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Border to Border on the Oregon Backcountry Discovery Route

Oregon Backcountry Discovery Route ORBDR The Long Way to Walla Walla
Greg’s BMW taking a dirt nap along the Oregon Backcountry Discovery Route. Photos by Greg Drevenstedt.

This story is about a ride that took place in 2013 on the original Oregon Backcountry Discovery Route, which was developed by the Oregon Off-Highway Vehicle Association. The nonprofit Backcountry Discovery Routes organization developed a new ORBDR that was released in 2023. For more information, visit the Backcountry Discovery Routes website. –Ed.

Oregon Backcountry Discovery Route ORBDR The Long Way to Walla Walla
Route 5 of the original ORBDR includes hundreds of miles of gravel roads much like this one, plus a decent helping of dirt, sand, rock gardens, and river crossings.

When your bike topples over in the middle of nowhere, when your bike and its week’s worth of gear weigh more than 600 lb, when you’re hot and sweaty and tired, it’s good to have friends along to lend a hand.

Oregon Backcountry Discovery Route ORBDR The Long Way to Walla Walla
At the California-Oregon border before venturing off-pavement on the ORBDR.

We were three days and nearly 300 miles into the 750-mile, California-to-Washington Route 5 of the Oregon Backcountry Discovery Routes (ORBDR), a network of off-road routes crisscrossing the state’s vast national forests. While struggling my way up a technical jeep road full of embedded rocks, I high-centered the BMW’s skid plate, dabbed my left foot into a hole, lost my balance, and toppled over in a big, dusty heap.

Oregon Backcountry Discovery Route ORBDR The Long Way to Walla Walla

Lead rider Paul was off in the distance, so sweep rider Marten navigated around me, parked his bike on a level spot, and came back to help. Other than some badge-of-honor scratches on the bike, the only damage was to my pride, and I was soon making forward progress again.

Oregon Backcountry Discovery Route ORBDR The Long Way to Walla Walla
Just a few miles into the ORBDR, we took a spur road to the summit of 8,000-foot Crane Mountain, where we enjoyed 360-degree views of California and Oregon.

Backcountry Discovery Routes is a nonprofit organization that establishes and preserves off-highway routes for dual-sport and adventure motorcycles. BDR has mapped and documented north-south routes in most states west of the Rockies as well as mid-Atlantic and Northeast routes and shorter BDR-X routes. Inspiration for these routes came from the ORBDR, which, according to BDR’s website, “was created a few decades ago by Bob and Cheryl Greenstreet as a concept to promote managed travel in the backcountry” and is maintained by the Oregon Off-Highway Vehicle Association.

Oregon Backcountry Discovery Route ORBDR The Long Way to Walla Walla
The view from Fremont Point on Oregon’s Winter Rim.

Paul, Marten, and I wanted to ride the granddaddy of the Backcountry Discovery Routes, so I bought paper maps for Route 5 from OOHVA and Paul spent two weeks creating GPS tracks for us. (GPS tracks are now available upon request when maps are purchased from OOHVA.) Since most of the ORBDR is at 4,000-8,000 feet of elevation, we planned our trip for August to avoid snowpack.

A long-time adventure-riding and homebrewing buddy of mine, Paul Beck, is a computer guy. Since he created our tracks and led our group (his GPS was the only one that worked reliably), we dubbed him the Navigator. Marten Walkker, another riding buddy, is a master carpenter. He made his own tailbag, auxiliary gas tank, toolbox, and highway pegs for this trip, so we called him the Fabricator. And since I kept a journal, shot photos, and sent daily postcards to my wife, I became the Chronicler.

Oregon Backcountry Discovery Route ORBDR The Long Way to Walla Walla
The Three Amigos at Fremont Point, 3,000 feet above seasonally dry Summer Lake.

Similar in pace and temperament and always ready for a quick laugh, we were compatible travelers, like the Three Amigos. We were all of German descent and riding BMWs – Paul on an R 1200 GS, Marten on a G 650 Xchallenge, and me on an F 800 GS Adventure – so Drei Freunde is more accurate, but it doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue.

Oregon Backcountry Discovery Route ORBDR The Long Way to Walla Walla
We had to cross the high desert through Christmas Valley to get from the mountains of Fremont National Forest to the mountains of Malheur National Forest.

Departing from Ventura on California’s southern coast, our first 750 miles were on pavement as we made our way up to the northeastern corner of the state. A half-mile before the Oregon border on the afternoon of our second day, we turned from U.S. Route 395 onto the unpaved County Road 2 and entered Modoc National Forest as we climbed into the Warner Mountains. We had to shift our brains from the grip and monotony of wide-open pavement to the delicate balance of riding top-heavy adventure bikes on loose, uneven dirt and gravel. The road leveled out within a few miles, and we turned north, passing through the green meadows of the (not so) Dismal Swamp and crossing into Oregon.

Oregon Backcountry Discovery Route ORBDR The Long Way to Walla Walla
River crossings are nerve-racking with an audience of forest service workers, but Marten made it through like a pro.

After riding a challenging spur road up to the top of 8,000-foot Crane Mountain for panoramic views and navigating through a herd of cows, we stopped at Willow Creek Campground, which was deserted. We crossed a cattle guard to get into the campground, and even though it was surrounded by a fence, we still had to pick our way through a minefield of cow patties to set up our tents. After bathing and rinsing out our sweaty clothes in the creek (but not drinking the water), we fortified ourselves with backpacker meals and relaxed around the campfire, swapping stories and sipping whiskey.

Oregon Backcountry Discovery Route ORBDR The Long Way to Walla Walla
Cooling off in Delintment Lake in Malheur National Forest.

The OOHVA’s detailed, full-color ORBDR map booklets offer the following words of advice: “Your journey will be one of few contacts with others. One needs to plan for being self-sufficient. Travel with others is highly recommended. If one’s means of transport fails, it can be a really, really long hike, and it could be many days before someone comes along.”

Oregon Backcountry Discovery Route ORBDR The Long Way to Walla Walla
The early bird gets to enjoy the sunrise.

Over the course of five days on the ORBDR, we saw only a handful of people – a few ranchers, a couple of 4×4 trucks, and the occasional hunter. We traveled as a group, each of us brought our own food, water, and gear, and we carried a SPOT satellite tracker/communicator. Gas was available every 100 miles or so, often in small towns or at convenience stores near the route, and we filled up our tanks and hydration backpacks at every opportunity.

Oregon Backcountry Discovery Route ORBDR The Long Way to Walla Walla
Lunch stops at local cafes provided welcome relief from the hot, dusty trail.

“Much energy has been spent to provide you with maps that provide the information needed to successfully navigate without on-ground signs,” says the OOHVA. We saw only a few faded, old ORBDR signs over the entire 750-mile route.

See all of Rider‘s Western U.S. motorcycle rides here.

“The development of route was financed by the Oregon ATV Allocation Funds,” said Leonard Kerns, president of the OOHVA, in a blog on Touratech-USA’s website. “On-the-ground signs were placed and the route was dedicated in the summer of 2000. Unfortunately, it did not take long for people opposed to the route to bring legal action. Support from the Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management was lost and all remaining funds were used to remove the signs. At that point, OOHVA stepped in and created the maps using GPS to navigate.”

Oregon Backcountry Discovery Route ORBDR The Long Way to Walla Walla
Breakfast of champions.

The ORBDR is on public land, so anyone can travel the route using a street-legal vehicle, but much of it passes through areas used for grazing and logging. We crossed dozens of cattle guards and stopped often to open and close barbed-wire gates. Forest land in central and eastern Oregon is all but empty, yet it’s crisscrossed with so many access roads that without GPS tracks and paper maps, getting lost is all but assured.

Oregon Backcountry Discovery Route ORBDR The Long Way to Walla Walla
Even with GPS tracks, sometimes we hit dead ends and had to find a way back to the correct trail.
Oregon Backcountry Discovery Route ORBDR The Long Way to Walla Walla
One of several massive fallen trees we had to navigate around since going over wasn’t an option!

The OOHVA’s maps were created in 2002, and in the years since, some roads have been closed and new ones have been cut. Even following the purple line on Paul’s GPS, we still made wrong turns or hit dead-ends and had to figure out how to re-route ourselves. We also encountered the unexpected, such as fallen trees and man-made barricades. Therein lies the adventure. Riding a backcountry route is not like following the Yellow Brick Road; it requires not only preparation and riding skills but also teamwork, patience, and adaptability.

Oregon Backcountry Discovery Route ORBDR The Long Way to Walla Walla
Being far from anywhere, we had campgrounds largely to ourselves and were fortunate to have either a stream or lake nearby.

We quickly established a routine: waking early to heat up water for coffee and oatmeal using portable stoves, breaking camp, riding for several hours, stopping for lunch and gas, riding for several more hours, then stopping early to set up camp and relax. Paul was always in the lead, which meant his gear stayed clean and we had someone to blame for wrong turns. I followed Paul and Marten followed me, and even with space between us the dust filled our noses and covered our gear, making zippers and buckles hard to open and close. We planned to camp every night, but it didn’t work out that way, to our surprise and benefit.

Oregon Backcountry Discovery Route ORBDR The Long Way to Walla Walla
Lead rider Paul stayed clean; sweep rider Marten stayed dirty.

During our five days on the ORBDR, we experienced a steady stream of good luck. We enjoyed mostly warm, dry weather and had no flat tires, breakdowns, or injuries. Rather than eating jerky and energy bars for lunch, we usually found a cafe in a small town where we’d refresh ourselves with air conditioning, limitless iced tea, and other luxuries, and there was always a gas station nearby to fill up and resupply.

Oregon Backcountry Discovery Route ORBDR The Long Way to Walla Walla
We smelled smoke but had no idea the 1,000-acre Vinegar Fire was burning in the area until we popped out of the trees and came upon this U.S. Forest Service fire security truck. Our route was supposed to go down that gravel road in the distance, but we were re-routed onto pavement to the town of Ukiah.

During the three nights we camped, there was either a cool stream or a lake we could swim in to wash off the dust and relax our creaky joints. On our second day on the ORBDR, after a challenging, tiring section with lots of sand and rocks, we ended up in the town of Christmas Valley, where the Lakeview Terrace motel/restaurant spoiled us with cheeseburgers, fries, cold beers, hot showers, and soft beds.

Oregon Backcountry Discovery Route ORBDR The Long Way to Walla Walla
Antlers Inn in Ukiah has a room-size meat cooler to store your game.

Even when we had to leave the ORBDR to route around the 1,000-acre Vinegar Fire, we got to ride 50 miles on the freshly paved Blue Mountain Scenic Byway and ended up in Ukiah on a damp, foggy night. Instead of pitching tents and eating freeze-dried meals in the rain, we stayed warm and dry at the Antlers Inn and savored burgers and beers at the Thicket Cafe & Bar. We enjoy roughing it, but we’re not too proud to take advantage of good fortune when it lands in our laps.

Oregon Backcountry Discovery Route ORBDR The Long Way to Walla Walla
Chris ran the Antlers Inn and served us at the Thicket Cafe & Bar, where she recommended an Oregon-distilled whiskey.

Our five days and three nights on the ORBDR provided us with as much adventure as we could hope for. We rode more than 700 miles on dirt and gravel roads through the backcountry of Oregon, through dense forests, across high-desert plains, along mountain ridges, away from cities and people and normal obligations. We rode through rock gardens and sand washes, forded rivers, and navigated over or around countless obstacles, challenging ourselves and having fun. We had campgrounds to ourselves, where we enjoyed star-filled nights and soul-warming campfires, and we stumbled upon cozy motels and restaurants, where we enjoyed creature comforts.

Oregon Backcountry Discovery Route ORBDR The Long Way to Walla Walla
We were treated to some of the best scenery of the ORBDR, such as wide-ranging views from Kendall Skyline Road in Umatilla National Forest, on the final day.

Paul, Marten, and I – the Navigator, Fabricator, and Chronicler – bonded over the experience. When we reached Walla Walla, Washington, the northern terminus of the ORBDR, having ridden 1,500 miles together, we high-fived and celebrated our shared accomplishment. The next day we headed off in different directions, Paul to Seattle, Marten to Calgary, and me home to Ventura, completing an Iron Butt SaddleSore 1000 in the process, but that’s another story.

Oregon Backcountry Discovery Route ORBDR The Long Way to Walla Walla
After five days and 750 long-and-dusty, not-so-straight south-to-north miles, we completed Route 5 of the ORBDR and arrived in Walla Walla, Washington.

See all of Rider‘s touring stories here.

Oregon Backcountry Discovery Route Resources

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Route 66 Motorcycle Ride in Oklahoma | Favorite Ride

Route 66 Motorcycle Ride Oklahoma
The Route 66 Interpretive Center, one of several interesting stops on this Route 66 motorcycle ride, uses audio-visual exhibits to immerse visitors in the history of the Mother Road. The building was built in 1937 and served as an armory until 1971. Photos by the author and Steve Skinner.

U.S. Route 66 was established in 1926 and was billed as the shortest, fastest, and most scenic all-weather route connecting Chicago, St. Louis, and Los Angeles. Dubbed the “Mother Road” by John Steinbeck in his novel The Grapes of Wrath, Route 66 was used in the 1930s by migrants fleeing the Dust Bowl in search of a better life out West. During World War II, it facilitated the movement of troops and equipment. And during the post-war economic boom of the 1950s and 1960s, Route 66 became indelibly linked to the Great American Road Trip.

Route 66 Motorcycle Ride Oklahoma

Scan QR code above or click here to view the route on REVER

My home state of Oklahoma boasts about 400 miles of the historic highway – the most of any of the eight states touched by Route 66. The Mother Road played a central role in my budding love affair with riding. In 1977, at the age of 14, I rode a 100cc 2-stroke Kawasaki along one of the best stretches of Route 66 in the state – the 100 miles between Oklahoma City and Tulsa. The 200-mile round trip was my first long motorcycle journey. It took me all day and cost about $2 in gas, and my long-suffering parents had no idea what I was up to.

See all of Rider‘s Southern U.S. motorcycle rides here.

Forty-six years after that formative adventure, I retraced my route, only this time I allowed time to take in the roadside attractions and small-town charms that make Route 66 such an iconic piece of Americana. Once again, I felt right at home on the Mother Road. 

Not far from my home, I hopped on Route 66 at its junction with Interstate 35 in Edmond. I headed east through wooded terrain and past sprawling Arcadia Lake before stopping at the Arcadia Round Barn. Listed in the National Register of Historic Places, it was built in 1898 by a local farmer who thought its round design would make it tornado-proof. Science may not support that belief, but the Round Barn has survived in the middle of Tornado Alley for 126 years. It’s now a museum, gift shop, and live music venue.

Route 66 Motorcycle Ride Oklahoma
The Arcadia Round Barn, built in 1898, was designed to be tornado-proof and still stands in the heart of Tornado Alley.

Continuing east, the countryside along this stretch is a mix of woods, farmland, and grazing pasture. Although not the transcontinental artery it once was, Route 66 remains important to the communities it passes through. The tarmac is mostly in great shape, and the occasional sweeping turns are enough to get you off the center of your tires.

In Wellston, I stopped at The Butcher BBQ Stand, one of the best barbecue restaurants around. The award-winning flavors were developed during eight years on the competitive barbecue circuit, including more than 400 1st-place finishes. One of my riding buddies calls this barbecue “meat candy,” and he’s not wrong. Thirty minutes before The Butcher opened, the line was already out the door.

Route 66 Motorcycle Ride Oklahoma
The Butcher BBQ Stand offers award-winning smoked meats on Route 66 near Wellston.

Just a few miles down the road in Warwick is the Seaba Station Motorcycle Museum, which was originally a Route 66 service station named after the proprietor back in the 1920s. The building was purchased in 2007 by Jerry Reis, and he opened the museum in 2010. It’s not only a great place to see a bunch of classic motorcycles, but it also has great Route 66 swag.

Route 66 Motorcycle Ride Oklahoma
Seaba Station in Warwick has an impressive collection of vintage bikes and memorabilia as well as a great gift shop for some Mother Road swag.

I next headed east-northeast toward the town of Chandler, where roadside attractions include the Route 66 Interpretive Center and Route 66 Bowl, a bowling alley with dozens of authentic vintage oil company signs lining the parking lot.

Route 66 Motorcycle Ride Oklahoma
Route 66 Bowl in Chandler with its collection of authentic oil company signs is one of the many Mother Road landmarks to visit on this ride.

Another 14 miles up the road, we stopped for lunch in Stroud at the Rock Cafe, another Route 66 institution. Opened in 1939, it’s named after the local sandstone used in its construction, and over the years it has been a trusted stop for long-haul truckers, a high school watering hole, and even a makeshift Greyhound bus station for soldiers shipping out during World War II. Pixar executives made stops at the cafe when developing the hit movie Cars and based the character “Sally Carrera” on proprietor Dawn Welch. The burger I had there was outstanding – and it was cooked on “Betsy,” the original 1939 grill.

Route 66 Motorcycle Ride Oklahoma
The iconic Rock Cafe in Stroud gets its name from the sandstone used for its construction in 1939. The delicious food served up there is still cooked on the restaurant’s original 85-year-old grill, “Betsy.”

The final stop on my Mother Road reunion tour was Buck Atom’s Cosmic Curios on Route 66 in Tulsa to see “Muffler Man” Buck Atom, Space Cowboy. Few authentic Muffler Men – giant statues used by businesses for eye-catching advertising – remain. Buck Atom was created using a mold from a salvaged 1960s Muffler Man cowboy. Christened in 2019, Buck is 20 feet tall, and he now holds a silver rocket instead of a muffler. He stands guard over a gift shop at the site of an old Route 66 gas station in the heart of Tulsa. The new, old-time Muffler Man fits right in on the Mother Road.

Route 66 Motorcycle Ride Oklahoma
A reimagined Muffler Man stands tall at Buck Atom’s Cosmic Curios in Tulsa.

Headed back to my home in Oklahoma City with daylight fading fast, I hopped on the interstate to make time – the very interstate that marked the end of Route 66’s prominence in Oklahoma, bypassing many of the communities stitched together by the Mother Road. True, the ride home was faster, but it was far less interesting. Just like during my first highway riding adventure back in 1977, I’m more at home on the Mother Road. 

See all of Rider‘s touring stories here.

Route 66 Motorcycle Ride Resources

Tim DeGiusti Headshot

Tim DeGiusti lives and works in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Tim returned to motorcycling in 2012 after a long break, and since has ridden throughout Oklahoma and 38 other states (and counting).

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Enchanted Kingdom: Northeast Vermont Motorcycle Ride

Vermont Motorcycle Ride Enchanted Kingdom
Vermont’s unmaintained Class IV roads offer access to truly off-the-beaten-path scenery and long-forgotten historic sites as well as enchanting along this Vermont motorcycle ride. Photos by Susan Dragoo.

It’s all scenic. It’s all charming. And it’s all green … except when it’s not, and then it’s even better.

A few days into a trip to the lush forests of northeastern Vermont, we were reminded of Sedona, Arizona. The connection between these two dramatically different climes may at first seem nebulous, but Vermont’s consistent beauty called to mind the time we visited an outdoors outfitter in Sedona and asked, “Which are the most scenic trails?” The jaded clerk responded with a sigh, “All of them. They’re all scenic.” His tone let us know there was nothing to be gained by pressing him for further details. We would have to make our own choices from the seemingly infinite good ones available.

Vermont Motorcycle Ride Enchanted Kingdom
Burke Mountain’s ski lift sits idle in the summer, when the resort is popular with mountain bikers riding the nearby Kingdom Trails Network.

Likewise, trying to narrow down the best scenery in Vermont is a fool’s errand. It would be difficult to make a bad choice. Our adventure riding journey to the state’s Northeast Kingdom took us into what may be some of Vermont’s most remote territory, lending itself beautifully to the pursuit of riding motorcycles down dark, green, tree‑­canopied lanes and over roads the likes of which Paul Revere might have traveled in colonial days.

See all of Rider‘s Northeast U.S. motorcycle rides here.

Vermont Motorcycle Ride Enchanted Kingdom
Willoughby Gap is Burke Mountain’s most iconic view.

These are Vermont’s northeastern highlands, dubbed the Northeast Kingdom in the 1940s by a former Vermont governor in recognition of the area’s distinct culture and geography. The region lies within the southernmost range of the cold boreal forest of spruce and fir, birch and aspen, which stretches to the Arctic. It’s a place of long winters and short growing seasons where ponds, lakes, and villages nestle in valleys and twisting roads follow clear streams between small granite hills and mountains. Adventure in Vermont, like the New England states themselves, comes in tight and tidy packages, so the remoteness here can be surprising to the traveler accustomed to the vast, open American West.

Vermont Motorcycle Ride Enchanted Kingdom
Remnants of a 1930s Civilian Conservation Corps camp at the summit of Burke Mountain.

It was mid‑­September, on the cusp of the imminent explosion of fall colors for which this place is famous. Still, there was plenty of sensory stimulation. Besides the inexplicable feeling of navigating these woods in a late summer shower, leaves were beginning to carpet the trail like gold doubloons cast forth from some cosmic seeder. Pungent scents of cut evergreens, vegetation at the end of its cycle, and earth, freshly disturbed by our tires and dampened by the rain, filled our heads with aromas fit for expensive candles sold in artisan shops. Days that started with fog and mist and ended with afternoon showers added mystique and urgency to move along yet held us in the moment, hoping it would never stop.

Vermont Motorcycle Ride Enchanted Kingdom
Riding in the Northeast Kingdom is an experience of lush, green forests and nearly infinite backroads.

Eric Milano, owner of MotoVermont (see sidebar below), led our group of a dozen riders from all walks of life. Most were successful in business and seeking another way to enjoy the outdoors. Sailors, skydivers, scuba divers, and racecar drivers, they were here to learn the nuances of adventure riding versus railing through the woods with their hair on fire, replaying the antics of their younger selves.

Vermont Motorcycle Ride Enchanted Kingdom
An adventure bike is the perfect vehicle for enjoying it, and MotoVermont organizes great tours to get the most out the area.

Our business, D.A.R.T. (Dragoo Adventure Rider Training), is often invited on such tours to coach guests not only on the finer points of riding well over difficult terrain but also the philosophy of leaving behind a legacy of responsibility as we explore on adventure motorcycles, a term that can apply to most any off‑­road‑­capable two‑­wheeled machine with enough legs to make it between fuel stops.

Vermont Motorcycle Ride Enchanted Kingdom
Descending a rocky ledge lends the perfect opportunity for a little fun.

A high priority for adventure riders is respecting landowners and other trail users, helping to ensure trails stay open. There is more than enough joy in smelling the roses (and other flora) while tackling technical trails with natural obstacles. Adventure riders see no need to run loud pipes, ride at breakneck speeds, or travel off trail, risking damage to adjacent lands and hard‑­earned relationships.

Vermont Motorcycle Ride Enchanted Kingdom
Respectful behavior on roads and trails helps to ensure continued access.

Our first day together was dedicated to enhancing rider skills, and the second was spent applying them over some of Vermont’s most remote backroads. Many are Class IV roads, barely maintained byways kept open mostly by locals who traverse their craggy, narrow tunnels on snow machines during winter and by motorcycle the rest of the year.

Vermont Motorcycle Ride Enchanted Kingdom
The mountains of the Northeast Kingdom offer some of the area’s most iconic scenery.

Our troupe traveled west out of Burke Mountain Resort, stopping off at Cafe Lotti in East Burke before turning north and entering the woods and our first Class IV challenge. Cafe Lotti is a homegrown hangout set in a typical aging Vermont building which has no doubt fueled generations of local folk and travelers alike with a belly full of breakfast and a hot cup of craft coffee or tea. It is the perfect meeting spot for adventure seekers of all types, from mountain bikers to adventure riders to cross‑­country and downhill skiers.

Vermont Motorcycle Ride Enchanted Kingdom
Whether crossing a burbling stream or stopping for Pure Vermont Maple Syrup, there’s plenty to see along the trail.

We left town westbound and turned north into the woods, winding our way past drop lines – pieces of tubing strung between taps in a forest of maple trees like webs from a giant prehistoric and overactive arachnid. Eric stopped at the entrance to a steep, rocky uphill and explained the best options for a successful path of travel. Rain had turned the rocks into slippery entrapments like greased turtle shells, ranging from tiny spotted tortoises to 6‑­foot sea turtles.

Vermont Motorcycle Ride Enchanted Kingdom

Most riders made the climb without incident, but one or two forgot their training and sat down or, worse, dragged their feet, losing control and learning the hard way why adventure riders stand up. Steering, suspension, and sight are all improved by standing tall and proud, and this mild lesson was a graphic illustration of just how important it is to do so in the rough.

Vermont Motorcycle Ride Enchanted Kingdom
Vermont’s deepest lake, glacial Lake Willoughby, boasts distinctive fjord-like rock formations and is a popular summer attraction.

The onset of rough terrain was the portal to this enchanted Northeast Kingdom, a region mentioned in Patricia Schultz’s book 1000 Places to See Before You Die, which boasts that when the foliage flames in autumn, this may well be the most beautiful place in America. Indeed, it should not be missed. A few years back, we made the trip by motorcycle during the peak of fall color, and years ago, Bill traversed Vermont by bicycle on his way across the northern tier of the United States, a solo journey that permanently pinned this place to his psyche and keeps us coming back.

Our rugged upward trail eventually turned down, and the trail from the top was no disappointment. Sketchy ruts through mudholes, strategically dispersed to reward good judgment in not rushing, kept us on our toes. Most of these roads shed water well and remained rideable, but caution was of the essence. The road continued to undulate throughout the 100‑­plus‑­mile clockwise loop that would eventually take us back to our starting point.

Vermont Motorcycle Ride Enchanted Kingdom
Roadside stands along the way offer a variety of goodies, including fresh eggs.

But first, a stop at Devaney Farmstand near the intersection of Hudson Road and Town Highway 29 outside West Charleston, Vermont. The clouds opened and rain came down in full force as we dismounted and climbed a stairway, ducking into a loft room where lunch had been laid out for us by Bob and Sharyl Devaney. Calzones, fresh corn on the cob, and apple pie awaited. We gobbled down the fare as rain drummed on the roof. Maple syrup, candles, fresh jams, and pies of all kinds added their fragrance to the shop, and antiques and other local trinkets were neatly displayed for anyone wanting a souvenir.

Our timing was perfect. The sun began to peek through the clouds as we said our thank‑­yous and goodbyes to the Devaneys and fired up our machines. A short ride on twisty pavement led us back to the reason we were here: more Class IV roads. After skirting the fjord‑­like Lake Willoughby, a glacial lake dotted with vacation cabins and summer camps, Eric turned right onto a barely noticeable two‑­track trail that climbed steadily toward the mountain top.

Vermont Motorcycle Ride Enchanted Kingdom
It wouldn’t be a trip to Vermont without a covered bridge. The state has 104 historic covered bridges, and many of them are still in use today.

Eventually we descended again and crossed an old bridge leading onto a magnificent, fast gravel road following a river through the canyon. Although tempted to open up the throttle, good judgment kept our horses in check, and we ran at a brisk but reasonable pace. Riding right is critical here, as some turns are blind and, as remote as these roads are, we still saw other users. Respectfully, we would hold up five fingers to oncoming traffic if there were five or more riders behind us, then four, three, two, one, and the sweep rider held up a closed fist to indicate he was the last one. Trail etiquette is critical to maintain good relationships with the locals who hold the power to shut us out. We happily demonstrated good stewardship and appreciation for the privilege of exploring their home turf.

Vermont Motorcycle Ride Enchanted Kingdom
Riders take a break at Devaney Farms after a filling and delicious lunch.

We hit pavement just as the rain began again and made our way the last few miles to the resort. Parking under the canopy, we shed our outer gear and immediately began to relive all that had happened in a short couple of days. New friendships had been made and lessons learned. Everyone left with a quiver full of new skills and a renewed appreciation for our freedom to ride, perhaps not by lantern light warning the colonists of the British invasion, but with our own versions of enthusiasm as we explored the Enchanted Kingdom.

See all of Rider‘s touring stories here.

SIDEBAR: MotoVermont

MotoVermont specializes in adventure motorcycle tours, training, rentals, and retail sales. Tours range from day rides in Vermont to week-long adventures farther afield, including New Mexico, Arizona, North Carolina, and other locations. Training events are typically 1-2 days in length with a focus on balance, mastery of bike controls, preparedness, and courtesy. Rental options include the Yamaha Ténéré 700, Kawasaki KLX 300, and Yamaha XT250.

MotoVermont founder and operator Eric Milano is a Backcountry Discovery Routes ambassador and a member of the development team for the NEBDR route. He spends much of his time developing tours and organizing events for adventure motorcyclists. MotoVermont has a retail store in Milton, Vermont, or you can meet them at one of the many rallies and events they attend throughout the Northeast. For more information, visit the MotoVermont website.

SIDEBAR: Burke Mountain Resort

Vermont Motorcycle Ride Enchanted Kingdom

Burke Mountain Resort offers a comfortable stay with great views of Burke Mountain or Willoughby Gap from every suite. Located three miles from the Kingdom Trails Welcome Center, the resort has 116 suites ranging from studios to three-bedroom suites.

Guests can enjoy pub food, craft beers, and cocktails at The View Pub on the second floor, with large windows looking out to Willoughby Gap. Edmund’s Coffee Shop, located in a cozy timber-framed room with stone fireplaces, serves breakfast and coffee. The resort also includes on-site retail shopping opportunities at Bear Essentials and Vertical Drop Retail, with products ranging from basic groceries to home décor and outdoor gear. Other amenities include a heated pool and hot tub, a family arcade, and a fitness center. For more information, visit the Burke Mountain Resort website.

Vermont Motorcycle Ride Enchanted Kingdom Bill Dragoo Susan Dragoo

Bill and Susan Dragoo own and operate Dragoo Adventure Rider Training (D.A.R.T.) in Norman, Oklahoma, and are widely published writers, especially in the field of adventure travel. Learn more at BillDragoo.com and SusanDragoo.com.

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Adriatic Moto Tours Celebrates 20 Years

Adriatic Moto Tours
Adriatic Moto Tours is celebrating its 20th anniversary. Company founders and owners Matej and Martina Malovrh are shown in the front row on the far left.

In a milestone year when the American Motorcyclist Association is celebrating its 100th anniversary and Rider is celebrating its 50th, our friends at Adriatic Moto Tours are celebrating 20 years of providing unique motorcycle tours in Europe.

“It all began 20 years ago in a home garage in Ljubljana, the capital of Slovenia, with two motorcycles and three enthusiastic individuals: Matej and Martina Malovrh, along with their good friend, Blaz Zganjar, all of whom are still deeply involved in running the company,” according to a retrospective blog on Adriatic Moto Tours’ website. “Matej had a vision of attracting foreign riders to our neck of the woods, and Blaz and Martina joined him in pursuit of that vision. At that time, very few foreigners knew where Slovenia was, yet we succeeded in attracting a few enthusiastic riders from overseas within the first year. Our primary marketing tool was a $50 webpage.” (You can read the full story on AMT’s website.)

Adriatic Moto Tours
Adriatic Moto Tours: Alps Adriatic Adventure

The company was founded in 2004 as SMTours (for Slovenia Moto Tours), and started with two BMWs, an F 650 GS and an R 1200 GS. The first tour explored Slovenia and Croatia and had three guests from Florida. In 2005, the same year Matej and Martina got married, the company did five guided tours. Tour offerings expanded into other countries, and in 2007 the company’s name became Adriatic Moto Tours. 

Through hard work, dedication, and passion, Adriatic Moto Tours grew steadily over the years, adding more bikes to its fleet, more tours to its catalog, and more tour guides, van drivers, and support personnel to its team.

Adriatic Moto Tours
The Adriatic Moto Tours team.

Adriatic Moto Tours now offers 22 unique guided tours in various regions of Europe, including the Adriatic Coast and the Balkans, the Alps, Central Europe, the Mediterranean, and – starting in 2024 – Scandinavia, with a new tour of Norway. AMT also offers self-guided tours, custom tours, and motorcycle rentals from its base in Ljubljana.

Adriatic Moto Tours
Adriatic Moto Tours: Beautiful Balkans Adventure

Adriatic Moto Tours: Reviews

Rider staffers and contributors have reviewed seven of Adriatic Moto Tours’ guided tours, and you can read their reports below.

  • Beautiful Balkans Adventure, reviewed by Greg Drevenstedt. This 15-day tour explorers the mountains and coast in Slovenia, Croatia, Montenegro, and Bosnia and Hercegovina, and includes rest days in Sarajevo and Dubrovnik.
  • Czech Hungary Tour, reviewed by Bill Stermer. This 15-day tour explores Czech Republic, Hungary, Slovakia, Poland, and Austria and includes rest days in Budapest, Krakow, and Prague.
  • Adriatic Riviera Tour, reviewed by Jenny Smith. This 9-day tour explores the mountains and coast in Slovenia, Croatia, and Bosnia and Hercegovina, and includes a rest day in Dubrovnik.
Adriatic Moto Tours
Adriatic Moto Tours: Intriguing Southeast Europe
  • Intriguing Southeast Europe, reviewed by Jenny Smith. This unique 15-day tour explores countries that aren’t on most travelers’ radar, including Bulgaria, Serbia, Albania, and North Macedonia.
  • Romania to Istanbul Adventure, reviewed by Jim Horton. This 16-day tour explores Turkey, Greece, Bulgaria, and Romania, including the world-famous Transfagarasan Road and Transalpina in the Carpathian Mountains.
  • Sardinia & Corsica – Riders’ Heaven, reviewed by Scott A. Williams. This 9-day tour explores two Mediterranean islands – one that’s part of France, the other that’s part of Italy – that offer world-class curves and scenery.
  • Western Alps Adventure, reviewed by Greg Drevenstedt. This 9-day tour explores high alpine passes and charming villages in Italy, Switzerland, and France.
Adriatic Moto Tours
Adriatic Moto Tours: Western Alps Adventure

Adriatic Moto Tours: Other Notable Tours

  • Alps Adriatic Adventure, a 15-day tour that explores the Adriatic coast and the Alps in Croatia, Slovenia, Austria, and Italy.
  • Tuscany Sardinia Corsica Tour, a 16-day tour that explores the vibrant Tuscany region of Italy as well as the Mediterranean islands of Sardinia and Corsica.
  • South of Rome and Sicily, a 15-day tour that explores southern Italy and the island of Sicily.
Adriatic Moto Tours
Adriatic Moto Tours: South of Rome and Sicily Tour

Everyone at Rider congratulates Matej, Martina, and the entire Adriatic Moto Tours on a successful first 20 years. We can’t wait to see what you have in store for the next 20!

To find out more about Adriatic Moto Tours, visit their website.

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Source: RiderMagazine.com

Join Rider EIC Greg Drevenstedt on the IMTBike Morocco Adventure Motorcycle Tour

IMTBike Morocco Adventure Motorcycle Tour
Ride this road in the Atlas Mountains on the IMTBike Morocco Adventure Motorcycle Tour.

Ready to visit the exotic bazaars of Fez and Marrakech? Ride a camel on the dunes of the Sahara Desert? Ride the best roads in Morocco, including the Atlas and Rif mountains? Join Rider Editor-in-Chief Greg Drevenstedt and his brother, Paul, on the IMTBike Morocco Adventure Motorcycle Tour, October 12-21, 2024.

IMTBike Morocco Adventure Motorcycle Tour
Rider Editor-in-Chief Greg Drevenstedt (right) and his brother, Paul, will be on the IMTBike Morocco Adventure Motorcycle Tour. Paul’s son, Felix, hopes his dad brings him home a fez from Fez!

This 10-day tour includes all the sights you always dreamed of visiting in Morocco. This route is for seasoned riders who want to enjoy rolling green hills, the snow-capped Atlas Mountains, and the mysterious sand dunes of the Sahara Desert all on well-maintained paved roads. You’ll explore casbahs, see oases, and have opportunities to buy hand-made rugs, drink mint tea, and ride a camel! In the evenings you’ll dine on delicious Moroccan cuisine like couscous and tagine.

IMTBike Morocco Adventure Motorcycle Tour
Make friends with locals on the IMTBike Morocco Adventure Motorcycle Tour.

The tour starts and ends in Málaga, Spain, where you’ll spend nights to kick off and conclude the tour. To get to Morocco, you’ll ride along the southern coast of Spain and take a ferry across the Mediterranean Sea.

The IMTBike Morocco Adventure Motorcycle Tour is an authentic experience that will leave a lasting impression on you. There is limited space on this tour, so sign up now!

Register for the IMTBike Morocco Adventure Motorcycle Tour

IMTBike Morocco Adventure Motorcycle Tour
The IMTBike Morocco Adventure Motorcycle Tour route covers 1,400 miles on well-maintained paved roads. Rest days are in Fez and Erfoud.

IMTBike Morocco Adventure Motorcycle Tour Facts

  • Start / End: Málaga, Spain
  • Total Distance: 1,432 miles / 2,306 km
  • Daily Mileage: 160-220 miles / 250-350 km
  • Riding Season: Autumn
  • Total Time: 10 days
  • Riding Days: 9 days
  • Rest Days: 2 (Erfoud, Fez)
  • Breakfast: 9 included breakfasts
  • Dinners: 7 included dinners
  • Hotel Overnights: 9 nights
  • Highlights: Marrakech Djemaa el Fna Square, riding a camel in the Sahara Desert sand dunes, Fez medina tour, Atlas Mountains
  • Accommodations: First-class 4- and 5-star hotels plus some Moroccan riads (palace homes converted into exotic boutique hotels). All IMTBike lodgings are hand-picked for their quality of service, local charm, and strategic locations.
IMTBike Morocco Adventure Motorcycle Tour
You’ll enjoy exotic north African scenery on the IMTBike Morocco Adventure Motorcycle Tour.

IMTBike Morocco Adventure Motorcycle Tour Daily Itinerary

  • Day 1: Arrival at Málaga
  • Day 2: Malaga – Rabat
  • Day 3: Rabat – Marrakech
  • Day 4: Marrakech – Ouarzazate
  • Day 5: Ouarzazate – Todra Canyon – Erfoud
  • Day 6: Erfoud rest day
  • Day 7: Erfoud – Fez
  • Day 8: Fez rest day
  • Day 9: Fez – Ceuta
  • Day 10: Ceuta – Málaga / Flight home

Read detailed daily itinerary for the Morocco Adventure Motorcycle Tour

IMTBike Morocco Adventure Motorcycle Tour
You’ll enjoy a Fez medina tour on the IMTBike Morocco Adventure Motorcycle Tour.

IMTBike Morocco Adventure Motorcycle Tour Pricing

Base Price: €3,910 (approx. $USD 4,242)

The base price of every tour is calculated for a single rider on a BMW G 310 R and sharing a double room. Passengers, single-room occupancy, and other BMW models incur additional charges.

Related: IMTBike Southern Spain Andalusia Tour Review

IMTBike Morocco Adventure Motorcycle Tour
You’ll ride through the high-walled Todra Canyon on the IMTBike Morocco Adventure Motorcycle Tour.

Included in Tour:

  • Airport pickup on the first day of the tour
  • Overnight accommodations in carefully selected 4- and 5-star hotels and boutique riads
  • A delicious evening meal featuring Moroccan specialties
  • Complete buffet breakfast every morning
  • New model BMW motorcycle fully equipped with three BMW cases
  • Tour handbook (normally about 70 pages – very comprehensive) and highlighted map
  • Expert multilingual guide on a motorcycle
  • Multilingual guide in support vehicle which will carry your luggage, any oversized purchases you make, or even a passenger or two
  • Tour souvenirs

Related: IMTBike Essence of Northern Spain Tour Review

IMTBike Morocco Adventure Motorcycle Tour
One of the rest days on the IMTBike Morocco Adventure Motorcycle Tour is in Erfoud, the gateway to the Sahara Desert and the staging location for many desert rally race teams.

Not Included in Tour:

  • Air ticket
  • Lunches
  • Gasoline
  • Drinks
  • Tolls
  • Personal spending
  • Tips

Ready for the adventure of a lifetime? Come ride with and get to know Rider Editor-in-Chief Greg Drevenstedt and his brother, Paul, who will be on the tour from beginning to end! Space is limited, so click on the link below to sign up for the tour.

Register for the IMTBike Morocco Adventure Motorcycle Tour

IMTBike Morocco Adventure Motorcycle Tour
This could be you on the Morocco Adventure Motorcycle Tour!
IMTBike Morocco Adventure Motorcycle Tour
Choose from a wide range of BMW motorcycles on the IMTBike Morocco Adventure Motorcycle Tour. The entire 1,400-mile route is on well-maintained paved roads.
IMTBike Morocco Adventure Motorcycle Tour
Ride a camel over the sand dunes of the Sahara Desert on the IMTBike Morocco Adventure Motorcycle Tour.

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Source: RiderMagazine.com

Great American Scenic Byways Tour

Great American Scenic Byways Motorcycle Tour Parkinson's Foundation
Every trip starts with a send-off and the first mile. This banner about supporting the Parkinson’s Foundation made the entire journey with me.

In 2021, Steven Goode completed the Great American Deli Schlep, a 75‑day, 15,000‑mile motorcycle ride during which he visited the best Jewish deli in nearly every state and raised funds for MAZON, a Jewish nonprofit that fights hunger in America. You can read Goode’s feature about that ride here. –Ed. 

I haven’t been everywhere, but it’s on my list.” This is a quote by Susan Sontag and words I ride by.

Great American Scenic Byways Motorcycle Tour Beartooth Highway
Beartooth Pass Summit (see next photo) was the crescendo of a magnificent ride on Beartooth Highway from Wyoming into Red Lodge, Montana. Hairpin curves, few guardrails, and sweeping views make it one of the best scenic byways in America. (Photos by the author)

After completing four major motorcycle trips around our wonderful country, each ranging from 11,000 to 17,000 miles, I told my wife I was done with long‑distance rides. Sort of the same way I’ve told her, many times over, that this was going to be my last motorcycle purchase. Of course, she didn’t believe me. 

Great American Scenic Byways Motorcycle Tour

So when a riding buddy said we should plan a big trip, I was all in. All I needed was a cause and a theme for the ride.

For a cause, I chose the Parkinson’s Foundation. In 2001, my mother passed away from Parkinson’s disease. A motorcycle trip supporting this cause would be a great way to not only honor her memory but raise money to support finding a cure and providing resources for those afflicted with this terrible disease.  

Although my mother most likely would not have approved of my 60‑day, 16,000‑mile motorcycle trip – she was still a mother after all – she would have been extremely proud of my commitment to this cause. She had a wild side, but she didn’t show it often for fear of encouraging her sons to follow in her path, which we did anyway.

Great American Scenic Byways Motorcycle Tour Steven Goode
My late mother was the inspiration for this tour. This photo shows us in our backyard in 1979.

For a theme, we decided to ride the top scenic byways in nearly every state. To help us plan the trip, National Geographic’s Guide to Scenic Highways and Byways (fifth edition) was an invaluable resource that provided descriptions, photos, maps, and interesting facts. 

When I told the Parkinson’s Foundation about my plan, they were immediately supportive and offered to help create public awareness for the trip. An important part of the publicity was social media. I’m in my late 60s, and I didn’t do Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, etc., so their team handled that for me. They also created logos and designed T‑shirts, banners, and a web page for my blog. Klim supported the ride by providing me with a Latitude Gore‑Tex suit, and Nelson‑Rigg provided some waterproof luggage.

Great American Scenic Byways Motorcycle Tour

Scan the QR code or click here to make a donation to the Parkinson’s Foundation.

We named the ride The Great American Scenic Byways Tour supporting Parkinson’s Foundation. After reviewing the route and the time necessary to complete the ride, my friend said the trip would require too much time away from work, so he bowed out. Since I had already committed to the Foundation and this was a personal ride on behalf of my mother, I decided to go alone. 

Great American Scenic Byways Motorcycle Tour Cherohala Skyway
My friend Bruce Benton joined me for a wonderful ride on the Cherohala Skyway in Tennessee and North Carolina.

For those of you who are curious how someone plans a 16,000‑mile trip, here are a few guidelines. First, get a map of the United States and put markers next to the places you plan to travel to. Second, using the rough route map, create a spreadsheet with columns for the city in which you begin your day’s ride; the destination city for that day; miles you plan to ride each day; and notes about the route, landmarks, and things to see. Good planning is key for a successful ride, and being organized reduces stress. 

Great American Scenic Byways Motorcycle Tour Bayshore Scenic Byway
In Delaware I rode the Bayshore Scenic Byway. My Honda Gold Wing was a faithful companion on my deli schlep and scenic byways tours.

A key element to any trip of this magnitude is planning for unforeseen events. My mantra is “It’s all about Plan B.” On a two‑month trip, there will be at least one unexpected twist pop up. Mine came three days in when my dermatologist called to tell me I had a melanoma on my back and he wanted to surgically remove it as soon as possible. Plan B: I turned the bike around, made a beeline to Chicago, had the surgery, and was back on the road 17 days later. 

Great American Scenic Byways Motorcycle Tour Outer Banks Scenic Byway
Cape Hatteras Light Station on the Outer Banks Scenic Byway in North Carolina.

The beauty of this ride’s theme was that each scenic byway has its own personality. Like a thumbprint, every byway is unique. Almost everyone I met during the trip asked me, “What is the best scenic byway?” Just like when asked what the best motorcycle is, I answered, “The one I’m riding.” There are good reasons why National Geographic picked each of these byways to include in its guide. Each one gives the rider a special glimpse into the beauty of the region.

Great American Scenic Byways Motorcycle Tour
This is the Blue Ridge Parkway near Blowing Rock, North Carolina, where the weather seems to change every minute. The quintessential scenic byway is one of America’s treasures.

For example, the Red River Gorge Scenic Byway in Kentucky took me into forested backcountry, and I was able to get lost in my thoughts in the deep woods. One of the interesting features of this scenic byway is the Nada Tunnel, which is 900 feet long but only 12 feet wide and 13 feet high. There’s a single lane through the mountain, with no lights or painted lines. While pondering how to go through it, I asked some local Harley riders for advice. They said, “Look for a headlight at the end of the tunnel. If you see one, don’t go.” I felt like I was in a Road Runner cartoon.

Great American Scenic Byways Motorcycle Tour Nada Tunnel
The Nada Tunnel is located near the Red River Gorge Scenic Byway in Kentucky.

In Newport, Rhode Island, the scenic 10‑mile Ocean Drive provided a glimpse of how the other half lived during the Gilded Age in the late 1800s. The Vanderbilt, Astors, and Morgans all had their summer homes along this rocky coast. 

Great American Scenic Byways Motorcycle Tour Ocean Drive Rhode Island
Mansions along Rhode Island’s Ocean Drive.

Spanning two states, the Talimena National Scenic Byway follows Arkansas Highway 88 and Oklahoma State Highway 1. On the morning I planned to ride it, the forecast said it would be 105 degrees in Dallas, Texas, my next destination. I left at 5 a.m. to arrive in Dallas in time to beat the heat. This early start gave me an opportunity to watch the sunrise over the byway. 

Great American Scenic Byways Motorcycle Tour Talimena National Scenic Byway
Sunrise over the Talimena National Scenic Byway, which goes through Arkansas and Oklahoma.

After five days on the road, I could no longer remember where I was the day before, what I had for dinner the night before, or which hotel I stayed in. That’s one of the great things about a two‑month motorcycle trip – getting lost in the journey. Writing a blog forced me to recreate the trip daily so it didn’t become one huge blur, and it also allowed friends, family, and supporters to follow my progress. 

Great American Scenic Byways Motorcycle Tour
An old steam train in Essex on the Connecticut Valley Scenic Byway.

Another benefit of a trip of this scale is all the things I learned along the way. Like a school on wheels, I learned about our United States up close and personal, gaining a new appreciation for each region’s distinct personality and history. After the trip, I had a better understanding of our collective history. Whether it was exploring what life was like on plantations, following the Trail of Tears, or riding the path of Lewis and Clark, I was able to take a long look at our country and how we grew up as a nation, both the good and the bad. 

Great American Scenic Byways Motorcycle Tour Oak Alley Plantation
Slave quarters at the Oak Alley Plantation in Vacherie, Louisiana. This tour provided an education on America’s past, present, and future.

Every long motorcycle trip has unexpected moments, and one left me speechless and cleaning the mess off my bike for days. Leaving Elko, Nevada, to ride to Idaho, I took State Route 225, a two‑lane road with virtually no traffic. As I was riding north, I noticed something that looked like pinecones on the pavement up ahead. Once I got closer, the “pinecones” began to scurry. As I continued to ride north, they completely covered the road. Then I noticed that the road’s tire tracks were turning red, not asphalt gray. It was an infestation of Mormon crickets, which are about 2 inches long and don’t fly, and I was riding through an invasion of Biblical proportions that went on for 50‑plus miles! 

Great American Scenic Byways Motorcycle Tour Sawtooth Mountains Ponderosa Pines Scenic Byway
Taking a pause to enjoy a view of the Sawtooth Mountains after riding the Ponderosa Pines Scenic Byway in Idaho.

My original plan was to ride through California’s Death Valley National Park. Just before I left, I received a call from my son. “Dad, did you hear that a 65‑year‑old guy just died in Death Valley? He had two flat tires on his car, and nobody came to his rescue. Are you sure you want to go into Death Valley by yourself, on your motorcycle, with temperatures reaching 115 degrees?” Plan B: Due to the intense heat and time constraints after my unexpected surgery, I opted to bypass California, Oregon, and Washington. 

Great American Scenic Byways Motorcycle Tour Wetlands and Wildlife Scenic Byway
The Wetlands and Wildlife Scenic Byway in Kansas.

My favorite scenic byway changed from day to day. When I was on the East Coast, I loved the Rangeley Lakes National Scenic Byway in Maine. Riding the 17.6‑mile Chesapeake Bay Bridge‑Tunnel (U.S. Route 13) in Virginia, which includes a tunnel under the water, from Norfolk to Fisherman Island National Wildlife Refuge, was spectacular.

Great American Scenic Byways Motorcycle Tour Maine
Somewhere in Maine, on my way to Rangeley Lakes Scenic Byway.

Out West, it was U.S. Route 191 (Coronado Trail) in Arizona and State Route 12 in Utah. Beartooth Highway in Wyoming and Montana is a must‑ride. It is hard to choose only one scenic byway because each is special, and every one of them gave me new perspectives on the areas I was traveling through.

Great American Scenic Byways Motorcycle Tour Coronado Trail Scenic Byway
U.S. Route 191 in Arizona between Alpine and Morenci is known as the Coronado Trail Scenic Byway – one of my all-time favorites.

People also asked, “How do you pack for such a big trip?” My only advice is to take less than you think you need but all that’s necessary for unforeseen conditions (rain, cold, heat, etc.). You must think through all the variables and prepare a Plan B. If traveling solo, use a satellite tracking device so family and friends know how to find you. 

Great American Scenic Byways Motorcycle Tour Bryce Canyon National Park
Riding through Bryce Canyon National Park, which is located just off Scenic Byway 12 in Utah.

Long motorcycle trips are not for everyone, but I love not knowing what is on the other side of the hill and feeling the thrill and power of the bike beneath me, experiences that keep me going day after day. I highly recommend checking out National Geographic’s Guide to Scenic Highways and Byways, picking a region, and planning your own adventure. I guarantee you won’t be disappointed. Take the time to enjoy the sights, sensations, and sinuous curves on America’s rich bounty of scenic byways.

Great American Scenic Byways Motorcycle Tour Pike Peak
On the way down from the 14,115-foot summit of Pikes Peak in Colorado.

During his Great American Scenic Byways tour, Steven Goode raised nearly $22,000 for the Parkinson’s Foundation. To make a donation, use the QR code above or click here. To read Goode’s blog, visit this page on Facebook. Below you’ll find a complete list of the scenic byways Goode rode on this tour.

See all of Rider‘s touring stories here.

Great American Scenic Byways Tour

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Exploring Backroads on a New York and Pennsylvania Motorcycle Ride

Upper Delaware River Watershed New York and Pennsylvania Motorcycle Ride Favorite Ride
The snaking Hawk’s Nest section of New York Route 97 clings to rocky cliffs hundreds of feet above the Delaware River. It was a highlight of this New York and Pennsylvania motorcycle ride.

The Upper Delaware River Watershed encompasses thousands of square miles in New York and Pennsylvania, with hundreds of miles of serpentine roads rolling through forests, farmland, small towns, and historic sites. It makes for a superb ride, so I fired up my Kawasaki Vulcan and hit the road to explore it. 

Upper Delaware River Watershed New York and Pennsylvania Motorcycle Ride Favorite Ride

Scan QR code above or click here to view the route on REVER

From West Milford, New Jersey, I rolled north on smooth East Shore Road through state forest land and then along the sparkling shoreline of Greenwood Lake. With the morning sun twinkling through the trees and the cool, fresh air energizing me, I rode through the Black Dirt Region of southern Orange County, New York, a beautiful area of farmland renowned for its rich, black soil.

Cruising through Port Jervis, I wound through the Hawk’s Nest section of State Route 97, which is designated as the Upper Delaware Scenic Byway for 70 miles. This sinuous roadway is cut into the mountainside, offering excellent views of the Delaware River far below.

See all of Rider‘s Northeast U.S. motorcycle rides here.

Leaving the river behind near Pond Eddy, I climbed deeper into the watershed. I’m not religious in the traditional sense, but I love viewing unique churches. Two impressive ones grace the treelined State Route 41: Saints Peter and Paul Ukrainian Orthodox Church with its white facade and metal domes and the rustic log St. Volodymyr Ukrainian Catholic Church.

Upper Delaware River Watershed New York and Pennsylvania Motorcycle Ride Favorite Ride
Saints Peter and Paul Ukrainian Orthodox Church in Glen Spey, New York, stands as a citadel of hope.

From Glen Spey, I weaved through the wooded route to Eldred, where I blasted up scenic State Route 55 to Lake Superior State Park, a good place for a relaxing swim or walkabout. From there, I made a pilgrimage to Bethel, site of the famous 1969 Woodstock music festival where 400,000 people gathered for three days of peace and music. 

Upper Delaware River Watershed New York and Pennsylvania Motorcycle Ride Favorite Ride

No longer the rural field of Max Yasgur’s farm, it is now part of the Bethel Woods Center for the Arts. This concert venue’s museum honors the 1969 festival, and the original concert field has been preserved. A monument near the stage site memorializes the groups who performed there.

From Bethel, I blasted northwest on country backroads to the impressive Stone Arch Bridge Historical Park and then onto Roscoe for lunch at the Roscoe Diner. Next, I crossed the Beaverkill River, a tributary of the Delaware River. Both the Beaverkill and the Downsville covered bridges are off State Route 206, and riding a motorcycle through these wooden structures is a joy not to be missed.

Upper Delaware River Watershed New York and Pennsylvania Motorcycle Ride Favorite Ride
The Stone Arch Bridge, built in 1880, adorns its namesake park in Kenoza Lake, New York. It is as famous for its beautiful architecture as it is for a murder committed on the bridge in 1892.

Downsville is also home to the 15-mile-long, 5,700-acre Pepacton Reservoir on the East Branch of the Delaware River. State Route 30’s twisties follow the reservoir’s shoreline and then the snaking river. With my Vulcan purring and the afternoon sun reflecting off the water, I cruised SR-30 to State Route 17. In Hancock, I dropped my kickstand at the tidy Hancock House Hotel, which has a pub and a restaurant on-site, making it an ideal overnight stop for riders.

The next day, I fired up my Vulcan and savored the crisp air and deep blue sky as I rumbled over the river into Pennsylvania. State Routes 191, 247, and 370 roll through farmland and forest. On SR-370, I spotted a bear crossing the road – not an unusual occurrence in rural Pennsylvania. 

Upper Delaware River Watershed New York and Pennsylvania Motorcycle Ride Favorite Ride
This rural Pennsylvania road passes through the green pastures of a family farm.

Riding south on State Route 296 to Waymart is one of my favorite roads: smooth with a mix of farmland and forest on both sides. At Waymart, I crossed over U.S. Route 6 – known locally as PA Route 6 – which spans the northern part of the state and offers hundreds of miles of excellent riding opportunities.

At Hawley, I picked up a winding section of PA Route 6 and then followed State Route 590 to Lackawaxen, where SR-590 begins to parallel the Lackawaxen River, another tributary of the Delaware. It was a beautiful day, and I stopped to watch some kayakers on the river. 

Upper Delaware River Watershed New York and Pennsylvania Motorcycle Ride Favorite Ride
The author’s bike soaks up some rays as he explores a farm stand on Pennsylvania Route 296 near Waymart.

Crossing the Lackawaxen River, I stopped to rest at the Delaware Aqueduct, known as the Roebling Bridge, which was built in the mid-1800s and is the oldest existing wire suspension bridge in the U.S. Crossing the river here allows you to continue north or south on the Upper Delaware Scenic Byway. 

New York and Pennsylvania Motorcycle Ride Resources

See all of Rider‘s touring stories here.

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Source: RiderMagazine.com

Join Rider Magazine on Edelweiss Grand Alps Tour

Edelweiss Bike Travel Grand Alps Tour
The Alps are world-famous for their endless curving roads and motorcycle-friendly culture. The Edelweiss Grand Alps Tour will allow you to experience the best of them.

Take a motorcycle trip of a lifetime with us on the Edelweiss Bike Travel Grand Alps Tour. Join Rider contributing photographer Kevin Wing on this 15-day tour through Austria, Switzerland, France, and Italy. The Alps have some of the best motorcycle roads in the world, and this tour has been carefully created to include beautiful scenery, overnight stays at charming alpine villages and towns, hundreds of hairpin bends, and some of the highest passes in the Alps.

Edelweiss Bike Travel Grand Alps Tour village
Old-world architecture and charming villages are some of the many highlights of this tour.

The tour starts in the town of Seefeld in Austria’s state of Tyrol, then heads through Austria, stopping one night in the village of Galtür, and then into Switzerland, with a stop in Andermatt, a village in the Swiss Alps. The tour travels west through Switzerland and into France at Chamonix, a town at the foot of the famous 12,000-feet Aiguille du Midi. In France, the tour circumnavigates the snow-covered mountain of Montblanc with a stop in Briançon, the highest city in France and the second highest in Europe.

Edelweiss Bike Travel Grand Alps Tour Kevin Wing
Professional photographer and long-time Rider contributor Kevin Wing will be on this tour July 21 to Aug. 3.

After France, you’ll head into Italy with stops in Aosta, Lago Maggiore, Livigno, and Collalbo. The tour spends a rest day in Collalbo in the Dolomites before passing back into Austria to the skiing town of Kaprun. After 15 days of some of the best riding in Europe, the tour concludes back in Seefeld.

Related: Edelweiss Bike Travel ‘Southern Italy Delights and Twisties’ Tour Review

Included in the price of the tour are all overnight stops at comfortable middle-class hotels, breakfast every day, two picnics, 11 dinners, motorcycle rental, third-party liability insurance, a tour information package, tour guides, and a support van for luggage.

Edelweiss Bike Travel Grand Alps Tour lake
You’ll enjoy scenery like this day after day.

Motorcycle rentals available include models from BMW, Ducati, Harley-Davidson, Honda, KTM, Suzuki, and Triumph, and pricing for the tour starts at $7,670 for a rider in a double room. Optional upgrades include certain motorcycle models, a single room for $960, the Alps Prep Course for $470, and the Guided City Tour for $460.

Join us on the Edelweiss Grand Alps Tour from July 21 to Aug. 3, 2024. For those who can’t make the first dates, this tour will run again from Sept. 14 to 28. For more information and to reserve your spot on this tour, visit the Edelweiss Bike Travel website.

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Source: RiderMagazine.com

Skyline Parkway Scenic Byway in Duluth, Minnesota | Favorite Ride

Favorite Ride Duluth Minnesota Motorcycle Ride Seven Bridges Road
Originally built more than a century ago, Seven Bridges Road parallels and crosses Amity Creek, which cascades down a series of waterfalls for 400 vertical feet. This road was a highlight of this Minnesota motorcycle ride.

A couple summers ago, I flew to Minneapolis for a CFMOTO press launch and to visit our parent company’s home office. When CFMOTO gave me the key to a 650 ADVentura and let me loose for a day, I made a beeline north to Duluth to pay a visit to my friend Andy Goldfine and tour the Aerostich factory and store.

Related: 2022 CFMOTO Motorcycle Lineup | First Ride Review

Favorite Ride Duluth Minnesota Motorcycle Ride REVER Map

Scan QR code above or click here to view the route on REVER

It was a hot, muggy morning when I left the hotel in a northern suburb of Minneapolis and made my way to Interstate 35. The 160-mile ride to Duluth took a little over two hours, and along the way, being in the Land of 10,000 Lakes, I passed countless billboards for fishing boats, fishing lakes, fish camps, and marinas. I also caught the edges of two rainstorms, which cooled me off in my mesh jacket and riding jeans. But as I-35 descended a steep hill toward downtown Duluth, the temperature dropped into the mid‑50s due to the cooling effect of Lake Superior. By the time I pulled into Aerostich’s parking lot, my teeth were chattering.

Favorite Ride Duluth Minnesota Motorcycle Ride Skyline Parkway
Skyline Parkway provides unparalleled views of downtown Duluth and Lake Superior.

Andy Goldfine has visited the Rider offices several times over the years, but I’d never been to the Aerostich factory before, so to get a personal tour by none other than Mr. Subjective himself was a real honor. After seeing the factory, Andy gave me the nickel tour of Duluth, and we had lunch at a cozy Italian eatery called Va Bene, where I warmed up with meatball soup and coffee.

Related: Aerostich: The Great American Motorcycle Suit

Before we parted, Andy took pity on me for being cold and gave me an Aerostich waterproof/windproof innershell to wear under my mesh jacket. He also suggested I check out Skyline Parkway, a scenic byway that runs several hundred feet above downtown Duluth and provides excellent views of the city and Lake Superior.

Favorite Ride Duluth Minnesota Motorcycle Ride Seven Bridges Road
The series of stone arch bridges along Seven Bridges Road are a delight to behold.

I rode north along the lakeshore to Lester Park, where the Parkway begins on Occidental Boulevard as it goes due north along Amity Creek, ascending 400 feet as it follows and crosses a long cascade of waterfalls. In less than half a mile, the road crosses the creek, and its name becomes Seven Bridges Road. (The Steve Young song “Seven Bridges Road,” which was later covered by the Eagles and Dolly Parton, is about a street in Montgomery, Alabama.) Incidentally, the first bridge on Seven Bridges Road isn’t one of the eponymous seven; it’s designated “Bridge 0.”

Favorite Ride Duluth Minnesota Motorcycle Ride Seven Bridges Road
Originally built more than a century ago, Seven Bridges Road parallels and crosses Amity Creek, which cascades down a series of waterfalls for 400 vertical feet.

Construction of Skyline Parkway began in 1889 along a plateau that was once the gravel shoreline of an ancient glacial lake that predates Lake Superior. Ten years later, a local land developer named Samuel F. Snively began construction of Seven Bridges Road. The original bridges were built in the early 1900s, but nearly all have been rebuilt in the past few decades, and each of the stone arch bridges is a work of civil engineering art.

Favorite Ride Duluth Minnesota Motorcycle Ride Hawk Ridge Nature Reserve
The northern part of Skyline Parkway is a gravel road that passes through the Hawk Ridge Nature Reserve. The wooden platform behind the sign is a bird observatory.

At the end of Seven Bridges Road, the Parkway takes a sharp left and turns to gravel as it enters the Hawk Ridge Nature Reserve. Several hiking trails branch off from the road, and the Hawk Ridge Bird Observatory is a popular place to watch raptor migrations.

See all of Rider‘s Midwest U.S. motorcycle rides here.

The Parkway turns to pavement again as it meanders through a residential area. Riders must stay vigilant for the Parkway signs since several turns are required to stay on course. After crossing Chester Creek, the Parkway continues to wind through neighborhoods. Soon the houses on the lakeside of the road disappear, and riders are treated to expansive views of Lake Superior, downtown Duluth, and just across Saint Louis Bay, the neighboring city of Superior, Wisconsin.

Favorite Ride Duluth Minnesota Motorcycle Ride Hawk Ridge Nature Reserve
The Hawk Ridge Nature Reserve is a wooded area crisscrossed with trails.

After passing Twin Ponds, Skyline Parkway runs along the edge of a golf course, goes over U.S. Route 53, and crosses several creeks before passing through wooded parkland. The scenery and views are pleasant the entire way. I jumped off the Parkway when it crossed
I-35 to get back to Minneapolis, but it continues on the south side of the freeway, winding through the Magney‑Snively Natural Area before ending at Becks Road.

Favorite Ride Duluth Minnesota Motorcycle Ride Duluth
Overlooking downtown Duluth, the harbor, and – in the distance – Superior, Wisconsin.

If you plan to visit the Aerostich factory or will pass through Duluth during a Lake Superior Circle Tour or other Minnesota motorcycle ride, I highly recommend adding Skyline Parkway to your itinerary. Due to the icy winters in Duluth, parts of the Skyline Parkway are closed seasonally, so plan accordingly.

Duluth, Minnesota Resources

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Beauty in Bluff Country: A Southern Minnesota Motorcycle Ride

Southern Minnesota Motorcycle Ride Chuck Cochran Church Hill Overlook
This Southern Minnesota motorcycle ride included an early morning stop at Church Hill Overlook on the Root River with a great view of the Lanesboro Stone Dam, constructed in 1868 with unmortared limestone blocks. (Photos by the author and Chad Cochran.)

Motorcyclists living in Minnesota experience long winters with plenty of time to think about roads we want to ride. It’s a sweet feeling when spring arrives and the bikes come out of hibernation.

My son, Chad, feels the same way. We kicked off the riding season with an overnight Minnesota motorcycle ride down the Great River Road (U.S. Route 61) on the western bank of the Mississippi River, through what is often referred to as Bluff Country. The area’s complex hilly terrain has been carved out over eons by the Mississippi and other waterways large and small.

Southern Minnesota Motorcycle Ride Chuck Cochran

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Minnesota’s Great River Road is a popular motorcycle route that offers epic beauty and a chance to visit towns along one of America’s most vital corridors of commerce. Starting in April with the annual “Flood Run” charity ride, thousands of riders thunder up and down these roads and frequent the many small-town bars and restaurants along the way. I’ve been on many of these roads before, and I love riding old favorites and exploring new side routes.

Related: Exploring the Far North: A Northern Minnesota Motorcycle Ride

We left the Twin Cities early on a Saturday morning to beat traffic, and our first stop on this Minnesota motorcycle ride was the town of Hastings, which serves as a gateway to Bluff Country. The Hastings Riverwalk is a relatively new paved trail that connects to a 10-mile walking and biking loop along the Mississippi and Vermillion rivers. You can’t miss the towering Hastings Bridge, various sculptures along the waterfront, and the original footings of the Spiral Bridge, which was built in 1895 and dismantled in 1951.

Southern Minnesota Motorcycle Ride Chuck Cochran
The Hastings Riverwalk, with great views of bridges, boats, and scenery along the Mississippi, is a great place to stop.

East of Hastings, we continued south on the Ravenna Trail, one of the great lesser-traveled roads that tracks closely to the Mississippi River. We took the trail to the Prairie Island Indian Reservation and Treasure Island Casino, which boasts a 788-room hotel and Vegas-style casino attracting top entertainers. Resisting the temptation for easy money, we pushed on to rejoin U.S. 61.

Our next stop was Red Wing, a town established in the 1850s to support steamboats moving up the Mississippi River toward vast available farmland. By 1873, Red Wing was a leading wheat producer, but it was eventually surpassed by Minneapolis where larger flour mills were built. Today the town is perhaps best known as the home of legendary boot maker Red Wing Shoes. The downtown St. James Hotel was founded in 1875 and has hosted U.S. presidents, Mark Twain, and other luminaries. Downhill from the hotel is the historic train station, which has old wooden benches and period signage on the walls. I could sit there all day watching the river roll by.

Southern Minnesota Motorcycle Ride Chuck Cochran

Continuing south, we visited Lake City, which sits on a wide stretch of the Mississippi called Lake Pepin, the birthplace of waterskiing. The lake was once a water highway used by Native Americans, and there are burial mounds and settlement ruins located nearby. Today, you’ll see raw materials being moved in barges and recreationists enjoying themselves in sailboats and ski boats.

Towering above both sides of Lake Pepin are distinctive limestone bluffs and tree-covered rock formations. With such unique scenery, it’s a challenge to keep your eyes on the road ahead. One minute you are feeling the heat from the tarmac and gazing up at high bluffs, and the next you’re ripping through dense maple forests enjoying the cool air and earthy smells. For golf lovers, the Lake Pepin Golf Course has 12 holes laid out atop the bluffs overlooking the Mississippi River Valley.

Southern Minnesota Motorcycle Ride Chuck Cochran Red Wing
The bustling river town of Red Wing has many historic buildings, including the St. James Hotel, the old iron works, and the train station.

We arrived at the next small town on our route, Reads Landing, just in time for lunch. This was once considered as a potential capital city for Minnesota due to its booming lumber trade and strategic location on the Mississippi and Chippewa rivers. Reads Landing Brewing Company occupies an old red-brick building with an outdoor patio overlooking the river. It has a full menu and was a great place to cool off and relax.

Adding to the Great River Road’s natural beauty is an abundance of birds soaring overhead. The National Eagle Center in Wabasha houses permanently injured bald eagles and provides an opportunity for people to see these majestic creatures up close.

Southern Minnesota Motorcycle Ride Chuck Cochran
Lake Pepin has beautiful scenery and recreational opportunities, and it was the birthplace of water skiing.

As we continued south, we approached Winona, a vibrant college town that’s home to the Minnesota Marine Art Museum, which is located right on the river and exhibits artwork inspired by water. With a variety of dining and lodging options, recreational opportunities, live music, festivals, and shopping, Winona is a great destination for an overnight stay or weekend getaway.

Southeast of Winona, on County Road 7, is Pickwick Mill, one of the oldest flour mills in Minnesota, built in the mid-1850s. The mill was named by the area’s first postmaster, who was a fan of Charles Dickens and his novel The Pickwick Papers. During the Civil War, it produced 100 barrels of flour per day for the Union army.

See all of Rider‘s Minnesota motorcycle rides here.

After returning to U.S. 61 and riding along the Mississippi to La Crescent, we turned west on the Historic Bluff Country National Scenic Byway (State Route 16). Even away from the river, bluff topography continues with hills and cliffs creating the winding roads we all live for. Through the towns of Hokah, Houston, and Rushford, we paralleled the Root River and the Root River State Trail, a rails-to-trails bike path linking the towns of Houston and Fountain. 

After nearly 50 miles on the byway, we arrived in Lanesboro, an art, entertainment, and recreational hub where we spent the night. We stayed at the historic Hotel Lanesboro, which was built in 1872 from local limestone and is on the National Registry of Historic Places. Formerly a boarding house called Mrs. B’s, it once hosted Buffalo Bill and Doc Powell. The hotel is right on the main street with many good restaurants nearby. We had a tasty dinner at the Pedal Pushers Cafe, a nod to the many bicyclists who ride the state trail. 

Southern Minnesota Motorcycle Ride Chuck Cochran
Overlooking Lake Pepin on the Mississippi River, one of many scenic stops on this southern Minnesota motorcycle ride.

My Harley is much louder than Chad’s Royal Enfield, and I felt guilty breaking the morning silence as we headed to the towns of Preston and Harmony. This area is Amish country, and it wasn’t long before we saw our first horse and buggy. Friendly and always good for a wave, the Amish are an interesting subculture. There are about 1,000 Amish in Harmony, and you can take tours to learn more about their way of life and visit shops with baked goods, furniture, and more. 

Seeing a horse with buggy tied up at a local convenience store, I pulled a quick turn to stop and take a picture. Soon two young ladies with bonnets saw me as I attempted to pocket my phone, not wanting to look like a gawking tourist. They wished me a good morning as they untied their horse and climbed aboard to clip-clop down the road. 

See all of Rider‘s Midwest U.S. touring stories here.

Harmony is also home to Niagara Cave, where you can take a tour 200 feet below the surface. It’s well worth it for this mile-long underground hike to see the various rock formations and even a subterranean wedding chapel.

We continued south on U.S. Route 52 to Prosper, a stone’s throw from Iowa, where we headed east and then north on State Route 44 to Caledonia, picking up State Route 76, which has twisties so enjoyable that we rode some sections twice. SR-76 took us north most of the way back to Winona, where we backtracked north on U.S. 61 to Wabasha. We then turned west on State Route 60 and joined a pack of bikers thundering in the same direction. Alongside the road is a lone sentinel, a skeleton biker that’s a reminder to keep the rubber side down.

Southern Minnesota Motorcycle Ride Chuck Cochran Historic Bluff Country National Scenic Byway
The Historic Bluff Country National Scenic Byway (State Route 16) parallels the Root River and goes through small towns on its way from La Crescent to Lanesboro.

As we left the river and Bluff Country behind, the terrain flattened out as we made our way to Zumbrota, home of Minnesota’s last remaining functional covered bridge. Spanning the Zumbro River, the 116-feet-long, 15-feet-wide bridge was built in 1869 and looks like a long, red barn. 

We rode northwest to Northfield, where in 1876, Jesse James and the James-Younger gang rode into town to rob the First National Bank. Facing pistols, the bank clerk refused to open the safe and was shot to death. Townsfolk retaliated, resulting in a shootout that killed another resident and a couple of gang members. The gang was pursued for 400 miles over the following weeks, eventually being captured in Madelia, Minnesota. Jesse James escaped, but his luck ran out when he was killed in 1882 by one of his own men hoping to collect a $10,000 reward.

We rode west to Henderson, which sits along the Minnesota River Valley National Scenic Byway, another favorite road. Henderson is an old river town with a historic downtown district that’s a fun place to visit.

Our Minnesota motorcycle ride through Bluff Country and along the Great River Road and other scenic byways gave us a taste of the history, beauty, and variety of southern Minnesota. The roads showcase some of the best riding, relaxing, and motorcycle-friendly places the state has to offer.

See all of Rider‘s touring stories here.

Southern Minnesota Motorcycle Ride Resources

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