There Is No “Wrong” Turn

Apr 14, 2012 View Comments by

I love gadgets and gizmos as much as the next guy. But I have forsaken one particular moto-accoutrement that so many riders seem to find absolutely indispensable. Yep, I never have warmed up to the GPS. When I’m touring for RoadRUNNER, I have to use one so our mapmakers can have an accurate log of where I’d been. It’s probably a good thing too, because half the time I had no idea where I was – OK, make that most of the time. Yet oddly enough, the offending unit was more often turned to where I couldn’t look at it or simply stowed in the tankbag. I always wondered if it could still talk to the satellites while ensconced in Cordura. Well, at least no one ever complained about gaping holes in my route. For many miles, I was curious as to why I eschewed this truly marvelous piece of technology. After all, it had the ability to pinpoint your location anywhere on earth while simultaneously finding the nearest pie and coffee with the touch of a button. What’s not to like? And then one day it occurred to me. Using directional cues from former military hardware floating high up in space just seemed to be flying in the face of the adventure that is motorcycling. For some reason, knowing exactly where I am seems to take some of the fun out of it. Now, I will admit that such a cavalier attitude may not be the best plan in some extreme wilderness areas, like Baja, the Mojave Desert, or downtown Washington D.C., but here in the beautiful Appalachians it’s really not that big a deal.

One of Kathy and my favorite past times is simply getting lost. We hop on the Bandit, ride up on the Blue Ridge and take the first paved, one-plus lane road that suits our fancy. Like I’ve told her numerous times, “It’s bound to come out somewhere”. We always find the coolest stuff when we have no idea where we’re going. One time, we thought we were heading toward Boone, NC and ended up on Mount Rogers, the highest point in Virginia – oops.

But as much fun as it is sharing these lost adventures with Kathy, I truly covet the same experiences aboard my ’86 Honda XL600R. Pavement is purely optional and even the occasional trail is not out of the question. I can travel scores of miles and not see another human being, much less a car. And the best thing about the XL, its battery is so miniscule that a GPS would probably not even turn on. At least that’s what I tell myself.

So, while others are so intent on being found, I guess I’ll just stay happily lost. I think I’ll just stick to paper maps, intuition, and moss on the trees to guide my way. And the money I don’t spend on a GPS? Well, that just means more pie and coffee… if I can find my way out of these woods.

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About the author

At 16, I got my motorcycle license and cut my street teeth aboard a Honda MT250 dual sport. I quickly discovered that motorcycle touring was an excellent antidote for acute wanderlust.