The motorcycle road porn that is featured on the Instagram account @instaroads is fantasy fuel. The photos there are sure to get you hot under your motorcycle jacket’s collar.
While you’re scrolling through, take a moment and imagine you on your motorcycle in these photos. There you are, leaning through the undulating curves, taking in the grand landscapes, feeling the wind, smelling the air… incredible.
If you are sitting at a desk far, far away and trying to plan a motorcycle trip through California – Pashnit.com (pronounced: passionate) MUST be one of the websites that you consult.
The brainchild of Tim Mayhew, it is a collection of the greatest California motorcycle roads, maps, photos and articles organized by geographic area.
The cost for access to this beautiful resource: $20 per year.
Now, I know some people may say “I can find all of that for free by scouring around ADV, blah blah blah…” and they may be right. But it would probably take 10 times longer and be 10 times the leg work. Clicking pins on a visual map? Easy-peasy. Consider it $20 well spent in time-saving.
Plus, you’d be helping a small, independent motorcycle business.
There are free sample articles available on the website so that you can get a feel for what is awaiting you on the website:
Planning a riding trip from afar has it’s challenges. Without local knowledge of a place you can only estimate what a place will be like. The internet really helps to make the universe a little smaller with blog posts, websites and photos from all over the globe.
The website itself doesn’t tout the roads as being “great motorcycle roads”. But it does give you some indication that the roads will be, you know… scenic.
America’s Byways are designated for at least one of these intrinsic qualities: archaeological, cultural, historic, natural, recreational, and scenic. Each invites you to “Come Closer” and drive, ride, climb, hike, and learn on America’s Byways. -America’s Byways FAQ
As with all of your travel plans, you should double check on a map that these are the types of roads you are looking for. But, in California where the beautiful scenery and the great motorcycle roads are limitless – how can I go wrong picking a few gems off of their list?
TIP: Byways.org will send you a free paper map of with the routes highlighted on it. I just noticed that my map is postmarked as March 2000. I guess maybe I should think about getting an updated version!
The 9th of September was bittersweet. It was a special day in that it marked Kenny’s 40th birthday. He got to spend the day doing what he loved; riding motorcycles on amazingly twisty roads. Unfortunately, it also marked the last day of riding that we were to do with Pimmie on our vacation. Our day’s ride took us from beautiful Corvara back to where we started our journey together in Bormio.
The Dolomites were spectacular. Between the scenery, the road condition and the weather I couldn’t have imagined anything to top those passes. As we pressed on heading west, it became apparent that we saved what I would say was the most surprising pass of all, for last; The Gavia Pass.
Like Stelvio, I found the Gavia Pass to be most memorable because it was such an anomaly. On the ascent from Ponte di Legno on the southern side of the pass, the roadway that climbs through the trees is a single lane, and a tight one at that. The problem with the single lane is that it has to support 2 way traffic.
It was an eye opener to feel like you barely fit through the road with sidebags on your bike to then have to make room for a car to squeeze by in the other direction. It was kind of scary but exciting at the same time.
Creeping around some of the blind corners closer to the summit I found myself hoping I wouldn’t be face to face with the grill of an oncoming car.
As usual I was the caboose on our three rider train up the pass. I would catch glimpses of Kenny pulled over watching for me every now and then. It was kind of cute – like he was “protecting” me. 🙂
I found this video on youtube. It gives a pretty good view of how tight the roadway was in the southern section. Imagine trying to squeeze 2 cars through there!
Though it has been in use since Roman times, the San Bernardino pass was first made known to me from the first episode of Top Gear season 10. In it, Clarkson, Hammond and May set off to Europe to find the world’s best driving roads. Watching that show on DVD in the dead of winter as 3 feet of snow piled up outside lit a fire in me. One of the best driving roads? If that isn’t enticing, I don’t know what is. It was only logical to add this switchbacked beauty to our ever growing To Do list.
Leaving the town of Splügen, Switzerland we headed west towards the northern foot of the San Bernardino pass. Like the Splugen pass coming from Chiavenna, the San Bernardino pass began it’s ascent up the mountain like a terraced ribbon candy, zig-zagging its way up many switchbacks into mountains.
When the pavement unclenched it’s teeth and we rose above the treeline, the road opened up into a few kinder, gentler turns. I was able to catch glimpses of partially obscured, smooth tarmac on the left and right. I thought to myself how could those sections of roadway actually be connected to one another?
When the team of engineers began talking about paving the pass and asked “What is the shortest distance between two points?” the answer must have been “WHO CARES?!”
At the summit of the pass there is a restaurant at the San Bernardino hostel. It sits alone in the stark landscape overlooking Lago Moesola. Even though the sky was threatening to open up on us, there were many people out enjoying the day there.
While there taking in the view, we spotted a pair of new Ducati Multistradas that were stickered with IXS logo stickers. The bikes were surrounded by 4 guys dressed in identical textile suits and matching helmets, and a man driving what I assume was a support car. With more guys than bikes they must have been either riding 2-up or were swapping riding duties.
They went through the motions of the standard magazine photos – you know like the ole side of the helmet shot. The one that catches the guys eyes with his visor flipped open while he contemplatively looks off at the scenery and pretends to not notice a giant camera lens next to his head. I wonder where those images will appear.
We were already riding on borrowed sunshine-time trying to beat the rain that was forecast earlier in the morning. It was looking quite gray and a little threatening, so we didn’t dilly-dally for too long. We set off heading south to continue along the pass.
Not long after riding past the lake another roller coaster of sidewinders was waiting for us. The view of the racetrack-like road was enough to send you into fits of excited giggles. Kenny and Pimmie dashed off ahead and I pulled off. I was able to watch them making their way around some of the curves like watching my own personal roadrace.
Around the web many people include the San Bernardino Pass in their listing of the best driving, cycling or motorcycling roads in the world. Now I can see why. The diverse scenery, the road condition, the road layout – they all combine to make this pass an absolute joy to ride. It is not to be missed.