3 Places to Ride Before You Die

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The world is a big place and there lots of ways to see it, none better than from the seat of motorcycle if you ask us. We’ve been very fortunate here at Butler Maps to explore our country on two wheels, but our wanderlust knows no borders. In fact, we’ve found ourselves in all sorts of incredible places all over the world.  In reflection of the places we’ve been, we have narrowed down three of our favorite places on earth to ride before you die. These are all places we’ve been on a bike, not just places we heard are good. They inspire for lots of reasons, their culture, the food, the topography and of course, the roads. We know it’s a big task to consider a trip beyond the US but give it a shot. There’s no better way to get a little perspective than to remove yourself from routine. In no particular order here is our list. Dream on!

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If you live in the US you’ve probably been fed more than one dose of anti-Mexico cough syrup. It’s not all lies, but take it all with a grain of salt. Mexico, and especially Baja are spectacular beyond description. Ask any crusted SoCal dirt biker from the days of Malcom where their favorite place to ride is, 9 out of 1o will say Baja. But Baja is not just for the dirt worthy among us. True, there is not endlessly twisted tarmac, but that doesn’t matter, what Baja has is character. Fish tacos on the side of the road, mariachi bands, deserted beaches, cheap beer kinda character. You can feel it the second you cross the border and it only grows stronger the further south you ride. Remember ‘On Any Sunday’? Remember how it made you feel when you watched the heros of the era wheelie into the sunset on a desert beach? You can still do that in Baja. There are some tips and tricks to exploring Baja that we will share in another story but we hope this wets your whistle for what lurks beyond the southern border. Step out there and explore it. We promise it won’t suck.

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Ahh, the mystery of the Orient. The culture is so different, the food so fishy, the wine so ricey (if thats even a word?). Japan is a modern country with fast trains, vending machines for everything and toilets that do more than you want them to.  But, that’s only part of what makes Japan so awesome. The ridiculously twisty and smooth roads on the northern island of Hokkaido has a lot to do with it if you’re a biker. It’s not easy to get to, from Tokyo, it’s a long day or a few casual days ride north to the ferry terminal. From there it’s a short boat ride to what we can only describe as biker heaven. Volcanoes tower above lush forest, rivers and tiny villages. All connected by Motegi quality asphalt. The biker culture is strong here, just as you would expect from a country that houses Honda. We have absolutely no evidence of this but but it’s fun to believe that the sport bikes we lovingly accept from the big 4 Japanese brands are all tested on Hokkaido. It’s the perfect place for it. Maybe we will do a full fledged post devoted to Hokkaido but in the mean time, imagine yourself arcing turns around a jagged coast line and swapping stories with your buddies at the end of the day over a plate of sushi and sake.

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Yes, it sounds like a long way away and it is, but its not impossible to get there, it’s just really really hard, and really really worth it if you do. There is perhaps no place we have ridden that has more mythic vibe than Mongolia. Camels, goats, ox, eagles and horses all roam freely and in mass quantity. There are no fences, no super highways, there’s hardly any pavement. The capital city of Ulaanbaatar is a bustling metropolis with the typical city energy, but move beyond the urban hustle just a few miles and you’ve arrived in a land that is the same now as it was when Genghis Kahn was doing his thing. Well, mostly anyhow, you will find the occasional yurt with a satellite dish but it’s still a yurt. Just like Baja, you will be much happier on an Adventure bike than a Harley here. Bring a tent and sleeping pad… or not, the locals are more than willing to let in a complete stranger, especially if you are on a motorcycle . You’ll just be sharing a room with 3 generations while passing a bowl of luke warm mare’s milk. Drink it, just hold your nose while you do.

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15 thoughts on “3 Places to Ride Before You Die

  1. Steve G says:

    Mongolia is indeed a great place to ride. I have been there twice. Broke my leg the first time so I did it again.
    Your maps are awesome.

  2. Steve G says:

    BTW. The fermented mare’s milk has to be drunk. It’s a rule. If you are there at Nadaam the pickpockets will be there also. Thankfully, an honest little old lady retrieved my prescription glasses.

  3. David M. Stevens says:

    Thanks for sharing guys! Those are some great ride suggestions. I utilize Butler maps on every ride, except the one next week! We have shipped our bikes from New Mexico to New York and will ride from New York back to New Mexico through Pennsylvania, West Virginia, North Carolina, Tennessee, Arkansas, and Texas. And, we will ride some of the highest rated road rides in the U.S. No interstates, just two lane twisties! It promises to be an epic US ride! Happy Trails, and keep up the good work!

    • butlermaps says:

      Sounds awessome David. Check out our new webiste and app http://www.rever.co we actually lots of the North East covered in there, we just have not published the map yet. We also have a S. Appalachia map to get you through NC and TN so make sure you have that with you. Lots of little obscure backroads to explore there. And I presume you have our Ozarks and Hill Country map too? Have fun and send us some photos from the road if you remember, we’d love to share on Facebook.
      Ride Safe,

    • Tim Ryan says:

      Hi David, when you did this ride last year did you happen to travel the Natchez Trace parkway? This would take you from Tennessee down thru Mississippi and Louisiana. I traveled this by car in November one year, the change of the leaves was really nice. Hope your ride went well and did you post any pics on FB? Regards. Tim

  4. LorenceEckblad says:

    I have tried for two days to buy the master collection to no avail
    I hope I can call you on Tuesday and that you will let me purchase
    that set by phone. It just does not work when I try to do it over the
    Internet
    Thanks.

    • butlermaps says:

      Hey Lorence,
      Strange, our site has been working fine, not sure what the issue is for you but we’d be happy to honor the sale on Tuesday if you’d like to call in. Sorry for the trouble, we will get you squared away.

  5. Ken Phillis says:

    Used your maps to do a 6000 mile ride through all 11 western states with a good friend of mine and two friends from Europe. A fantastic ride and described as a “ride of a lifetime” by my European friends. They reciprocated and I traveled to Europe touring Germany, France, Italy and Austria on a rented BMW with them. Have to say crossing Passo Stelvio in Italy’s Dolomite’s was fantastic and a ride of a lifetime for me.

  6. Aileen says:

    Great article. I never would have thought of Mongolia but now I’m intrigued 🙂 I’m taking a trip down Baja this November, and originally went on your site to look for a map of that area, do you make one?

  7. Tonja says:

    What about Route 66? I would love a comprehensive map that covers that route…..how to stay on the original road where possible! I will start the journey in Massachussets……and end up in California!

  8. Tracy Stout Powers says:

    I’m planning a five week trip from Tennessee to CA, up the PCH. However, also want to go to the Badlands, Yellowstone, Painted Desert, Grand Canyon, Zion NP, etc. I’m a 55 yr old female and going solo. I’m having trouble figuring out a route. I’ve been up the PCH in Oregon and don’t really want to go to WA, so I can skip those two states.

    Recently began thinking about shipping or flying my bike to Grand Rapids and starting from there, then riding it home, just because the trip from TN to Rapid City is, for me, going to be kinda boring and take up too much time.

    These maps look great, but I want to make sure I get on the most scenic roads. I read about a Hwy. 212 around Yellowstone that’s supposed to be a good one.

    Any suggestions on a route? Shipping it to Rapid City? Things to take? Camping alone too dangerous?

    Thank you!

    • MrBiker says:

      HI Tracy,

      I live in Los Angeles and have done most of what you will do however I did it in different trips. 50/50 camping and hotels.

      Check out the web site http://www.pashnit.com, particularly the link named CA Moto Roads.

      It’s devoted to motorcycle roads in the west – the more obscure and scenic, the better. It also has lots of help regarding roads and planning and executing road trips. The forum has huge amounts of people to help and guide you. You can contact me there, my user name is the same as it is here.

      Also, you might want to join the BMW Owners of America club even if you don’t own a BMW. They send you a book called Anonymous listing all members that wish to send in their information and what they are willing to supply. Their contact info shows up with icons indicating they will provide: food, lodging, tools, mechanical assistance, flat repair, gas, emergency help, etc. Even if you’re not on a BMW these are motorcycle people and I’m sure you know how much they will help any other motorcyclist when asked.

      Do not miss the Lost Coast outside of Fortuna, CA. Right next to the Redwood forrest. You’ll do both in one whole day and it’s a day I still relish 8 years later!

      Good luck and enjoy! I did.

  9. Andy Way says:

    I love what you guys are going. Ironically, my grandma who I am very close with made maps. Nevertheless, do y’all have any plans to make any Butler/BDResque maps of Missouri?

  10. OldYeller says:

    I have ridden in Japan (just not Hokkaido). It is a great country to ride in but is very different from No. America (first off, they drive on the left).
    Stay off the toll highways and you will find some awesome tight twisty roads. Be warned – a long days ride is maybe 250-300km (150-200 mi.).

    One of the best parts is hitting an Onsen towards the end of the ride. Should you want to ride Japan, or any foreign country, do your homework. And enjoy the ride.

    Japan Note: a 600cc bike is more than big enough for the tight roads and distances covered.

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