Rider Book Review: Motorcycle Journeys Through North America by Dale Coyner
Simply the creation of this book is impressive! Dale Coyner decided to take a look-see at nearly all of the United States, and a goodly part of Canada, and figure out where the best rides are. That is a lot of real estate to cover, and probably some five million miles of possible roads.
The book is not really a guide, more like a book of previews —like movie previews, to give you a taste of what a longer view might be like. Dale gives us tantalizing glimpses of over 130 possible routes (or segments, as he calls them) through 17 regions, from the Canadian Maritimes to Texas to the Pacific Coast to Alaska. These are quick views, many of them loops, some of them straight shots, varying in length from 65 miles (Fort Collins, Colorado, to Laramie, Wyoming) to the 928-mile Yoho Loop in British Columbia.
This 400-page book is really armchair reading—and viewing, with some 350 color pictures, many of which are enough to get a rider to put his (or her) toothbrush in the tankbag and take off to any number of possible destinations. Heard about the good riding in the Appalachian Mountains? Not sure where to go? Turn to page 113 and 11 different routes are offered.
Most regions start with a full-page map showing, for example, the roads around the five Great Lakes, and then each segment has its own smaller map. The big map gives an overview of where good riding routes are, and then the focus is narrowed. The maps are not big enough to be useful on a trip, but give an inkling of what delights are possible. My personal advice to anyone getting to Milwaukee is to order up some of Unsinger’s bratwurst.
How do you decide where to go on that three-day, three-week, three-month vacation? Some of us do the tried and true, go to places we’re familiar with, but there is always that desire to expand our horizons, see new vistas, find new roads, eat new food. Rocky Mountain oysters, anyone? Very tasty, as I’ve had them myself a few times. Dale’s lookout is too large to focus on individual places to eat, but anyone riding to the Rocky Mountain Way region in his book will find those oysters on a lot of menus. Or better yet, scribbled up on the Daily Specials blackboard.
Dale is an experienced traveler and has several other books about motorcycle touring to his credit, including The Essential Guide to Motorcycle Travel. He has personally covered over two-thirds of the tens of thousands of miles that his MJT North American routes follow, and for the rest he relied on information from friends and acquaintances, read books and articles, and contacted local tour operators—who really know their stuff. And then he spent long hours at the computer viewing all the routes on Google Street View.
In a note Dale sent me he wrote, “I tried to make it clear that I consider these routes the starting point for someone to do their own planning—to encourage them to think big but at the same time understand the scale of what they are doing.”
This is a big continent we live on, and Dale makes traveling less intimidating. Some riders I have met think that going across the Great Plains, the thousand miles from the Mississippi River to the Rocky Mountains, is just “too boring”. In his Heartland section Dale puts the lie to that. If you take I-70, you will be bored, but there are alternatives.
This is not a conventional guide book, with places to stay and eat, but presents the rider/reader with the big picture and then lets the reader bring the focus of a trip down to a suitable size. And it is fun to think about going to Big Bend National Park. And the Terlingua chile. Dang, just the thought of travel makes me hungry.
The book is published by the estimable Whitehorse Press (whitehorsepress.com) and costs $29.95.