Imagine cruising down a desert highway, top down, maybe Tom Petty blasting out “American Girl,” slowing it down to 80 now and then to give the engine a rest, nothing on your mind but the sun, the sand, and the open road. Or maybe you’re winding up, down, and around a two-lane blacktop through a thick mossy mountain forest darkened by huge overhanging branches and vines.
Now imagine losing half of your tires, all of your doors, your trunk, your hood, and the heat or A/C that’s keeping you from experiencing the smells of nature and breathing in the fresh O2 just outside of your 3.0 MM tempered glass window. If you aren’t letting the wind slap you around, and you aren’t carrying toothpicks to dig bugs from your teeth, you’re missing the best part. You need to be doing all of this on a motorcycle. Posthaste. You aren’t getting any younger.
There are motorcycle rides, and then there are motorcycle rides. If you’re a novice, congrats on taking the first step, but you might want to give yourself a little time before tackling some of the more iconic rides better left for well-seasoned riders looking for a thrill. Your day will come.
A chance to open up and let it roar does not necessarily a great ride make, though no legitimate rider would complain. They sometimes want to zig and zag, they want to climb hills and mountains, they want to cruise through desert towns like Bisbee, Arizona, and they want to ride the roads made popular by other avid riders before them as a sort of right of passage.
If you’ve reached the point of needing some serious riding time, and you’ve already left too much tire tread on the roads you’ve been running, take a few days off and go clear your head on one of these iconic routes. These are some of the most highly rated routes in the country to get your motor runnin’.
Mountain Meander – North Carolina
This is a 5-star 21-mile run through some of the most breathtaking scenery you will ever encounter. It runs through wooded areas and passes by four waterfalls, three of which are very easy to get to, and one you can ride right under.
The blacktop road is smooth as silk with lots of turns and switchbacks to make it fun. There are other good rides in the area but this one seems to be the one less traveled. RV’s rarely use this road and truckers avoid it. One rider said it feels like a self-propelled roller coaster with a non-stop series of right and lefts but with seamless transitions between the two.
The directions are simple. The starting line is at the intersection of US Highway 74, and NC Route 28. Head south on 28 until you get to Franklin. That’s it. Don’t plan on stopping for lunch, topping off your tank, or picking up some new bandanas at an outlet mall. Ain’t happening on this stretch.
Twisty Redwood Ride – California
This is the type ride where nothing feels real. The forests are so deep and moss-covered you’ll be keeping an eye out for gnomes instead of deer. You’ll pass towering Redwood trees reducing the sunlight to a couple of rays glistening off creeks and spotlighting the fern covered forest floor.
It’s a 22-mile stretch of Hwy 1 with zero worldly amenities. The road is smooth, twisty, and banked well. There are mountains, vistas, and outrageous views.
This great ride is hard to get lost on. It’s between Leggitt and Hardy. Go whichever direction you like.
3 State Mississippi River Ride – Minnesota, Iowa, Wisconsin
The majority of this one runs right alongside the “Mighty Mississip” and the scenery is impressive along both shorelines. The road follows the hills so there are plenty of ups and downs and lots of turns.
This run has been said to be relaxing and scenic. The road is more traveled but it’s well maintained. It runs past parks and wildlife refuges, small towns with homestyle diners where you can breathe in views of 100 ft high bluffs, larger towns for gas, smokes, and a pack of Ho-Ho’s, and places you’ll just want to pull over and chill.
Directions appear more complicated than they are, but in a nutshell, head south on 26 out of Brownsville, MN. Take 82 over the river. Follow the river on WI 35 to LaCrosse. Cross over the river again and come back up the other side. Or, use GPS.
Parkersburg-Clay-Harrisburg Loop – West Virginia
This is 180 miles of the sheerest madness you’ll ever come to love. You’ll climb mountains and cruise valleys with twists, turns, and straightaways. You’ll pass through biker friendly small towns where you can rest with a cold one or grab a deli sandwich, and you’ll hug the Ohio for a while.
This run is perfect for a touring bike and if you don’t want to complete the entire loop you can jump off at any point.
Once again the directions are somewhat complex. It starts and ends in Parkersburg. Take W-14 through Elizabeth to Spencer. Take US-119 to WV-36 to Interstate 79 then exit at WV-16. WV-2 will lead you back to Parkersburg.
Guanella Pass Road – Colorado
This route is closed during the winter but it’s a thrilling scenic route with lots of twists and turns and it’s a great summertime run. It runs between Georgetown and Grant.
There are great views of Mt. Evans which is the highest peak in this part of the Rockies. The northern part of the road has been paved for a long time but paving was only recently completed on the southern half. The road is smooth and well maintained.
There are no amenities whatsoever on this stretch of road and traffic is generally minimal. No directions are needed.
These are only some of the many iconic motorcycle routes waiting for avid riders to tackle and enjoy the fun challenges they present. Whether you choose to ride these or stay local, any day spent on two wheels instead of four is bound to be a good one.