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56 The Harz moun­tains

“The des­ti­na­tion I’m al­ways most ex­cited to tell peo­ple about is the Harz Moun­tains in Ger­many,” says Geraint Hughes of www. drag­on­mo­to­tours.co.uk. “It gives a great feel­ing of ‘east meets west’ as the roads used to criss-cross the bor­der be­tween the two halves of Ger­many. The roads are ter­rific. There aren’t a lot of British bik­ers there, but the lo­cals get out and en­joy their rid­ing. And all those cor­ners and bends lead into lit­tle choco­late box towns with cob­bled streets, tim­bered houses and cas­tles on rocky out­crops. Stol­berg’s my favourite, it’s a place where you can chill out. You’ll find plenty of ho­tels with pools for the end of the day, as well as biker’s cafés where you’ll get a ter­rific wel­come.”

France’s Ver­cors mas­sif

This Nat­u­ral Re­gional Park sits on a 3000ft plateau above Greno­ble just west of the Route Napoleon. Geraint Hughes (www. drag­on­mo­to­tours.co.uk ) says: “A lot of peo­ple miss it! We’ve never seen any British bik­ers up there and the roads are empty. But if you’re into moun­tains you’ll love it. It’s got its own mi­cro­cli­mate and it’s high and clear and bright.” You climb us­ing ‘bal­cony roads’ through gorges, which are as pre­car­i­ous as they sound. Hughes rates the Col de la Ma­chine, Col de Cabre and Col de Rous­set as the best. Com­bine the last two to get on the Rous­set via the D518 then head east on the D93 and from there over the Col de Cabre, where it be­comes the D993. If you’re greedy, hit the N85 to find the Route Napoleon.

7Alaska’s wilder­ness

“Alaska is the last fron­tier,” says Steve Hot­son (www.mo­to­ex­plor­ers.co.uk). Hot­son re­cently scouted a North Amer­i­can coastto-coast route start­ing in that state, rang­ing down through the Yukon. “It’s a wild place where you still re­ally get a sense of the world pre-in­ter­net,” he says. “It’s a true op­por­tu­nity to es­cape off- grid.” To ride there, ei­ther rent a bike or ship yours to Anchorage. Hot­son rec­om­mends the Dal­ton High­way as a good place to start, ex­tend­ing from Fair­banks in cen­tral Alaska to Dead­horse and the Prud­hoe Bay oil fields at the north­ern tip. It’s 239 miles be­tween Cold­foot and Dead­horse though, with no fuel stop in-be­tween.

8Sri Lanka

When Bill Roughton (www.bike­tours-uk.com) ex­plored the Hor­ton Plains Na­tional Park there was a 250cc limit on rental bikes, which Bill says was fine given some of the roads, although the qual­ity of the rental bikes was not ideal. There are two mon­soon sea­sons to avoid (May to Septem­ber in the south-west, and Oc­to­ber to Jan­uary in the north and east­ern coastal re­gions). Best to take your own hel­met.

How to check that used bike isn’t a wrong ’un

Pic­ture cour­tesy of www.mo­to­quest.com Pic­ture cour­tesy of www.ex­treme­bike­tours.com Bowen knows all things GPZ900R

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