Mo­tor­cy­cle di­aries: World’s epic rides

David McGoni­gal was the first per­son to ride a mo­tor­cy­cle on all seven con­ti­nents and all time zones. Here are his top 10 rides.

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1. Nor­way’s Troll Lad­der

The Troll­sti­gen is the stuff of leg­ends in a land where many roads seem­ingly defy grav­ity. Lo­cated in Rauma, roughly mid­way be­tween Ber­gen and Trond­heim, this short stretch of road of­fers 11 hair­pin bends drop­ping down a ninede­gree de­scent. Oh, and the road is usu­ally wet and fog is quite com­mon. You are likely to en­counter many other mo­tor­cy­clists, par­tic­u­larly at the view­ing plat­form at the top, be­fore you com­mit your­self to the de­scent.

2. Ride through Ti­bet to Ever­est

The Hi­malayas, the high­est moun­tains in the world, have sev­eral op­er­a­tors run­ning mo­tor­cy­cle tours there, in Nepal, In­dia, Bhutan and Ti­bet. The pre­ferred bike is an In­dian Royal En­field and the ul­ti­mate goal is Mt Ever­est from the Ti­betan side. No­madic Knights of­fers a 14-day ride from Kath­mandu that takes you across the Chi­nese border and over sev­eral 5000 me­tre-plus passes to Rong­buk Monastery and all the way to Ever­est Base Camp that lies at 5200m. See no­madick­nights.com.

3. The Great Ocean Road

The Aus­tralian road that makes ev­ery ‘‘best of’’ list is Victoria’s B100 from Torquay to War­rnam­bool. Bet­ter known as the Great Ocean Road, it has ev­ery­thing a tour­ing motorcyclist could want: bends and straights, great wildlife and stun­ning views. It can be done in a day but is bet­ter cov­ered over two. The best rid­ing sec­tion is be­tween Lorne and Apollo Bay but the whole road is a bril­liant ride that will be bet­ter en­joyed the more you stop. See vis­it­greato­cean­road.org.au.

4. Panamer­i­cana to Ushuaia

Ride to the bot­tom of the world. The Pan-Amer­i­can High­way runs from the top of Alaska to the tip of South Amer­ica with a 100km break called the Darien Gap be­tween Panama and Colom­bia. While much of Patag­o­nia is a grey, cold, bar­ren place when you cross to the is­land of Tierra del Fuego you’re in a land of forests, moun­tains and lakes. Even­tu­ally, when you come into the Ushuaia ‘‘fin del mundo’’ ex­pect to see lots of on-road/of­froad GS BMWs with num­ber plates from ev­ery­where.

5. Italy’s Amalfi Coast

The SS145 be­tween the cities of Sor­rento and Salerno is only about 60km in length. It’s not for the faint-hearted, par­tic­u­larly when you find your­self shar­ing the out­side of a clifftop with an ex­u­ber­antly driven bus. The scenery and brightly painted vil­lages are grand but you’ll want to stop to ap­pre­ci­ate them. There’s room to park a bike, not so much for a car. The road swoops and soars into towns like Posi­tano, and the Tyrrhe­nian Sea far be­low is never more than a missed brak­ing mark away.

6. Rus­sia: Trans Siberia

Rus­sia is the big­gest coun­try on Earth and on the 10,000km ride from Vladi­vos­tok to St Peters­burg you’ll be­come very aware of that. It has even been rid­den in win­ter. I found hos­pitable lo­cals, his­toric cities and end­less birch for­est make this a great sum­mer ride, just as Ewan McGre­gor and Charley Bor­man re­counted in Long Way Round. The bureau­cratic prepa­ra­tions are much worse than the ex­pe­ri­ence on the ground. See dav­e­barr.com; long­way­round.com.

7. Hana High­way, Maui

The spec­tac­u­lar coast­line of the Hawai­ian Is­land of Maui fea­tures on this 100km ride. It com­bines routes 36 and 360 be­tween the town of Hana and Kahu­lui air­port on the north coast. There are more than 600 bends and about 60 bridges along the route that mainly runs through dense rain­for­est. See hana­maui.com.

The US West Coast of­fers a great road trip. While much of the at­ten­tion is on the Los An­ge­les to San Francisco sec­tion, I pre­fer the back­woods of

8. US Pa­cific Coast

High­ways 1 and 101 be­tween San Francisco and Portland, Ore­gon. If you stick to High­way 1 along the coast you go through quaint towns like Bodega Bay (made fa­mous by Hitch­cock’s The Birds), Cres­cent City and As­to­ria. You pass by coastal red­wood forests with the tallest trees in the world, a re­mark­able Glass Beach at Fort Bragg and Cape Meares’ im­pos­si­ble Oc­to­pus Tree.

9. Los Cara­coles Pass, ChileAlthough

the main high­way from the Ar­gen­tinean town of Men­doza up the An­des to the Chilean border in the shadow of Aconcagua (6961m) is a se­ries of steps, from the border post at 3200m the road plum­mets down to­wards San­ti­ago de Chile. The last time I rode down here, my com­pan­ion was passed by the lo­cal bus while ne­go­ti­at­ing the 20 suc­ces­sive hair­pin bends cov­ered in a scat­ter­ing of loose gravel. Los Cara­coles means ‘‘the snails’’.

10. Nor­we­gian Coast to Nord­kapp

Nord­kapp, or North Cape, is the north­ern­most point of Europe. That would be rea­son enough to visit. But if you fol­low the coast from Ber­gen along the E39 and E6 to get there you’ll be on one of the most con­vo­luted rides in the world. There will be fer­ries and fiords and re­mark­able scenery through­out the 2300km jour­ney. Then the trees shrink and dis­ap­pear, and fi­nally you take a ferry to the is­land of Mageroya and ride past rein­deer and snow­drifts to the top of Europe.

CROCKART

Hi­malayan ride with No­madic Knights: The road to Mt Ever­est.

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