Motorcycling Alabama: 50 Ride Loops through the Heart of Dixie

Motorcycling Alabama: 50 Ride Loops through the Heart of Dixie

by David Haynes

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Overview

Motorcycling Alabama is a much-needed guidebook for one of the most beautiful states to explore on two wheels. From the rocky outcrops of the Appalachian plateau to the sugar-white beaches and teal waters of the Gulf of Mexico, Alabama is a rider’s paradise.
 
David Haynes offers fifty ride loops of between 75 and 150 miles in length throughout every region of the state. The start and stop points for each ride are identical and easy to locate. This handy guide, which is designed to fit in a tank bag, features both streetbike and dual-sport rides. Also included are detailed, color-coded maps of the routes and turn-by-turn directions. Stunning full-color photographs accompany each ride description, highlighting scenes and points of interest along the way. There are introductory chapters on motorcycle safety, gear, and the use of global positioning devices, as well as pointers on motorcycle camping. The companion website, motorcyclingalabama.info, offers sample rides and downloadable GPS codes for all fifty rides, and hosts an author blog.
 
Motorcycle touring is one of the fastest-growing outdoor recreational pursuits in the country. For both the in-state and out-of-state motorcycle enthusiast, Motorcycling Alabama is a valuable and complete guide to a state rich in diverse types of scenery and with many unsung treasures yet to be discovered.

Published in cooperation with the Barber Vintage Motorsports Museum, Birmingham.

 

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780817355289
Publisher: University of Alabama Press
Publication date: 04/04/2011
Edition description: 1st Edition
Pages: 360
Sales rank: 1,193,134
Product dimensions: 5.90(w) x 8.70(h) x 1.20(d)
Age Range: 14 - 18 Years

About the Author

David Haynesis an independent commercial photographer, owner of the Studio at Blount Springs, and a part-time instructor in digital photography and photo-editing software at Wallace State Community College in Hanceville. He writes a monthly feature in Alabama Living magazine entitled Alabama Motorcycle Diaries in which he explores little-known treasures of Alabama backroads. His black-and-white portfolio Alabama 2000—The Millenium Project is on permanent display at the U.S. District Courthouse in Montgomery.

Read an Excerpt

MOTORCYCLING ALABAMA

50 RIDE LOOPS THROUGH THE HEART OF DIXIE
By DAVID HAYNES

THE UNIVERSITY OF ALABAMA PRESS

Copyright © 2011 The University of Alabama Press
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-0-8173-5528-9


Chapter One

MAPPING YOUR TRIP

This guide includes a map with turn-by-turn directions and a brief description of each ride. However, road names frequently change, and particularly with the dual-sport rides, rural and forest gravel roads may change.

When planning a ride, I recommend obtaining the DeLorme Alabama Atlas and Gazetteer, a book that divides the state into sixty-four map pages measuring 11 by 15 1/2 inches with much more detail than any single foldout state road map. If space is available on the motorcycle, this is great to carry along on any ride.

Another excellent resource for planning a trip is Google Earth and Google Maps online. These offer zoom-able views of road maps, terrain, and satellite imagery as well as street-level photos of some areas.

Each of these resources will help give the rider a sense of the character of the area through which a ride loop passes.

I also recommend having a Global Positioning System (GPS). These days most everyone knows about GPS, and more and more navigation features are being added to everything from dedicated GPS devices to cell phones.

For me, a GPS unit is one of the first accessories I'll put on any motorcycle I own. It just opens up so many possibilities.

Even if not using the GPS unit to follow a route, it's very nice to be able to see what kind of road is coming up (and how sharp its curves). And if I'm navigating a route and I want to go down a different path to check out something, the GPS will automatically recalculate a new route as soon as it senses I'm off the original one.

For those who have GPS units, this book offers plenty of options for taking advantage of GPS features in conjunction with these ride loops.

Each of the fifty routes in the book is saved as a ".gpx" file that purchasers of this book can download from the book's website at motorcyclingalabama.info. After downloading the .gpx file, the route can be simply transferred to a GPS unit and then accessed and activated from the route list in the unit. Once activated at the start/end point, the GPS unit will give turn-by-turn prompts along the way for the route path.

Chapter Two

MOTORCYCLE SAFETY

"I'd rather sweat than bleed."

MOTORCYCLE SAFETY GEAR

A few years ago, some buddies and I were stopped at a gas station on a midsummer ride when some other motorcycle riders pulled in.

One of the other riders—dressed in shorts, a sleeveless T-shirt, and sneakers—asked how we could stand to wear all our protective riding gear in the 95-degree Alabama heat.

"I'd rather sweat than bleed," my buddy told him. And I think that one statement sums up the philosophy known as A.T.G.A.T.T.: All the Gear, All the Time. This means making it a habit to wear all the gear—helmet, boots, gloves, riding jacket/pants, etc.—on every ride, even short ones.

By its very nature, motorcycle riding has some built-in hazards, the most obvious of which is that even if not moving the motorcycle will fall over if not on its kickstand. And if the motorcycle hits something, the motorcycle rider will not be protected by the enclosure, seat belts, air bags, and such of a car or truck.

To make these situations as painless as possible for the operator of a motorcycle, a dizzying variety of safety gear is available. This chapter will examine the typical kinds of gear on the market—at the time of this writing—and briefly discuss some pros and cons of each.

Helmets

Helmets are the most basic form of safety gear for motorcyclists, and, in fact, the State of Alabama's laws require that a motorcycle operator and any passengers wear a helmet approved by the Department of Transportation (DOT) when riding on any public road.

Some states do not have helmet laws, and I understand that some riders believe it is their right to not wear a helmet if they so choose. But the fact is that Alabama does have the law, and to ride legally here requires a DOT-approved helmet, regardless of the philosophical arguments for and against it.

Many kinds of helmets carrying the DOT sticker are available, ranging from the ones shaped like a basketball cut in half that offer protection only to the head from the ears up to full-coverage helmets that surround the head from chin and neck up.

My personal choice is a full-coverage helmet because of the protection it offers. Mine has a face shield/visor that hinges up or down and also prevents bugs or other debris from hitting me in the face or eyes.

The first year I had this helmet, I experienced a very minor get-off at less than 30 miles per hour on a gravel road. That one incident convinced me I made the right choice. Had I not been wearing a full-coverage helmet, the left side of my face and jaw would have likely required stitches at a minimum, and very possibly surgery to repair broken bones. But thanks to the extra coverage on this style of helmet, I didn't receive a scratch, although the scrape marks on the helmet are a daily reminder of what could have happened.

The way I see it, the only reason I'm wearing a helmet is to protect my head. Why would I want to protect only a part of my head when other designs offer protection for the entire head?

Another interesting fact about helmets is that professional motorcycle racers always use helmets with maximum protection. Hmmm ...

Several designs are available that offer protection levels from the full-face to the salad-bowl designs.

The second-highest level of protection is available from a helmet in which the hard shell extends down over the ears but leaves the face exposed.

So-called modular helmets feature a hinged chin bar that can be raised for putting on or taking off the helmet and lowered and locked into place for riding. These are popular with riders who wear eyeglasses because a rider can don or remove it while still wearing glasses.

Whatever style is used, it should fit well. If the helmet is too loose, the safety features of the design can be compromised. If it is too tight, the helmet will become a torture chamber on a long ride. With full-faced helmets, the ventilation system becomes an important comfort feature as well.

When it comes to helmets, the old axiom "you get what you pay for" is usually true. I personally recommend always trying on a helmet before buying because sizing among manufacturers is not standardized. Also, riders with oval-shaped heads will find that certain brands of helmets tend to fit them better, while people with rounder heads will prefer other brands.

Gloves and Boots

Gloves and boots protect the hands and feet and can make a huge difference in comfort on a ride. Because the controls of a motorcycle are operated by the rider's hands and feet, gloves and boots should strike a balance of flexibility, comfort, and safety to make riding a pleasure during a range of conditions.

Generally speaking, motorcycle gloves fit into two categories: summer and winter. When the weather is warm, the main function of the glove is to provide protection and comfort, usually through ventilation. Many summer gloves have leather palms and knuckle protection with a mesh material in between to allow airflow. Some riders like gloves with cutout fingers for summer that offer a minimum of protection but a maximum airflow. However, the fact is that in a mishap the rider's hands are likely going to make contact with the ground or road surface at speed. For that reason, I always wear vented summer gloves with full fingers in warm weather.

Winter gloves in general will offer more abrasion protection because they will be made of thicker material. These are available with a wide variety of features, and typically the higher-priced gloves will be warmer and more comfortable.

My preferred winter gloves are a hybrid of leather and textile outer shell, lined with synthetic material and a Gore-Tex layer that makes them both waterproof and windproof. Mine also have a long gauntlet that extends well past my jacket sleeve and can be cinched tight with a shock cord using one hand. My hands stay warm and toasty even when temps dip into the teens.

I use summer gloves until the temperature drops below about 50 degrees, then switch to the winter gloves. The biggest downside to warm winter gloves is that they are usually bulkier and allow less "touch" with the operating controls.

Some motorcycles have heated handlebar grips that can help keep digits toasty on a cool day. Riders with these "hot grips" can use summer-type gloves in lower temperatures.

Motorcycle-specific boots are another item that I consider essential. In general, boots are categorized into street boots or off-road boots. The off-road boots are usually much stiffer and offer better protection for the ankles. The street-oriented ones tend to be more waterproof and flexible, but offer somewhat less protection.

I prefer a boot that falls in the middle of this range—waterproof and insulated for warmth and flexible like a street boot, but with a steel shank through the length of the bottom and ankle and shin protection. Some riders I know wear hiking or Army-surplus combat lace-up boots and are very happy with these as well.

My first boots were at the bottom end of the price scale for motorcycle-specific boots—about $95—and did not have a steel-reinforced sole area. On a slow-speed gravel road fall, my foot got bent around the left-side foot peg between the bike and the road for about twenty feet. Because I wore motorcycle boots, no bones in my foot were broken and I wasn't even scratched up. But because they did not have the reinforced bottom, my foot was severely bruised and required several weeks of recovery. Had I been wearing the boots I now have—which I purchased within a week after this mishap—I would likely not have been hurt at all. We live and learn.

Riding Jacket/Riding Pants/Riding Suit

These items complete a rider's A.T.G.A.T.T. gear. They are usually made from either leather or some kind of abrasion-resistant textile, or a combination of the two. The better garments will also have body armor inserts at the shoulders, elbows, knees, and back.

The idea here is that, if the motorcycle goes down at speed, the rider's skin is protected for at least a time before making contact with the pavement or ground. Of course, in some accidents no amount of armor would help. But this protective layer can often mean the difference between simply sacrificing the gear and having medical procedures such as skin grafts.

Leather gear is typically recognized as having the best abrasion resistance, but some textiles now incorporate Kevlar—the same material used in bulletproof vests—which offers substantial protection. In general the leather will be difficult to wear in hot weather because it's not as breathable. Other gear has high-impact, tightly stitched, and abrasion-resistant nylon with strategically positioned armor and zippered vents that can be opened in summer and closed in colder weather.

Pants can either be dedicated riding pants or the over-pant style designed for the motorcyclist to don for riding and then remove at the destination.

For additional safety, many jacket/pants combos zip together to avoid separation in the event of an accident.

Another popular style is the waterproof and armored coverall-style suit with zippered vents. This can usually be donned over street clothes or removed in less than a minute. Armored mesh jackets that offer cooler riding in hot weather with some protection are another option for summer riding.

Designs and gear are constantly being improved as new techniques and materials evolve, so whatever is the best today likely will be improved next year or the year after.

Rain Gear

There are three main types of rain protection:

1) A rain suit—either a jacket and pants or waterproof coverall—that is worn over the riding gear

2) Jacket and pants or coverall suit made of waterproof materials

3) Jacket and pants liners made of waterproof materials

Each of these works well if quality gear is selected, so it comes down to the personal preference of the rider as to the best approach.

Rain gear designed for use only in the rain—the type that goes over the outside of the regular riding pants/jacket—allows the everyday jacket/pants to be designed with better ventilation for summer riding. To use this kind of gear, the rider has to stop, retrieve the rain gear from its storage place, and put it on, then remove it once the rain ends.

Riding gear made using waterproof materials is seldom truly waterproof, because zippers and other closures often allow some water to make its way inside. But it is convenient because there's no stopping to put on or remove gear. However, in the heat of summer this gear is seldom ventilated well enough to be truly comfortable.

(Continues...)



Excerpted from MOTORCYCLING ALABAMA by DAVID HAYNES Copyright © 2011 by The University of Alabama Press. Excerpted by permission of THE UNIVERSITY OF ALABAMA PRESS. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents

Contents

Foreword....................ix
About This Book....................xi
1 Mapping Your Trip....................3
2 Motorcycle Safety....................5
3 Motorcycle Camping....................16
4 On the Road....................27
Ride Loop 1: Paint Rock River and Monte Sano State Park Ride....................36
Ride Loop 2: Springville, Gallant, Oneonta, Remlap Ride....................40
Ride Loop 3: Brompton and St. Clair County Ride....................46
Ride Loop 4: Lake Guntersville State Park, Sand Mountain, Langston Ride....................51
Ride Loop 5: Little River Canyon, Mentone, DeSoto State Park Ride....................56
Ride Loop 6: Hammondville, Scottsboro, Stevenson Ride....................66
Ride Loop 7: Falkville, Eva, Florette Ride....................71
Ride Loop 8: Heflin, Piedmont, Talladega National Forest Dual-Sport Ride....................77
Ride Loop 9: Blount County Covered Bridges Ride....................83
Ride Loop 10: Blount County Covered Bridges Dual-Sport Ride....................90
Ride Loop 11: Bankhead National Forest Dual-Sport Ride....................99
Ride Loop 12: Lewis Smith Lake and Bankhead National Forest Ride....................106
Ride Loop 13: Hamilton, Natchez Trace, Florence Ride....................111
Ride Loop 14: Joe Wheeler State Park, Lexington, Cairo Ride....................119
Ride Loop 15: Lake Lurleen State Park Ride....................124
Ride Loop 16: Eutaw, Aliceville, Gainesville Ride....................128
Ride Loop 17: Brilliant, Haleyville, Bear Creek, Hackleburg Ride....................132
Ride Loop 18: Warrior, Arkadelphia, Maytown Ride....................136
Ride Loop 19: Brookwood, Windham Springs, Tuscaloosa Ride....................141
Ride Loop 20: Lacon, Hartselle, Addison, Clarkson Ride....................146
Ride Loop 21: Alabama-Georgia State Line Ride....................153
Ride Loop 22: Wetumpka, Weogufka, Clanton, Pine Level Ride....................157
Ride Loop 23: Wind Creek State Park, Lake Martin Ride....................162
Ride Loop 24: Lanett, Wadley, Horseshoe Bend Ride....................168
Ride Loop 25: Cook Springs, Logan Martin Dam, Highway 25 Ride....................172
Ride Loop 26: Cheaha State Park Dual-Sport Ride....................177
Ride Loop 27: Cheaha State Park, Talladega National Forest Road Ride....................184
Ride Loop 28: Mount Cheaha Ridges Dual-Sport Ride....................191
Ride Loop 29: Oak Mountain, Highway 25, Montevallo Ride....................197
Ride Loop 30: Chilton, Talladega, Coosa Counties Ride....................203
Ride Loop 31: Boligee, Demopolis, Cuba Ride....................211
Ride Loop 32: Bladon Springs, St. Stephens Ride....................218
Ride Loop 33: Roland Cooper State Park, Davis Ferry Ride....................225
Ride Loop 34: Paul M. Grist State Park, Selma, Camden Ride....................233
Ride Loop 35: Calera, Montevallo, Centreville, Sprott, Maplesville Ride....................239
Ride Loop 36: Clanton, Selma, Billingsley Ride....................244
Ride Loop 37: Mobile Bay Ferry Ride....................251
Ride Loop 38: Greenville, Fort Deposit, Burnt Corn Ride....................261
Ride Loop 39: Hope Hull, Lowndesboro, Fort Deposit Ride....................269
Ride Loop 40: Mobile Bay, Bayou La Batre, Grand Bay Ride....................274
Ride Loop 41: Chattahoochee State Park, State Line Ride....................283
Ride Loop 42: Eufaula, Abbeville, Clayton Ride....................287
Ride Loop 43: Blue Springs, Smuteye, Ozark Ride....................291
Ride Loop 44: Hope Hull, Ansley, Lapine Ride....................297
Ride Loop 45: Opelika, Tuskegee Ride....................302
Ride Loop 46: Florala, Geneva, Opp Ride....................306
Ride Loop 47: Evergreen, Andalusia, Brewton Ride....................310
Ride Loop 48: Frank Jackson State Park, Stanley, Red Level Ride....................315
Ride Loop 49: Baldwin County Ride....................320
Ride Loop 50: Fort Deposit, Luverne, Brantley Ride....................324
Index....................329

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