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!
Breathing in deeply, the morning felt cool. As our wheels turned past the silent rolls of hay and red barns of the landscape, I felt like a giant. This was my day and anything I chose to do with it would be spun into gold.
With my camera collected from the side of the road, Bill and I hopped on route 39 and began to carve our way west. There wasn’t another car in sight as we began to sew a jagged line across the byway. Zig-zagging along, it was just us two cruising.
Bill is a great traveling companion. He’s game for anything. That made my ride much more comfortable because I didn’t have to do that dance of wondering if the person you’re riding with is rolling their eyes when you pull over to take a picture of something… again.
The last time that I’d made the trip across 39, it was with Kenny and a bunch of our friends in 2008. I thought about that quite a bit that as the miles ticked by. That and just how much I was missing my family.
Chloe was off being glamorous in California with family. Her face grinning back at me from in front of the Golden Gate bridge made me smile each time I took out my phone for a photo. It helped to keep the I miss you so much daggers to the heart at bay.
Then there was my other half, Kenny. Scheduling kept him from being able to take this ride with us. A classic case of “real life” interfering with fun.
You get so used to someone being your partner through life that when they aren’t there at key moments – their absence is palpable. Of course you are still enjoying yourself, but you wish they could see what you’re seeing with their own eyes.
Traveling makes me feel like possibility is limitless in my life. I feel like being out there in the world without a strict schedule to keep and following the path that your whims take you on – is where I get the chance to see more of the real me. There is a calmness, a clear thinking, a relaxation that comes along with traveling that is addictive.
It was a good thing we still had more riding to do. I didn’t want to come down from my high.
Motorcycle Dreams To File Under Someday: Highway 12 and The Lolo Pass
Few things can excite a motorcycle rider like a sign that reads “Winding Road Next 77 Miles“. Living here on the eastern end of Long Island I find it hard to believe that such signs exist out there in the world. Surely they are just the stuff of legend like the Loch Ness Monster and Bigfoot.
Route 12 in Idaho and Montana is one American road that can boast such claims. Following along the Lewis and Clark Trail through the Bitteroot Mountains of Montana and Idaho, Route 12 sweeps through the Lolo Pass and the Lolo National Forest. It wriggles on alongside the Lochsa and middle fork of the Clearwater Rivers. Where there are rivers, there are wiggly roads.
No traffic, no people. Just you on your motorcycle in the warm glow of the rising sun. There you are just quietly cruising along; left, right, left, right – racing no one but the river running along side you. Can’t you just picture it? I sure can. Put a tick in the “Someday” column for me.
Does anyone happen to know where the ‘Winding Road Next 77 Miles’ sign is located on the western end of route 12? I can’t seem to find it on Google maps. It would be a shame if I had to ride all the way out there just to find it. /sarcasm
For years I have participated in online forums, groups and mailing lists pertaining to motorcycles. These avenues present you with a wide spectrum viewpoint. The quality of information and exchange varies from excellent, inspiring, challenging and on the flip side downright pathetic. There is a little something for everyone.
Are there new ideas?
As people come and go over the years I’ve seen a natural reoccurrence of the same questions and topics on these electronic hangouts. One reply theme that repeats itself is; motorcyclists that don’t like to ride on their own. I’m not talking about people who prefer to ride with someone. I mean people who stay home because there is no one to ride with.
“I want to go for a ride but I don’t know where to go.”
Don’t pressure yourself to always have to do something monumental. Sometimes just deciding to ride 50 miles away for a slice of pizza is enough. Adventure has a way of unfolding without your consent. Life is so random; a lot can change in 50 miles. Maybe you’ll make a left you never have before and get a great view of an inspiring sunset. Who can know? Just… go!
“I don’t know the roads.”
Seriously? How do you think the people that ‘know’ the roads, know them? Get yourself a map or view Google Maps online and make a route sheet, fire up the GPS set a waypoint and GO! I’ll even give you a head start. Here’s a little map tip: The wiggly shaped roads that are away from population centers are good ones.
Am I being too harsh?
I view motorcycling as an independent activity that you sometimes do with other people. Even when doing it with others you still have to maintain your independence of thought. Setting your own pace, safe following distance, deciding that maybe you don’t like the vibe of the group and being secure enough to peel off on your own are all imperative. Sheep-think gets people into trouble on the bike.
When I first started riding, I rode alone. Not yet knowing anyone else who rode motorcycles meant if I didn’t do things for myself I wasn’t going anywhere. I quickly found that it was easy to meet people, being a young woman on a sportbike. Though I did spend a lot of time riding with new friends, I never lost the interest in setting out on my own. Even now that I have long-time friends I enjoy riding with I still ride alone more than I do with someone else.
Downsides of Riding Alone:
Not being able to effectively share what I saw
Eating alone is less fun
Upsides of Riding Alone:
Stopping for pictures is much easier
Tell us about yourself!
Do you go it alone most often or is most of your riding with a group?