.... “Then into first gear, forgetting the cars and letting the beast wind out . . . thirty-five, forty-five . . . then into second and wailing through the lights at Lincoln Way, not worried about green or red signals, but only some other werewolf loony who might be pulling out, too slowly, to start his own run. Not many of these . . . and with three lanes in a wide curve, a bike coming hard has plenty of room to get around almost anything . . . then into third, the boomer gear, pushing seventy-five and the beginning of a windscream in the ears, a pressure on the eyeballs like diving into water off a high board” ....
Hunter S. Thompson loved the Pacific Coast Highway, specifically the part running from Golden Gate Park down to Pacifica and beyond. If you’re going to have a favourite road then ‘California 1’ isn’t a bad one to choose. If on that particular night I’d been riding Thompson’s motorbike, and with the same cocktail of chemicals streaming through my veins, then maybe ‘California 1’ would be my favourite road too. But I wasn’t .... and it’s not. It’s certainly in my all time top ten, but like my list of fantasy dates, it’s a league table that’s constantly changing.
So .... which is the best biking road in the world? The question can’t really have a definitive answer, only a range of opinions. Every biker has an opinion and every one of those opinions is right. Too many variables .... too subjective.
I was raised on the Durham- Yorkshire borders and my biking playground was vast. Long before the Yorkshire Constabulary discovered fast pursuit vehicles and ANPR cameras, I discovered the B1257, the now famous Chop Gate Road running south from Stokesley to Helmsley. At the time I thought that it must be the best biking road in the world ..... but as a spotty teenager my world was still very small.
As my wings spread, I discovered more roads of distinction: The Stang running from Barnard Castle towards Tan Hill and over in the Lake District, the passes of Hardknott and Wrynose. Moving into Scotland, the Pass of Cattle to Applecross and my favourite road in the UK ..... the A816 from Arduaine to Oban.
You might think that these choices show a bias towards the North ... and maybe you’re right. On the other hand .... maybe the best roads just happen to be up here.
Into Europe .... take your pick. More great roads to choose form than you’ll have lives to ride them. The B500 in the heart of the Black Forest, the Pass de Stelvio or my favourite of all the passes, the Pass de Giovo. In Romania, the Transfagrasan Highway is everything that Top Gear told you ... and then some. Just look at the photos .... there’s 90 Km of it.
If you don’t like the crowds or the cold, then head south into Croatia. The beautifully surfaced E65 hugs the Dalmatian Coast from Rijeka in the North to Dubrovnik in the South. A few hundred miles of biking bliss, California 1 without the traffic and restrictive rules.