Monday, January 08, 2007

Maps & notes

Maps & notes
(reprinted w/o permission, as referenced @ URL:
My map and notes. I don’t like anything on my handlebars, interfering with the lines of the bike. Besides, I like writing my routes down using the big picture only a map can give. My atlas allows me to see ALL the roads in the 500 miles between here and there. Studying routes and making notes gives me a feel for the land I’ll soon be in. Towns, elevation and landmarks are easy to see, and prepares me for the next day’s ride. What I CAN see doing, is researching routes from the atlas, and once the decisions are made, inputting them into a GPS device. But there is something romantic about the hand written notes on my left arm; I’m often asked about it.

California SR 96, The Klamath River Road - THE sport riding road of all time in my opinion. Anything you want can be had. Switchbacks? All you want. S's? This road is like spaghetti, Low traffic? Don't worry. Hairpins? More then a beauty salon. Length? Over 150 miles, almost 200 if you continue on SR 299. Oh yeah, and scenic.

California SR 108 - Perhaps the most scenic road I've ever been on. The road to Sonora Pass. Beautiful scenery. Snow was piled high as I worked my through the Alpine forest. Crystal clear water seemed to be flowing everywhere. Excellent pavement ruled the day. Prepare yourself for a long uphill run, and after reaching the crest, an equally long downhill. Traffic was not a factor the day I was there. Lots and lots of good curves.

California SR 70
- The Feather River Road. A nice road through the Feather River Canyon. Much of the road feels as if it was cut into the bluffs. As a rider leans the curves of 70, the water of the Feather River follows him. Many times I could see the road down below me, as I negotiated what seemed liked hundreds of U curves. It was a lot of fun and only had to pass a few cars.

California State Route 49 - I discovered this route in 2005. I ran it south to north. Traffic was a nuisance in the southern portions, but after clearing Auburn it thinned out and the highway became very technical. SR 49 can be intense and a few miles later relaxing. I enjoyed the many gold rush towns it passes through, on its way to Yuba pass. Pavement surface is good for the most part, and the vistas are excellent when the route turns into the Sierras. A good ride in through the Gold Country.

California SR 36 - I continue to whittle away at the roads in the Pashnit Site. SR 36 is in the top 3 roads of all time. Great curves of every type. Switchbacks, sweepers, sharp cresting hills. The route is 130 miles from the coast to Red Bluff over the mountains. Good scenery, lots of challenge, little traffic. One thing I can't figure out is how so many roads in the Hotel are void off traffic, given the number of people living there-not that I'm complaining. SR 36 is what I call a destination road, meaning its worth a 2,000 mile slab ride just get there to ride it. Some of the pavement is choppy at the high elevations, and look for Caltrans to have sections under construction especially near the mountains peaks. What a great road.

The Pacific Coast Highway, California Route 1 - Many lists start with this awesome road. Mine is no different. This road weaves and bobs along the California Coast, where the Mountains flow to the Sea, in a crashing white cap spectacle. You ride between mountains and water, amidst colors you will not find anywhere else. It offers challenging switchbacks, and hills. I refrain from serious sport riding on the PCH. I want to savor my surroundings. The PCH is unmatched in the east. The east coast of the U.S. is well developed, precluding any great riding. I long for the day I will return to this great highway. It is a road that must be ridden over and over to fully appreciate.

Oregon SR 86 - The route into Hell's Canyon.
It is my belief East Oregon is one of the most underrated areas of the country for riding, vastness, and challenging roads. This road has high elevation, anytime a highway rises the leaning is good. The route is also peppered with deadly drop offs, and steep climbs. The area is remote, and help could be a long way off. The route follows the Powder River when it comes down out of the mountains. Long sweepers stick to the river, and grows in intensity as you go in the mountains.

From Pendleton, Oregon, US 395 South -SR 74-SR 206-SR 218-SR 293 ending on US 95. In a connection of great roads these highways in Oregon offer some of the finest riding anywhere. Road surface is good, and so is the elevation. These highways are why we ride brothers. Lots of curves and twists, no intense switchbacks, but plenty of long sweepers. The landscape is farmland, and grassy hills, which translates into good visibility. Often you can look past the apex of the sweeper to check oncoming traffic and conditions. Frontier towns such as Fossil offer cafes for Mountain Dews, and good conversation.


The Palouse Ride- From Spokane, US 195 South-SR 271-SR 26-SR 127- US 12 south. This is a combination of roads. All are connected and the route easy to follow, covering about 125 miles. I love this ride through the wheat fields to Oregon. I have a certain affection for the Palouse, not many know of its timeless beauty and peaceful landscape. If you like twisties the routes will not disappoint, they are fun.

U.S. 97, Canadian Border to Oregon
- What a great road this is. Almost the entire length is good. In the north 97 glides you by the apple and other fruit orchards. Nice scenery. As you enter the central area mountains appear and the leaning is good. South from Yakima is my favorite, as you motor pass green rolling hills, and gentle sweepers. I truly enjoyed my time on this road, and think of it often.

Washington SR 129 - Near the Washington-Oregon line, lies one of the great roads-129. A remarkable stretch of asphalt between Oregon and Clarkston. The highway ricochets off the hills and sweeps up and down the mountains in one of the great slalom runs in the country. Falling rocks can be found in several sections so use caution. A fabulous ride on a good surface.


Montana SR's 28 and 200
- I combined these roads into one ride. Great riding. Scenic and twisty. Lots of elevation. Green mountains and clear streams guide you along these great roads. No traffic, in between the friendly frontier towns. In 2005 I picked the route back up near Missoula and rode it across the plains to North Dakota. A great ride past green buttes and pastures. A number of high speed run outs just for fun.

U.S. 12 Lewiston-Missoula, Lolo Pass
- One of the most famous roads in motorcycling, I don't know what I can add that has not already been written. A nice ride up and over the Bitterroot Mountains, the pat of Lewis and Clark, 77 miles of twisty ribbon. Pockets of traffic are common near Lewiston and Missoula, but don't last long. The curves are mostly sweepers, but as you approach Lolo Pass the intensity picks up.

Canada- Over the years I've had the good fortune of touring our neighbors to the north extensively. I've spent quality time in 8 of the 13 Provinces. A goal of mine is to visit all the provinces but not sure when it will happen. My quest to ride the lower 48 was much easier to do. The problem with Canada is vastness, and not all areas are easily reached. Add to the fact I have a long ride just to reach the border. Pocketing all the provinces may not happen till I come across a dual purpose bike. Western Canada is beautiful country, but to sample the full potential you have to leave the pavement. I can't afford to trash either of my Hondas on a all out assault on the Northwest Territories.
You can only go there in summer, and that means road construction, long stretches of it. In the meantime, I'll focus on the reaching what I can, and along the way I'm sure I'll add more roads to the list.

Provincial Route 132- This route is located on the Gaspe Peninsula, in Quebec. A scenic, inspiring highway. The road brings you up close and personal to the water. It has challenge but nothing drastic. Famous for its many fishing villages and pastoral farmland, it is true treat for the senses. The surface is not good in many places, so use caution. I rode it on a beautiful day, with farms on my right and gentle white caps on my left.

The Cabot Trail
- Getting here takes lots of work, but you are rewarded. The road surface ranges from good to terrible, but the scenery is consistently outstanding. The Cabot is the nearest thing on the east coast to the Pacific Coast Highway. Lots of good twists in the highlands. Don't ask me to compare the PCH and the Cabot, they are very different. The Cabot is more personal, and the water is prettier then the Pacific, but it does not have the smoothness of the PCH or the varied elevation and challenge.

Icefields Parkway- Located in Alberta, this is the ultimate highway for glacier viewing. The road itself is not especially challenging, but the landscape so gorgeous it has to be on the list. The land is very rugged and dense. I visited on a cloudy, rainy, cool, mid June morning. I would love to see this land under a clear blue sky. Most of the mountain peaks were over 10,000 feet and close to the road. The highway has a intimate relationship with the Rocky Mountains. Like most great highways in Canada, it is not easy to reach.

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