The Secretive Lives of Motorcyclists: Finding Your Way

The Secretive Lives of Motorcyclists: Finding Your Way

A few weeks ago I was speaking to Rich, the publisher of AutomotiveTraveler.com because he wanted to use one of my photos for a story.  In the course of our conversation he said something to the gist of, ‘motorcyclists know the best roads.’ I think he’s right on the money. One thing that many motorcyclists don’t know, is how to share. In this digital age of communication motorcyclist who frequent online hangouts like forums or message boards have been known to hold their road cards close to their vests.

Guilty as Charged

I am guilty of keeping mum on my roads. Are you? The reality of the matter is of course that there are no secrets. Anyone that can buy a map or look at Google Maps online can know what you know. Yet, somehow we feel the need to protect our knowledge for fear of the word getting out. It all comes down to one word. Trouble. People who draw complaints from whizzing past driveways, bringing the noise, stunting shenanigans and heaven forbid accidents, all bring the police. Who wants to encounter the police on their roads?

Today when I was messaging back and forth with Goldenchild who writes the SteadyOntheHumble.com blog, he readily tipped his hand to me on a road loop he likes to use. I immediately thought, ‘Wow! Alright, this is nice!’ I was honestly shocked that someone would share their treasures with me and I really appreciated it. I hope I am able to return the favor some time.

How do you find your way?

So how do you do it? How do you find roads in areas that you’ve never been to? My personal preference is to get a paper map of the area I will be traveling to. A paper map gives a high level overview of where I’m headed. I then zero in on where I think I may be going and start picking off routes that look interesting. I look for lakes, rivers, and mountains. My experience so far has taught me that these things are rarely square, so aside from lovely vistas they often provide the twisties. If I’m near a computer, I usually follow up with checking my route on Google Maps to see if I‘ve come up with something good. When have you ever ridden a ‘Snake Hill Road’ or ‘So and So Mountain Road’ that really stunk?

For trips to faraway places I check regional forums on message boards whose membership are sport or sport touring oriented. I look for ride reports and photographs that are centered around the state I’ll be traveling in and jot down any interesting tidbits that I find. I then go back to my paper maps and to Google to see how everything begins to gel. Routes will then begin to materialize naturally.

Perhaps the most important thing that I have learned to do over the years is just to wander. Explore. Make a left when left looks like it might hold some promise even if I haven’t the foggiest idea of where I will end up. True, this often works best when riding alone as I most often do. But, from many of my conversations with other riders it seems that some have a hard time letting go and just winging it.What is that saying? All who wander are not lost.

Fuzzygalore's Triumph Speed Triple in Columbia County New York

Everything you could possibly want is on the internet, good motorcycle road suggestions included. Here are some websites that offer road suggestions:

I’d love to hear your feedback on the topic. Please, don’t be shy!

9 Replies to “The Secretive Lives of Motorcyclists: Finding Your Way”

  1. Guilty as charged. I’m VERY stingy with the roads I frequent and I’ve berated people for “sharing” the road info that I shared with them.

    While nothing is a secret anymore, there’s something to be said about knowing the roads and the surrounding areas. For example, this road is prone to having gravel in this and this corner, this road sometimes has LEO presence, etc.

    I can show someone on a map which roads I like and which I love but they won’t necessarily know how to link them all together.

    How’d I find the roads in question? Simple, googlemaps and riding 25k+ a year 🙂

  2. As you well know, I have a hard time forcing myself to keep good notes about the routes I’ve ridden. Of course, it’s better to do so but I think my over the top, everything in it’s place day to day, cre ates a desire to hang loose on two wheels. Heck, I even have to force myself to keep track of GPS traces but I’ve gotten pretty good at downloading trip pics and saving the GPS route to the same folder in my data drive.

    To your point, I am almost guaranteeing that I don’t share the good stuff because my directions would involve something like ” ok, so once you get into West Virginia, there is a field on the right with a ’51 Packard sitting next to a barn, the road to the right is pretty fricken awesome and it heads mostly south…”

    On the other hand, having a map, GPS and a good sense of direction makes my own rides a lot of fun. I’ve ridden a ton of really cool roads that are difficult, if not impossible to find on anything but a very detailed map. A recent trip with a friend new to riding brought that into focus as he constantly commented “how the heck did you find this road?” I hated to tell him that I was going along on vague memories of past rides 😀

    Perhaps now that I am saving my GPS traces I could cre ate a little database of those roads, for a few friends, anyway 😀

  3. @OG: You should check out ridewithgps.com.

    I mainly get my road tips from word of mouth, either in person at bike nights, rides, and other meet-ups, or by postings on message boards. Oregonians must love to share, because I haven’t met any rider who hasn’t told me about a great road. Maybe it’s because our state has so damn many of them, there’s plenty of pavement to go around. 🙂

  4. Sometimes when travelling in a new area we play the “Left / Right / Straight on” game at road junctions. We take turns to decide which way to go and have found several interesting places and roads by doing this.

    We only tell people about roads we have found outside the UK as our roads are crowded enough as they are. Seek and ye shall find.

  5. Great site…I am liking the post. I have taken some great routes in my day but I have found that the best place to find a good road to travel is breakfast at a locals dive diner. You meet the best people early in the morning…Ask someone something at a breakfast bar and they will give you all the information you will ever want to know.

  6. Hey Borja-

    Thanks for stopping in. I took a look at your blog and subscribed to the RSS. Looking forward to reading more!

  7. Hiya MotoPhoto-

    You’re so right. I love talking to people when i’m ‘away’. Being on a motorcycle seems to really make you more approachable and people much more curious about you.

    Thanks for stopping in!

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