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Touring and Travel Articles
Leaving the hustle and bustle of the Queen City, it doesn’t take long to find curvy, scenic mountain roads that will delight any motorcyclist. There are several interesting stops along the way, but this loop is all about the ride. The area’s moderate climate makes this route rideable from spring through fall.
This route takes you from Little Rock into the Ouachita Mountains and provides riders with some of the best roads and scenic overlooks in Arkansas, plus the opportunity for a relaxing mineral bath in historic Hot Springs.
We are riding north to Brainerd from Minneapolis through the northwestern part of the Midwest, where people are genuinely friendly, always have time for chitchat, and cherish beer and cheese as it was intended. My wife, Sarah, and I already feel right at home, at least in July (cold winter yikes!), in the state of 10,000 lakes. The scent of vacation and relaxation is in the air barely an hour outside of the Twin Cities. Minnesotans sure know how to have a good time, and Sarah and I are anxious to get into the same state of mind.
“If you wish to go fast, go alone. If you wish to go far, go together.” – African proverb
“To those devoid of imagination a blank place on the map is a useless waste; to others, the most valuable part.” Author, Aldo Leopold As motorcyclists, we are by nature attracted to the lines and dots on a map. However, those blank places that Leopold referenced are what make a tour visually stunning. Thankfully we don’t have to make a choice. In the American Southwest, the map lines, dots, and blank places are all breathtaking when experienced in the flesh. The Southwest contains arguably the most diverse mix of climates, elevations, and ecosystems on the continent.
I’m riding south through Umbria on the Via Flaminia, the ancient road connecting Rome with Rimini on the Adriatic Coast. I fancy it has been improved since Gaius Flaminius initiated construction around 220 B.C.—now named prosaically “Strada Statale 3.” This fast two-lane highway sweeps along the western slopes of the Apennines toward my first destination, Gualdo Tadino.
Sometimes you have an idea you know isn’t smart, but you go ahead regardless. Sometimes it turns out you were worried about nothing. Sometimes it turns out you were dead right, but things work out anyway. That’s what happened when I went off-roading in the Cape Breton Highlands— an area best known for the paved Cabot Trail.
Milwaukee’s Motor Company has rolled out its new 2015 touring and cruiser big-twin lineup in Sonoma, near the heart of California’s scenic wine country. Project RUSHMORE, which was introduced last year as a commitment from Harley-Davidson to listen to its customers, and construct machines based on their inputs, continues to build momentum. Touring enthusiasts will be pleased by the reappearance of the Road Glide, which returns with substantial revisions after a one-year hiatus from the lineup.
In the February ‘14 issue of RoadRUNNER, we learned about Indian Motorcycle’s Chieftain when Florian laid out the form and function of the maker’s key touring model for 2014. Chock full of good intentions, massive investments in both capital and engineering, and American bravado—Indian came to the market with a huge splash in South Dakota during the Sturgis rally in 2013.
I’ve been riding this Gold Wing for thousands of miles, through rain and sunshine, from coast to coast, and with a passenger. Needless to say the Gold Wing has become a second home of sorts. When I told Sarah about my long-term test assignment, she said, “Oh that’s easy! Just say it’s awesome!” Although that more or less sums it up, let’s dive a little deeper.