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Riding and Touring Routes
For those who love to ride and need some direction in their lives.

Not long after I purchased my first scooter I started taking short trips to parts unknown for the dual purposes of riding and exploring.

For the most part though, the ride itself was the object rather than the road or the destination. My early trip planning usually went something like this:
1) Head North and turn around when I feel like it
2) Go home and try not to get lost while doing it. Simple.

Later, I added destinations as a goal. Longer journeys became part of my weekends, sometimes weekdays, and I expanded into camping, too.

Well, some roads are better than others and it didn't take long before I longed to get more riding done while on the good ones. Either I could explore every road in the country (I wish!) or I could find if other intrepid scouts had taken the time to put their routes and observations in writing.

They have.

Thanks to the wired world, I can now look up short trips, often with a description of the ride supplied by other riders regarding the type of roads I would be on. Straight, twisties, farmland, covered bridges, nice places to have a bite to eat.

Longer trips can be planned often by connecting some of the shorter routes together to insure spending as much of riding time as possible on interesting roads.

Besides maps you can print, some sites even have files you can load to your compatible GPS.

Some advice:
1) The maps may not be entirely accurate due to scale. I always compare and plan with my own maps before setting out.
2) GPS files may be skimpy on the details, sometimes only including the starting and ending waypoints. You may find you have to fill in extra waypoints and viapoints to stay on exact route as described.
3) User descriptions may be misleading based on the reviewers inclinations: I read a review of a route that one rider hated because of sudden stops, hidden signs after sharp turns, etc. I found the road to be a great country ride. A closer look at the review revealed that the writer was expecting to make this great rural ride a high-speed run on a sport bike.

Lastly, there are often options for submitting your own favorite routes and descriptions. You can become an intrepid scout, too!
Converting GPS files
There is a mind-boggling number of GPS file types other than the commonly known .gpx (GPS exchange format) . For instance, MapSource software files use a .gdb extension.
If you need to convert a GPS file to work with your device or mapping program, you can download the free software, GPSBabel here: http://www.gpsbabel.org/
However, the program is rather arcane and needs a lot of work before it's ready for the casual user. It's there if you like playing around with that sort of thing.

Another option is a free web-based interface to GPSBabel at GPSVisualizer which can be found here:
http://www.gpsvisualizer.com/gpsbabel/
It's much more intuitive and does not require you to load the GPSBabel program to your computer.

Google Maps can upload directions to compatible GPS units, however the option is sadly limited to business addresses only. Too bad. It's a great resource on which you can easily get directions, trip options, or design custom routing which unfortunately, cannot be transferred to a GPS.
That's no longer the case.
GMaps to GPX is a free little nugget that allows you to convert your Google Maps data to to a GPX format. Brilliant!
You simply add the device to your Favorites/Bookmarks on your web browser. After you are done mapping your route, or if you are viewing a rally ride route for instance, just click on the bookmark and a text .gpx file will appear over the map, ready for copying. You can find it here:
http://www.elsewhere.org/journal/gmaptogpx/#


Local (state or region)
Motorcycle Roads.US
http://www.motorcycleRoads.us/index.html
Select a state, a region, and there you go.
Not long ago each region was listed on a separate page making it difficult to link roads together. I wrote them about this and they replied that they were working on regional maps to make the process easier. Sure enough, there are now regional maps listed, too. Good job.
Update: GPS files are now being associated with some of the routes.

BestBikingRoads.com
http://www.bestbikingroads.com/
A large international site, however US routes are sparse.
Still, they accept user submissions so it's likely to grow.
Maps and GPS files are listed.

Open Road Journey
http://www.openroadjourney.com/
International. I almost listed this under Pay per View. A lot of routes are free, however some require upgrading to a "Pro" membership before viewing.

MotoWhere
http://www.motowhere.com/
A free site where riders can post their favorite routes. Getting better as more riders add content.

SundayMorningRides
http://www.sundaymorningrides.com/
International. User submitted rides categorized by type. POI's. Routes that can be uploaded to your GPS.

Magazines
Roadrunner Motorcycle Touring and Travel
http://www.roadrunner.travel/
A scooter-friendly publication with reviews, routes, and tours.
Each magazine article is accompanied on the internet with the option to purchase maps and GPS files at a reasonable price. Trips from back issues are archived on the web site, too.
Subscribers can access the maps and files at no additional charge for the magazines that are sent to you during the term of your subscription.

Pay per View
Madmaps
http://www.madmaps.com/roadtrips/categories/
Purchase routes on paper maps or as a file for your GPS.

Pashnit.com
http://www.pashnit.com/motoroads.htm
Subscription service for CA motorcycle roads. Probably the most comprehensive database of touring roads in California.

Destination Highways
http://www.destinationhighways.com/
Covers British Columbia, Washington state and NorCal. These are large spiral bound books and companion maps. The format takes some getting used to, but the info is solid.

Travel Information, Single State Routes
Pennsylvania's Route 6
http://www.paroute6.com/index.cfm

Travel Information, Multi-State Routes
Blue Ridge Parkway (VA, NC, TN)

Blue Ridge Parkway Association
http://www.blueridgeparkway.org/
Including Skyline Drive

Historic Route 40 (Cross Country)

Route40.net
http://www.route40.net/
Coast to Coast.

Tail of the Dragon / Cherohala Freeway (NC, TN)

Tail of the Dragon at Deals Gap, NC
http://www.tailofthedragon.com/

Books
Note: Advancements in GPS technology rapidly outpaces the printing press. Don't be surprised if the GPS section of even recently published touring books looks outdated by the time you get to that chapter.

The Essential Guide to Motorcycle Travel

Motorcycle Touring: Everything You Need to Know

Going the Extra Mile
Focuses on long distance and endurance riding.

Motorcycle Camping Made Easy

Last Updated Sun Mar 21, 2010 6:04 pm
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