Watson On: The Highway To Hell

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Watson On: The Highway To Hell

There appears to be a constant debate amongst the U.S. motorcycle community as to which are the best riding roads here and in the rest of the world. I’ve ridden a few of these “best” American roads and am none the wiser, while over in Europe I have found that the highly recommended places to ride suck big time.

For example, friends of mine get all glassy-eyed about Germany’s notorious Nurburgring. I confess I have never ridden a bike around it. I did agree to go in the back seat of a car once with some Italian work colleagues. After less than half a lap we crawled out of the car’s smashed rear window and surveyed the damage of the upturned Fiat. I swore right there I’d never set foot in the place again.

Nurburgring
Nurburgring

Yet motorcycle loving friends of mine think the ‘ring, as they refer to it, is the ultimate place to go and ride a bike at the limit. You pay around $36 and for that you get to ride one lap on one of the most astonishing race circuits anywhere in the world. There are no speed limits or anything really to stop the stupid wiping themselves and others out. You get to mix it up with road cars, race cars and motorcycles. The important thing to remember when you’re out there is that it’s not a race and always keep to the right. After that it’s down to you to make it around the track in one piece.

The Nurburgring was built in 1927 and snakes its way through heavily forested hillsides with more than 1000 feet of elevation changes. It’s probably claimed more drivers and riders lives than any other track that I can think of. Anyone can turn up with your bike today and pay to ride on its tortuous 12.9-mile long circuit. Many who do, simply don’t return and die out there. There are no run off areas, there are 33 left hand and 40 right hand corners and like the hills you fly up and over, they are all completely blind. It is completely bonkers.

Nurburgring
Nurburgring

Unfortunately, motorcyclists die on the ‘ring too, but I have a feeling they just shoot off into the trees and are never found again and are therefore not included in the annual fatality statistics, which at the last count was averaging 10 deaths a year. If you are thinking of trying a lap, it’s good to know that if you damage the Armco barriers during an accident, you (or your family if you die) will end up paying for the repairs. And if your accident closes the track for an extended period, that’ll cost too.

On the plus side, the ‘ring is no longer a car or motorcycle Grand Prix track. That’s not surprising really as even the professionals nicknamed the place The Green Hell.

Even with all of that against you, there is someone trying to set a new lap record around the Nurburgring. Currently the motorcycle lap record at the Nordschleife (as the Germans call it) was set by Tim Rothig who, in 2008 on a Suzuki GSX-R 1000, posted a time of 7 minutes 46.7 seconds − and lived to tell the tale.

That’s an average speed of 99.96 mph, which is completely and utterly barking mad. The Nurburgring though is one of Europe’s great motorcycle destinations with thousands flocking there ever year to test their bikes and I suppose ultimately themselves. I simply don’t understand why. For me it’s just too dangerous.

Stelvio Pass
Stelvio Pass

I also don’t understand the hype of the Stelvio Pass, another great European riding destination.  I was told for years and years by motorcycle loving friends and automotive journalists that I had to go and ride or drive this road and it would change my entire life. It was, in their opinion, simply the best driving road in Europe. Heck, even Moto Guzzi named one of its bikes after it. The BBC’s Top Gear series not so long ago named it as the greatest road on the planet, only to promptly change its mind and say that the best was actually an obscure mountain road in Eastern Europe.

You may well have seen photographs or even videos of the Stelvio Pass that runs between Switzerland and Italy. It looks like an achingly beautiful riding road with hairpin bend after hairpin bend (72 in total if my memory serves correctly) as far as the eye can see.

Stelvio Pass
Stelvio Pass

The reality is, the Stelvio Pass is plain dreadful. It may be, at 9000 feet, the highest paved road in Europe, but it’s also slow, repetitive and I am probably going to get banned for life from the place for saying this, it’s actually quite boring.

You have to ride really cautiously as there are sheer drops on some sides with little protection. Everybody coming towards you is either trying to break a speed record or is equally as cautious and you pass each other with frozen grins pretending you’re having a good time while stuck behind a tourist bus that is rumbling along at 15 mph full of sight seeing German pensioners.

If you want to really experience the Stelvio Pass then you need to get up at 4 am and blast up it from the Italian side to the Swiss side. The chances are at even at that hour in the dark you’ll still be held up by a procession of RV’s and tourist busses.

Tail of the Dragon
Tail of the Dragon

There are a couple of roads here in the U.S. that have been highly recommended to me by fellow motorcyclists as great roads to ride. The 11-mile, 318 curve Tail of the Dragon in North Carolina.

I have grappled with the Ortega Highway here in Southern California and hated every inch of it. Not the road but the sheer lunacy of other road users and I’m including fellow motorcyclists in that group.

Tail of the Dragon
Tail of the Dragon

My best road? There is a road in Nevada I know of in the mountains that is quiet, empty of traffic, miles from the nearest town and I could ride that road all day every day. But I’m keeping it a secret, as I don’t want you turning up.

What places do you dream of riding?

  • Diego Martinez

    Telegraph Canyon, otherwise known as Highway 94. There can be a bit of traffic, but if you end up out there with little to no traffic, it is lovely. If you prefer hairpin after hairpin, along with very technical sections, Banner Grade is always fun. It also has more curves in less distance than the Tail of the Dragon. If you’re feeling adventurous, you can hit both these spots in a 3 hour ride which would include Sunrise Highway. Sunrise is high-speed and flowing, and it feels as if you should launch off the road, you would land in the desert.

  • eddi

    You know what? Others can have their ‘ring, the pass and the Dragon. There are some well-kept, low traffic roads all over the place around here. I can go all day at a pace that will never set a record, even for slowest, but by Soichiro Honda I’m having a ball.

  • atomicalex

    Stelvio is a long grind. 87 in total from Bormio to Prato. It’s fun, but not. You are so tired by the time you get done that you just want to sit. And really, Prato to Bormio is way better. Bormio is closed on Tuesday. The Sella Runde to the east is just as technical, but more fun. Pordoi is amazing. And for pure diversity over distance, the Großglockner is unmatched.

    The ‘ring is an acquired taste, I think. I love it, but I also love Grattan, which claims its fair share of drivers and riders.

    There are tons of awesome roads all over. It’s fun to bag the biggies, but there are so many other ones to play on.

    • Dave Mason

      Grattan in Michigan?

      • atomicalex

        The only one. After my first lap of teh Nordschleife, I told a friend, OMG, it’s like big momma Grattan, right down to those two stupid trees and the jump.

        • Dave Mason

          Yeah I remember my first session at Grattan. I immediately removed my helmet, turned to the first person I saw and asked “is this track SUPPOSED to be this intimidating??!??”. Yep, if you can ride Grattan you can ride anywhere, as they say.

          • Charlie Dunn

            Many laps at Grattan, on cycles and in cars. It has a little bit of everything.

  • Lord Triumph

    I agree about the ‘ring’. The place is a nightmare with every kind of looney in a suped up VW Golf who thinks he’s the master of the circuit. They would have no issues with taking out a biker on any corner due to their over confidence and lack of driving skill. Furthermore, the surface is terrible – paint everywhere making it very slippy with even a slight smattering of rain, and blind hills and corners with brake fluid and oil lines from the many badly maintained and cheap cars that go there. Riders beware!

  • William Connor

    Precisely why I haven’t ridden these roads. There are a bunch of roads in rural PA, Western MD, and WV that are amazing scenery. They have flowing turns, switchbacks, high density curve sections and even just some meandering straight sections to relax on. You cross through some small towns but there is not a lot of traffic to deal with, small towns also mean good food and gas.

    • Miles Prower

      There are amazing, well-maintained, mountain roads all over WV offering lots of variety in scenery and riding style — without a ton of traffic. Rural PA also has some great routes; but coming from New England, I consider PA to be the long-way (in a good way) to WV.

    • David Gasser

      Don’t forget SEO (Southeast Ohio!)

      • Nathan

        I grew up in Southeast Ohio. Amazing roads, didn’t realize how spoiled I was until I moved away. Traffic is almost non-existent on some of them also.

        • David Gasser

          There are some great roads for sure! This is just an example of one of them (536). All this talk is making me want to ride…too bad this winter has been so shi**y!

      • HoldenL

        Coupla years ago I was in the Hocking Hills area in a car, and I longed for my motorcycle so bad. Fabulous roads.

  • Jesse VanderWeide

    Vanocker Canyon in the Black Hills of South Dakota, as well as the southern continuation of Spearfish Canyon that nobody knows about. (Just don’t go there during the Sturgis rally…. or 3 weeks before/after it.)

  • Nathan

    I’m glad someone finally wrote this article because every time someone see’s my bike they say “so have you been to Deal’s Gap.” (This is what North Carolinians call The Tail of The Dragon.) I get the urge to punch them. We have so many other roads especially here in western NC that are amazing and aren’t crowded with noobs. Buddy and I from work went on a ride just based off google maps and how curvy the road looked. The one was great but the other was off the charts, flypaper asphalt, switchbacks, decreasing radius turns, 1600 ft elevation change in 15 miles and we passed one camper. I’ll stick to roads like this, sorry I can’t share the name with you, I’m selfish and want to keep it a secret.

    • Dave Mason

      I hear you. When my wife and I rode to the BRP to camp for a week I can’t tell you how many dipshits informed us that we “had” to ride “the dragon”. I usually reply “ever heard of a fucking track day?”.

      • Piglet2010

        “… I rode to the BRP…”

        Bombardier Recreational Products?

        • Nathan

          Blue Ridge Parkway.

          • Chris Optional Freeman

            BRP is painfully boring as the speed limit is about half of what it needs to be for the pace of the road itself. however you also can’t see how pretty it is because there are hundreds of old people and tourists driving below that ludicrously low speed limit and making random abrupt stops everywhere.

            The Dragon/Deals Gap is a good ride, during the off season, when its just cold enough that all of the posers and Harley people will instead go bother people at their local stealership. Still gotta worry about trucks though….

            • Dave Mason

              We purposely rode the week before the week before Memorial Day (if that makes sense). It was deserted (as we had hoped) except for a bicycle race. My wife rides her own bike (Ninja 300) and while being a more than competent rider she prefers a relaxed pace, so the parkway was pretty ideal for us.

              • Piglet2010

                If I go to ride it, I will take my scooter since it limits speeds to 50 mph.

            • Nathan

              I was responding to what the BRP acronym meant for the previous post but I somewhat agree. The BRP can be boring if all you want to do is get point a to b however it’s meant to be enjoyed at a leisurely pace, that is what it was built for, soak up the scenery, enjoy the overlooks. It’s kind of a wind down road for us as we prepare for the next road we plan on attacking.

          • IRS4

            Regionality insists I go with Bronx River Parkway

        • Dave Mason

          Yeaaaah no.

      • Nathan

        Not sure what part of the country you’re from but if you’re ever around the BRP again in NC maybe I can let you in on some of the “locals” roads that we frequent to avoid the constant traffic on the well known motorcycle rides in western NC.

    • WNCJohn

      I always thought I was missing something the few times I went to The Tail. I was always there on the weekends and it was a zoo. I’m told the weekdays are much better and may still try that sometimes. Blind curves with lots of traffic going at much different speed was nerve wracking.

      I’m in Hendersonville and can be on great roads in 2-3 miles. Add a dualsport to the stable and double the opportunities.
      A friend of mine lives near The Snake and I rode there twice last fall on weekdays. Both days the roads were clear and clean and just about zero traffic.

      • Justin McClintock

        For the record, it depends on what you’re on. My SV1K was alright on the Dragon. But my DRZSM and my DT175 were more fun because of how low the speed limits are. And yes, the weekdays are more fun.

    • HoldenL

      Oh my god, last summer I used the Pisgah Inn as a base to explore some roads off of the BRP, and there are some little-known roads that are unbelievable. With the help of Google Maps, America Rides Maps, and searching nooks and crannies of the Internet, you can find backroads that are astonishing. I rode alone, which I don’t recommend because you could crash and never be found. Basically, if you’re passing Christmas tree farms, you’re on a good backroad in that area.

      • Nathan

        Exactly. The more Christmas trees the better lol. You’re right though some careful map studying and you’re in a wonderland. I don’t recommend going alone since you’re right something can happen and you wouldn’t be found. I have ridden alone but prefer not to.

    • Carter

      I agree – and it’s a big part of why I moved to NC. The locals in the Charlotte ADV group have shown me some great roads, and we rarely hit the BRP unless it’s to get to a better road off the Parkway. I’ve ridden the dragon, just to “check the box” – but there’s so many better roads with a lot less LEO’s and traffic.

      • Nathan

        Glad you have a good group of guys to share some of the roads with. I have a few of my own that I enjoy to. I work in Charlotte but live about an hour NW so if you ever needed some more roads to add to your list let me know!

        • Carter

          Always looking for new roads – I’ve ridden a few up around Morganton – 80, 181 (I love that road), Old Hwy 18, some side roads around Brown Mountain, etc. It’s a nice area to ride. I’ve only been here one season, but I plan on doing a lot more exploring in that area. I own 2 Buells – so I take the Ulysses if I’m going to explore trails, and the Firebolt if I’m staying on asphalt.

          • Nathan

            All asphalt here for the F4i. 181 is my favorite also so far. There are a couple out of old fort on the other side of Marion and others over in the Lake Lure region that are great.

            • Carter

              Yeah – Agreed on 181. It’s not as technical as some of the curves on old NC 18, or 80 (Especially the switchbacks just South of the BRP) – but powering up 181 is such a great ride. There’s plenty of 2 lane sections, if only the cages would get over and let you by!

    • Gonfern

      I Usually ride the north side of the BRP in VA (called Skyview up here) early in the morning to get to some better roads in WV. The police presence is ridiculous. Every cop I pass flashes his lights at me and points to the dash as if to say “watch your speed” It is a pretty way of getting somewhere better, or a great place to take my girl for a relaxed 2-up ride where she can enjoy a few twisties without scaring her. Anytime after 10am you wouldnt want to go faster than 35mph anyway because every blind turn you go around, there is some retiree turning into an overlook site or stopped in the middle of the road taking pictures of a bear/deer/bird/tree/other retiree.

  • ticticticboom

    I will take 30 degree thru 90 degree turns over 180 degree turns all day long. Switchbacks suck.

    • Dave Mason

      ^^^What he said.

    • Stuki

      Stelvio is breathtakingly spectacular, though. On a sportbike up, or a motard down. Or, presumably, a Guzzi both ways…..

      The problem isn’t these roads, but the traffic. Hwy 1 through Big Sur would be nice, too; if it wasn’t for the people. I can only Imagine a week at Nurburgring by myself……

      IOW, the roads are fine. People Suck.

      • IRS4

        I ride PCH from L.A. to the MotoGP at Laguna Seca on the Thursday morning before the race and the Monday after. Pure bliss.

  • KeithB

    I ended up riding the Dragon just because it was near the end of the Blue Ridge Parkway ride.
    Foggy, wet and technically an “interesting” ride on an ST1100.
    Passed on Deals Gap stop and the pictures.(yawn)
    Now the Great Ocean Road in Australia…great bit of road mate!
    Stelvio looks like a lot of work!

  • di0genes

    There is a road in Montana that should be on the greatest riding road list, but few on it will be in danger of life and limb. You have to go slow and stop frequently, not because you are supposed to, or because of the danger, but because you don’t want to miss some of the most spectacular scenery anywhere. Starting on a hot summer’s day you ride upward, every corner a completely new vista that takes the breath away, until finally you reach the top, where it could well be snowing. Logans pass in Glacier International park. Why a bike road? The only better way to see it would be on foot. Cagers will miss 80% of the awesomeness.

    • Mark Thompson

      The one time I rode the Going to the Sun Road, it was absolutely dumping down rain. Couldn’t see anything…nobody could, so it was a slow, wet, blind ride. I felt like I got robbed!

  • Dave Mason

    Nearly every road in the Ozark mountain regions of Missouri and Arkansas is deserted much of the year and there isn’t a bad one in existence. Some of the best riding anywhere.

    • HeDidn’tWeDid

      True. I live in Little Rock and am amazed at the back roads I ride on regularly that connect to HWY 9 and HWY 7. I have gone weeks of riding without encountering an LEO.

    • Piglet2010

      “… and there isn’t a bad one in existence.”

      Unless you are a douchbag college football coach with more ego than riding skills carrying a pillion who is not your wife on an over-weight and poor handling cruiser. :)

  • Jonathan Booker

    The road up Blood mtn in north Georgia is my favorite road in the southeast. You just have to hit it really early in the morning or on a weekday.

  • Rameses the 2nd

    I bought my motorcycle for liesurely rides on the weekends and occasional commute to work when conditions allow (weather, client meetings, etc…). Maybe I am a minority, but I rather go on a new route and experience something new than going on the same twisty routes again and again. I have no desire to put my knee down and break the fastest 0 to 100 records. I enjoy the sound of my exhaust, fresh air on my face, and scenery way more than going to some special fun and challenging motorcycle route.

    • eddi

      Bikes are multi-purpose machines. I’m with you but there are good, serious riders who live for a high-speed turn and peeling a second off their best effort. All I can say to them is “Go cats, go!” Watching them is seeing kinetic art at it’s best. Although, I take a guilty pleasure in watching the outtakes. As long as it’s just sparks and scuffed leather.

      • Jack Meoph

        The last group ride I was on, the fast guys blew past me, and when the Duc 1198 went by I was thinking man, that thing sings! but I was more into the ride and the scenery that day. I even told everyone that it was going to be a slow, mellow ride up the coast, but the fast guys just gotta go. It’s crazy.

        • eddi

          Slow and mellow seem to be defined very flexibly by riders. Sometimes even on different days.

  • Damian

    Come down to New Zealand and ride. You won’t be disappointed.

    • skeelo221

      I did a 2 week solo tour of the south island and could not recommend it highly enough. Heaven on earth, truly.

  • zion

    The best roads out there are the one’s no one talks about; keeping them secret is the key.

    • http://www.racetrackstyle.com/ Racetrack Style

      Strange how this article doesn’t mention any good roads but most comments are willing to blab on about the roads that should be discovered the old fashion way.

  • Piglet2010

    “…by Tim Rothig who, in 2008 on a Suzuki GSX-R 1000…”

    Sure it was not Tim Röthig on a 2011 ZX-10R? – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iGsTcmLG7dU

    Of course, he had the advantage as a professional tire tester for Bridgestone of having the track to himself, instead of having to dodge a load of wankers going 30 kph around the corners in a VW Type II.

    • LowEndPower

      It wasn’t Tim Rothing on a Ninja 250

      • Piglet2010

        Context is everything, which you forgot while being snarky.

        • LowEndPower

          so put it in context.
          What’s the Nordschleife record on either a Ninja 250 or 300?

    • Tim Watson

      He set the quickest time in 2008 and tried again in 2010 with the Kawasaki but didn’t improve. Unless you know different?

    • Mr. White

      Damn.

      • Piglet2010

        Just watching and seeing how close the Armco barriers are made me nervous.

  • lacosz75

    Stelvio Pass 2012 Aprilia Tuono:))))))))

  • Piglet2010

    Real men ride *up* the Stelvio Pass on a push bike.

  • lacosz75

    +1 fotó

    • Lourens Smak

      bonus-points for the snow!

    • SkunkySamurai

      Look at him all serious and stuff!
      In all seriousness, Stelvio is beautiful looking, but, switchbacks do suck. I’m originally from Southern California and spent many miles up in the Glendora Mountains.

  • Konstantin Chachanidze

    there is no best way, as there is no best song, no best composition and no best book or writer. with a big caution one might speak about “one of the best” way, song and etc. :D :D :D my opinion, of course

  • James Laramy

    I’ve always like the roads in AZ. The state gives you a wide variety of twisties and switchbacks. Plus the scenery is beautiful! I don’t really want to say which roads are the best…the people who live there know. Now that I live back in Wisconsin we have a few good roads. The most popular is Hwy 35, (the rive raod) along the Mississipppi River. Great ride, except on the summer weekends. Too many damn people! Best to hit it during the weekdays.

    • Piglet2010

      I can think of a low more fun roads than that in SW Wisconsin – have to watch out for deer, farm equipment, and manure at dairy cow crossings, however.

  • jon

    i love going to the dragon. but i havent been able to go during the summer because it has become super congested after each time its mentioned in a magazine, or discovery channel or wherever. now we go early spring or late summer when there are fewer noobs and LEOs but we dont sit on the road all day. there are TONS of great roads in the area and all the way up into west virginia. i think the best road is whatever road suits the rider/driver where you are the most confident and can enjoy yourself.

  • John Wheeler

    I like Deals Gap aka the dragons tail i have an RC-51 AND ITS JUST A BLAST,whats really nice about the place are the friendly people of North Carolina

  • Johnny Sailor

    To anyone living or passing through Texas, there’s a nice loop going through the Fort Davis mountains that goes past the McDonald’s observatory. 118 and 166 looping around the mountains through some twisties.

  • OOG

    3 words: Texas Hill Country.

    • taba

      +3

  • Ross McCurdy

    299 and 36 up here in Humboldt, CA

  • runnermatt

    Car and Driver tested a car, an Audi Quattro something, at Deals Gap. They went in the winter.

    • Justin McClintock

      That’d definitely be fun, but you’d need to plan your gas stops. Many places (including gas stations) around there are closed in the winter.

      • Piglet2010

        Jerry can pillion, eh?

        • Justin McClintock

          Oh, I wouldn’t want to take a bike there in the winter. Too much snow, too little clearing. I’m not sure the plow trucks hit the Tail itself at all in the winter, and I know at times they close the Cherohala Skyway. Just not a good place for a bike in December/January/February at all.

          The car….yeah, just make sure you’ve got plenty of gas and can get yourself out if you have to.

  • LowEndPower

    The best roads to ride on are the ones where none of the RideApart forum-mods are riding :)

  • Michele Menichini

    There’s a road where all Ducati were born. It’s the Futa, a mountain road that links Bologna (home of Ducati) to the Mugello.
    I think you can imagine what it’s all about: it’s a mind blowing twist of corner lasting 40 km.

  • DucMan

    I agree. Gimme Arkansas and Texas Hill Country.

  • runnermatt

    Now the question is, is there a way to get there without hitting the super slab?

  • Piglet2010

    The worst road is US 30 from Rock Falls to Hinckley, IL – people have been known to die from boredom while driving it.

    • eddi

      There are straight stretches in Eastern Oregon that d@mn near put me on the side when I was driving a car on regular deliveries. All day with no curves and maybe three turns at the beginning and end. And pack a lunch. There are no humans for 20 miles on either side of the road.

      • Piglet2010

        “And pack a lunch. There are no humans for 20 miles on either side of the road.”

        So “long pig” is off the menu? ;)

        • eddi

          As a famous comic character said, unless other game is scarce.

  • Nathan Haley

    I like roads that can be fun at speeds that probably won’t kill you if you crash. Also I actually really like tight switchbacks because they can be challenging at relatively low speeds. A good ride has a little bit of everything, so maybe good roads should be defined in part by what surrounds them. I’m not willing to ride 40 miles down the superslab just to get to 4 miles of even the most perfect twisties.

    I liked Deal’s Gap and the surrounding roads but I wouldn’t call them the greatest roads in America, or even in NC. There’s actually a jeep trail that ends up somewhere on the dragon. Great ride on a dual sport. The Blue Ridge Parkway is scenic but never really challenging. Rule of thumb – look for mountains and you can’t get too boring (yes, there are exceptions).

  • http://krtong.com/ Kr Tong

    If i wanted to live somewhere for more beautiful twisty roads on and off road than i would know what to do with it would be oregon or washington. Most of the mountain roads between california and nevada are perfect, so no, you dont need to mention which ones your favorite.

    • Piglet2010

      Just bring your own drinking water, in case local water supplies have run dry.

  • PaddingtonPoohBear

    Sooo the author thinks roads X, Y, and Z suck but refuses to tell us about any he thinks are better. Sweet. I see people saying that so often these days it’s becoming a bit of a cliche’. C’mon guys, help out us neophytes! =D Anyway, if there are more great roads added to the “database” wouldn’t that help spread people out more so they don’t clog up your favorite ones?

    A few of my favorites so far in central NC are Hurdle Mills Rd. between 86 and Roxboro and Cheek Rd / Old Weaver Trail which runs near Falls Lake. Neither of them are terribly challenging, just rural two lane roads with speeds between 45-55 mph. with some nice curves and scenery.

    The place I dream of riding? A camping trip along the Blue Ridge Parkway in NC and other roads in that area (except Deal’s Gap unless it’s off season).

    Cheers

  • Kevin

    CA-36 between Red Bluff and Fortuna. The sign speaks for itself.

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/79141828@N04/7697959940/

    • http://www.racetrackstyle.com/ Racetrack Style

      I was hoping no one would share those roads. Part of the fun of riding is discovering these roads by yourself by opening a map

      • Kevin

        Part of becoming the community is learning about roads that others have enjoyed and adding your own local favorites to the body of knowledge. Time is precious; I personally wouldn’t want to waste any of mine by heading down roads that aren’t the really good ones. Why bother? I have job and a family, no time to burn.

    • http://metabomber.com/ Jesse

      Now that’s a tailpack.

      • Kevin

        That was a bad idea actually. Too top heavy. Great bag though (Motofizz, available through Aerostich), but I’m going to go for the smaller version soon.

  • Hans

    Discussing best roads is like discussing taste. Everyones is entiteled to their own oppinion. The alps is beautifull but crowded. I would recomend my own country where you find roads like this:
    Atlanterhavsveien: http://youtu.be/Sz0t53xv97g
    Geiranger:http://youtu.be/uhqv-UPyUrw
    Trollstigen: http://youtu.be/iw6281ekyd4

    These are in the west of Norway. This one is just outside my door in Oslo. http://youtu.be/rOd75AmlVZY

    In addition there are many others i will keep for myself. Norway is a relatively remote part of Europe and overcrowding is seldom a big problem.

    • Stuki

      Looks beautiful! Can almost smell the fresh air just looking at the videos…..

      Is the weather even remotely predictable there? Gulf Stream adjacent mountain roads in cold places tend to be a recipe for extreme levels of fog and rain; like Scotland… One of the great things about Cali, the Sierras and the Rockies, is that you can pretty much have a good ride any time. Dry pavement and decent weather. And ditto for the high alpines and Southern Europe in summer.

      • Hans

        Good question on the weather. It is not as bad as Scotland, but timing your trip would be a good idea. July is not a good idea, while August and September is better. I have done around five trips here and have had rain less than 15% of the time. But I have a family with two small kids so a trip to the Alps is not possible right now. And I do envy your weather there, right now I am looking out on two feet of snow. So I am reading RideApart and dreaming of summer, or being somwhere warm

        • Stuki

          Envy, Schmenvy. Here in cali, even 10,000ft/3,000m ski resorts has had nothing other than man made snow so far this year. The whole bloody state will probably dry up and burn down come summer…….

          I like snowy winters and dry summers. It’s the in between, rain soaked, Scottish climate I have some problems with. It sounds like Norway is far enough north to at least get the snowy part right.

  • Hooligan

    Just about to nip out and ride some of the great road round the South Downs in Southern England. Heading for Goodwood, then the South Harting bends. Twist twist and twist again.

    • Tim Watson

      If you get a chance go up Firle Beacon on the South Downs. Used to be a hillclimb course years ago but is still open to the public. Great road and a fab view at the top.

      • Hooligan

        Yes I know the Firle beacon road. Indeed an amazing view from the top.
        It was quite wet out there today, been very wet Jan here, all the rivers
        and streams are full to the brim spilling over the roads. Riding through fast flowing rivers with 3 inches of water!!! Who needs an adventure bike? The Street does it all, fording rivers, farm tracks, green lanes!

  • Lourens Smak

    Here’s a crazy stretch of road on my bucket-list: Passo San Boldo in Italy, where near the top some of the switchback turns are *inside* tunnels… (short clip, shows just that bit) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SSPabI4gZto

  • Don Fraser

    Have driven Deals Gap and been the passenger with my wife driving, fun, but tight and no flow, but there are plenty of roads around there that are entertaining.

  • Justin McClintock

    The Tail of the Dragon is indeed a good road, but it’s ruined by traffic. On a Tuesday or Wednesday morning in the summer, it’s fantastic. On a Saturday, it’s probably closed half the day to haul some dumbass out of there. Meanwhile, both during the week and on weekends, the nearby Cherohala Skyway is usually rather sparsely trafficed, isn’t nearly as tedious (you can actually open a bike up a bit), isn’t nearly as heavily patrolled, and has a higher speed limit.

    As far as BEST roads? I can think of several in N. GA and at least one on the NC/SC line that are terrific that I pretty much always have to myself. And to keep it that way, I’m not telling you where they are.

    • HoldenL

      I think I know the road on the NC/SC line that you’re talking about. I stumbled upon it three years ago — I wanted to take some backroads from Franklin, N.C., to I-85, while, at the same time, ticking South Carolina off my map of states that I’ve ridden in. I didn’t expect any excitement from South Carolina roads, but shortly after crossing the state line on a back highway, the road plunged into a tight right-hand curve that scared me half to death, as there wasn’t a warning sign. And the road was curvy and awesome for a few miles. I daydream of that road sometimes. Not gonna say which road it was; I’ve planted enough clues here…

      • Justin McClintock

        Yup, that sounds like it.

  • WheelieGood13

    My favorite place to ride is on the Pan-American from the Honduran Border to Esteli, Nicaragua. Pristine pavement, perfectly graded, turns you can see through, little traffic, and no law enforcement. Just don’t go down, you’re a long ways from first world medical care. A close second would be my secret squirrel route from Jaco up to San Jose, Costa Rica (from the Pacific coast to the central valley), the scenery is epic (and I hate that word).

    • Hooligan

      + 1 on the Jaco route. Also the road from Soller over the mountains in Mallorca is amazing.

      • Stuki

        +1 on the Mallorca mountains. Even on a rented scooter. And I hate scooters…..

        • Piglet2010

          Scooters are fun.

  • Pete Bull

    This piece should be renamed to “Tim Watson on how everything is better in the US”. It’s the view of Tim Watson. You should go out and get your own.

    The official speed record on the Ring has actually been broken several times. They just don’t keep records of this anymore.

    • Tim Watson

      Hmm…. that’s not actually what I said unless you’re just trying to be provocative. For a start, I am a European and like both the U.S. and Europe in equal measures. You’ve posted defensively here before about Europe – nobody at RA is attacking Europe and saying the U.S. is better.

      Incidentally, if it’s an ‘official’ Nurburgring speed record then it’s kept as a record. If you break the record and don’t have any proof then it’s not a record. You’ve just been round the ‘ring very fast. Not entirely sure what you’re trying to say here…

      • gabbar singh

        Where are you from originally?

      • Piglet2010

        Records on the Nürburgring are a difficult subject, due to the many changes in the track, and the variable configurations that can be used.

  • Justin McClintock

    BTW, each time I look at that picture of the dude supermanning it off the bagger at the Dragon, I just can’t help but wonder what he’s thinking. Maybe it’s, “Man, I’m glad I wore a full face helmet!” More likely it’s, “Damn, maybe I should have worn something with some sleeves.”

    The chick below is probably thinking, “Maybe Dad was right about this guy afterall….”

  • roma258

    I’ve been fortunate to ride some of the greatest rods in the world, Tail of the Dragon and Cherohal, the Snake, Route 33 out of Ojai, Route 1 north of San Francisco, bunch of passes through the Alps (though not Stelvio unfortunately), bunch of great roads in West Virginia, etc… If you’re a sportbike rider, these are the roads you seek out. The traffic, is not the road’s fault, time it right and you can get a good run. If the writer wants a more mellow road to ride on that’s fine, but these roads are famous for a reason. It’s become de rigueur to say that TOD is overrated, but it’s probably one of most intense experiences I’ve ever had on a bike. I guess my point is, these roads are famous for a reason. And undiscovered gems are great too, it’s all part of the flavor that makes motorcycling awesome.

    Fwiw, Rue de Napoleon is probably my favorite road of all time, followed closely by Route 33 in Cali.

  • http://metabomber.com/ Jesse

    This appears to be a theme, today.
    Wired.com wrote up an article on The Snake, Adey gets himself name checked.
    http://www.wired.com/autopia/2014/02/mulholland-the-snake/

  • Clint Keener

    My new favorite is Glendora Mountain Road.

    But who knows when it will be open since the fire hit. =(

    • Piglet2010

      When riding in the north part of Georgia, stay out of the buffer zones separating Georgian and Russian troops. Also, do not plan on crossing the border, unless you have a diplomatic passport.

  • nobody24

    Best roads are in New Zealand. Good pavement, great curves, no traffic. Yes, Europe is too crowded, the the Tail of the Dragon is 11 miles (?) that’s not a road, it’s a driveway.

  • MichaelEhrgott

    Hwy 36, west of Red Bluff and Hwy 299, east of Fortuna. Nuff said.

  • Vladimir Proskurin

    There is a rather busy road in the center of Moscow that runs on either sides of Yauza River, it’s usually used to test how fast one can ride in urban environment.

    and here is an example:
    http://youtu.be/g5UghvWbqEI

  • Robert Fury

    Highway 191 north of Clifton in eastern Arizona, March 2013. Passed 4 cars in over 75 miles! I also recommend Beartooth pass in Montana.

  • Robert Fury

    Highway 191 north of Clifton in eastern Arizona, March 2013. Great road!!