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Touring and Travel Articles
Arkansas’s 19th-century western border bumped up against what was then Indian Territory. Although the Native American tribes enforced their own laws, the territory had become a haven for outlaws seeking refuge from American justice. The borderlands between Arkansas, Missouri, and Oklahoma have a colorful history and some of the 21st century’s best motorcycle touring roads. Over the next five days, we’ll gallop over these borderlands on our steel ponies to discover what tales they have to tell.
The Sangre de Christo Mountains tower like a wall above the Taos Plateau. This will be my playground for the next few days. The scene is particularly impressive when approaching the range in the late afternoon, when it is lit by the sun from the west—a beautiful sunset is almost guaranteed.
I’m no music expert; riding motorcycles is my thing. Sure, I still dabble with playing bass in a local garage band and can claim a fat-fingered mastery of a chord or two on the six-string. But music, like riding, certainly doesn’t require a professional license to enjoy. A catchy tune stirs the soul in a manner not altogether different from swaying with a favorite road.
Roller coaster roads hugging the curves of the landscape like someone rolled out a ribbon of asphalt, cresting hills with merging side streets, off-camber curves left and right—yes, these are the roads of southeastern Ohio. The adrenaline always rides high on these roads, because it’s always a thrill finding out what lies just across that ridge. Will it go straight? How about a sharp left? Maybe even a subtle right? It doesn’t matter, because my heart is beating fast, and I’m ready for any curveball Ohio throws me.
The Pamir Highway: Since time immemorial, the Silk Route (M41) in Central Asia has existed as an artery of trade connecting west to east and north to south. Contrary to its name, the Silk Route is not a singular road but a web of ancient tracks and rock-strewn trails trodden for a millennia by travelers, merchants, explorers, soldiers, and kings.
June in Canada can make you forget that “Great White North” is the nickname for our neighbor above, for no signs of frosty, snowy whiteness appear anywhere. Rather, the tapestry of the Canadian countryside wraps the landscape in lush layers of summertime green spiked with colorful threads of blue, yellow, white, and pink. It just depends whether you gaze at the abundant flowery fields or upward to the skies.
My husband, Josh, and I decided before starting a family that we really needed a BIG bike vacation. We wanted culture shock. Yet without a lot of money to spend and no previous adventure travel experience, we found it. Toronto to New York, west to Seoul, then arriving in Hanoi after dark—it was the longest flight we ever experienced.
The near simultaneous 2012 introductions of BMW’s new K 1600 GTL and Honda’s redesigned Gold Wing GL1800 beg for a comparison. Both are flagship models for their respective brands, propelled by six-cylinder engines and designed for long-distance touring. We chose the K 1600 GTL rather than the GT version for this comparison; the GTL it has more wind protection, a larger fuel capacity, and a top trunk, which makes it more similar to the Gold Wing than the sportier GT. However, that’s where strong similarities end.
Combining spirited V-twin performance with excellent comfort and good handling at a reasonable price, Suzuki’s versatile V-Strom models have created a near cult following over the years. We got to test ride the new 2012 V-Strom 650 ABS and ABS Adventure models at the U.S.