One thing I have noticed in America, unlike India [home to this ITKT writer -ed-] where motorcycle is the major mode of transport, here it is a tool of indulgence and entertainment. It is easier to get a license to drive a car than ride a motorcycle. Perils of motorcycle riding are much more on American highways than on Indian roads. Then the extreme weather conditions of this large country make it almost impossible to ride motorcycles throughout the year. Hence motorcycles are largely a mode of entertainment, fun and enjoyment. People ride motorcycles because they LOVE TO RIDE and not because they can’t afford a car.
In such a scenario a book like the AMA’s Ride Guide to America (RGA) is very vital for motorcycle afficionados of this country. Americans are very much accustomed to traveling with high-tech gadgetry, including maps, GPS receivers, two-way radios, etc. And this book rightly features over 200 pages of information about best motorcycling trails in the the world’s largest motorcycling nation. From California to New England, Rocky Mountain High to Texas, RGA informs readers about the most rider-friendly roads and highways in a country whose population has worked hard and put in place what is perhaps the world’s best road networks.
One of the best features of this compilation is its detailed maps and point-to-point outlines for each of the 36 excursions recommended. These proposed rides across the US offer bikers challenging trails along scenic shorelines, mountainous terrain and into deep valleys and deserts. All excursions are illustrated with high-quality, full-colour photographs. RGA’s 40 detailed, topographic road maps are a great boon to riders as their steeds run across the recommended routes. The riders can plan and anticipate the terrain they’ll encounter in the Pacific Northwest, California, Rocky Mountains and the Southwest, Texas, the Appalachians and the mid-Atlantic, and New England.
Admittedly RGA is of great utility for American bikers and those who plan on visiting the US. For readers in the rest of the world this book will serve as a eye-opener about the most exotic roads and rides of America. This book is definitely one that entices wannabe road warriors to saddle up and experience America’s amazing highways. The chapters titled ‘Loaded for the Road: How to carry stuff on your motorcycle’ and ‘Ride smart: Tips for street survival’ are particularly recommended for bikers who should look into safety measures before embarking on a road trip especially on the highways of America. These chapters discuss and differentiate various types of backpacks, tank bags, rear-seat bags, saddle bags and other motorcycle paraphernalia useful for long distance, cross country bikers everywhere. Neatly sub-divided into six sections based on the regions of the US, RGA also contains a compilation of travel articles published in the American Motorcyclist, written by experienced bikers for bikers.
My favourite in the book is the section on a biking excursion on the Big Sur Highway through the rugged Rocky Mountains and down into Texas hill country. The route like all others in the book, is brought to life with attractive colour photographs and evocative descriptions. I drove on this road in a car while on a visit to California and believe me the descriptions in the book did complete justice to the vistas on the Big Sur. I am waiting for opportunities to hit the road again on other roads featured in the volume.
AMA Ride Guide to America, edited by Gregg Harrison, Whitehorse Press; 288 pp.