Saturday, March 15, 2008

Finding the Road Less Taken

Riding a motorcycle seems to bring out the explorer in us. I couldn't begin to count how many times I've glanced down a twisty lane and thought, "I wonder where that road goes?" I often detour to find out if I have the time.

Roads of Oklahoma... recently re-released!Brad and I are often asked how we find our way around when exploring two-lane roads off the beaten path. Some people are surprised we don't have any GPS mounted on our motorcycles. On the road, I still rely on the "dead tree" style of maps, printed out before I leave, stuck in the top of my tank bag.

BMW Falling Leaf Rally

I also like to bring along a couple of maps. One is the good ol' Oklahoma state highway map. I usually pick up a few copies from the visitor center so I can fold and mutilate one to fit just right in my tank bag. The other map is one of the most valuable books I own: Roads of Oklahoma. This is a large format paperback atlas made up of USGS maps of Oklahoma. Each page is about 12 miles wide, so it gives you great detail of the landscape. It's easy to locate where you are by looking at the large state map on the back. The state is divided into segments and a big red number indicates what page you need to turn to.

Unfortunately it's not easy to find. It was originally published by Shearer Publications, but was recently acquired by Mapsco. Hopefully that means they'll be a little more plentiful soon.

A similar publication is offered by De Lorme. The Oklahoma Atlas & Gazetteer is quite similar. The main difference is DeLorme opted for topo maps, which I find a little harder to read. And locating the adjoining map above or below is more difficult because the small text is printed within the map itself, not in the margin like the R of O. But this book is much easier to find and available for many other states.

Either one is well worth bringing along on your next ride.

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It's a Travel Show

Two Wheel Oklahoma is a television travel show featuring the motorcycle rides of Brad Mathison and Rex Brown along the scenic highways and backroads of Oklahoma.

Each episode highlights a stretch of road or historic route and explores unique destinations along the way. Tune in three times a week on the Cox Channel.

We hope you'll come ride along.

Brad and Rex: co-hosts of Two Wheel Oklahoma