My parents didn’t explicitly forbid me from riding a motorcycle. There was never a "Not while you're living under my roof!" response to pleas for my very own Harley Davidson, because, well, I never asked. That's because I knew what the answer would be before I tried (my father's rants about how motor bikes were so dangerous, difficult to see at night, and unsteady at high speeds were big hints).
Now, it's time for my confession: I still have dreams of two-wheeled cruising down the open road, hair blowing back in the wind as I road-trip through the less-traveled routes in the heartlands. Best part is, it's possible for me and for other adventure travelers who fantasize about a stint as a hard-core biker to make that dream a reality. Here’s a round-up of three all-inclusive, guided tour companies that provide a sampler of life on the road – but you’ll have to take care of the leather jacket and tough tattoos on your own.
EagleRider, a Los Angeles-based company with franchise locations and tours scheduled across the world, offers a comprehensive list of guided tours that range from 6 to 22 days long in all areas of the U.S. Tours are all-inclusive, except for airfare to tour starting points and from ending sites, and range from 1,300 to more than 4,000 miles. Take a look at their Route 66 Motorcycle Tour from Chicago to Los Angeles – the perfect picture of what comes to mind for touring across the 1950s-era route. Harley Davidson is the standard bike, but travelers may request specific makes and models, including Honda, BMW, and Piaggio machines. The company has branches in South Africa, New Zealand, Israel, Spain, and Canada, as well as a franchise location in 33 of the 50 states. www.eaglerider.com; from $7,363/person
Madrid, Spain's IMTBikes offers similar services, with locations in Madrid, Barcelona, Valencia, Malaga, Seville, Santiago de Compostela, Bilbao, and Lisbon. The company rents only BMW bikes, and tours include luxury accommodations and meals, but they exclude airfare and gasoline. IMT's tours are nine- to 16-day vacations, and the tour options are very comprehensive - think a Grand Prix-themed trip through the Pyrenees that culminates in attending a live MotoGP race, or a Don Quixote-themed tour of Central Spain's windmill country. IMT's trips cover between 850 and 1,800 miles. www.imtbike.com; from $2,415/person
Twisted Trailz, a company based in Phoenix, Arizona, leads tours through the southwestern states, including Arizona, Nevada, Utah, New Mexico, and Colorado. Tour packages are between three and seven days and include visits to some of the most dramatic scenery in North America, including the Grand Canyon, Tombstone, Arizona (of The OK Corral and the legendary Earp brothers) and even Petrified Forest National Park. The company rents its own Harley Davidson and Honda bikes, but staff will use their connections to find a BMW if you've got your heart set on luxury wheels. www.twistedtrailz.com; from $1,295
A reminder before making reservations: U.S. law requires drivers to earn their motorcycle license before they drive a bike, and foreign driving requirements must also be considered when traveling abroad. Make sure you know the details before you book, and don't forget that these companies will also charge to insure the bikes.
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