstate 10. Rim of the World Scenic Byway begins as Route 38 starts to climb into the foothills of the San Bernardino Mountains. The escape from civilization happens quickly as the road starts to gently curve its way up Mill Creek Canyon, with slopes rising steeply on both sides of the road.

Rim of the World Scenic Byway
Rim of the World Scenic Byway offers panoramic views of the valley below

Following a 180-degree, constant-radius sweeper, the road begins a much steeper climb into the mountains. Now we’re talking! Route 38 winds its way through beautiful mountain scenery on its way to 8,443-foot Onyx Summit. Due to the high elevation, snow and ice are common during the winter and early spring, so proceed with caution. On the flip side, the thinner air makes this route a wonderful escape from broiling heat down in the valley during summer and early fall.

The Pacific Crest Trail passes just east of Onyx Summit, and beyond that high point, Route 38 begins a gradual descent with sweeping views of the desert valley to the northeast. As you begin to see residential areas, be mindful of posted speed limits. Route 38 takes an abrupt left as it becomes Big Bear Boulevard and heads west. After the intersection with Greenway Drive you’ll be on Route 18 (Route 38 turns off to the north) and travel through a heavily trafficked area. Some folks who work down in the valley live up in Big Bear, and it’s a popular weekend destination with many rustic cabins available to rent. There are plenty of options for gas, food, supplies and lodging.

Rim of the World Scenic Byway
Bear Valley Dam was originally built in 1884

Route 18 roughly follows the southern shore of Big Bear Lake, an expansive blue reservoir. (Route 38 runs along the northern shore and typically has less traffic.) After navigating your way through town and a tight, winding section of road through trees and big lakeside houses, you’ll see Bear Valley Dam. There’s a parking area where you can stop to check out the dam and snap photos of the lake.

From Bear Valley Dam to Lakeview Point, Route 18 hugs rugged cliffs and offers up a delightful — and at times challenging — series of curves. Beware of rockslide debris and fine gravel used for traction in the winter, and commuter and tourist traffic can add their own hazards. Lakeview Point (7,100 feet) is a scenic overlook with great views of the mountains and a peekaboo view of Big Bear Lake off in the distance.

Rim of the World Scenic Byway
A view of Silverwood Lake from an overlook on Route 138

What follows is a tight, technical section that will put your riding skills — and the limits of your cornering clearance — to the test. After passing through the community of Arrowbear Lake, you’ll come to the town of Running Springs. Pay attention to the road signs and stay on Route 18, which follows an off-ramp to the right. It’s easy to end up on Route 330, an absolute blast of a road that winds its way back down to the valley; it’s a fun down-and-back-up spur if you want to extend your ride.

West of Running Springs the route offers up some of the most scenic views on the entire byway, as Route 18 follows the spine of the mountains. There are many turnouts where you can enjoy the view, particularly Red Rock Scenic Overlook, but from the westbound lane be careful crossing the eastbound (valley side) of the road on blind corners.

Rim of the World Scenic Byway
A majestic juniper stands sentry near Onyx Summit. The Pacific Crest Trail passes nearby.

As Route 18 starts to make its way down to the valley (another fun one), at Mount Anderson Junction you’ll turn onto Route 138 (another off-ramp to the right) toward Crestline. Roads are well marked, so if you’re paying attention or following the route on REVER, you’ll be fine. After winding your way through tall trees and densely clustered cabins, Route 138 becomes a rollercoaster of tight turns, hairpins, dips and rises. This is my favorite section of the entire route, but it’s also the most challenging.

As you come out of the forest, the road opens up as it approaches and rounds Silverwood Lake. No more hairpins, just big sweepers, a few rollers and some straights through sandy desert landscape. After crossing over I-15 and railroad tracks at Cajon Junction, you’ll see Mormon Rocks, a dramatic wind-eroded sandstone formation, rising up in the distance.

That’s the end of the scenic byway, but it doesn’t have to be the end of your fun. Right across from Mormon Rocks is Lone Pine Canyon Road, a lightly trafficked back road that goes to Wrightwood and Route 2, better known as Angeles Crest Highway, a legendary favorite ride.

Rim of the World Scenic Byway
The Red Rock Scenic Overlook was built during the Great Depression, with masonry work by Donald S. Wiesman

RELATED: Nelson-Rigg Sahara Dry Duffle Bag | Gear Review (shown in photo above)

The post Rim of the World Scenic Byway first appeared on Rider Magazine.
Source: RiderMagazine.com

Favorite Ride: Rockies to Mount Rushmore

Favorite Ride Rockies to Mount Rushmore
We rode from the Mountain State of West Virginia to visit the Rockies. After hundreds of miles across the Great Plains, we were ready for some elevation. (Photos by the author)

I see mountains! It’s Thursday, somewhere west of Anton, Colorado, and after four-and-a-half days and 1,600 miles, the snowcapped Rockies appear on the horizon. My riding buddy Jay and I left our home state of West Virginia on Sunday. Now midday, we see the jagged peaks we’ve been longing for. The Great Plains were beautiful and adventurous, but we’re anxious to ride into some elevation.

In Aurora, Jay makes the required pilgrimage to a Harley shop and buys yet another T-shirt while I get a long overdue full-face helmet. Then we climb up, up, up. West Virginia, known as the Mountain State, has great riding, but its mountains are mere hills compared to the Rockies. West of Denver significant climbing and a diversion onto U.S. Route 6 leads to 11,990-foot Loveland Pass on the Western Continental Divide. Beyond that the road winds through scenic towns like Dillon and Frisco until we stop for two nights in Edwards.

Favorite Ride Rockies to Mount Rushmore Loveland Pass Colorado
Maybe if we stood on the sign we could have reached an even 12,000 feet.

Our next two travel days are memorable! Riding through the high plains beyond Steamboat Springs, the spectacular views blew us away. We stopped for gas in Maybell, Colorado, and encountered three dual-sport riders on their fourth day off-road — and they sure looked it. Our lunch break was at the BedRock Depot in Dinosaur, where delicious sandwiches and milkshakes hit the spot. Then on into Utah, climbing up to 8,300 feet on U.S. Route 191, north of Vernal. In Wyoming the land became so dramatic through the Flaming Gorge National Recreation Area that I could hardly keep my eyes on the road. When a cold, wet front was forecast and we could see clouds ahead, the flat broadly curved roads allowed for high-speed fun. We beat the storms, passed the 2,000-mile mark and ended the day’s ride in Rock Springs.

Favorite Ride Rockies to Mount Rushmore REVER map
Our tour route is available on the REVER app in the Rider Magazine community.

Link to Rockies To Mount Rushmore tour route on REVER

Winds were a brutal distraction at the start of the next day, leaning constantly into 30-mph gusts until the wind abated near Cokeville, Wyoming, but soon after lunch in Montpelier, Idaho, the rain started. We climbed into the Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest and it began snowing hard, sticking to trees, bushes and my windshield, but fortunately not the road. We were cold, but it made for a memorable photo at Emigration Pass on Idaho Highway 36. Dropping below the snow line, we ended the day’s ride outside of Preston, Idaho, at the Riverdale Resort. It has geothermally heated outdoor pools where we simmered for an hour. Ahhh ….

Favorite Ride Rockies to Mount Rushmore Emigration Pass Idaho
Brrrr! Freezing temperatures and snow made for a memorable ride over Emigration Pass in Idaho. Luckily it didn’t stick to the road.

Two nights and friend farewells later, we headed north through Soda Springs, where many of the roads are posted “Open Range.” Sure enough, we rounded a curve to find a herd of cattle blocking the road. We honked, and they genially ambled aside. Idaho Highway 34 followed Tincup Creek on its way to the Wyoming border, and we paralleled the Snake River on U.S. 89/191 through the Bridger-Teton National Forest, reminiscent of our own West Virginia roads. As the valley opened, we finally entered Jackson.

We continued north on U.S. 191 through the incomparable Grand Teton National Park and into Yellowstone National Park from the south. Twice we crossed the Continental Divide at 8,000-plus feet before descending into the Firehole River valley. We enjoyed lunch and a timely geyser eruption at Old Faithful Village before riding a long circle around the park. East of Yellowstone Lake we cursed in our helmets as traffic halted. Up ahead a bison plodded along in our lane. Awestruck and humbled, we eventually rolled past this massive creature.

Favorite Ride Rockies to Mount Rushmore Jackson Wyoming elk horn arch
Ed stands under one of the elk horn arches in Jackson, Wyoming, while the guy with the backpack tries to count them all.

We exited via Yellowstone’s east entrance on U.S. Route 14 and rode over 8,524-foot Sylvan Pass, and rolled downhill for 20 long, pleasurable miles. The surroundings turned from pine green to desert brown as we passed between huge sandstone sentinels along the Shoshone River. We reached Cody, a nice thriving western town. At dinner, Jay smiled and ordered Rocky Mountain oysters. About half a bite was all I could manage of fried bull’s balls.

Continuing east on U.S. 14, we crossed a broad valley and began to climb yet again. The view behind us became breathtaking, the temperature dropped to 45 degrees and we crossed the Bighorn Mountains via 9,033-foot Granite Pass. We picked up I-90 at Ranchester, but I foolishly ignored a gas stop. My engine sputtered to a stop and we had to siphon a quart from Jay’s tank. He’ll never let me live it down.

Favorite Ride Rockies to Mount Rushmore Devils Tower Wyoming
We didn’t see extraterrestrials at Devils Tower, just tourists.

Devils Tower was impressive. No extraterrestrials, just busloads of photo-snapping tourists. Our destination was Keystone, South Dakota, 130 miles away. Signs for Spearfish, Deadwood and Sturgis flashed by, but it was getting dark and drizzling so we roared on. Finally, we reached our hotel. We rode 510 miles over 12 hours and our backsides were numb. What’s half of an Iron Butt — a Wood Butt? An Iron Cheek?

We visited Mount Rushmore and the Crazy Horse Memorial, which is much larger than Rushmore and was the highlight of our visit to the Black Hills. Under construction since 1948, the only recognizable part is Crazy Horse’s face and it won’t be finished in my lifetime.

Favorite Ride Rockies to Mount Rushmore Crazy Horse Memorial South Dakota
The plaster statue shows visitors what the Crazy Horse Memorial will look like — some day.

After 3,300 memorable miles, we became horses headed for the barn. Our tripmeters were just shy of 5,000 miles when we arrived back home in West Virginia four days later. My wife greeted me by asking, “So, where to next year?”

The post Favorite Ride: Rockies to Mount Rushmore first appeared on Rider Magazine.
Source: RiderMagazine.com

Favorite Ride: Peak to Peak Scenic Byway

Favorite Ride — Peak to Peak Scenic Byway
Naturalist Enos A. Mills, known as the father of Rocky Mountain National Park, homesteaded this site adjacent to Colorado Highway 7 in 1885. Story and photos by John Aronson.

Peak to Peak Scenic Byway: Fifty-five miles of Colorado Bliss.

The Front Range of Colorado’s Rocky Mountains was definitely created for the benefit of motorcyclists, although it’s been more than 40 million years since tectonic forces elevated these massive peaks. Like the siren’s song to a sailor at sea, I’m motivated to explore this sublime elevated landscape close to my home along the urban corridor that includes Denver and Boulder, Colorado. An hour from my driveway is the 55-mile Peak to Peak Scenic Byway, established by the state of Colorado in 1918. A mecca for motorcyclists, the Byway is just two lanes and it follows the trails originally forged by Native Americans, fur traders and later miners in search of gold and other precious metals.

Favorite Ride - Peak to Peak Scenic Byway
Map by Bill Tipton (Compartmaps.com)

My Peak to Peak day ride begins where U.S. Highway 6 meets Colorado Highway 119 near the former mining settlement of Black Hawk, Colorado. Hungry riders will find designated motorcycle parking at The Last Shot. Nearby is the gold rush town of Central City, where the downtown storefronts have been restored to emulate their 19th-century origins. Most silver and gold prospecting in Central City and Black Hawk is now done in a bevy of legal gambling casinos. I only want to twist the throttle of my 2012 Triumph Tiger Explorer and head north. Leaving civilization behind, the elevation climbs and the views get better around every bend in the road. There are a few hairpins, but this section of the Byway features straight sections linked by spacious turns with just the right amount of camber.

Favorite Ride - Peak to Peak Scenic Byway
The Central City Fire Department has served the community since the days of bucket brigades.

My plan is to stay on the pavement, but I ride past several dirt roads intersecting the byway that lead to trailheads and campgrounds in the Arapahoe and Roosevelt National Forests. I’ve only traveled 19 miles from Black Hawk, but my priorities include stopping for a freshly baked croissant at the New Moon Bakery & Cafe in the funky village of Nederland. There is plenty of parking on this day, but in March the streets are jammed during the popular “Frozen Dead Guy Days” festival. Look it up. Nearby are the Eldora Mountain Resort and the Caribou Ranch where Elton John, Joe Walsh and a long list of other artists cut tracks in the recording studio there. Unfortunately, a fire destroyed the recording studio in 1985.

Favorite Ride — Peak to Peak Scenic Byway
Founded in 1859, the gold rush town of Central City was once considered the “Richest Square Mile On Earth.”

From Nederland, the Peak to Peak Scenic Byway continues onto Colorado Highway 72, rising to 9,450 feet above sea level. Even though the tarmac up here must endure the ice and snow of winter, there are no frost heaves or bumps to upset my Tiger’s suspension through a series of perfect radius turns that ramble past the former gold mining settlement of Ward. Nearby is the entrance road to the Brainard Lake Recreation Area, which has views of the Indian Peaks Wilderness, access to several campgrounds and is a popular destination for canoeing, kayaking and fishing.

Favorite Ride — Peak to Peak Scenic Byway
Just north of the town of Black Hawk, riders can satisfy their hunger at The Last Shot roadside restaurant.

As a general rule, the air temperatures are lower at higher altitudes, so when it’s a hot summer day in the cities of Colorado’s Front Range, riders head to the mountains where there might be near perfect riding weather. Of course, mountain riding in high elevations means rapidly changing weather conditions are always possible. When I’m not watching the road ahead, I notice massive dark clouds replacing my perfect blue skies. Afternoon rainstorms in Colorado are common during the summer months. Stopping to don my rain gear, I meet Mark aboard his Honda Gold Wing F6B towing a trailer and his wife Kim riding her CanAm Spyder. Beginning in their home state of West Virginia, they were halfway through a 6,000-mile journey to all of the lower 48 states. Soon after we part ways, it starts to pour down rain. My ride through the cloudburst lasts only 15 minutes, and happily I stay dry yet all the dead bugs have been washed from my windscreen! Looking back, the intensity of riding through a sudden storm made me feel more connected to my machine and the road beneath its wheels.

Favorite Ride — Peak to Peak Scenic Byway
Mark and Kim included the Peak to Peak Scenic Byway on their ride to all of the lower 48 states.

I follow the byway onto the freshly paved asphalt of Colorado Highway 7 that rolls past the small resort town of Allenspark. The town was once the site of international ski jumping competitions and is near the Wild Basin entrance to Rocky Mountain National Park. This is a good place to stop and take in the scenery, but on my ride the afternoon clouds obscure the summits of 13,911-foot Mount Meeker and 14,259-foot Longs Peak.

Favorite Ride — Peak to Peak Scenic Byway
The author poses near the intersection of Colorado Highway 72 and Colorado Highway 7.

Fortunately for me, the tarmac has dried out and there’s very little rain-induced gravel or traffic to impede my Triumph’s progress through a series of lovely S turns down into Estes Park at the northern end of the Peak to Peak Scenic Byway. There may be more famous roads, but this one has all the attributes riders crave, including fantastic vistas connected by ribbons of smooth pavement that are ideal for leaning through an endless supply of corners. There’s very little cross traffic, no traffic lights and I only remember two stop signs! Although the Peak to Peak Scenic Byway is only 55 miles long, plan to spend most of your day exploring its charms. During my mid-week ride, I estimate that there was one motorcycle to every three or four cars I saw on the road! From Estes Park, Peak to Peak day riders can easily return to metropolitan Denver, Boulder or Ft. Collins. Estes Park is also a popular gateway to Rocky Mountain National Park and has abundant diversions for motorcyclists looking for good grub, camping and hotels. The historic Stanley Hotel in Estes Park was opened in 1909 by the steam car pioneer, Freelan Oscar Stanley. The hotel is rumored to be haunted and was the inspiration for author Stephen King’s “The Shining.” Even though I don’t believe in ghosts, I decide to head for home…. 

Favorite Ride — Peak to Peak Scenic Byway
Looking west from Colorado Highway 7, the view of Mt. Meeker’s summit is obscured by clouds.

Favorite Ride: Peak to Peak Scenic Byway Photo Gallery:

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Source: RiderMagazine.com

Favorite Ride: Horse Country in Dutchess County

Horse Country in Dutchess County
Excellent riding not far from the Big Apple.

Favorite Ride: Horse Country In Dutchess County
Caffeinating at The 9W Market is a pre-ride must.

The good news about riding out from New York City is that it takes surprisingly little time to get to some nice roads. (The bad news is, at some point, you have to get back into the city, and the less said about that, the better.) On a recent August morning, I opted for a run-up to Dutchess County, which is about 80 miles north of New York City and home to rolling hills, horse farms and some really excellent motorcycle roads. The longest way I know to get there starts with detouring west to New Jersey in order to start the ride off properly with coffee and maybe a pastry at The 9W Market.

As I crossed over the George Washington Bridge, a peek to the south revealed the City of Dreams draped in fog, so I pulled off at the Rockefeller Lookout to soak in the view. The 9W Market is a just a mile or so off Exit 4 of the Palisades Interstate Parkway (PIP) and is always worth a stop for good food, good coffee and often a chance encounter with good friends.

Favorite Ride: Horse Country In Dutchess County
The 9W Market is great any day of the week and hosts Bikes & Breakfast on the first Sunday of every month.

From The 9W Market you have the option of continuing north on slower two-lane State Route 9W to SR 202, or backtrack to the PIP. Though it can get congested, and those of us who have ridden it a thousand times might take it for granted, the PIP is a pretty ride. It’s two lanes each direction, winding through woodland, with plenty of gentle curves and some old stone bridges that reverberate exhaust pipes quite nicely. The miles fly by and soon enough I hit the Bear Mountain Bridge (aka Purple Heart Veterans Memorial Bridge).

Favorite Ride: Horse Country In Dutchess County
Built in 1924, the BMB predates the GWB by seven years. When it went up, it was the longest suspension bridge in the world…for just over a year and a half before a newer model took the title way.

In addition to having some of the most finicky EZ Pass readers in all of New York State, the Bear Mountain Bridge carries not just cars and motorcycles, but also the Appalachian Trail. Over the bridge, I made a left on State Route 9D, which rolls north through some lovely, historic towns along the Hudson River. If you can resist the temptation to keep going north up to Cold Spring or Beacon, hang a right on County Route 11, Snake Hill Road. If you’re lucky and there isn’t a car in front of you, you can enjoy a spirited ride through a golf course and up to U.S. Route 9, Albany Post Road. It’s a short stretch but it will put a smile on your face.

Favorite Ride: Horse Country In Dutchess County
Canopus Lake in Clarence Fahnestock State Park.

Make a left on Albany Post Road and enjoy a more trafficked but still pretty ride — there are a couple of lazy S-curves that might have been designed by a rider — and drop down to the light at the intersection of State Route 301. Make a right there, fingers crossed you get to the turn before a car does. Route 301 is a rider’s road — lots of curves but nothing too technical so it’s an easy, fun ride, swinging around as you flash through a forested area and even parallel a pretty stream for a bit. 301 has two nice turns up a hill into Clarence Fahnestock State Park where the speed limit rises to 55 mph, and you may well be tempted to pull over alongside Canopus Lake just to enjoy the view.

The road roughens up for a mile after the lake, so put your weight down on the pegs, then you’ll hit the intersection of 301 and the Taconic State Parkway. Like the PIP, the Taconic is underappreciated. It’s two narrow lanes in each direction, with plenty of accidents but beautiful views and few straights, and if you ride smartly you can usually find a place in between clumps of cars where you can breathe a little easier.

Favorite Ride: Horse Country In Dutchess County
The Millbrook Diner. Not sure what the ship’s figurehead is about but I’m digging it.

Just a few miles up the Taconic and you have your choice of roads that go east into Dutchess County—try State Routes 9, 82 or U.S Route 44. This day I opted for 82, which is a lovely little ride through farm country. Route 82 crosses SR 343 just outside of Millbrook, one corner taken up by an eerily decrepit cluster of buildings dating to 1890. Keep on 82 into Millbrook, one of the most affluent towns in the state, and grab lunch at one of the handful of restaurants that line the quaint main street. My favorite is the Millbrook Diner.

After lunch it’s time to do a loop. There are dozens of horse farms in the area and they make for extremely scenic riding. The roads are generally without a shoulder, and the combination of blind curves and the occasional slow-moving horse trailer (or actual horse) means its heads-up riding, which is to say absolutely terrific. Leaving Millbrook, I made a right on U.S Route 44, then a left on 83 at the Amenia Steakhouse. There are some jaw-dropping homes set back from the road and hundreds of acres of horse farms. There’s the occasional field of cows, of course, and if you’re lucky, you might see those sheep that look like cotton balls on sticks. Make a right on 44 into Amenia proper, then go right at the light to follow 44 up the hill to a lovely horseshoe curve and a scenic lookout.

Favorite Ride: Horse Country In Dutchess County

There are plenty of roads to explore in the area, but if you’re ready to head home, 44 will take you back to the Taconic. Between the roads and the scenery, Millbrook is a compelling riding destination and, if you’re coming up from the city, you can make a nice 250-300 mile day of it — roughly the same number of smiles just about guaranteed. 

Favorite Ride: Horse Country In Dutchess County
Hard to imagine this view is just 80 (or 130) miles north of New York City.

Favorite Ride: Horse Country in Dutchess County Photo Gallery

The post Favorite Ride: Horse Country in Dutchess County first appeared on Rider Magazine.

Source: RiderMagazine.com

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

Favorite Ride: Prince Edward County

Favorite Ride: Prince Edward County
Shady ridge road just above the Black River Cheese store.

Snik. That’s the sound of my 2016 Yamaha FJR1300 moving up a gear, more specifically into the model’s new 6th gear, calming my ride just a bit more as I settle into that Zen state of rolling meditation. I’ve just left Kingston, Ontario, on the Canadian northeast corner of Lake Ontario, and I’m heading west for Prince Edward County (PEC), a peninsula of land identifying more closely with the lake rather than with the land just to the north. As I head down Ontario Highway 33, a.k.a. Bath Road, a welcome drop in temperature affirms this association. The cooling air is always the first taste of my favorite ride.

Highway 33 carries me hard by the water, inviting me into gently sweeping curves and picturesque straights offering farmland views on the right, and wide-open waterscapes on the left. Not technically challenging, but oh-so satisfying. The villages of Millhaven, Bath and Adolphustown float by, as do seasonal roadside offerings of sweet corn, strawberries, apples and veggies of all kinds. Tonight’s supper, conceived and assembled on the spot, will be the cherry topping.

Favorite Ride: Prince Edward County
The Quinte Skyway Bridge in the distance, heading north out of the county.

Just west of Adolphustown the Highway ends at the Glenora Ferry, crossing the 1-kilometer Adolphus Reach in the Bay of Quinte in about 20 minutes. The first commercial ferry license here was granted in 1802, accommodating the loyalist settlers on both shores. The ferry operates on a 30-minute schedule in the off-season, and during the summer two ferries swap shores every 20 minutes. The cool crossing is an opportunity to hold informal meet and greets with other riders, as there is always a group bound to explore PEC.

Immediately off the ferry and now formally in PEC, I take a hard left onto County Road 7, up to Lake on the Mountain. The road rises 62 meters in less than a kilometer, throwing in a 180-degree curve that challenges me to set the bike into a hard lean, holding it in a constant line, no bobbles, no braking, always trying to up my “smoothness quotient.”

Favorite Ride: Prince Edward County

At the top is, yes, a lake, 62 meters above the ferry, but in a straight line less than a kilometer away; a geologic rarity. Washrooms, restaurants, an inn and a viewing area overlooking the Reach are available here, but no camping.

Continuing on 7 moves me into the back county, where the ride eases into quiet rural landscapes, shaded lanes and past the occasional lazy farm dog at the roadside. Again, not a technical ride, no “hair on fire” cornering here. It’s more Mozart than Led Zeppelin; more a state of mind, a quiet escape into an earlier reality.

Favorite Ride: Prince Edward County
Meet and greet on the Glenora Ferry. A chance to talk to other riders.

PEC developed as arriving loyalists carved out homesteads, but today the cool climate invites a newer purpose. In 2007 the County was designated as the fourth DVA (Designated Viticulture Area) in Ontario. More than 40 wineries will tempt you, along with all kinds of craft cheese and beer, and art galleries displaying local talent. Info on wine tasting tours can be viewed at princeedwardcountywine.ca.

I turn south and pick up County Road 8 traveling east to visit Waupoos Estates Winery, one of my favorites. A nice Cabernet will accompany my meal tonight. Heading back west I pick up County Road 13 for some excellent five-year-old cheddar at the Black River Cheese store. Continuing on 13 takes me out Long Point Road. The road opens, and I can move my girl up to 6th. Snik. Lovely smooth.

Favorite Ride: Prince Edward County
Waupoos Estates Winery, elegant and welcoming. Parking in front, restaurant patio out back, and lots of goodies offered inside.

At the end of Long Point Road you’ll find the Prince Edward Point Bird Observatory. Spring and fall bird banding takes place here, and the public is welcome. During migration the station may band more than 200 birds a day, and trails going back to the mist nets are open to the public for viewing and photography. Info online can be found at PePtBo.ca.

Turning west again, the ride takes me toward Sandbanks Provincial Park. Jumping from one County Road to the next eventually places me on County Road 18, which runs into the park. If you get off track, well done. You’ll probably discover another winery.

Favorite Ride: Prince Edward County
Kilometers of fine sand beaches and warm waters make Sandbanks Provincial Park a first-rate destination for locals and tourists alike. Book camping sites early to avoid disappointment.

Once in the park, paths lead over the dunes to the beach. Sandbanks Park boasts the world’s largest freshwater barrier dune formation, another geologic rarity. Once onto the beach you’ll wonder how you ended up in Florida. Warm shallow waters, kilometers of fine sand beach and 500 campsites are available from late April to early October. Check out Ontarioparks.com/park/sandbanks for more info, and book early. Day visits cost $12 CDN. Pack your thong.

Heading west again, you can pick your route from a weave of bucolic pathways. Today I feel more straight line than curvy, so I ride up to County Road 1 and snik up to smooth sixth. Riding past Lake Consecon I head for a little pullover I know, sneaking the big bike through 30 meters or so of a shaded lane that puts me on a secluded smooth pebble beach for lunch.

Favorite Ride: Prince Edward County
A short lane off a county road leads to a secluded smooth pebble beach for lunch and a nap. Leave the wine in the side bags until the evening.

Rested and fed, I cross back east to County Road 14, then County Road 15, and leave PEC via the Bay of Quinte Skyway Bridge. As if the peninsula hasn’t offered enough, the waters under the bridge are home to a world-class Pickerel fishery, drawing anglers in from all across North America. Charters are available. Info on all this and more can be found at prince-edward-county.com.

Finally turning back to Kingston, the round-trip ride is roughly 300 kilometers, depending on which roads you choose to explore. I head east onto Highway 2, and those longer meditative straights open up in front of me. Snik. 

Favorite Ride: Prince Edward County 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

Gold Country Highs: Pass Bagging in Nevada and California

motorcycle ride Lake Tahoe
My Silver Fox Honda ST1300A and my honey’s Flying Purple People Eater BMW R1150 RT-P impatiently await our return so they can resume their romp down California’s Sonora Pass.

Late spring is a great time to do some pass bagging in the Nevada and California gold country. The passes are usually open by mid-May, and there is a beautiful mix of greenery, wildflowers and snowcaps in the high elevations. Today’s ride also contains a bit of adventure, as my honey and I are boldly moving into the 21st century with a pair of new helmets that have integrated headsets for bike-to-bike communication. I soon learn that it can be refreshing having voices in my head other than my own.

“I’m rolling,” I say into the microphone as we simultaneously turn northeast out of Virginia City onto Nevada State Route 341. We experience our first pass of the day within minutes as we reach 6,789-foot Geiger Summit and follow its winding path down into south Reno. Crossing U.S. Route 395, we stay on the same road, but it magically changes numbers to 431 and takes us to our second pass, Mount Rose.

motorcycle ride Lake Tahoe
Map of the route taken, by Bill Tipton/compartmaps.com.

State Route 431 begins with a straight climb through the foothills, but soon changes into 20 mph curves, which are a bit tighter than the sweeping 45 mph curves on 341. We begin to see some patches of snow before reaching the 8,911-foot summit, and upon crossing it are rewarded with our first peeks at Lake Tahoe. The lake will dominate our view for many miles and we are able to take brief looks at it because the tight curves have widened out to 50 mph top-gear corners, which we follow down to State Route 28.

As we follow the roundabout left on 28, an emphatic, “I’m hungry,” booms from my headset speakers.

“Good timing,” I reply. “We’re almost to Incline Village and can stop at T’s Mesquite Rotisserie for a burrito.”

T’s is a little hole-in-the-wall place on Route 28 crammed between the Incline Village Cinema and 7-Eleven, but its lunchtime crowd shows it is a locals’ favorite. We are thoroughly satisfied sharing a tri-tip burrito and leaving their rotisserie specialties for the next time we’re in town.

motorcycle ride Lake Tahoe
Even the author, pictured in his typical sedentary position, can’t detract (much) from the beauty of Lake Tahoe.

Heading south on Route 28 again, we continue to steal glimpses of Lake Tahoe on the right as we ride along its shoreline. When 28 dead-ends, we turn right onto U.S. Route 50 and savor our last miles of Tahoe views as we head toward South Lake Tahoe.

Entering South Lake Tahoe, we avoid the worst of its traffic by taking Pioneer Trail as we cross into California. We turn left to rejoin U.S. 50 but only stay on it for a few miles because our next left onto California State Route 89 takes us to 7,740-foot Luther Pass.

Luther Pass is really only a connector road, but it is a beautiful one with granite cliffs rising on both sides and valley views to the east. Continuing on 89, we go through Markleeville and follow it alongside winding creeks as its name changes to State Route 4.

motorcycle ride Lake Tahoe
Originally part of the 1860 Pony Express route across the Sierra Nevada, Luther Pass is now frequented by somewhat shinier steeds.

Route 4 continues following creeks upstream into the Sierra and soon the centerline disappears, making it a one-and-a-half-lane road. That’s where the fun really begins. The next several miles up to the Ebbetts Pass summit of 8,730 feet are full of first-gear switchbacks with extreme road cambers. Give any vehicles in front of you lots of space. If they choose to stop for any reason and leave you stranded in the middle of a highly cambered curve, it will lead to some truly exciting moments. There are also incredible views in all directions if you can ever spare a second to take your eyes off the road.

Soon after the summit, I hear in my headset, “Some doofus just passed me on the one-lane road and now he’s heading up your tailpipe.” I check my mirror and find said doofus right behind me. As I hug the right side of the lane to let him by, I think about how much I like our new intercom helmets.

motorcycle ride Lake Tahoe
This playground called the Sierra Nevada runs 400 miles north to south and 70 miles east to west. The incredible views are owed to formations of granite that have been exposed by erosion and glaciers over millions of years.

The ride down Route 4 is much like the ride up, but it soon becomes two lanes again and mellows out. We then begin looking for our next left turn onto Parrotts Ferry Road, past the town of Murphys. This road has more enjoyable curves and takes us to our night’s destination of Columbia, California.

Columbia is a state park set up as an Old West mining town complete with museums, people demonstrating skills of the period and stagecoaches running through town. Contrastingly, Columbia’s airport was hosting a canard aircraft show during our stay, so we also had to check that out.

motorcycle ride Lake Tahoe
motorcycle ride Lake Tahoe
Columbia, California, offers the best of both worlds! A 10-minute walk can take you from the Wild West experience of a stagecoach ride to the wild blue yonder with a visit to Canards West, the annual canard aircraft festival, typically held the first weekend of June at the Columbia airport.

After our tourist day, we continued on Parrotts Ferry Road and merged briefly onto State Route 49 south through the town of Sonora. We then turned left onto State Route 108 east, Sonora Pass Road, which was another highlight of our trip.

At 9,624 feet, Sonora Pass is slightly more civilized than Ebbettts Pass, with two lanes for its entire length. It has its share of first-gear switchbacks and my favorite views of the trip. The descent back into the valley is steep, and it quickly drops us off at an intersection with U.S. 395.

motorcycle ride Lake Tahoe
Watch out! It’s a long way down! Riders should pull off the road to ogle the Sierra Nevada views. Sonora and Ebbetts passes have many curves and few guardrails.

We blast north on 395 with our pass bagging nearly complete. A right turn onto U.S. 50 in Carson City and then a left onto Nevada State Route 341 several miles later takes us to our last pass of the trip. Approaching Silver City, we turn right and follow the Truck Route signs to Virginia City. This takes us up Occidental Grade with its 20 mph curves, offering a fine completion to our ride.

Source: RiderMagazine.com

Land of Swamp and Sand: The ‘Other’ South Carolina Destination

Spyder motorcycle ride South Carolina
Forest Service roads in the Francis Marion National Forest are ideal for dual-sport motorcycles and even the occasional Spyder. Travel on these roads is limited to licensed vehicles. No dirt bikes. Photos by Liz Hayes.

Each year millions of tourists visit Myrtle Beach or Charleston, South Carolina, searching for beaches, nightlife, shopping and endless feasts of seafood. However, far fewer people venture to the roughly 100 miles of coast located between these two popular destinations, where it is relatively unpopulated, undeveloped and dominated by swamp, saltmarsh and pine savannah. Undiscovered is fine by me, as this “land in between” offers numerous favorite rides where I can walk into my garage, pick a motorcycle (Kawasaki KLR650, CanAm Spyder RT or Yamaha WR250) and then ride road, dirt road or off-road depending on the day and my desires.

On a map, the area of interest jumps out in green, since it’s mostly occupied by the Francis Marion National Forest (FMNF) and its 259,000 acres of multi-use land. I live in Myrtle Beach and get there via U.S. Route 17. The interesting part of the trip begins in the historic town of Georgetown. Eating and history immediately compete with riding as the downtown features the Rice Museum, the South Carolina Maritime Museum, the Kaminski House Museum and a working waterfront with a boardwalk and numerous restaurants.

Spyder motorcycle ride South Carolina
The harborwalk in Georgetown provides good views of the harbor and easy access to numerous bars and restaurants. The harbor is connected to Winyah Bay, a large estuary draining northeastern coastal South Carolina.

A repeating theme on this ride is the rise and fall of a South Carolina plantation culture where products such as rice, indigo, cotton, tobacco and forest products were taken from the land with abundant slave labor and then shipped north or across the Atlantic. In the 1800s Georgetown was one of the richest cities in the southeast.

U.S. 17 out of Georgetown hugs the coast, and heading southwest you first cross the expansive Santee Delta and its parallel north and south rivers. Shortly after, there is a right turn on State Road S-10-857, which takes you to the Hampton Plantation State Historic Site. It features a restored mansion and interpretive aids explaining how rice was once grown here using an ingenious system of impoundments, water control structures and, of course, slave labor. Here I usually stroll a bit to stretch my legs in preparation for the ride to come.

Spyder motorcycle ride South Carolina
The mansion at Hampton Plantation State Historic Site gives one a sense of how lucrative was the growing of rice with slave labor. A stop here lets you stretch your legs and also gain some perspective on the South Carolina that once was.

Backtracking to U.S. 17 and then continuing southwest for about eight miles, look for State Route 45 and turn right, the beginning of a fantastic loop through the FMNF (this is also the place to get gas if you are running low). The road, a well-maintained two-lane, is flanked by extensive pine forests and intermittently crosses cypress swamps. Beware! Road closures are common due to prescribed burning and flooding.

In the FMNF you can choose your riding pleasure. Numerous Forest Service roads branch off, taking you to places such as Hell Hole Bay Wilderness and the Wambaw Swamp Wilderness. This is where I go when I’m wearing my dual-sport hat. Road riders should continue about 10 miles to Halfway Creek Road and turn left. A good place to stop along this road is the Wambaw Cycle Trail. You can commune with the numerous riders who trailer their off-road bikes here and then take the challenge of riding narrow single-tracks of deep sand.

Spyder motorcycle ride South Carolina
Halfway Creek Road provides access to Wambaw Cycle Trail, an extensive system of single-track trails. Deep sand is a real challenge for those used to a hard-packed surface. Definitely not a place for a Spyder.

Continue on Halfway Creek Road about 11 miles and then take a left on Steed Creek Road. Another five miles and you are back to U.S. 17. At this point you can turn right and head southwest toward Charleston. You might even want to catch the Bull’s Island Ferry and explore the Cape Romain National Wildlife Refuge (passengers only, book in advance and a full day is required). However, since I live in the other direction, I take a left and travel toward the town of McClellanville, about 11 miles northeast. Along the way stop at Buck Hall Recreation Area. It costs a few bucks to enter the site, but the views of the Cape Romain National Wildlife Refuge are well worth it.

Spyder motorcycle ride South Carolina
The town of McClellanville will make you want to quit your job and find a resting spot under a live oak tree. However, you better not be around when the next big hurricane comes.

A short jog toward water from U.S. 17 takes you to McClellanville (population about 1,000), a quaint and colorful fishing village where you immediately begin entertaining ideas of quitting the day job and retiring to a life of pleasant views and boat floating. But before you make that leap, read the stories about how in 1989 Hurricane Hugo drove most of the inhabitants to higher ground. Many people climbed to the second floors of their houses while furniture bumped against the first-floor ceilings.

The one restaurant downtown, T.W. Graham & Co., is a popular motorcycle destination and the food is cheap, excellent and regionally correct. The Village Museum adjacent to the waterfront boat ramp provides some history about Native Americans and how they periodically visited this area to harvest fish, oysters and clams. The history you won’t hear about, however, is the role of marijuana smuggling in the local economy during the 1970s.

Spyder motorcycle ride South Carolina
The only restaurant in downtown McClellanville is now a popular motorcycle destination for riders coming from Charleston and Myrtle Beach. Seafood from nearby Cape Romain is served in the traditional Lowcountry style.

From McClellanville it is 24 miles back to Georgetown on U.S. 17, where you can find a few motels to spend the night and a few more places to eat and drink.

The beauty of this relatively short ride is that it is possible for motorcyclists to make pretty much year-round due to the subtropical climate. The traffic is always light but if you desire the hustle and flow of major urban areas, it is a short ride to either Myrtle Beach or Charleston. Given the choice, however, this land of swamp and sand is my preference.

Spyder motorcycle ride South Carolina
Map of the route taken, by Bill Tipton/compartmaps.com.

Source: RiderMagazine.com