Using Google Maps to Find the Perfect Ride
Clint Lawrence, founder of Motorcycle Shippers, industry consultant and ambassador of fun. [email protected]
The U.S. is full of some amazing rides. But well-known roads have become overrun with joyriders, travelers and commuters, making the odds of having a great ride plummet—especially on the weekends. Every motorcyclist knows that even the best ride routes can be ruined by overcrowding.
But have no fear. Exciting options abound; you just have to know where to look. Thanks to Google Maps, motorcyclists can scan hundreds of miles of road to find their perfect ride for their preferred technical difficulty and scenic settings.
By tapping into the power of Google Maps, you can uncover some amazing rides on roads less traveled. Here’s how to get started.
Launch Google Maps
Navigate to the Google Maps website (or access it through the smartphone app). Is there a popular ride you’re interested in? Type in an address near the area you want to investigate. Then, prepare to head off the beaten path. Remember, the well-known roads might generate a buzz, but the buzz fades quickly along roads packed with riders and drivers.
Discover a new road
Google maps will give you a free 3-D satellite view of the entire planet, allowing you to virtually explore the area around your chosen region. You’ll see all the roads around the area—some of which could even rival known routes, and are rarely busy. But Google enables you to do more than just pick a random road. You can also do your research on the area to make sure your new discovery isn’t a dud before you head out.
Scout out your ride
Now that you’ve found a road, it’s time to plot directions and check the difficulty level. Input an address near the start of the road and another near the other end of the road (close to your endpoint). Generate the directions between those two points.
Because Google Maps will give you the shortest, most direct route first, you might need to drag the blue direction line to force a reroute through the area of interest. Select “bicycle” as your mode of transportation to see additional, relevant information such as elevation changes. The generated graph will show the base elevation and the highest point on the route.
To get a sense of a road’s difficulty level, add together the base and high point numbers, and divide it by the mileage of your chosen route. The higher the number (or the more twists and turns you see), the more challenging the path.
Not sure where to start scouting? Many well-known roads have roads around them of similar quality. Known roads can offer a good place to begin your ride search.
See it in person (sort of) before you go
Google Maps can also show you a first-person view of the road before you head out. Select “street view” and drag the little man icon onto the road. This will give you a first-person perspective, and enable you to “drive” down the road from your phone or computer to make sure it’s what you want.
Hitting the dirt
You can apply the same techniques to dirt riding, It might not be quite as effective, but you can still plot routes on many fire trails and scout out some fun detours. When exploring side trails, be cautious and ride with a partner. These roads are often less maintained (if at all), and trail conditions can change quickly.
America is just waiting to be discovered. By hitting Google Maps, you can explore and find your own private slice of two-wheeled paradise. Whether you’re looking for a beautiful road to cruise down or one full of off-camber hairpin turns that come out of nowhere, Google can help you find what you are looking for. And if that road isn’t in your neck of the woods, Motorcycle Shippers is here to transport your bike safely to your new-found road.
Are you ready to hit the throttle and start out on a new adventure?