Destination Highways: Washington

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Destination Highways

A Comprehensive Guide to Roads in Washington State

I headed to Canada earlier this summer for the Sportbike West event held in Kelowna. Winding my way along numerous backroads from the US Border I finally reached the Eight Mile Ranch where the weekend long event was being held on a late Friday afternoon. One of the first people I met was Brian Bosworth.

A few years back, Bosworth and his writing/riding partner, Michael Sanders, put together a comprehensive guide to motorcycling in British Columbia, Destination Highways BC. The book includes hundreds of routes rated on things such as twistiness, pavement, engineering, remoteness, scenery and character. It also included information on food stops, dealer locations and camping and lodging locations. Basically what the pair did was to put motorcycling in British Columbia under a microscope and get it to all fit in a tank bag. It worked.

Below: Brian Bosworth poses with a copy of the DHBC book.

Canada is a great place to ride a motorcycle, but the population density is far lower than the US. The decision was made to go into the US and use the same formula to map out motorcycling here. Destination Highways Washington does just that in a way no one else has ever done.

DHWA offers up 346 riding suggestions. As you glance the book, there's no doubt you will already be familiar with many of the rides. But the fun is finding the one's you have never done. One example of this for me is the Hoh-Clearwater route (DH43). In 2002 I rode the Olympic Peninsula three times. I'd seen the turnoffs for these small roads, but never ventured onto them for fear they might dead end. The route does not, instead it takes you away from the more heavily traveled 101 as you make your way between Queets and Forks. Guess where I'm riding next time I venture out west? Right.

The routes are rated , DH1 (Rockport to Winthrop via Hwy2) being the supposed best and DH74 (Stevenson to Lyle on Hwy14) supposedly being the least exciting. In all actuality the ratings hardly matter because it's subjective based on the type of bike you ride. Since I personally ride small bikes, under 600cc's, I tend to find both DH1 and DH72 equally great rides.

The other 272 suggested routes in the book are called "Twisted Edge" rides. They tend to fork off of a main DH route and are either alternatives to the regular route, or good little out and back side trips as you leisurely make your way on your ride.

The book is appropriately dedicated to Sam Hill. Hill was a road engineer who built the first paved road in the state of Washington – The Maryhill Loops road. Today, what's left of the road is a slim 3 mile stretch that features 25 hair pin curves. It was repaved by the WA DOT in 97 by regrinding the original asphalt and is closed to everyday motor vehicle traffic. Thanks to a tip from Bosworth, Sound RIDER! has contacted the Maryhill Museum and arranged to have the road open during the 2003 Sportbike Northwest event which will be held at Skagit Fairgrounds in September 2003.

There are a number of extensive appendices in the book which will provide hours of bedtime reading amusement as you plan out your own routes using the book. Campgrounds, dealer listings and the breakdown of ratings per route are all here. One appendix which may prove useless in the future is the publishing of the ferry schedules. Ever since I-776 we've watched the ferry schedules change almost as often as the tide, so be sure to get the latest ferry times online before your next sailing.

Bosworth and Sanders have done a great job of profiling many of Washington State's best roads, but if you've spent a lot of time out riding you'll notice a number of routes they missed or skipped. Camano Island, Lake Sammamish, Vashon and the stunning stretch of 101 along Wilapa Bay between highway 4 and Raymond are strangely absent from the book. No doubt you'll find of few of your own favorites missing which means you'll just have to share these secrets with your riding friends someday on your own.

It should also be noted that all routes are on paved roads, which is good if you want to keep your street machine nice and clean, but leaves dual sporters like myself at a loss for some off-road pleasures.

DHWA comes with a seemingly hefty price tag of $44.95 U.S. That's $15 over the $34.95 that it's British Columbia sibling runs, but as Bosworth, who is Canadian puts it, "we had to use American dollars to do the research." In the end the $44.95 is a bargain price when you consider the wealth of information that's in the book.

TM/Fall 02

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