We’ve nailed down the best motorbike rides in the US, if you have another suggestion, then comment below!
WHERE: The North Carolina-Tennessee State Line
Riders and sports car jockeys both love themselves some Deals Gap, a mountain pass bordering the two states at Great Smoky Mountains National Park and the Little Tennessee River. Speed freaks make pilgrimages here to test themselves not just on the pass in general but especially on the two-lane, 11-mile stretch known as the Dragon. While probably not named for the mountain of gold it took from some dwarves or breathing ire on small towns, it has more twists than a screen- play written by schizophrenic chimpan- zees on crack (318 curves in 11 miles, to be exact).
Even the Dragon’s curves have names like Copperhead Corner, Hog Pen Bend, Wheelie Hell, Shade Tree Corner, Mud Corner, Sunset Corner, Gravity Cavity, Beginner’s End, and Brake or Bust Bend. he stretch bears the street name “Tapoco Road” in North Carolina and “Calderwood Highway” in Tennes- see. But the cool kids just call it he Dragon. Oh, and because part of this road follows the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, there’s no development along the 11-mile stretch, resulting in no danger of vehicles pulling out in front of those in the right of way. Deals Gap travels through forested area with a few scenic overlooks and pull-of points along the route.
THE SCENIC BYWAY
Oregon ofers some seriously beautiful scenery along its roads. Journey hrough Time Scenic Byway is a scenic byway that hits ive Oregon counties and comprises portions of US Route 97, Oregon Route 218, Oregon Route 19, US Route 26, and Oregon Route 7. he road oozes pioneer history along a backdrop of geologic forma- tions and the John Day River, which wanders in and out all the byway.
From Biggs, the byway travels along US 97 south through Shaniko to Antelope then turns east on OR 218 to Fossil. Nearby, you’ll ind the John Day Fos- sil Beds National Monument.
CALIFORNIA STATE ROUTE 1 (SR 1), A.K.A. THE PACIFIC COAST HIGHWAY
This major north-south state highway travels along most of Cali’s Paciic coastline. Down south, it ends at Interstate 5 near Dana Point in Orange County. Highway 1 is Frankenstein’d from several portions like the Paciic Coast Highway (PCH), Cabrillo Highway, Shoreline Highway, or Coast Highway. It runs north to its ter- minus at US Highway 101 in Mendocino County. Highway 1 also at times runs concurrently with US 101, most notably through a 54-mile (87 km) stretch in Ventura and Santa Barbara counties and across the Golden Gate Bridge.
As interesting as all of those numbers and names are, what really matters is the coastal views and curvy stretches. PCH is famous the world over for hug- ging some of the most beautiful coast- lines North America has to ofer. It’s also a major thoroughfare for traveling to and from the larger coastal cities like Los Angeles and San Francisco. PCH’s biggest drawbacks are its landslides, which lead to lengthy road closures at times.
Highway 1’s money shot is the stretch through Big Sur region, crossing the San Carpóforo Creek just south
of the Monterey County line. Hit this section and the next 90 miles hug and wind Big Sur’s clifs, with various coastal parks sprinkled along the way. When the road heads inland briely a few miles, don’t worry; it’s just taking you into the redwood forest in the Big Sur River valley. his segment of the high- way also crosses several historic bridges, including the scenic Bixby Creek Bridge, a reinforced concrete arch with a 320- foot span.
If a weeklong orgy of motorcycle touring is your idea of a great time, look into Americade. It’s a rally held in New York every June that’s dedicated to scenic rides. Lake George serves as a base camp for bikers touring the Adirondacks all the way up into Vermont.
Americade is billed by its organizer as the “World’s Largest Motorcycle Touring Rally.” You can take guide tours or head out on your own to conquer the roads, highways, and byways. he guided loops usually run 135 to 180 miles, with stops at some great historic landmarks and good places to eat.
STURGISAND THE BLACK HILLS
WHERE: South Dakota
When it isn’t home to one of the largest motor- cycle traffic jams on the planet every August, he Black Hills is a really great place to ride. Forests, hills, streams, and a heap of Old West feel combine for fun riding with plenty of scenic stops along the way. The Black Hills Run itself is a route favored by bikers, rolling across the Black Hills from Deadwood to Custer State Park, South Dakota. he pine forested mountains of the Black Hills make for a unique scenic motorcycle ride, but that’s just part of the fun. Head east out of Sturgis and tour the Badlands (heodore Roosevelt National Park, to some) if you want something fun and diferent.
WHERE: Illinois to California
We’d be remiss if we didn’t talk about the Main Street of America, also known as US Route 66 (also known as the Will Rogers Highway). It was one of the original highways comprising the old US Highway System. Established on November 11, 1926, its famous road signs went up a Route 66 used to run from Chicago through Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona before inally ending in Santa Monica, Califor- nia. All told, it covered a total of 2,448 miles.
Route 66 served as an artery for those migrating west, especially during the 1930s, and it supported the economies of the communities through which the road passed. All along the way you’ll ind all kinds of historic and odd buildings, busi- nesses, and relics from that time.
Portions of the road that passed through Illinois, Missouri, New Mexico, and Arizona have been designated a National Scenic Byway of the name “Historic Route 66,” which is returning to some maps.
In 2010, a small group of riders on antique motorcycles set out to prove that their iron could handle the punishment of a long-distance marathon run from one American coast to the other. It wasn’t so much homage to the movies of the same name as it was to the brave riders from the early days of riding who rode wherever and whenever they could.
Fast-forward a few years. he Cannonball grows more each year, as riders and collectors turn out from around the globe to test their metal…and their mettle. You have to have a classic bike in stock condition to ride the Cannonball. his year, the planners require qualiiers to have a bike that’s at least 100 years old. Only 100 riders will be allowed to participate.
The route varies each year. For 2016, it starts on Thursday, September 8 in Atlantic City, New Jersey, running 3,400 miles to San Diego, California, on Saturday, September 24. hat’s more than two weeks on the road with one day of. Most of the route will be on two-lane back roads with less than 100 miles on interstate highways.
A couple of years ago, we rode the Hana Highway in Maui, Hawaii, warning that it’s: “one of those roads that if you underestimate your own motorcycling prowess, it will chew you and spit you head-on into oncom- ing traffic. And because most of the 52-mile, 617-curve, and 56-bridge trek is about the size of two bike lanes side by side, well, sharing the road with rented Mustang convertibles packed with honeymooners in search of sacred pools gets a bit tricky at times, especially when they’re focused more on the scenery than looking out for you!”
Cycle City Harley-Davidson rents iron for your use on the island. Seeing Hawaii by motorcycle is just plain incredible. he Hana Hawaii isn’t some gentle collection of slow sweepers connected by long straightaways. It’s not just a pretty back- drop. It’s a bit of a test of skill, though not nearly the level of Deals Gap.
THE KENTUCKY BOURBON TRAIL
This might be one of the coolest rides you’ve never heard of. The Kentucky Bourbon Trail tour travels over scenic Kentucky roads through a series of Bourbon distilleries tours that were created by the Kentucky Distillers’ Association in 1999. he idea was to showcase the industry’s rich history and heritage. Allow plenty of time for stopping to see the other sights, and take in the history while you’re here. he riding is scenic and hilly, traveling on the rural roads of Central Kentucky. For the most part, the roads are lightly traveled, and stores or restaurants are generally available every 20 miles or so. Some of the routes travel through signiicant Ken- tucky historic sites, such as the Perryville Battleield and Old Fort Harrod State Park.