What’s it like to ride a motorcycle? Imagine for a second that you’re flying. The wind in your face and the sun hitting you with just enough warmth to keep you comfortable. Things pass you quickly but somehow everything seems slow. Balance, coordination, and awareness are all used at once in order to operate the powerful machine that separates you from the road. A motorcycle is freedom, but what makes it so empowering is the fact that you are completely engulfed by what is around you. This leads riders to explore and find some of the most beautiful territories in the world. A scenic ride isn’t about getting to your destination the fastest, it’s about experiencing your surroundings in a unique way you can’t get by any other means.
That’s what it felt like when I first rode up the PCH (Pacific Coast Highway) which is one of the oldest and most scenic routes in the US. It was one of those “Bucket List” rides for me. Over 600 miles will take you through all kinds of terrain from ocean front views, untouched forests, and some amazing wine country. It’s one of the most beautiful rides I’ve taken. The smell of the salty ocean air puts you in a different mindset. You look left and the ocean goes on for what seems like forever. You look back in front of you heading North and with a quick shift, you’re in another gear, splitting lanes and flying on the open road. It makes you want to take your boots off and go stand on the shore while the tide takes the sand from underneath your feet (which I would highly suggest if you have the time). I started down in San Diego and if you do the same there are plenty of stops along the way: Long Beach, Santa Cruz for the old school Americana vibes, and if you do the whole ride you’ll find yourself in The Golden Gate Park. I’d recommend you cut into Temecula to go through the Avocado fields and grab some street fish tacos from Pedro’s in Fallbrook. Now we’re talking.
The name speaks for itself. Just hearing Moab makes you think of unreal red rock formations and outdoor adventures. It’s also unique in the sense that there isn’t a specific ride you have to go on to really experience what Moab has to offer. For me, it wasn’t the arches or the typical touristy places, but a road just outside the city called Kane Creek Blvd.
If you ever want to know what it feels like to be in a classic old western movie, this road will do it. It starts parallel to the Colorado River where if you took a little bit of a wrong turn you and your bike would be underwater. Luckily that never happened. Follow that road and it will take you through hours of red dirt wonders and some of the most amazing flat top mountains you’ll ever see. Take a knobby tired adventure bike for the best experience, but I’ve done it on a Sportster too. Whatever you have, just get out and do it. Don’t forget a camera.
Guardsman's Pass, Utah.
When anyone comes to my neck of the woods and wants to experience a true Northern Utah mountain ride, this is 100% my go to. I’m fortunate enough to be 15 min away from some of the best rides in the world. A quick cruise through the valley will take you to the base of Big Cottonwood Canyon. For most Utahn’s this is a gateway to the greatest snow on earth, but for my folk, it’s also a two-wheeled euphoric experience.
Gigantic mountains are your barriers, making you realize the pure grandeur of the Wasatch Range. Thick pine trees cover most of the hillsides and you can occasionally see smoke billowing out of the local campsites. At one point you pass through a split rock formation which locals refer to as “Silent Rock.” It’s said that ultimate silence while passing through will grant you with safety while on the snow, or in this case, the road. It’s a sort of respect to the mountain.
There isn’t a place you can look while on this ride where you couldn’t get lost in. That being said, this is just the entrance to the route I referred to. Just before you get to Brighton resort you take a sharp u-turn onto a more narrow road. At first, it may feel a little claustrophobic as bunched trees and more tight turns are your path. But about five minutes later you are treated to a completely open view that separates you from all thought of city life, buildings, and industrious life. You are in the mouth of the mountain, and there’s nothing quite like it. From there you can cruise into Park City for a bite to eat, or take a right into Provo Canyon for a ride through more Quakies (Aspen Trees) than you’ll ever see in one place.
There’s something that happens when you go on these types of rides. Images stick with you. Feelings tie to locations. Your head clears and you’re able to focus on one single thing, the ride.