What makes the best memories? Is it the people you’re with? Is it the motorcycle you were riding? Perhaps the location where it all took place? Most times, the best memories are a culmination of variables that fell into place in just the right way. We enjoy reliving those experiences. The feelings they gave us, the sights, the sounds, the entire damn thing, we hold these types of things near to our hearts. It’s healthy to remember, but it’s also easy to get caught up in the past.
After my recent first-time motorcycle trip to Europe (Split, Croatia, to be exact), I figured I would share some of my tips on how I prepared (and also what I wish I had known). From goats in the road, to switchback after switchback, straight mountain drop offs, confident European drivers who like to cross the center line, and road signs I’ve never seen, I sure got my fair share of learning experiences. However, for as many times as I felt nervous or unsure, there were double the times I widened my eyes in awe at the amazing views I saw and smiled at the wonderful people I met. Croatia was a beautiful place to visit and ride, one that I will never forget. Check out these 10 tips on how to prepare for an international moto trip – and feel free to share some of the things that may have worked for you as well!
Cristina has been around powersports her entire life. Motorcycles, four-wheelers, UTVs, etc. She grew up in a family where she watched her father and his brothers grow their motorcycle business from a small shop shipping Harley-Davidsons overseas, to three multi-line dealerships and a parts distribution business that supplies over 3,000 independent shops with OEM parts.
Strolling into the scorching day market in Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC), Vietnam there was a vendor selling old American G.I. Zippo lighters from the war. I picked up a rusty one and had a look at its engraving, “Vietnam is the land that God forgot, but we were there, and we remember.” It was a small moment, but it would ring in my head throughout my ride in Vietnam.
If you are looking to experience all types of America’s riding in one state, Utah is your destination. We started at Utah Lake State Park, which is centrally located three hours from the barren red desert of Moab and an hour from the green forest-covered mountains of the Nebo and Alpine Loops. In between the two extreme environments lie classic desert plains, which lead to the fascinating flats of Bonneville. Just north is the city of Salt Lake. If you are traveling from outside of the States and want to see the entire American backdrop in one week, nothing compares to the diversity of Utah.
One week in Colorado just wasn’t enough, and if I have to blame it on the average 19 mph uphill speed of our truck and a long detour through Wyoming’s Route 80 to avoid the mountain passes of I-70, then so be it. But ask anyone riding a motorcycle here, and they’ll agree we made the right decision. With the idea that some of us might decide to call this place our post-adventure home, a second week gave us a chance to experience everything that Colorado has to offer. No flukes or honeymoon effects here, just real, raw Colorado.
If you know how to ride a motorcycle, book your next vacation to Colorado. Immediately. It’s the mecca for riders of all kinds, attracting adventurous riders from around the world to ride above mile-high elevations in epic scenery, and endless twisties. It’s undoubtedly lived up to its hype.
After the ride of my life in the Ozarks, New Mexico was expected to be a pass-through state as we made our way to Pikes Peak and the hype that is Colorado. With rumors of strict traffic law enforcement, a reputation for hot, flat desert, and a drastic change of scenery from the green mountains back east, expectations were set fairly low. But never have I been so wrong.
One month, $2800, 6000 miles and 13 states later, we concluded the first half of our cross-country voyage in Missouri, on arguably the best all-around road in the region: Route 125. Now some may argue that the long hillside sweepers of West Virginia hold the blue ribbon, or that the tight mountain switchbacks on Route 16 in Virginia take the cake.
On the way back from the Grand Canyon of Arkansas and a 300-mile tour of some of the best roads in the Ozarks, we ended our day’s route careening down a mountain, crouched tightly behind windscreens in one of the most nail-biting rides in motorcycling. Miles of switchbacks and sweepers painted the Mona Lisa of Motorcycle roads on Route 123.
Waking from a restful night’s sleep, I could have been in the Garden of Eden. There was a sense of complete peace. The fresh, crisp air carried delightful bird serenades. A mist hung over the serene valley as the sun began to peak over the ancient mountains. Everything was green, lush and bursting with life. All was well. I had to bring myself back to the present and remember I was at The Inn at Mountain Quest, in Pocahontas County, West Virginia, with my motorcycle parked outside my door.