My wife and I are in the final stages of planning what we are hoping will be the motorcycling holiday of a lifetime.
I'm hoping the members of this forum may be able to provide an injection of local knowledge, experience, or just tips - such as places worth stopping at, what's bike friendly and quirky, places to avoid, MUST DO roads, or just interesting local knowledge stuff that we could never hope to find on our own.
In May/June 2014 we will be living out our dream of riding our bikes around the US and Canada. 35 days and 11,200 km (7,000 miles) through 2 countries, 9 states/provinces, 35 overnight stays in cities/towns and countless little pit stops and characterful moments.
We live in Sydney Australia and when we were thinking of motorcycling heaven it was difficult to go past the US and Canada. We are shipping our bikes to the US from Australia by sea. Much nicer to ride our own bikes and it will cost less in total than hiring for that period. It's not easy logistically but it's not that difficult either and as I say, we like riding our bikes, set up the way we like them.
The key to this trip is not the destinations so much as the journey. We love technical riding, hate highway stuff (but sometimes it gets you from A to B), love meeting people at quirky places, but not interested in sightseeing unless you can see it from the seat of your BMW (at least on this trip). It's all about the experience of riding.
We are armed with 2012 Model BMW's - an R1200R and an F800R, Rider to Rider Intercom (Interphone F5), a GPS (Garmin Zumo 350), a Helmet Camera (Drift Ghost HD), a laptop (Apple Macbook Pro), just enough clothes and gear to get us through the trip, and boundless enthusiasm.
We are staying almost exclusively at Best Western Motels (balance between price, comfort and suitability for rooms with parking out front) and have Roadside Assistance via the MOA but hope we never need it.
We chose a round trip route that would give us variety, challenging roads (where possible), overnight stays in cities and towns that looked interesting or just matched our day stage limits and enough of those stages to get us back to the start point in the required number of days. The extremes are Long Beach CA to the south, almost to Billings MT to the east, Jasper AB to the north, Tofino BC to the West and hug the West Coast most of the way back down to Long Beach. A short day may be 300 km and a long day 500 km. Between 3 and 6 hours of bum on bike time each day with two or three layover days if needed (but also as a buffer if required). Some stops were a case of, "that's as far as we can go today" and others were, "really want to stop here". We started by mapping out a rough route, added some "must ride this road" sections and then played connect the dots.
This has been three years in the planning with a couple of false starts - life conspiring against us. We chose late May through to the end of June so that it was not full on summer but not too cold either. Had originally looked to include Death Valley, Zion, Bryce Canyon and up through Grand Canyon and Salt Lake City but decided to keep it a little more west and cooler. Some parts of the trip may still be marginal for snow (Beartooth Pass WY and around Crater Lake CA) and we miss out on Going To The Sun Road in Montana by a couple of weeks.
So, we start in Long Beach CA. and end in Long Beach CA. 35 days later.
I've broken the trip down into day stages but also have the route mapped out in Google Maps broken into seven chunks (Google limits the number of way points in any one long route). I've included the links to each of the seven stages below - I hope the links work.
So please feel free to tell me what you think, good or bad, and as I say, any local knowledge is more than welcome - even if it's just a tip on where to eat or get a good coffee.
Stage 1 - Los Angeles (Long Beach), CALIFORNIA to Susanville, CALIFORNIA
Distance: 1,851 km
Link Stage 1
Stage 2 - Susanville, CALIFORNIA to Idaho Falls, IDAHO
Distance: 1,472 km
Link Stage 2
Stage 3 - Idaho Falls, IDAHO to Canmore, ALBERTA (CANADA)
Distance: 1,860 km
Link Stage 3
Stage 4 - Canmore, ALBERTA (CANADA) to Anacortes, WA (USA)
Distance: 1,808 km
Link Stage 4
Stage 5 - Anacortes, WA to Madras, OR
Distance: 1,518 km
Link Stage 5
Stage 6 - Madras, OREGON to Mill Valley, CALIFORNIA
Distance: 1,614 km
Link Stage 6
Stage 7 - Mill Valley, CALIFORNIA to Los Angeles (Long Beach), CALIFORNIA
Distance: 919 km
Link Stage 7
Then it's a 14 hour flight back to Sydney Australia.