Dear denizens of INFO MOTO,
So. What happened was I foolishly signed a contract with an international publisher to write a book on 20 great rides in the world. It seemed like a good idea at the time as I’ve already done half of them and I wanted to do the rest anyway. The ‘foolish’ part was that I agreed to do it about 20 minutes before the COVID pandemic started which meant I had to fret about it for two years without being able to travel. The manuscript is due in October this year so I’m frantically riding across the US and Canada completing my research.
The book isn’t called the BEST 20 rides in the world because it would be impossible to determine what they’d be so we’ve settled on 20 Great Rides – World. What would your 20 great rides be? I’ll be surprised if some of them aren’t mine as well.
The publisher provided a fat advance which I immediately spent on bike parts and drugs so my research in Europe and the US had to be done on the cheap. Triumph kindly lent me a Tiger Explorer for the European leg and Harley-Davidson generously lent me a Street Glide for the 5000 miles I’ve done so far in the US.
I know what you’re thinking. “He’s got a pocket full of money from the publisher, his bikes are provided and he’s wandering around the world riding the best roads on the planet – and he’s complaining!”
Okay, I admit that, on paper, it’s probably a better job than some others but it’s not without its issues.
The first two weeks of the month-long North America adventure were a disaster. My brother, Stuart, came along to keep me out of trouble. We picked our bikes up in Los Angeles to discover the legendary coast road between LA and San Francisco was closed due to landslides. In a sense it didn’t matter because the rain was so heavy I couldn’t take pictures anyway. Highway One above SF is without doubt one of the premier rides in the world but the rain didn’t let up so scratch that one as well.
We crossed into Canada via Vancouver Island to discover the whole country was on fire, blocking roads and covering the place in thick smoke. Scratch the ‘Sea to Sky’ highway and the rest of Highway 99. Oh, and the bushfires didn’t mean the rain had stopped so as well as not being able to see anything, we were soaked most days.
Smoke ruined any chance of decent images of the glorious Icefields Parkway and the next legendary road through the Glacier National Park.
Yes, I’ve now done these rides but I won’t be able to prove it convincingly unless you’ll accept a handful of smog, rain and smoke-filtered images as evidence.
Things cleared up finally when we got back into Montana, Wyoming, Colarado and Utah so I’ll stop whinging now and share some observations about riding in the good ‘ol USA.
‘The Wave’ is still hugely popular among riders on the open road. Ninety-five in every hundred you pass will drop the left arm and make a low ‘peace’ sign. Nice.
Helmet laws vary state-to-state but some we’ve been in make helmets optional if you’re over 21 and you’ll see plenty of helmetless riders.
God and guns dominate the public sphere in northern states. Billboards don’t sell products but constantly remind you who your saviour is. A bloke in a bar in Montana told us that he could never live in Australia because the government took all the guns from the people and it’s now illegal to own one. He thought Trump was the solution to the world’s problems. ‘Fact’ and ‘truth’ have entirely different meanings here.
Our route took us through beautiful country and the locals are unfailingly friendly and helpful.
Stuart hired his bike through a business called ‘Rider Share’ which matches you up with the owners of bikes who will rent them to you at very reasonable prices. His bike was a low-mileage Suzuki VL800T Boulevard C50T which was available for US $36 a day. Cheap. It was perfect for our ride but a huge range of different bikes are available across America. If you’re planning a long ride, just check on the daily mileage limit (if there is one).
Okay. Ten days to go before we fly back to Australia. Tonight, we’re in Las Vegas with a plan to win back the cost of the trip so far. What could possibly go wrong? To find out, you might have to buy the book which comes out sometime in the first quarter of 2024. We’ll make a fuss about it in INFO MOTO when it happens.
In the meantime, start planning your great ride agenda – the chances of doing it aren’t going to last forever.
See you on the road.