So you’re likely not going to be taking a burro on your next vacation or getaway, unless descending into Grand Canyon, but if you’re hitting the road on your motorcycle, bike, HOG, Honda, BMW, in the car or RV, Gary McKechnie’s Great American Motorcycle Tours should come along for the ride.
This fourth edition of Gary’s book covers the top rides from previous versions while adding three new rides to the mix. The idea here is to have a travel tome to help you choose the best rides – get you onto the black ribbon with the least fuss – help you discover America while taking the guesswork out of it.
The effort pays off
Gary McKechnie – a guy I’ve had the chance to meet & will get to interview sometime in 2011 – is your host for this adventure filled romp, taking you places so you don’t have to get lost while trying to find some awesome rides across this awesome land.
As a forth generation motorcyclist, Gary has been riding since 14 years old – thanks to his brother Craig’s lame key hiding place – and decided to strike out across America to discover the best rides for bikers. He’s a writer as well as biker, so putting his adventures on paper was a great way to spread the word.
Why this book?
Because Gary doesn’t just give you the routes and the facts, he can spin a yarn, tell a tale, and make the roadways come to life off the page – getting you there with each turn, putting the truth on the page so you know what to expect, and sharing his own special charming wit along the way.
Hey, it doesn’t matter if you’re on the HOG or the burro, you’re going to know which roads to take and what kinds of hills and curves you’re gonna be hitting. One of my favorite passages starts the Smoky Mountain Run:
An impressive ride starts in a yarn-spinning country town that should have been the capitol of what could have been a state, then rolls through high-terrain twists and a most incredible park at the epicenter of hundreds of miles of motorcycle-perfect roads. In the end, you’ll reach a most satisfying fine mountain town. pg 121
Tell me you don’t get the picture and aren’t itching to hit the road now…
From the Smoky Mountain Run to the Civil War one, from the Tropical Paradise Run to the Red Rocks one, from the Pacific Coast Run to The Magical Michigan Tour, you’re going to find a road-trip worthy your consideration somewhere around the country, and you’re going to find yourself seeking out time to hit the road to try out each and every turn.
What you get
The typicals are here: places to stay and eat, where to pick up local information and what to do once you hit a town or park. You’re going to also get the sidebar stuff like; The Crux of the Crossing, Mighty Mac, Bike Week and the Amish Way of Life.
You’re also going to get great lists of biker information – information that will help you if you need service, parts, rentals, and local Chambers of Commerce.
Don’t miss a glimpse into the physical humor of Gary – check out the photos throughout. Mostly taken by his wife, you’ll see exactly why I think this guy has a charming humor that can run the gambit from goofy to crass and simple to wisdom-rich.
He’s posing with a coconut, a president (statue) and his bike, plus the sunsets and backdrops that are inspired – though like all such books these images are in black & white, leaving you wanting the full-color version to make ‘em even richer and more fun.
You also get
Gary’s story telling. He can take you down the highways, give you a primer on the area and history, and keep you wanting more. Places I’ve thought of going or been to (The Keys, Civil War battle fields and more) are presented in such a way that I know even more than I did before and want to try them back on for better size.
Then I discovered new spots that now call to me. I’ve wanted to return to the Great Smokies, but never really thought about Gatlinburg. Now I can’t wait to try on this charming city.
Add in that Gary knows the ways of the biker – and what bikers like to do – and you’ll find general and specific travel spots, but also those spots bikers tend to seek out.
For example; in Gatlinburg, bikers will be “encouraged” and “thrilled” to see the “Tree of Shame” at the Deal’s Gap Motorcycle Resort, a nod to the dumb & dumber of the reckless bikers who’ve left a part of themselves and their bikes behind when not respecting the road.
Other notes of Gary’s humor & wisdom when speaking biker:
As I hinted, the center of town is about the size of a walnut, and there may not be much to hold your interest – but after a great ride up here, you may be satisfied with just walking around town. pg 365.
Theres a lot to see on surrounding roads, and perhaps the most popular stop for motorcycle travelers is about 30 miles away in Jerome, an old mining town that’s become a strangely popular destination. The ride’s not that spectacular, but if you didn’t go there your friends might beat you with a stick. pg 311.
These are the types of passages you’ll discover as you enjoy America through Gary’s eyes. And while you’re enjoying the read – it is a fun and easy read just for the sake of reading – you’re also going to find yourself planning trips in Gary’s exhaust, wanting to see these spots, either from the back of a bike or the uninspired yet for many, safer confines of a car.
That burro could be used on some of these trips, but you won’t get as far as fast, and you will have to deal with a burro.
The point here is this: Gary’s book is a great way to discover a few places – both off the beaten or on the much more beaten – paths of America’s highways. Be it a dream or an awaking, Great American Motorcycle Tours will get you on the road and ready to ride – and give you a reason to see America on the back of a bike – because it looks so dang fun.
If you’re up for more from Gary, he’s a writer who’s work has also appeared in the likes of People, The Chicago Tribune, Washington Post, Miami Herald, and others. He’s also been a skipper on Walt Disney World’s Jungle Cruise, does stand up & speaking engagements and operates a B&B in Mount Dora, Florida.