Summer is a tiny speck in the rear-view mirror. We’re heading into winter at lightning speed, but this year, unlike last, our motorcycling adventures can roll on. Foreign travel is easier now than it has been for months (howdy, US of A!) so, if you’re yearning for a trip, there’s only a bit of paperwork and tests to stop you. There are more destination possibilities than you might think, and many are quieter in the winter months. Consider the hours of daylight when planning your trip. Temperatures and conditions can vary widely but if you’ve packed the right kit, you’ll be warm and comfortable, and being warm and comfortable means riding safe, too. Here are some ideas to get you started:
Las Vegas to San Diego, USA From the bright neon lights of Sin City to the laidback surf culture of south Cali, this is a classic ride where you can sightsee from your seat. In summer, you’d bake, but winter conditions are more than pleasing. Las Vegas in January is dry, with temperatures reaching around 15 degrees at midday, but it gets chilly in the evenings, and you’ll be needing some cool-weather gear. There are many possible routes, but we rate heading west to Death Valley and to the foothills of the Sierra Nevada - Mammoth Lakes – Yosemite - then head for San Fran, entering that city in epic style across the Golden Gate Bridge. Head south on the Pacific Coast Highway, through Monterey (check out the Raceway) then LA, and end up in San Diego. A hop over the Mexican border would be a great add.
Nepal from Kathmandu Winter is a great time to visit this fascinating country; it’s wonderfully uncrowded and, away from the mountains, daytime weather is typically dry and sunny with temperatures in the mid-20s that are ideal for touring. Temperatures drop quickly at night, so take kit appropriate for early mornings and evening riding. Clear skies make for great views on and off the bike, but what to see? You could be in Nepal for months and barely scratch the surface. From Kathmandu, begin with the temples, then head to the Terai jungle and the desert of the Tibetan plateau. Ride between rice paddies and terraced crops. Explore the splendour of the snow-capped Annapurna Massif. There are incredible mineral landscapes, medieval Buddhist villages perched on rocky outcrops and Kali Gandaki, the deepest gorge in the world. The riding here is not always for the faint-hearted.
Morocco from Tangier Track down to north Africa for sensational landscapes of deserts and mountains. Average temperature in January is 14 degrees, with lows of 7, but it’s likely to be sunny and blue-skied. There’s a terrific circular route beginning in Tangier. Ride through the Todra Gorge, a series of limestone river canyons in the eastern part of the High Atlas mountains, shimmy down through the awe-inspiring Vallee du Dades, whose dried gorges were carved by the Dades river. The scenery is palm and date trees, oases, kasbahs and stunning rock formations. [think there are amazing pics of this] From here, you can navigate one of the greatest roads in Africa, the Tizi-n-Tichka pass. This gateway to the Sahara reaches an elevation of 2,260m and is hairpin bends a gogo! Continue on to Marrakech – mosques, palaces, gardens and souks - then Rabat, before returning to Tangier.
Portugal north to south The Algarve is perfect if you don’t want to go far but still want to feel the sun on your face. It’s fantastic for moto touring, with some exhilarating enduro trails that cater for all levels of skill. Even in midwinter, the climate is mild. February sees average daily temperatures of around 13 degrees and rainfall is light and generally confined to a few days. The beautiful town of Amarante in the north makes a good base. You can comfortably bike down to Sagres in around a week, enjoying the scenery of Freixo de Espada à Cinta, Mora and Cercal do Alentejo along the way. Another well-travelled road – judged to be among the best in the world for its twists, turns and views - is Porto to the Douro Valley, specifically the 17 miles of the N222 between Régua and Pinhão.
Turkey February in Turkey is sunny more often than not; there’s just a smattering of rain; and, away from the mountains, temperatures average the early teens. There are a whole lot of motorbiking options – seas, mountains and cities – and sites for foodies, nature-lovers and classical history buffs. A circular route from Antalya on the Med will take you along curvy coastal roads, lakesides, olive groves, architectural sites, ancient villages, markets and mountains. Loop inland for peaceful country lanes and pine-forested gravelly tracks. Around the Aegean, the sites of Ephesus, the buzzing city of Izmir and the battlefields of the Gallipoli peninsula would make a great trip. Alternatively, start in Istanbul with some hair-raising biking through the ancient city streets, followed by a transcontinental ride over Bosporus Bridge.
Heated motorcycle clothing to pack for a winter motorcycling holiday:
There’s nothing worse than feeling chilled on the bike when you’re supposed to be enjoying yourself. The right heated gear will keep you warm on the open roads, especially if you’re travelling at speed, so that you have the best and safest riding experience and avoid wind chill. The key things to consider are evening falls in temperatures and early starts; also, you’ll need something in case of unexpectedly inclement weather, particularly gloves, as you don’t want to risk freezing-cold hands. Especially on unfamiliar rides, it’s vital to keep warm and flexible. Pack some quality base layers ‘in case’, along with a heated jacket, and trousers too if you tend to feel the cold and want that security. Be sure to get ones with multiple heat settings so you can adjust the heat as temperatures fall and rise. Gerbing heated bike clothing packs up small and won’t take up much space in your bag. We guarantee you’ll be glad to have it with you. It also gets rave reviews – check it out.
Our pick of the pack:
Heated motorcycle gloves – the one, the only five-star Gerbing XRL Heated Motorcycle Glove
Heated bike jacket: the top-of-the-range Gerbing Premium Heated Jacket Liner with MicroWirePRO®. For warmer climates, the sleeveless gilet version of the premium jacket liner will work: Gerbing Heated MicroWirePRO® Vest Liner with free controller.
Heated motorbike trousers: wear under your favourite bike trousers – the Gerbing Heated Trouser Liner
Heated socks: warm feet guaranteed – Gerbing 12 Volt Heated Socks
Performance base layers: DANE 4-Season Baselayer Top (daneclothing.uk) and DANE 4-Season Baselayer Pants (daneclothing.uk) – both currently on special offer
In these strange times, please be sure to check the latest travel advice. Enjoy the planning and enjoy the trip!