Late fall is the time of year when many riders take their last big tour before the temperatures dip and the weather becomes too cold for motorcycle riding. This year, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many things have changed in our lives—including touring. Long-distance travel and accommodations are difficult due to varying state and local lockdown rules.
This fall could very well require staying home to stay safe, making a fall staycation the perfect solution. So, are there scenic fall motorcycle rides near you? The answer is likely yes. You just need to know how to find them. As a frequent motorcycle rider, you can be your own staycation tour guide as you plan your local fall staycation tour.
Most riders know the local riding roads like the back of their hands. During the spring and summer, riders aren't looking at the trees and vegetation along the roads with an eye towards fall foliage. If you think about where you regularly ride, you'll realize you already know the best places for fall colors in your area.
Think like a professional motorcycle tour guide as you carefully lay out routes to see the unique beauty of the area and the roads best suited for motorcycle riding. Here are some tips to help make your rides special:
Plan loops that take you out and bring you back home, while avoiding traffic congestion
Consider mixing roads with technical, winding sections and relaxed sections
Include roads with pullouts so you can stop to enjoy the views and take pictures
Pick roads that provide you with comfort, fuel, and meal stops
If you aren't sure which roads near you are great for foliage, there are tools that combine maps and satellite images to help you study your area:
Map apps on an IOS or Android device
GPS units with satellite views
Using one or more of these tools, you can explore the area around you from a bird's eye view. With a little practice, you can identify roads along sections of deciduous trees. Apps like Google Earth also offer you 3D-viewing options that allow you to see the terrain and elevation. Street views are another available function to help you explore routes. Depending on when the images were recorded, a satellite or street view can show you what fall colors can look like in an area, or at least help you pick out the kinds of trees in the area.
Technology also gives you a chance to expand the horizon of your local road knowledge. We often bypass roads stating “no outlet” because dead end roads don't seem inviting. But these roads can be rewarding opportunities and previewing them using tech tools can help you determine that. Some “no outlet” roads can cover miles of mostly undeveloped land and beautiful scenery. Since they are usually lightly trafficked, they can make for great leisurely side trips on any fall foliage route.
While we live with lockdowns and social distancing by staying home and staying safe, we all miss many activities we enjoy. Some areas have been successful in reducing the transmission of COVID-19 and are in various stages of reopening. Outdoor activities that use social distancing are becoming more possible, meaning fall season festivities like corn mazes, picking pumpkins, and harvest festivals could be available in your area.
Combining these with restaurants that offer outdoor seating and autumn-inspired cuisine can make excellent fall foliage stops.
During COVID-19 it’s normal to feel some level of isolation and miss the people and activities that make life so bright and special. Sharing your ride and adventure can be a wonderful tonic. So, why not use this unusual time to introduce your family members to the joy of motorcycling if they don’t already ride? Since you aren’t socially distancing from family members who share your household, riding together presents little risk in terms of COVID-19. The experience of fresh fall air and the immediacy of seeing the beauty of fall foliage from the back of a motorcycle can be incredible. You’ll make memories to share for years to come and may just start some new traditions.
While being wise about staying safe during the COVID-19 pandemic on your motorcycle staycation rides, remember fall foliage season brings changing weather and risks. Cooler fall temperatures make wearing your protective gear important—not only to keep you safe, but comfortable and warm as you ride.
Till next time, ride safe!
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*Data accuracy is subject to this article's publication date.