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How to Plan a Bike Trip

TIps for Planning Your Next Motorcycle Trip

Last summer I had one of the most epic rides of my life. It began with me riding my Harley Street Glide from my vacation home in the Florida Keys back to my hometown of Pittsburgh. On my way, I rode up almost the entire eastern coast of the US enjoying some of the best bike roads that part of the country has to offer.

After spending two days in Pittsburgh, I hopped back on my bike for a once-in-a-lifetime trip across the central, Midwestern, and western parts of the United States. Starting in Pennsylvania, my epic journey took me to: Ohio, Indiana, Michigan, Illinois, Wisconsin (Milwaukee for Harley Museum), Minnesota, Iowa, Nebraska and South Dakota. I spent a week riding and touring Mt. Rushmore, Crazy Horse monument, Lead, Deadwood and Sturgis. I'll never forget the near death "experience" with a bison while riding through Custer State Park or the beauty of Bear Butte, Spearfish Canyon and Devil's Tower.

After leaving South Dakota, I headed west to Cody, Wyoming, up the challenging Chief Joseph Highway and Beartooth Pass to Red Lodge, Montana then up to Glacier National Park and the Run to the Sun Highway. Heading south again, I rode through Big Sky, Montana to western Wyoming for several days exploring the Yellowstone National Park Loop before heading down to the Grand Teton Mountains and Jackson Hole.

Skirting Idaho and Utah, I finally ended up in eastern Colorado for 2 adventurous weeks of riding the mountains near the ski resorts and Pike's Peak before heading south to Durango, the Gunnison Highway, the Million Dollar Highway and one of my favorite stops - Mesa Verde National Park for the ancient Indian cliff dwellings.

The remainder of my trip included Taos and Santa Fe in New Mexico, the northern tip of Texas to Oklahoma and on to Hot Springs National Park in Arkansas. After a couple of days in the mountains of Tennessee and North Carolina (with an obligatory stop at the Tail of the Dragon), it was time to head back to Miami to give my bike a rest. Forty-five days after my trip from Pittsburgh started, I had logged over 13,000 miles!

Upon my return, everyone asked me how I had planned my epic cross-country trip. In today's newsletter, I will share my route planning with you in the hopes that one day you will be able to take that ride you have always been dreaming of.

When I first sat down to map out my route and figure out where I wanted to stop along the way, I made use of some ride friendly map route websites. My personal favorites were the H-D Ride Planner, Motorcycle Roads and America's Byways.

The H-D Ride Planner lets you map your route from your hometown and where you want to stop along the way. The maps show you all the highways, famous bike roads, and everything you will need to know to beginning planning your journey. The site let you see routes fellow riders have ridden and you can share your own routes on the website.

The Motorcycle Roads website contains postings from fellow riders on their favorite roads and routes along with suggested stops and other helpful information. The America's Byways website contains information about the 150 distinct and diverse roads designated by the U.S. Secretary of Transportation as National Scenic Byways or All-American Roads.

Mad Maps is another tool that I use when planning a motorcycle trip. Mad Maps has both an online version as well as waterproof, paper maps that you can order from their online site. Like the H-D Ride Planner, Map Maps allows you to send the map of your selected route directly to your GPS so it is already programmed for you. These maps, which are available per state and per region, not only highlight the area's best roads, they also provide suggestions on things to do and the areas must see attractions.

Besides these great websites, I got local information from members of the Harley Owners' Group (HOG) in the areas I was traveling. I simply looked up the Harley Davidson dealerships in the areas and clicked on their HOG link for names and e-mail addresses of the HOG officers. Getting the point of view and advice from people that are native to the area is a great way to find out about some of the hidden gems that these more commercial route planners may have overlooked. The local HOG and other riding groups, and even local dealerships, will also be able to give you some information about any upcoming group rides or bike rallies that you may be interested in participating in.

Planning a cross-country motorcycle trip takes time and effort, but from the moment you ride your first mile, you realize that it was totally worth the planning. For me, my 13,000-mile adventure is something I will never forget, and something I hope to repeat in the northeast in the near future. Whether you want to just ride to the next town or across several states (like I did), I hope this newsletter will be helpful and I encourage you to take some of my suggestions when planning your own dream bike trip.

If you have a tip or suggestion on planning local or long-distance trips, shoot me an e-mail or post it to my Biker Chick Lawyer Facebook page so that other riders can enjoy your information as well!

The phrase Biker Chick Lawyer and its accompanying logo are Registered Trademarks of Lisa Marie Vari d/b/a Lisa Marie Vari & Associates.

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