We asked a handful of throttlers about their favorite motorcycle routes and the bikes they take on them. What they told us started out with directions – but veered into hard-won road wisdom.
Richard Ford's Glacier-to-Banff White-Knuckler
Endpoints: Missoula, Montana, and Banff, Alberta
Route: 93N, Going-to-the-Sun Road (across Glacier National Park), and, in Canada, highways 2N and 1W (Trans-Canada Highway)
Distance: 443 miles
Estimated time: 9.5 hours (one way)
Bike: 1988 Harley-Davidson FXSTS Springer Softail
Engine: 1340cc V-twin
In his words: "A good route is to ride from Missoula to Calgary and then over the top of the mountains at Banff down on the British Columbia side, and go back into Montana on the west side of the mountains. I did it twice with my wife on the back, about 2,000 miles total. Now I know that coolness is a really important part of your equipment as a big-bike rider, but it's never been a part of mine. When I'm riding, I'm always in one state or other of terror. Out on the plains in central Montana, the wind just blows all the time across the highway, pushing on you from one side, and you're kind of leaning into it, like a cushion. But then you're going to hit a pocket in the wind one of these times and off you're going to go. You see Peter [Fonda] in 'Easy Rider' riding down the road as though he was sitting in an easy chair, talking back and forth and making gestures and laughing and doing everything but having a cocktail. Me? No. I'm in a heightened state of fearful awareness the whole time. Of course, to some people, riding a bike is the stupidest thing in the world. But I would always say, Well, you have to have something around in your life that will reliably kill you. And that's kind of funny, and it's kind of true."
Ford is the author of six novels, including 'Independence Day,' which won the Pulitzer Prize, and, most recently, 'The Lay of the Land.'
Credit: Courtesy Ann Beatie