January 4 2013 by Jason Fogelson
This year, I traveled over 7,500 miles on Harley-Davidson touring motorcycles (not counting the miles I put on my own bike on local trips). I stayed at 34 different Best Western Hotels, including three BEST WESTERN PREMIER locations. And I loved every single minute of it. Every time a trip came to a close, my only thought was, "Where can I ride next?"
I traveled solo for all of my trips but one this year. My wife Robin accompanied me on the first trip of the year, an adventure into the desert that took us from our home in Southern California all the way into Arizona and back again. I love riding with Robin as my passenger, but she can't always get time off of work. I hope she can travel with me more this year.
My favorite tour this year might have been New England, where I traveled from New York City through the Catskills and the Adirondacks, then visited Laconia, New Hampshire for Bike Week on the way to Portland, Maine, then back down through the Berkshires and New York City again. It was a week of amazing contrasts, from the most densely populated urban jungle to the most remote coastline. The weather was perfect, and the seafood was amazing. I fell in love with Maine, and would love to return to explore the whole state from top to bottom.
My most challenging day on the road was probably the first day of my Midwest tour. I had to cover a healthy distance, over 380 miles, to ride from Dallas, Texas to Hot Springs, Arkansas. No problem, except late in the ride, I hit a fog bank with thicker fog than I have ever seen in my life, and I was on a mountain pass on the Talimena National Scenic Byway, a 54-mile long road that goes across the top of the Ouachita Mountains from Talihina in eastern Oklahoma to Mena in western Arkansas. Thanks to a recent thundershower and high temperatures, things turned from clear to treacherous in a matter of minutes. I had to ride at 20 miles per hour with my flashers on, praying that other drivers were driving as cautiously as I was. I made it out -- but not without a few hours of serious sweating!
My favorite day of riding -- hmmm, that's a really tough one. My first thought was the day that I spent on the Mohawk Trail in the Berkshire Mountains of Massachusetts. That was pretty great. But it might have been the day that I rode from San Diego, California to Palm Springs, hitting snow in Santa Ysabel. That was quite a day. Or maybe it was the day that I discovered Washington's Long Beach Peninsula, or the day that I toured the Kansas City Harley-Davidson Factory. No, I think it was the day that I met Jim Stafford in Branson, Missouri, and then went to his show at the Jim Stafford Theater that night. That was a trip in more ways than one.
I fell in love with a motorcycle this year, as well. I usually ride Harley-Davidson Electra Glides, with the fork-mounted "batwing" fairing. For a few trips this year, I was able to ride a Harley-Davidson Road Glide instead, with a frame-mounted "shark nose" fairing. The difference between the two bikes is most apparent at highway speeds, or when conditions turn windy. The Electra Glide is solid and dependable, but requires a bit of attention and correction. When the wind blows the fairing, the fork goes with it. On the Road Glide, the fairing is attached to so much more mass (the frame) that the wind doesn't affect the bike's course at all. Also, the cockpit on the Road Glide felt much roomier and more comfortable to me. Getting back on an Electra Glide after spending time on the Road Glide, I felt like the windshield and instrument panel were right in my face in contrast. There's no denying that the Electra Glide is the better-looking bike -- but my love eyes now look at the Road Glide with a new longing.
So, what's coming up this year? I'm in the planning stages, but I know that I'll have some exciting trips to tell you about.
Thanks for riding along for 2012!