Table of Contents

Part I: Great Places & Memorable Rides

Ode to a Road

What makes a road great? Dramatic scenery, scarce traffic and demanding curves are a start. But destinations matter, too.

The Patron Saint of Roads

The Columbia River Gorge is a spectacular motorcycle destination on its own. But when you dig into some of its oddities, you find that we road riders owe a word of thanks to an eccentric character named Sam Hill.

Slow Way Around

A unique brand of camaraderie develops when like-minded individuals take on a challenge that's mystifying to the general public, unappealing even to most fellow riders, and requires the use of motorcycles particularly ill-suited to the task.

Where the Road and the Sky Collide

No eight miles of pavement on this continent puts you through bigger changes than the Mount Washington Auto Road. Strange things happen on the peak.


A civilization from a thousand years ago and one eccentric man's obsession from 25 years ago bookend a journey to east-central Mexico.

Burritos to Die ForBurritos to Die For

If I died on that lonely, West Texas road, nobody would know that my own stubbornness and a plate of burritos were to blame.

Dropping the Ducati

Did you hear about the guy who dropped the only Ducati 999s Team USA Replica in the country? Crashed it on pit lane! No, really. Read this chapter.

California Dreaming

California is the center of the motorcycle industry and culture in the United States, and the central Pacific Coast Highway is the state's most famous and stunning jewel.

The CorkscrewThe Corkscrew

What does it feel like to ride off the side of a building? The closest most of us can hope to come is experiencing Laguna Seca's signature turn, the Corkscrew.

Evolution Island

Welcome to the unique motorcycling culture of Puerto Rico, where the motorcycle cops ride cruisers, messengers rule the urban streets and the riding's great 365 days a year (except for hurricanes).

Riding the Bourbon Trail

On a Kentucky country lane, I smell scents from my childhood: hay drying in the sun, the damp fecundity of a trickling creek. Then one not from my youth. Whiskey? Out here?

Blind Date in Vermont

The Motogiro USA vintage road rally unleashes a flotilla of 40-year-old tiddlers on New England back roads for a weekend of quirky competition.

Just the Right Place, Exactly the Right Time

Nobody goes to Tuxpan, which is the main reason I went there. As it turned out, that night in December, it was the best place in the world I could be.

Circling the Head of the Wolf

The Wolf's Head Tour is a five-day ride around Lake Superior where you start out with a group of strangers and finish with a group of new friends.

100 and One Detour100 and One Detour

Some of the best roads are found by accident. Or at least by detour.


You meet all kinds of people when you're on the road on your motorcycle. The kind you never meet while sitting on the sofa at home.

Dream Riding in Boomtown

Riding most race tracks feels like a particularly sweet slice of the motorcycling life. Riding Losail International Circuit in Qatar feels like a sweet slice of a motorcycling dreamscape. Not quite real at all.

Almost Heaven for Riding

Yes, I'm biased, but I believe there are few better places to take a motorcycle ride than West Virginia.

Part II: Ruminations & Meditations

First Bike

You never forget your first motorcycle. Even if it was a third-hand, homely, utilitarian machine that had probably been in a flood.

How I Survived Myself

Nothing focuses a young man's mind like gasoline streaming toward his crotch, just inches from hot engine parts.

The Most Important Motorcycle Ever BuiltThe Most Important Motorcycle Ever Built

It's not exactly the stuff of dreams and doesn't have enough power to get out of its own way, but it's still the most important motorcycle ever built.

What My Motorcycle Taught Me About Women

How a Harley-Davidson Sportster helped me choose, win and keep a wife.

What is it About Racing?

Some love it, some love to ignore it. Either way, motorcycle racing brings out passions.

Indian Versus Triumph

Why do some rebirths succeed and others fail? Oil leaks, exploding light bulbs and broken parts on a two-day ride aboard an Indian Scout provide some clues.


Some motorcycles are passing acquaintances, scarcely remembered. Some stay with us for life, whether in our garages or in our hearts. What's the difference?


If you ever see a police mug shot of me, it will probably be because I snapped right after someone said, "Don't you know those things are dangerous?"

Ghosts of Motorcycling Future

The future ride won't resemble the ride so far, but that doesn't mean it can't be a good one.

Note: The illustrations used in the book and on this site were created by Craig Harrison.