I get the question a lot: “How do you find these epic roads?!”
The truth is, I’m not that good at it. I make mistakes and I get lost… A lot. Sometimes, I find myself on boring roads and dead ends. Many times, I find myself struggling to turn my 600lb over-loaded bike around on steep rocky terrain because I decided to veer off the paved road to find out what the views looked like on a narrow dirt road into a canyon.
I’ll happily admit that my free-spirit traveling style doesn’t mesh with everybody – I have friends who meticulously plan their rides to the 1/10th of a mile. Everything from which cafe we’ll drink coffee at to where we will have lunch, to our specific destination at the end of the day, and every left and right turn is preplanned before the kickstands ever go up. Generally speaking, it works well and is a reliable technique for group-rides.
I however, traveling solo around Europe with a malleable agenda, need a little more flexibility for improvisation!
I swing at every promising opportunity and I strike out sometimes.
I wish I could lie and say that I meticulously plan for every amazing photo opportunity that I find. I wish I had some fool-proof advice for finding all the “good spots”, but I don’t!
What I can do though, is describe my typical work-flow for overland travel. It starts with a quick glance at Google Maps and a very, very broad destination. I open up my Google Maps in “Terrain” mode. This shows me the shaded contour of the terrain and helps me find areas that are rugged and steep – my preferred riding areas! It also shows me the back roads that will take me to where I want to go that I can avoid highways and busy streets.
Anybody that uses a GPS navigator knows the frustration behind its inability to get you anywhere in an efficient amount of time! It seems that when you DO have to be somewhere on time, the GPS will find a way to take you completely out of the way! The GPS, in my opinion, is a fantastic tool for situational awareness and “Get me out of the forest and to the next town” situations. The GPS, as a trip planning tool though, is just plain useless!
Once the kickstand is up and the road is rolling under your wheels, everything just seems to fall into place.
Go get lost. Give into impulses and ignore your GPS. It will recalculate your route as you continue to meander. Some of the best places I’ve ever been to, I’ve accidentally “stumbled across!”
The key to a successful day in the motorcycle, in my opinion, is finding at least one epic backroad that the tourists don’t know about. The only way to find these is to get outside and meander. Don’t stick to the plans!