Riding Blog

This weblog at mikeuhl.com is the personal web site of Michael "Mike" Uhl. Entries to this weblog and web site represent my personal opinions. The site is not owned, operated, or affiliated with my employer or any organizations other than those owned and operated by Mike Uhl.

Photo (right): That's Lisa and me stopped along US 550, "The Million Dollar Highway," in southwest Colorado on our way north into Silverton, July 2017. 

Entries are copyright (c) Michael A. Uhl, as of date of posting.

You are welcome and encouraged to participate in the discussion on this site. Comments are owned by the poster. I reserve the right to remove any irrelevant, inflammatory, or otherwise inappropriate comments. Questions may be directed to me using the "Post a Comment" feature available on every blog page.

FYI: I ride a 2015 Harley-Davidson FLHTK Ultra Limited Special Edition.

Thank you and please enjoy my site!

Entries by Michael A. Uhl (122)


Top 15 Rides in the Lower 48

(November 29, 2017) I recently came across this article:


which offers this Top 15 Rides list, with a preamble:

More than 230,000 membership of the American Motorcyclist Association voted for more than 100 roads, to choose the best motorcycling roads in the United States. The roads were voted on the entries via the AMA website. With all that votes, the AMA chose the best 15 motorcycling roads in the United States.

  1. Beartooth Highway, Montana and Wyoming. Beartooth Highway features breathtaking views of the Absaroka and Beartooth Mountains.
  2. Blue Ridge Parkway, North Carolina. It runs for 469 miles, mostly along the famous Blue Ridge, a major mountain chain that is part of the Appalachian Mountains.
  3. U.S. Route 129 -The Tail of the Dragon - on the North Carolina-Tennessee border. With 318 curves in 11 miles, is America's number one motorcycle and sports car road.
  4. Million Dollar Highway. The Million Dollar Highway, or U.S. 550, is one of the nation’s most spectacular drives. Driving south you'll be on the "outside" with no guardrails.
  5. California Route 1, Pacific Coast Highway. Highway 1 runs along much of the Pacific coast of California. It is famous for running along some of the most beautiful coastlines in the world.
  6. Going to the Sun Road, Glacier National Park, Montana. This engineering marvel spans 50 miles through some of the best sights in northwest Montana.
  7. Cherohala Skyway, North Carolina and Tennessee. The Cherohala Skyway (or Overhill Skyway) is a 43-mile (69 km) road that connects Tellico Plains, Tennessee, to Robbinsville, North Carolina.
  8. California Route 36. State Route 36 is a highway in California, from U.S. Route 101 in Humboldt County to U.S. Route 395 in Lassen County.
  9. U.S. Route 12, Lolo Pass, Idaho and Montana. Lolo Pass is a mountain pass at 5,233 feet (1,595 m) asl, in the northern Rocky Mountains
  10. Angeles Crest Highway, California Route 2. Angeles Crest Highway is a segment of California State Route 2. The road is 66 miles (106 km).
  11. Natchez Trace, from Natchez, Miss., to Nashville, Tenn. The Natchez Trace Parkway is a 444-mile drive through exceptional scenery and 10,000 years of North American history, from Natchez to Nashville.
  12. US Route 33, Harrisonburg, Va., to Seneca Rocks, W.Va. U.S. Route 33 runs for 709 miles (1,141 km) from northern Indiana to Richmond, Virginia, passing through Ohio and West Virginia.
  13. California Route 58, McKittrick to Santa Margarita. State Route 58 is a highway across the California Coast Ranges, the southern San Joaquin Valley, the Tehachapi Mountains, the southern Sierra Nevada, and the Mojave Desert.
  14. Ohio Route 170, Calcutta to Poland.
  15. Washington Route 129 and Oregon Route 3, Clarkston, Wash., to Enterprise, Ore. State Route 129 (SR 129) is a state highway in Asotin County, Washington.

I've been fortunate enough to ride eight of these: 1-7, and 11. Here are my top 15 rides in the Lower 48, based on actual experience riding them, with links to some of my write-ups:

  1. Beartooth Highway (US 212, northeast of Yellowstone NP)
  2. California Route 1, Pacific Coast Highway (It's like the Blue Ridge Parkway, only running along the Pacific coastline.)
  3. Blue Ridge Parkway (Front Royal, Virginia to Cherokee, North Carolina) See also: Little Switzerland
  4. Going-to-the-Sun Road (Glacier NP, NW Montana)
  5. US 50 across Nevada ("America's Loneliest Highway"; preferably east to west all the way into South Lake Tahoe, CA)
  6. Million Dollar Highway (US 550 in SW Colorado)
  7. US 2 (From Everett, WA to Kalispell, MT) - cuts through southern-most part of Glacier NP
  8. Mount Rainier NP (preferably west to east: WA 410/WA 123/US 12)
  9. US 1 - Florida: Key Largo to Key West (See also Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4.)
  10. US 1 - Maine coastline: Portland to Bar Harbor and north, including Acadia NP
  11. Cherohala Skyway (Tennesse/North Carolina)
  12. US 41/US 2 in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, including Copper Harbor, MI
  13. US 64: Northern New Mexico (Cimarron - Farmington)  
  14. NY 3: Adirondack Mountains, New York State (Watertown to Plattsburgh)
  15. US 2: Ferry from Port Kent, NY to Burlington, VT to Bangor, Maine

I've ridden the Natchez Trace Parkway and the Tail of the Dragon (US 129) and I'd place them in my top 20, but they can quite break into the top 15. It's really hard to choose a priority order for the top six in my list. They are all so remarkable in their own way. 

Honorable Mention

This road is in Canada so doesn't qualify for my US-only list above. I do highly recommend the Trans-Canada Highway - Route 1 from Canmore, Alberta to Sicamous, British Columbia. This route, which takes you through Banff and Revelstoke and across the headwaters of the Columbia River offers amazing beauty.


As always, keep the shiny side up!

-The Long Rider





You Don’t Ride Over the Schofield Pass (Colorado)

(November 22, 2017) Ignorance can get you killed and sometimes a U-turn can save your life. On July 5, 2017, I was riding through the heart of Colorado on my fancy Harley-Davidson Ultra Limited touring motorcycle. I had my beautiful girlfriend on the back and was having a great time showing her the majesty of America from the back of a Harley.

Photo at right: That's Lisa getting some chewing gum from her purse as we decide to turn around on Gothic Road (Gunnison County Road 317) just north of Gothic, CO. Gothic lies between Crested Butte and Crystal.

Around lunchtime that day, we had arrived in Gunnison and  I looked at my map of Colorado and thought I could take a shortcut out of Gunnison north across a mountain pass to reach I-70. I wanted to reach Grand Lake, CO by nightfall. I figured I could take CO 135 north to Crested Butte and then CO 12 to CO 133. My original plan was to continue on US 50 east to US 285 north, but this “shortcut” looked faster. This is a case of the city boy not understanding the terrain of Colorado. 

My new plan did not account for my mistake in Crested Butte, where I missed CO 12 and ended up on Gunnison County Road 317, which was a very scenic but also very rough dirt surface with significant drop-offs along the edge of the road in places. Lisa exclaimed multiple times along 317 how beautiful the scenery was; we felt like we were in the movie Sound of Music.

The day before, I had dropped the 900-pound bike on my left leg, and it had swelled badly. I was thus compounding my discomfort with poor decision-making. I’ve read many articles over the years by other riders who revel in the idea of riding without a plan and getting lost for fun. That’s fine in a small, populated part of the country. It’s foolish in a place like Gothic, Colorado. 

When we had passed through Gothic and the road got even rougher, I stopped at the Judd Falls/Copper Creek Trailhead (38.9663, -106.9939) and looked at my map again. It was obvious to me that I had missed CO 12 back in Crested Butte, but the map showed 317 connecting with CO 3, which went through Marble, CO and to CO 133, which was what I was aiming for. However, as the road was very rough, I waved down an oncoming SUV and asked the driver if I could take this road across the Schofield Pass. He replied, “Not today, it’s buried under 40-feet of snow.” He made my decision to turn around automatic.

Quite recently, I decided to do a little research about Gunnison County Road 317 and that route over the Schofield Pass and through Marble, CO. I invite you to read this article:


Had that driver not stopped and told me about the snow, I probably would have tried to cross the pass; and I would have failed miserably at best and died trying at worst. It’s a very dangerous road in a 4WD SUV and impassible on a street bike like mine. This is because you have to ride through streams in places, as there are no bridges at those points.

See also https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Schofield_Pass_(Colorado) 

Here are some of the lessons I learned or relearned from this experience:

  • Unless I have a really good reason to change my ride plan, stick to the one I started the trip with.
  • Read my maps more carefully, especially regarding paved versus unpaved roads.
  • Ask the locals more often about alternative routes and scenery.
  • Just because you can take a particular road doesn’t mean you should.

As always, keep the shiny side up and pray for a short winter! 

-The Long Rider


Raleigh Christmas Parade = Riding Fun!

(November 18, 2017) Raleigh, North Carolina hosted its annual Christmas Parade and the local Harley dealership, Ray Price Harley-Davidson entered a float. The float was escorted by about 25 bikes from the Raleigh Harley Owners Group (HOG) chapter, of which my friend Mike and I are members.

Photo left: That was my favorite of the decorated bikes. Over the top, sure; but it accurately represents the festive mood at the event.

Mike and I met at 0730 for breakfast at BoJangles on E. Chatham Street in Cary and then headed downtown for the pre-ride meeting at Ray Price HD. Local temperatures were in the low 40s but rose rapidly into the 60s by the time the parade was over around noon.

We enjoyed calm winds and clear skies, and consequently, the turnout for the parade was huge. Great weather also made for an exceptionally fun riding experience. Everyone was relaxed, chatty, and really enjoying themselves. 

What a great way to spend a Saturday morning! I met an interesting fellow named Robert who is a manufacturing engineering consultant who specializes in automating machine processes primarily for the roofing industry. I always find it interesting to learn what my fellow Harley riders do for a living.

Photo right: We assembled on St. Mary Street along with some antique cars, miniature horses, and the Wells Fargo Stage Coach and its team of horses. It certainly felt like a parade.

Privilege to Ride

Seeing hundreds of children in the audience waving and cheering us along the parade route reminded me what a privilege it is to ride. I feel so fortunate to have the health, financial means, and friends who support me to be able to ride, especially on such a nice, late-model Harley-Davidson touring model. I so appreciated the heated grips and seat on such a chilly morning!

Seeing the little boys in the audience enthusiatically twisting their hands at the wrist to us, signaling that they wanted us to rev our engines, made me smile ear-to-ear. But what I enjoyed even more was seeing the little boy attitude come out in some of the grown men riding these big, sometimes loud machines responding to those kids in the audience.

Opportunity to Decorate Even More!

Most Harley owners choose to accessorize their bikes often starting at the time of initial purchase, and that accessorizing seems never to end. As some of my photos here reveal, the Christmas Parade offered us yet another opportunity to decorate our bikes. :-)

Photo left: me with my decorated parade bike.

My friend Mike's wife, Marge, made me a large pretty ribbon to attach to the luggage rack, and my girlfriend's older daughter, Lena, loaned me a dressed up Panda bear for my back seat. Mike is the one who reminded me about the parade and got me there on time. So, my participation in this year's Raleigh Christmas Parade was a team effort. :-)

Mike R. Purchased a New Bike

My friend Mike R. also purchased a new 2018 Ultra Limited. The color is called twisted cherry and the new Milwaukee Eight (107 cu in) engine is sweet, so they kind of go together.

Photo right: That's Mike R. on his new ride, decorated for the parade. He's eager to get started. That's Robert, the engineering consultant, in the background with the mask on. He's bringing some Halloween spirit to the Christmas Parade! 

As always, keep the shiny side up!

-The Long Rider


P.S. Next year, I'll wear my GoPro camera so I can capture images of the audience.


Car tire on a motorcycle? Bad idea!

(November 14, 2017) Just because you can do something doesn't mean you should do it, or that it's even OK to do it. In this category falls the deed of mounting an automobile tire on a motorcycle, front or rear.

I read Motorcycle Consumer News (MCN) religiously and every couple of years or so, someone writes in asking about the efficacy and safety of using a car tire on a motorcycle; and every time, the editor writes back that it's a very bad idea and explains why.

I had never actually seen it done until this year. Here (top right) is a picture I took of a Yahama cruiser in a small local shop. I did a double take on this and asked the owner about it. "No," he replied when I asked him about it, he didn't put that tire on the bike. My friend Mike and I looked at it and laughed. 

I suspect some inexperienced riders do this because they have a tire that fits lying around and decide to use it on their bike. Or maybe they hope to get the mileage life on their bike that they would get on a car. Regardless, an experienced rider doesn't need an engineering or physics degree to understand why this approach is a really bad idea.

Motorcycles lean in turns and their tires have to be curved to accommodate lean. Click on the image to get a better look at this tire. How well do you think the rider can lean on this tire? What do you think will happen when he or she tries? You can be sure it won't go well.

Buy and mount only tires approved for your brand and year motorcycle. This will increase your odds of living longer.

Keep the shiny side up!

-The Long Rider


Beware of GAP Insurance for your bike

(November 13, 2017) In July 2015, I bought a new Harley-Davidson Ultra Limited at my local dealership. The Motor Company was offering financing at 0.99%. My old bike was outside, its crankshaft just about to fail completely. I hadn't ridden it at all for more than two weeks and was feeling withdrawal symptoms. I had just taken a new bike for a ride and had the fever, bad. I was the perfect customer: desperately eager to buy, a really good credit rating, but not a lot of cash in hand and I wasn't thinking very clearly.

After the sales rep handed me off to the sales manager for the paperwork, he offered me a whole list of add-ons, which I refused, except one: GAP insurance. I had put only $4000 down, so the Bluebook value of the bike was at best equal to the loan amount, I estimated based on no real evidence. Thus, Guaranteed Asset Protection (GAP) insurance seemed like a good idea, even for $795. The sales manager reassured me that if I paid the bike off early, I would get a refund on the unused portion of the coverage. I believed him. 

This GAP coverage was offered from a company called Western Diversified Services, Inc. out of Deerfield, IL. As I suspected I would when I bought the bike, I paid the loan off early--after only two years on a five-year loan. After multiple attempts, in writing, to obtain a refund from the "Program Administrator" at Diversified Services, I remain unpaid. I've never received any kind of response. Imagine if I had actually needed to file a claim!

Take my advice: it you want GAP coverage, buy it on your own through a reputable insurance company. Steer clear of whatever the dealership is offering.

Keep the shiny side up!

-The Long Rider