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June 16, 2009

10 Legendary Motorcycle Rides

Posted by : admin
Filed under : General Green
France may have its vineyards, and Rome its ancient ruins, but America is the undisputed wonderland of roads. Here in the Land of the Free, the open road has long been a symbol of independence, and all the more so on a motorcycle.

But where to begin?

In the continental United States alone there are hundreds of thousands of miles of blacktop and cement, an oblivion of open road panning to all compass points.

For this story, we polled nine biker fanatics, including editors and publishers from motorcycling magazines, as well as some longtime recreational riders, to create a top 10 list of must-ride roads.

Going-to-the-Sun Road, Montana

For “scenery that is unbelievable,” Renate Nietzold, the publisher of Biker Ally Magazine, recommends this epic mountain route through Montana’s Glacier National Park, which is an alpine engineering marvel that travels for 50 miles and up to 6,646 feet over breathtaking Logan Pass. Highlights include glacial lakes, waterfalls, wildlife, and perpetual, endless mountain scenery.

The Tail of the Dragon at Deals Gap, North Carolina

This whirling, twirling 11-mile route through the Smoky Mountains at the Tennessee/North Carolina state line is probably the most famous motorcycle road in the country, according to Bill Belei, editor of Indeed, “The Tail” includes an amazing 318 curves in its short length, many flanked with precipitous drop-offs, creating an exhilarating, unforgettable ride.

Glenn Highway, Alaska

Designated a National Scenic Byway by the United States Department of Transportation for its natural beauty and historical significance, the Glenn Highway extends north from Anchorage into the Neverland of the Alaskan wilderness. It traces the path of the receding glaciers that were responsible for shaping Alaska’s interior.

Big Sur on Hwy. 1, Cambria to Carmel, California

“Motorcycle Heaven.” That’s how writer Clement Salvadori describes this stretch of the Pacific Coast Highway, which winds 100 miles through the Big Sur, a lush region of towering redwoods and mountains tumbling into the sea. It’s best ridden in the early morning with the sun just coming up, Salvadori said.

The Cherohala Skyway, North Carolina/Tennessee

A nearby—and less crowded—alternative to The Tail of the Dragon at Deals Gap, the Cherohala Skyway south of Smoky Mountain National Park has sweeping corners, scenic views and climbs up to 5,390 feet. Brian Rathjen, publisher of Backroads Motorcycle Tour magazine, said the 15-mile Cherohala Skyway is among the best—and least known—motorcycling routes in the Southeast.

San Juan Mountain Skyway, Colorado

This 225-mile drive will take you through arguably the most beautiful sections of the Rocky Mountains, said Bill Belei of Starting in the town of Durango, the route heads on a giant clockwise course via state highways 160, 145, 62, and then 550 back south to Durango. Highlights include views of several 14,000-foot peaks, historic mining towns, national parks and roads that climb past 10,000 feet in elevation.

The Palomar Mountain Road, California

Often called the most technical road in southern California, Route 76 near Escondido—aka Palomar Mountain Road—is a 30-mile epic that swoops and climbs through the mountains of Cleveland National Forest. Highlights include back-to-back hairpin turns, multiple decreasing-radius turns and smooth pavement that lets you lay it down.

Yellowstone Highway (Jackson, Wyoming to Montana)

Heading north from Jackson, Wyo., on U.S. Highway 191, riders can tour two National Parks in one day, starting with a cruise underneath the towering peaks of Grand Teton National Park then motoring north to Yellowstone. Geysers, buffaloes, mountain goats and unending mountain scenery are among the sites you’ll see on this trip.

High Plains Cruise (Route 350 from Trinidad, Colorado and into Kansas)

“The only thing bleaker than Trinidad, Colorado, is the land east of it,” said Peter Jones, a writer and longtime rider from Laurel Park, N.C., who chose this route for its austere High Plains beauty. But the ride—which follows Route 350 northeast from Trinidad to La Junta before continuing east to Kansas on Route 50—also reveals feed lots, hardscrabble rangeland and agricultural towns on life support. “It’s an America most travelers ignore and avoid, which is the attraction for me,” Jones said.

Key West Highway, Florida

Florida’s southernmost leg of U.S. Route 1 literally rides above the ocean waters, hopping through the archipelago of keys via dozens of bridges, some several miles in length. The trip starts in Miami, where riders motor south and then hold their breath before plunging into the oblivion of ocean blue beyond.

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