Ride Report: Beaverdam and Back 2020


Despite chilly conditions, I used Saturday afternoon to take my first “real” motorcycle ride of 2020–my traditional season-opening run to Beaverdam, Ohio. While the ride over mostly flat terrain was cold and unimaginative, the shakedown cruise went smoothly–spare realizing I had forgotten to reinstall a couple small parts–and Jadzia the Yamaha FJR1300 is now ready to start touring in 2020.

20200509_150723_hdrThe route I chose has been my season kick-off route since 2015. I bought my 2003 FJR1300 in January of that year, and when the salt was gone and it was warm enough to ride, I chose the run to Beaverdam as my first ride on the new bike. I chose the route because it allowed me to head north from Delaware, Ohio (where I lived at the time), and ride the bike at expressway speeds for about a full tank of gas on roads that don’t see a lot of traffic. 

I’ve made the trip to Beaverdam every year from wherever I lived–except for 2018. I bought my current FJR1300 from a dealer in Rochester, N.Y., so my first ride that year was the trek from Rochester to Columbus. 

I’ve thought about finding a new first ride route for a couple years now, especially with where I live on the east side of Columbus now. A run to Taco John’s in Athens, Ohio would probably work just as well as the ride to Beaverdam while skipping the stop-and-go through Lewis Center. But I decided to keep the tradition going for this year.

Route

2020 Beaverdam and Back Map

I started my trip by taking Interstate 270 north from the Broad St. interchange to U.S. Route 23 North (exit 23). I stayed on Route 23 to Upper Sandusky, Ohio, passing through the commercial strip in Lewis Center and the small cities of Delaware and Marion. Route 23 duplexes with U.S. Route 30 in Upper Sandusky, beginning at an interchange on the east side of town and splits off at another interchange on the northwest side. At the second interchange, I stayed on Route 30, taking that to the expressway’s exit with the former U.S. 30 alignment, which doubles as an indirect interchange with Interstate 75. The Speedway I stopped at is in between the Route 30 and Interstate 75 exits.

The route home was the reverse of the above route description.

Miles Ridden: About 220

Weather

Overall: Cold

Temperatures: Mid-40s to low-50s

Conditions: Partly cloudy/overcast, windy

Summary

While there wasn’t much new to see along the route–and the coronavirus closure made an eat-in stop at my favorite Columbus eatery (Freddy’s Street Food in Delaware) impossible–the trip was a success. Other than discovering I had forgotten to reinstall a couple fasteners and reflectors, the bike ran nearly flawlessly. The accessories I installed over the winter (terminal blocks, Bikemaster heated grips, voltmeter) worked fine, the new braided steel clutch line gave better clutch feel, and the brakes felt the best they have on this bike. I now feel ready to tackle my first tour of 2020, whenever that may be.

20200509_145836_hdrTo say it was a chilly ride is an understatement, and the wind was gusting pretty good along the mostly flat, open central Ohio terrain. I could’ve made the experience a little more pleasant had I used my extra layers, Alpinestars rain gloves (which are well insulated), and neck gator. I had decided to wear my new Fly-brand riding gloves and use the heated grips to break them in. By the time I made it to Beaverdam, I had to wait about 15-20 minutes for my hands to warm up.

For the ride back, I changed to my Alpinestars and used the neck gator, which made the slightly warmer temperatures much more bearable. 

 

 

 

The Most Scenic Places I’ve Visited on a Motorcycle


I credit my love of motorcycles for providing the motivation to discover some amazing scenic views. If I hadn’t started riding, I wouldn’t have had a reason to travel through the areas where I found many of the places listed below. 

There’s something very peaceful and serene about enjoying a stunning view of the earth’s landscapes, and even more so on two wheels. One recent experience I had with scenery and riding was last year on my trip home from the MotoAmerica event at VIRginia International Raceway. While the best scenic view on the trip isn’t along Interstate 77, I found myself doing more than just looking at the majestic, never-ending stream of tree-covered mountains the interstate winds its way through. I wasn’t just seeing the mountains. Because I was exposed to the elements and not stuck inside a metal box on four wheels, I was–in a deeper, more impactful way–experiencing the the landscape I was riding through.

It’s often the same way with a scenic overlook. When you stop at one while driving a car, you get out and it feels like a different world. On a motorcycle, you’ve already been exposed to the elements of the environment within which the overlook exists. You don’t feel like you’re in another world; the view is part and parcel to the environment you’re experiencing as you ride.

Here’s a short list of the best scenic views I’ve discovered on a motorcycle.

DSCN5090

Miller Motorsports Park/Utah Motorsports Campus

Location: Grantsville, Utah

Google Map Link: https://goo.gl/maps/RE8uwHyQNPsD6nyy6 

One of the most scenic places I’ve ridden to–perhaps the most scenic–is a road racing facility. Utah Motorsports Campus (a.k.a. The track formerly known as Miller Motorsports Park) sits on the floor of the Tooele Valley, about 30 miles southwest of downtown Salt Lake City. While the track and its associated buildings are nice and all, it’s the view of the surrounding mountains and Great Salt Lake that earn the track a place on this list.

The track’s location features stunning views of the snow-capped Oquirrh Mountains to its east and the dry Stansbury Mountains to its west, as well as a splendid view of the mountain and lake to the north (from the track’s higher elevation areas).

 

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Lovers Leap

Location: Meadows of Dan, Va.

Google Map Link: https://goo.gl/maps/A5CgrRBTEYqWuXLf7

I found this view the first time I went to VIRginia International Raceway to cover a MotoAmerica event, and have been back to see it every year since 2016. The overlook is part of U.S. Route 58, which is a very fun road to ride. 

The overlook offers a stunning view of the Blue Ridge hills, and is not too far away from the Blue Ridge Parkway’s interchange with old U.S. Route 58 at Meadows of Dan, Va. There’s no MotoAmerica event at VIR for 2020, but I’m still going to take a ride to Martinsville, Va., or Danville, Va., so I can enjoy this amazing road and view for the fifth year in a row.

You can read more about Lover’s Leap on the Virginia Tourism Corporation website at https://www.virginia.org/Listings/OutdoorsAndSports/LoversLeap

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Cherohala Skyway

Location: North Carolina/Tennessee Border

Google Map Link: https://goo.gl/maps/59wAee6WZoWwXDQp7 

This is a well-known scenic road, but it’s still worth discussing here. The about 50-mile parkway was completed in 1996 and features more than 4,000-feet in elevation change from its western terminus in Tellico Plains, Tenn., to the highest point along the route.

All along the parkway there are scenic overlooks to enjoy, as the road is a designated National Scenic Byway. It’s name is a portmanteau of the two national forests the road goes through: the Cherokee National Forest and the Nantahala National Forest.

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Hawk’s Nest

Location: Port Jervis, N.Y.

Google Map Link: https://goo.gl/maps/fwZYuGTH19c8hrCbA 

Have you ever wanted to ride through one of those short, twisty sections of road you see in motorcycle advertisements? Well, this is one of them, and it has a great view of the Delaware River to boot. 

If you live near or are riding through New York City or the Catskill Mountains, you’re not far from Hawk’s Nest, a string of short curves cut into a rock face along the north/east bank of the river. The twisty section of the road is short, but its visual appeal–coupled with the commanding view of the river gorge–make this a great place to shoot some photos of your bike.

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Lake Chautauqua Rest Area

Location: Bemus Point, N.Y.

Google Map Link: https://goo.gl/maps/U956wnAki1zZ78Lo9 

Though my memories of my early riding days aren’t what they used to be, I’m pretty sure this is the first scenic view I discovered while out riding. The overlook is part of a rest area on eastbound Interstate 86 near Bemus Point, N.Y., on the eastern shore of Lake Chautauqua. The rest area is at the peak of a hill, about 150 feet above the lake’s shore line. A parking area existed at the site as early as the 1970s and the modern rest area was constructed in the mid-2000s.

I found this view in spring 2009 while out on my last ride with my 1997 Honda Nighthawk 750 before I listed it for sale. I stopped just to get a break from riding, and was blown away by the view of the lake and hills. I try to stop at the rest area at least once a year, as well as take my bikes there for a new-to-me bike photo shoot.

Fast Mike’s Favorite Roads to Ride in Upstate New York


If my last post was a homer article, this one is a hometown article. Upstate New York is where I grew up, as well as where I learned to ride a motorcycle after I got my license at age 23. My family is from the Rochester area, and I went to college/graduate school in Buffalo and Binghamton. I spent a lot of time riding the state routes of Wayne County before I started riding the fun, curvy roads in the Southern Tier.

I have a lot of good memories–as well as recollections of a few close calls–on Upstate roads, and wish I could make it back to upstate more often to ride them. I’ve lived in Pennsylvania and Ohio, but have to say that New York does the best job of the three states in maintaining its state and national highways. The road signage is really consistent in New York too in terms of recommended speed through corners. (I’m not recommending you do or do not adhere to the suggested speed. I’m merely saying you’ll have a very good idea what kind of corner is coming up from the signage.)

Please keep in mind I’m writing this article from slightly distant memories, and have not turned a wheel on these roads in at least three years. Hence, I have not been on them recently to assess pavement conditions, land development along the routes, or the like.

Here–in no particular order–are my favorite roads to ride in Upstate New York:

NY 21

New York Route 21

Google Map Link: https://goo.gl/maps/g7RaNbXDLP4WQK7RA

Length: 51 miles

This is one of the longest fun routes I found during my time living in Upstate, and it has a little bit of everything. I’ve ridden it both northbound and southbound, and found riding it south to north is better. From Hornell to Naples, the route is mostly a variety of sweepers, then flattens out as it goes through Naples and the lakeside hamlet of Woodville. After passing the row of lake houses in Woodville, it’s a fun, uphill ride out of the Canandaigua Lake valley, followed by gentle sweepers the rest of the way to the outskirts of Canandaigua.

You can use New York Route 64 (another good motorcycle road in its own right) from U.S. Route 20 and 20A to Route New York Route 21 as a fun loop route.

US 62

U.S. Route 62

Google Map Link: https://goo.gl/maps/fKsUFG2SYLm4tZGV7

Length: 28 miles

While the sweet part of this road isn’t very long, the ride out of the valley in Gowanda southbound is a blast. I used to pick up the route in Hamburg and ride south to Gowanda through the rolling Western New York countryside. Once you’re in Gowanda, follow the road south and get ready for a barrage of turns (something between tight sweepers and mild twisties), then a nice mix of corner types until you get to the interchange with Interstate 86.

Gaskill Road

Gaskill Road

Google Map Link: https://goo.gl/maps/2F4FpZe3uk32MBMU8

Length: 6 miles

It may only be about six miles long, but Gaskill Road lives up to its name. With so many fun turns packed into a short route, it will certainly bring your fuel economy down a bit. The road is located in the hills west of the Binghamton suburb Endicott, and is best ridden northbound. The road’s southern terminus is at Day Hollow Rd., and the route starts with gentle curves before two 90-degree corners begin the fun. The second set of corners is technical, as the ground-off portion of my former Honda Nighthawk 750’s left footpeg can attest to. You slight right before a hard, downhill, off-camber left-hander, which is followed by a sharp right-hander at the bottom of the hill. After that, there’s a steady flow of elevation change and sweepers until the road ends all-too-soon at New York Route 38.

US 20A

U.S. Route 20A

Google Map Link: https://goo.gl/maps/B2Mqt9gfR2nMwC236

Length: 12 miles

This route has a little bit of everything packed into about 12 miles of fun. I’ve only ridden the road eastbound, starting at where U.S. Route 20A splits off from its duplex with New York Route 15A. It’s a fun set of uphill sweepers to begin the route, followed by sweepers mixed with a good bit of elevation change. There are a couple scenic views to be enjoyed as you crest the series of glaciated north-south hills. The fun ends at Route 20A’s junction with New York Route 64, but you can turn south on Route 64 and enjoy its curves before taking New York Route 21 (discussed above) back toward Rochester.

NY 39

New York Route 39

Google Map Link: https://goo.gl/maps/Pya6gbyCR9TF4P6F9

Length: 16 miles

This route isn’t about the curves: it’s about the windmills. While there is a continuous flow of gentle sweepers along the route, it’s a lot of fun to ride the route west-to-east out of Arcade and through the Bliss Wind Farm, which went operational in 2008. Most of the windmills–at least the last time I rode it–were on the right side of the road, and they cover most of what the eye can see in that direction. Some may think these man-made objects may be littering a natural landscape, but I think there’s a serenity to seeing them in action.

NY 53

New York Route 53

Google Map Link: https://goo.gl/maps/CcSJm6bU6NM1L3Ca9

Length: 22 miles

If you’re tired of taking I-390 from Bath to Rochester or vice versa, this is a great alternative. I’ve ridden it in both directions, and it’s fun either way. The route features a mix of tight and wide sweepers mixed with ample elevation change from its interchange with I-390 near Kanona to it’s northern terminus at New York Route 21 (discussed above) just south of Naples.

Old US 219

Old U.S. Route 219

Google Map Link: https://goo.gl/maps/g2ysjckwi65e2SGe8

Length: 11 miles

I found this route while doing a project for my first masters degree, and it was a pleasant surprise. It’s best ridden northbound from the intersection with New York Route 39, and the mix of sweepers and twisties keeps going all the way to the hamlet of Boston. The curves turn more gentle north of Boston, but there’s more fun to be had. You can take a left onto West Tillen Road and enjoy the sweeping climb out of the Eighteen Mile Creek valley to the U.S. 219 expressway and head back to Buffalo from there.

Creative Commons License
The above photo of the Bliss Wind Farm is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License by Windtech at English Wikipedia, used without changes

 

Fast Mike’s Favorite Roads in Ohio


This is a bit of a homer piece, but Ohio isn’t as flat and boring as many think. Yes, large parts of central, western and northeast Ohio are well-glaciated terrain, but southeast Ohio is home to some of the best motorcycling roads I’ve ridden. 

Here–in no particular order–are a few of my favorite Ohio motorcycling roads:

OH 83

State Route 83

Google Map Link: https://goo.gl/maps/qjnwkqTSUamhNatM6 

Length: 103 miles

This isn’t the most technical or most scenic route in Ohio, but it’s one that is near to my heart and a blast to ride. State Route 83 has its northern terminus at U.S. Route 6 near the Lake Erie shoreline in Avon Lake, Ohio, but the fun part of the route starts just south of Wooster, Ohio.

From the BP station at the corner of Dover Rd., Millersburg Rd., and Madison Ave., head south on Route 83. I divide up Route 83 into four sectors. Sector 1 runs from Wooster to Millersburg, and features some lazy sweepers and some OK scenic views. The party really gets started in sector 2, which extends from Millersburg to Coshocton. It’s not technical, but it’s a bunch of sweepers with lots of change of direction and some fun elevation change. There’s a set of switch backs just before you get to Coshocton.

Route 83 runs concurrent with U.S. 36  and Ohio Route 16 on a divided highway around the downtown Coshocton and right by Roscoe Village (a neat canal-era living history museum with some good restaurants). South of downtown, Route 83 splits off from Route 16 (start of sector 3, arguably its most fun section). The sector features lots of sweepers and one set of corners I call “Ohio’s mini corkscrew” (if you hit that corner even a little too fast, you’ll know which one it is real quick). One of the best sets of curves is right before you get into New Concord.

South of New Concord (which marks the start of sector 4), Route 83 crosses I-70 then continues the barrage of sweepers for another about 35 miles to the Route’s southern terminus at State Route 60 near the Muskingum River village of Beverly. The Route overlaps with two other Ohio state highways: Route 313 in Claysville and Route 78 (discussed below).

The route has a special meaning to me because it was the best road I could reach within a reasonably short ride when I lived in Brunswick, Ohio. Route 83 intersects with Interstate 71 at exit 204, a little more than 20 miles from the Brunswick exit. I had to ride through some of the flat country to get to where the fun starts, but it was a much shorter than the other roads mentioned in this article. I’d ride south to either U.S. Route 36 or Interstate 70, then head east to Interstate 77, which took me back north to Columbus.

OH 78

State Route 78

Map Link: https://goo.gl/maps/6ibERh2Z5bgxTeBQ8 

Length: 104 miles

If you’re looking for a technical road to ride, State Route 78 is nearly non-stop sweepers, twisties and off-camber corners from Nelsonville to the Ohio River. Do not try to ride at your usual back road pace your first time on this road; you will quickly find your limit. I’ve only ridden Route 78 eastbound as part of a loop Route with Ohio Route 800 (discussed next).

I start my rides on Route 78 at it’s junction with the U.S. Route 33 expressway, near the road’s western terminus at Ohio Route 691 and old Route 33. Other than the few villages the route passes through, it nearly non-stop curves and elevation change for the more than 100 mile ride to its eastern terminus at Ohio Route 7 near the Ohio River. 

OH 800

State Route 800

Google Map Link: https://goo.gl/maps/j3i8ydckkPByY3NL9 

Length: 74 miles

While most of this route is twisty-fun ride, it’s the southern end of the Ohio Route 800 that makes it an unforgettable road. I’ve only ridden Route 800 south to north, and only once started my ride at its southern terminus at Ohio Route 7 in Fly. Route 800 steeply rises from it’s terminus along the Ohio River up a steep hill with several switchbacks. It’s a demanding few corners, but the uphill angle lets you push your motorcycle through corners harder, which really increases the fun factor.

The remainder of the route consists of sweepers and twisty bits as the road makes its way north through Ohio’s Hocking Hills. The best riding is on the section of the route south of Interstate 70. Route 800 runs parallel to the interstate for a short ways until turning north again. It’s northern terminus is on the south side of Canton, but the fun riding on Route 800 really ends about where it intersects with U.S. Route 250 in Uhrichsville. 

Since I live in Columbus, I usually take this route from Fly to Interstate 70, then head home from there.

OH 164

State Route 164

Google Map Link: https://goo.gl/maps/4QYRk7nrThH2Q2tJ6 

Length: 44 miles

This route is tucked away at the northern end of Ohio’s rolling hills, but is one you’ll keeping going back to once you’ve ridden it. The northern terminus of Ohio Route 164 is in North Lima, but it doesn’t get twisty until you get south of Lisbon. I’ve only ridden the road southbound from Lisbon. Don’t let the first few miles of gentle sweepers deceive you. The more aggressive sweepers and switchbacks with start coming quickly, and it’s that way for the most part all the way to the route’s southern terminus at Ohio Route 212 near Leesville.

I recommend staying on Route 212 west–which features some gentle sweepers and a scenic view of Atwood Lake (see header photo)–to Interstate 77. Another option is to take 212 to where it splits with Ohio Route 39. I haven’t ridden it yet, but it looks like a fun ride that takes you to the southern terminus of Ohio Route 9–a legendary Ohio motorcycle road that I have yet to turn a wheel on.

How You Can Help Improve Motorcycling’s Image


The tone of media coverage of motorcycling is, all too often, not reflective of the vast majority of the riding community. Shows like Sons of Anarchy bring the one-percent lifestyle to living rooms across the nation and plenty of local media outlets produce daily stories about riders who are hurt in crashes or groups of motorcyclists riding irresponsibly. This kind of persistent, negative coverage perpetuates motorcycling pejorative stereotype and exacerbates other problems like the profiling of motorcyclists and frustrates advocacy efforts on other issues.

While one of riders’ biggest safety concerns is the drivers who don’t see us, another problem is the few motorcyclists who drivers often remember seeing. From the sportbike riders popping wheelies while riding on a freeway to those who choose excessively loud exhaust systems, the motorcyclists who do everything they can to call attention to themselves on public roads drive the negative stereotype home with non-riders. A driver is more likely to remember the one rider who cut them off or the one whose exhaust sound had their dog barking his head off in the backseat instead of the half-dozen or so motorcyclists that rode by them without incident.

The negative stereotype issue isn’t the fault of most motorcyclists, but it is, unfortunately, all our problem to deal with. Our factual innocence of the behaviors described above does nothing to help our community’s need for a more positive image with the non-motorcycling public.

In the end, it’s up to all of us to do what we can to turn the tide against this anti-social image to help the motorcycling lifestyle thrive for generations to come. Some within our community take on some of the larger, more formal tasks like advocating within the public policy arena or creating public relations campaigns that show what our community is really all about.

However, the most powerful, positive image a non-rider can see is the one standing right in front of them. We all can do a little each time we get in the saddle to help combat the negative stereotype with our actions and our riding. If each one of us can change how just one other person views our community, we’re a lot better off.

Here are five simple, almost effortless things you can do while your out riding to put forward a positive image of motorcycling:

Smile

Most of us are doing this anyway every moment we’ve got the throttle open. But making sure to smile, even if you must force it, changes the way someone looks at you. And when they see you–to them–they see the rest of us, too.

There are times we’re not smiling, like if we’re making a roadside repair in the pouring rain. But when you stop at a rest area, restaurant, gas station or anywhere else on a ride, take off your helmet and make sure everyone can see how much fun you’re having.

Say hello

As an introvert, this idea scares the crap out of me. But more important than my discomfort with other people is the need for those people to realize there’s a person, just like them, inside the riding gear.

When someone walks by you as your standing next to your bike in a parking lot or a gas station, take a second to say hello to them. Breaking the ice between rider and non-rider may not seem significant. But, if it gets them to pay more attention to the motorcyclists on the open road or chips away a little at that negative stereotype, a simple “hello” can go a long way.

Answer questions

All of us, especially those who wear all the gear all the time have gotten out fair share of questions while out riding.

“Doesn’t it get hot in that gear?”

“What do you do if it rains?” (Answer: I get wet)

“How do you change gears on that thing?”

The questions may seem trivial to us, but the fact that someone’s asked them means our lifestyle has caught someone’s eye. At that point, it’s our job to help them learn more about who we are and what they’re missing out on. You may be rushing to make it back to the rally grounds for the dinner buffet but do take a few minutes to answer people’s questions. There will be plenty of fried chicken left if you get there a couple minutes late, I promise.

Ride defensively and courteously

Like I mentioned earlier in this article, the rider a person is most likely to remember is the one who wronged them. Do your best to ride defensively and show courtesy to other road users. Motorcycles’ short wheelbases and maneuverability allow us to dart between traffic on expressways and ride twisty country roads and high speed. While a little “spirited” riding on country roads may be in order now and again, excessive speed or weaving through traffic isn’t going to win us any support from non-riders.

Show patience and practice tact when riding in traffic and be courteous to other road users and those living along your favorite country roads by riding at reasonable speeds.

Talk about your two-wheeled adventures

My friends and family are probably sick of me talking about riding and touring on motorcycles. But I keep talking about it anyway to keep the positive aspects of motorcycling in front of them.

If you’re a rider, it’s likely most everyone knows about it (one way or another). I’ve learned to stop boring people with all my nerd-esque outtakes on the finer points of motorcycling, but talking about the places you’ve been or the cool things you’ve seen or experienced while riding is important. It brings out the aspects of riding that non-riders can relate to and feeds their memory banks with examples of fun, positive riding experiences.

Talk to other riders

Even though I’m an introvert, my desire for learning as much about motorcycling as I can overrides my lack of desire for human interaction when I see someone else out riding. I’m one of those riders who walks up to nearly every motorcyclist I see at a rest area or gas station to find out where they’re heading or ask about some farkle they have on their machine.

While my actions are driven by my curiosity, what’s more important is all the non-riders who witness the friendly interactions. There are many examples, both fiction and non-fiction, in popular culture about hostile motorcycling groups, and making friendly conversation with other riders is a powerful way to put forward a positive image of our sport. Motorcycling is a way of life for its most ardent enthusiasts, just like skydiving, skiing, fishing, mountain biking or model train building is for others. We need the public to see that our lifestyle doesn’t match the stereotypes.

Fast Mike’s Favorite Motorcycle Destinations, Part 2 (Races)


While rallies have a lot of offer sport-touring riders, there are some great motorcycle competition events throughout the nation that are worth making a stop on a tour.

Like my previous article on rallies, the list below is made up of events I have personally attended and recommend.

MotoAmerica (Road Atlanta, VIRginia International Raceway, Road America, Pittsburgh International Race Complex, New Jersey Motorsports Park, Barber Motorsports Park)

The United States’ professional motorcycle road racing championship holds several rounds east of the Mississippi River each year. For full disclosure, this is the series I cut my teeth in motorcycle journalism with, so I am a little biased toward it.

That said, the events are fun and family friendly and the on-track competition is often intense in all competition classes. Making the trip to the round at Barber Motorsports Park in Birmingham, Ala., also gives one an opportunity to visit the Barber Vintage Motorsports Museum (more on that to come).

Websitehttps://motoamerica.com/

Facebookhttps://www.facebook.com/MotoAmerica/

Springfield Mile (Springfield, Ill: American Flat Track)

If you’ve never been to a flat track motorcycle race, you’re missing out. Along with speedway racing, flat track is one of the most fan-friendly racing programs out there. And one of the most historic venues to see your first flat track race at is the Springfield Mile.

The one-mile clay oval is located at the Illinois State Fairgrounds in Springfield, Ill. The American Flat Track series typically holds two races on the mile each year. The track has been the scene of national flat track racing since at least the 1940s and was once the sole contest to determine the AMA Grand National Champion.

The track is egg-shaped than other mile-long tracks, with shorter straightaways and longer, more gradual turns. It is billed as the fastest one-mile oval in the world.

Websitehttps://www.springfieldmile.org/

Facebookhttps://www.facebook.com/Springfieldmile/

 

Lima Half-Mile (Lima, Ohio: American Flat Track)

While Springfield is one of the most iconic places to watch flat track racing, the Lima Half Mile offers an even better fan experience. The race takes place each year on the pea gravel half-mile oval at the Allen County Fairgrounds near Lima, Ohio.

The pea gravel surface offers faster motorcycle speeds than clay and the shorter track offers better sight lines for spectators. Racers take a lot of different lines around the track, which makes for exciting, bar-banging racing.

What impressed me the most about the 2019 event was the mix of motorcyclists who attended. Every kind of motorcycle and rider could be seen in the steady stream of riders exiting the fairgrounds after the race.

Websitehttps://www.limahalfmile.com/

Facebookhttps://www.facebook.com/LimaHalfMile/

 

Ricky Carmichael Amateur Supercross (Daytona Beach, Fla.)

I attended the Ricky Carmichael Amateur Supercross for the first time in 2019, and learned what the term, “full send” means. This amateur motocross event takes place during Daytona Bike Week at Daytona International Speedway for two days after the AMA Supercross race each year. The track is modified from the Supercross layout to be raceable for riders of all ages and skill levels.

What really struck me at the event was the stark contrast between riders of different talent levels. In motocross, riders are given a rating from A to C, with A being the fastest, most talented amateur riders. It was amazing to watch riders in the 450 C class gingerly negotiate steep jumps while some of the very talented riders on 65cc or 85cc bikes would attack those jumps, go flying through the air and nail the landing every time.

You won’t get into an event at Daytona International Speedway for much less than the tickets to the amateur Supercross, and you’ll get all the show you could ask for.

Website: https://racedaytona.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/rcsxdaytona/

Monster Energy Cup (Las Vegas, Nev.: AMA Supercross Exhibition)

When this annual AMA Supercross exhibition race takes place in Las Vegas each fall, it’s the best show in town. While it’s not a points-paying round of the AMA Supercross Series, the series’ biggest stars and some of the best amateur motocross racers in the nation take to the track for this fall classic.

It was first held in 2011 and takes place at Sam Boyd Stadium, which also hosts a round of the AMA Supercross series. The event is operated by AMA Supercross promoter Feld Entertainment.

The event format is also different than a traditional Supercross event. The pro riders compete in three motos with a $1 million prize available to a rider who wins all three races.

Website: https://www.supercrosslive.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/supercrosslive/

Fast Mike’s Favorite Motorcycle Destinations, Part 1 (Rallies)


Any new sport touring rider should know that there are plenty of top-notch motorcycle-related gatherings each year to fill up one’s calendar.

There is hardly a weekend that goes by during the spring, summer and fall that there isn’t at least one rally or race to attend or landmark or museum to visit that is within a day’s ride from most anywhere in the United States.

I went to write this series of articles as an email to a new sport touring rider about rallies, races and places he should check out. Then I realized it may be worth placing such a list somewhere that all new sport touring riders could find it.

This list is restricted to events I have attended or visited at least once. The following articles in this series will cover races, landmarks and other points of interest.

Geographically speaking, the list reflects my residence and upbringing in the northeastern and mid-western United States.

AMA Vintage Motorcycle Days (Lexington, Ohio)

I call this one “the Woodstock of motorcycle events,” because it’s such a friendly and care-free atmosphere. A fundraiser for the AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame, the event takes place once a year (usually in July) at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in Lexington, Ohio. It includes North America’s largest motorcycle swap meet (read: motorcycle flea market), along with bike shows, lots of different types of motorcycle racing and seminars.

Of all the events I describe in this article, this is the one that packs the biggest punch. Tickets are very reasonably priced and you can ride your motorcycle around the facility. The event attracts a wide range of motorcyclists and is very family friendly.

Web: www.amavintagemotorcycledays.com

Facebook: www.facebook.com/AMAVintageMotorcycleDays

 

Daytona Bike Week (Daytona Beach, Fla.)

2019 was my first year attending Daytona Bike Week and I was very impressed with the experience. The event claims to attract about half a million riders to the Daytona Beach, Fla., region, and is held annually in early March. While the majority of attendees appeared to be cruiser riders, you’ll see and meet riders on every kind of road-going motorcycle imaginable.

At night during Daytona Bike Week, riders gather along Main Street . The crowding of so many motorcycling enthusiasts along the Main Street strip delivers an electric vibe to the beach-side town, and there’s plenty of food and live music along the strip to keep everyone entertained all night.

In addition to the party on Main, there’s the midway at Daytona International Speedway that features plenty of vendors and demo rides, not to mention lots of racing taking place throughout the region (more on that in the next article). The weather can be brutal in parts of the country during early March, but if you can make it to Daytona Beach, it’s more than worth the trip.

Web: officialbikeweek.com

Facebook: www.facebook.com/officialbikeweek

 

Americade (Lake George, N.Y.)

Nestled in a picturesque little lakeside village in Upstate New York, Americade has been attracting motorcyclists to its scenic, history-rich region since 1983. It began as the east-coast rendition of the Aspencade touring bike (read: Goldwing) rally, and claims to attract 100,000-200,000 attendees.

The event location in the Adirondack Mountains means lots of opportunities for riding scenic, twisty roads, and there are lots of test ride opportunities, seminars, vendors and live music within the Village of Lake George. For history buffs, there’s the replica Fort William Henry (site of the events in James Fenimore Cooper’s Last of the Mohicans) that is worth a visit.

Oh, and there’s plenty of motorcycle parking. You’ll have a chance to meet riders on every type of motorcycle you can imagine in a fun, relaxed atmosphere.

Website: americade.com

Facebook: www.facebook.com/americade

 

 

MSTA Mail Pouch Fly-By (Marietta, Ohio)

This annual road riding event takes place in the heart of one of the best riding areas in the nation. Based out of the Best Western hotel in Marietta, Ohio, the now week-long event offers attendees the freedom to ride alone or in groups during the day and enjoy great company each morning and evening. Attendees are just a short ride away from some of Ohio’s best roads, including State Routes 26, 555 and 800.

The door prizes tend to be pretty good too. Those attending also can ride up to the MotoAmerica racing event at Pittsburgh International Race Complex for a day.

The event is associated with the Motorcycle Sport Touring Association.

Website: ridemsta.com

Facebook: www.facebook.com/groups/RideMSTA

 

 

International Motorcycle Shows

Each year, several International Motorcycle Shows events take place across the nation. The exhibition-style shows feature displays of the current or upcoming model year’s machines for several motorcycle manufacturers, as well as vendors, seminars and product demonstrations. Some shows also feature vintage motorcycle displays, test rides of electric motorcycles and more.

I have attended their show in Cleveland every year since at least 2011. While the show has gotten smaller the past few years, it’s still well-attended and allows enthusiasts to get their fix of motorcycling during the cold winter months in Northeast Ohio.

Website: www.motorcycleshows.com

Facebook: www.facebook.com/InternationalMotorcycleShows

 

AIMExpo

In a word, this show is “overwhelming.” It’s one of the biggest (if not the biggest) motorcycle expo in the United States each year. The show often features 500 or more exhibitors and covers every kind of motorcycle and part or accessory one could ask for. The first two days of the show (typically Thursday and Friday) are reserved for media and dealers to check out the latest and greatest motorcycle models and products. The remainder of the show (typically Saturday and Sunday) is open to the general public.

The location of the show has changed several times in recent years. For 2019, it takes place at the Greater Columbus Convention Center in Columbus, Ohio.

Website: aimexpousa.com

Facebook: www.facebook.com/AIMExpo

 

Handbuilt Motorcycle Show (Austin, Texas)

This is probably the most exquisite motorcycle-related event I have attended. It’s not tuxedos and ballroom dresses, but the year I attended it (2016) features a sophisticated ambiance that jived with the complexity, beauty and authenticity of the wide range of custom motorcycles on display. The event is normally held the same weekend as the FIM MotoGP Grand Prix of the Americas at nearby Circuit of the Americas, which helps bring diversity, culture and many different perspectives to the atmosphere of the show. It’s a motorcycle show that reflects the values and vibrance of its host city.

Website: revivalcycles.com/handbuilt-motorcycle-show

Facebook: www.facebook.com/thehandbuiltmotoshow