Wednesday, March 05, 2008

My most visited states on a motorcycle

Since I stared riding a motorcycle I’ve been through 39 different states. Some states I’ve been through numerous of times, others I’ve only been through once or twice. I know how many states I’ve been to on a motorcycle and even when my first ride to each state occurred. Now I’m curious to know which states I’ve been to the most. So in a way, this post is a is ‘Part 2’ of “Visited states on a motorcycle” but now it's not about where and when, it's about how many times.

After seven years of touring, I don't remember all the trips I've done, especially not the shorter trips. I have to look this information up on my blog and website. But before I looked it up I took a guess. I was surprised by the results, since when I thought of the states that I’ve been to the most, I was thinking in terms of ‘destinations’ not states that I’ve ridden through on the way to other places.

I'm not listing Illinois because I live here. Also, I listed only the times that I have “sport-toured” through a state (meaning stayed overnight somewhere else, not at home). I also counted the times I towed my bikes to another state to ride and the times I borrowed a bike to ride in other states. Basically the only rides that are not listed here are day rides I did from my house.

Also, if I passed through the state twice on a particular tour, once going somewhere and once coming back home, I only counted that as "one ride" or "one visit" through that particular state. Since each visit to a state that I was counting is actually a separate new ride.

[Drum roll please] The results: my top 3 states that I have visited to the most are .... Wisconsin, Iowa and Minnesota. The other states that I’ve been through multiple of times are Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Kentucky, Tennessee and Texas.

Most visited states and number of visits:
Wisconsin 23
Iowa 19
Minnesota 17
Indiana 12
Ohio 6
Pennsylvania 6
Kentucky 5
Tennessee 5
Texas 5

So why did I visit these states more than the others? Well, there is a very good reason why Wisconsin is at number one. If you know Chicago, you might have guessed that the best place to ride a motorcycle around here is in Wisconsin, since the roads in Northern Illinois are straight and flat.

Every year I do a bunch of day rides to Wisconsin, but I also do a lot of sport-touring trips since Wisconsin is a big state and the best roads are in the Southwest of Wisconsin, kind of far for a day ride.

Wisconsin: curvy roads and dairy farms and so much more

Iowa is at number two with 19 visits although I've only been to two parts of Iowa. Most of the time I ride the roads near the Mississippi River because they are really curvy and scenic. I have not toured Iowa the way I have toured Wisconsin, the only time I travel west through Iowa is when I’m riding toward the west coast.

Iowa: view of the Mississippi River

Minnesota is at number three with 17 visits but if Minnesota was closer to Chicago it would probably would be at number two, because I really like riding in Minnesota and I’ve been to a few different parts of the state over the last few years.

Minnesota: natural beauty of lakes, rivers and forests

Indiana is at number four with 12 visits and it’s another one of those states that I ride through on my way to other places. I have not seen very much of northern Indiana, since I’m usually on the interstate trying to get away from Chicago as fast as I can. Southern Indiana has some curvy back roads and usually once I get past Indianapolis I exit the interstate and get to enjoy the nice back roads.

Indiana: winding backroads and small towns

Ohio and Pennsylvania are tied at number five with 6 visits. Ohio has some great roads in the southeastern portion of the state, I have not been able to make it out there yet for a tour but I try to hit some good twisty roads when I ride through Ohio to get to other places. Over the years I’ve been to many motorcycle meets in Pennsylvania, but I have not had the pleasure of touring Pennsylvania. Each time I’m there I do ride a bunch of good roads, so I think I’ve actually seen a bit of Pennsylvania by now. Even though I've been through Ohio just as many times, most of the time I take the interstate so I've seen very little of this state.

Pennsylvania: twisty roads and old charming cities

Kentucky, Tennessee and Texas are also tied at number six with 5 visits. Kentucky and Tennessee are great states to ride in, there are many awesome roads there and these states are not that far from Illinois. From Chicago I’ve ridden to Tennessee and to Kentucky in one day, it’s not that long of ride.

Tennessee: it's all about the twisty roads

Kentucky: hills, curves and empty roads

Texas is a different story. To this day, I have not been able to ride from Chicago to Texas. I have always towed my bikes to Texas or near there. It's my favorite place to ride in the winter since the temperatures are so mild. Texas is a really big state, but for motorcycling Texas Hill Country and Southwest Texas, near Big Bend National Park, are the best places. I’ve even been to east Texas on a bike a couple of times, which was also fun and much different from west Texas.

Texas: the beauty of hill country

States that I’ve visited less than 5 times:
Louisiana 3
Michigan 3
Missouri 3
North Carolina 3
Alaska 2
Arizona 2
California 2
Colorado 2
Mississippi 2
Nebraska 2
New York 2
Utah 2
Virginia 2
West Virginia 2
Alabama 1
Arkansas 1
Georgia 1
Kansas 1
Maine 1
Maryland 1
Nevada 1
New Hampshire 1
New Mexico 1
North Dakota 1
Oklahoma 1
South Carolina 1
South Dakota 1
Vermont 1
Wyoming 1

From the list above the only thing that really amazes me is how little time I’ve spent in Michigan, Missouri and Arkansas considering these states are not that far away from Illinois. I haven’t been to Michigan mostly because the only way to get there is through the city of Chicago and Northwest Indiana using the interstate, that route is very congested with traffic and not fun at all. To get up to the Michigan's Upper Peninsula is easier since you can go through Wisconsin, the only major city that you travel through is Milwaukee, but UP is too far to go just for a weekend. Missouri is another one of those places that requires a lot of interstate riding and going through congested St. Louis. I finally made it to Arkansas last year, I’ve planned many trips there before but bad weather always made me ride somewhere else.

I guess you can say that I would rather ride to destinations, where getting there is not a huge hassle, where there is less traffic and the trip doesn’t require a lot of interstate travel. From Chicago I like to travel North or West, then South, but traveling East is the most time consuming.


D. Brent Miller said...

Anna, the best way to ride to Michigan from Chicago is US 12 or US 20 around the south end of the lake to Michigan City, Indiana, and then the Red Arrow Highway up to St. Joseph/Benton Harbor, MI. The route is much better for motorcycling and once you get past the industrial area of Gary, Indiana, you get into a vry scenic drive through Dune Country. It's a slower than the congested interstate routes, but more pleasant. Hey! You can make it part of a "Circle Tour" of Lake Michigan to see all the lighthouses.

I've done the US 20 from South Bend, IN, to Dubuque, IA, twice.

I enjoy reading your posts. Keep 'em coming. Give a shout when the two of you are riding through Cincinnati.--Brent

Anna said...


I hope to try US 12 in MI next month. I haven’t done that route yet because I’m always pressed for time. Also this summer I want to ride the Big Mac and explore the east coast of Michigan. We’re also going to take the street bikes up to UP. Is Spring here yet?


D. Brent Miller said...

Anna, If you are headed for the eastern side of Michigan, see if you can find the October 2006 issue of Road Runner Magazine, where you can read my article about Bay City, Michigan, and riding the "Sunrise Side of Michigan." The route follows US 23 along that other big lake all the way up to Mackinac Bridge. There is some great riding through scenic natural resources. You'll also encounter several lighthouses. Michigan has a lot of great two-laners.

If you can't find the back issue, you can buy it or a reprint of the article from Road Runner on their web site,

Anna said...

Thanks. I already subscribe to Road Runner Magazine, I’ll have to take a look at the October 2006 issue.


D. Brent Miller said...

Great! Thanks for subscribing.

One of the draw backs of print publications is the limitation of space. There was a lot more info than what was printed. If you want more insight, feel free to contact me.--Brent

Anonymous said...

Have you thought about the ferry between wisconsin and michigan. The one to ludington puts you in a nice area and nice ride to traverse city! Very nice area and wine tasting! michigan-jim

Anna said...

I have looked in to the ferry, both of the ones that travel Lake Michigan. The price is unfortunately out of my budget. I was actually just looking at ferries between Maine and Canada for my Nova Scotia trip this summer, but again its not in my budget. I like to travel cheap. It seems like a lot of the ferries are “the” attraction, something to do, where I’m just looking for cheap way of transporting my bike.

Terry said...

You should try the NW corner of the lower peninsula. MI 119 is great in Autumn or Spring. The Tunnelof Trees it is called. Great views of Lake Michigan, two lane (sometimes one and a half lanes)and at the Northern terminal some nice hotels. Hop a ferry to Mackinac Island.