Touring Tip: Trip Planning

May 09, 2014 View Comments by

Touring Tip: Trip PlanningLast month we discussed ideas for deciding where to go and what to see on your 2014 motorcycle adventures. Assuming that’s been resolved, let’s consider the actual planning steps. Here are my “Four Rs” for trip planning:

  1. Research: Assuming that you don’t already know your intended destination, the route to it and the things you want to see and do along the way, researching the possibilities will be time well spent. If you plan to stop and see a lot of attractions, it’s important to calibrate your daily mileage accordingly. Also, you should consider the skills and types of bikes of the other riders who will be accompanying you on the trip. As the number of people in the touring group increases, so does the complexity of planning and managing a trip, which should be enjoyable for all of the participants.  Determining the best time of year to ride in the area of your intended route is also part of the researching process.
  1. Resources: In today’s motorcycle touring world, trip planning resources are easily accessible:
  • Books: There’s almost a countless number of books available on the best scenic drives and rides, particularly those in North America. Whitehorse Press(www.whitehorsebooks.com, National Geographic, Reader’s Digest, and other publishers have many helpful titles to select from.
  • Internet: One easy way to find scenic drive books is to go online at Amazon (www.amazon.com)or Barnes & Noble (www.barnesandnoble.com)and type “Scenic Drives” in their search window. Another great source is the Federal Highway Administration’s site: www.byways.org.
  • RoadRUNNER: At the risk of sounding immodest, I have to say that the very best resource for trip planning is RoadRUNNER (www.roadrunner.travel). As mentioned last month, you will find hundreds of pre-planned trips on our website to alleviate your tour planning burden.
  1. Roads: One of the great things about touring by motorcycle is that getting there truly is half—if not more—of the fun.
  • Best Routes: Time spent researching the most scenic and interesting roads to your destination and other stops will boost the enjoyment factor for everyone involved. But be sure there’s agreement from the other riders on the type of roads that will be followed. One rider’s mountainous twisty delight may be another rider’s worst nightmare. Here are a few map books that we’ve found useful:
    >DeLorme’s Atlas & Gazateer state maps (www.delorme.com)
    >Benchmark Map’s Road & Recreation Atlas by state (www.benchmarkmaps.com)
  • Scenery: Riding through spectacular scenery is always a pleasurable experience for motorcyclists, regardless of their skill level. Scenic routes are usually denoted on most roadmaps, and be prepared to get off the beaten path to experience them.
  1. Reservations: Although there is much to be said for leaving home and just letting your spirit guide you, many of us don’t have the time or inclination for a hit or miss approach to our riding vacation. Consequently, making advance reservations is often a good strategy. 
  • Hotels: Once the tour route and approximate daily mileage have been settled upon, an Internet search with the name of a town and state, combined with the word “lodgings,” will likely yield a satisfactory number of candidates to choose from. Consumer ratings and reviews are available on sites like: Trip Advisor (www.tripadvisor.com) or the relevant state or city tourism sites.
  • Attractions: By this stage of trip planning, you probably already know many of the points of interest along your intended route, but it can also be helpful to request tourist guides from each state and major recreation area on your itinerary. The guides are usually free for the asking and can be ordered by telephone or over the Internet.
  • Restaurants: Although we usually don’t plan all of our meal stops, particularly lunch and breakfast, planning a few evenings out at a good restaurant isn’t a bad idea. An Internet search of a city and the word “restaurants,” will usually produce a list of everything from fast food to fine dining. Although these sources aren’t foolproof, they can help you avoid a distasteful dining experience. Here are several websites with restaurant ratings and customer reviews: Yelp (www.yelp.com), Urbanspoon (www.urbanspoon.com), and Zagat (www.zagat.com).
  • Rent a Ride: If you don’t have the time or inclination to ride cross-country to reach your touring venue, it might make sense to reserve a motorcycle at a reputable rental company like EagleRider (www.eaglerider.com).

So now that you have my “Four Rs,” put them to work and get out on your bike and see the country.

 

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