Archive for the ‘Motorcycle Accommodations’ Category

MotoStays Provides Inexpensive Travel Option For Bikers

Monday, May 11th, 2015
Colorado MotoStays map

A map shows you all the locations of MotoStay members. Here's the current Colorado membership.

I have written a number of times about the Motorcycle Travel Network (MTN) and now there is another offering in the same concept.

MotoStays bills themselves as “the motorcyclist’s equivalent to Airbnb; the difference being the overnight stays are free.” That is to say, you join MotoStays and then when you are traveling you can contact other members and arrange to stay at their house, and when other members are traveling in your area, they can contact you to stay at your house. All at no charge either way.

The only difference between the MTN and MotoStays in this regard is the cost, although that is minimal. With the MTN, if it is just one person, you pay your hosts $15 “to cover expenses.” If there are two people then it’s $20 and for each additional person it is another $10. So with four people you would pay $40 and while that’s not free, compared to what you would pay at a motel it’s pretty darn close.

Whereas the MTN has been operating for a number of years, MotoStays has been in operation just about one year. MTN charges an annual membership fee, whereas in its first year MotoStays has offered free membership. That is about to change however, and MotoStays says the free membership will end on May 15–just four days from now.

Here’s the breakdown on costs:

  • MTN charges $40 for a one-year membership, $60 for two years, or $120 for five years.
  • Starting May 16, Motostays will be charging $49.95 for a one-year membership or $14.95 per month for a monthly membership.

What it all comes down to, whichever of these groups you might consider joining, is the issue of staying with total strangers in their home and/or having total strangers stay in your home. For many people that is just a bridge they cannot cross. But I can tell you from experience, if you can overcome your fears this is a doorway to some very rewarding experiences.

Judy and I have been MTN members for a number of years and we have had nothing but wonderful experiences with the people who have stayed with us. We have not had a single bad experience and have thoroughly enjoyed meeting and spending time with the folks who have stayed here. On the flip side, while I was extremely uncertain before I stayed my first night with strangers, those fears were ungrounded, things went great, and since then we together and I on my own have stayed with numerous other MTN people and again have had zero bad experiences.

The point is, we all share a common interest–motorcycles–and that’s a universal ice-breaker. We’ve been regaled with riding stories and have probably told our fair share of them as well, although none as extreme as many we’ve heard from some real world travelers. Whoever the host is, the guest benefits from hearing about all the best local roads from people who really know the best local roads. And while offering dinner to your guests is not required, we always do and we have usually been offered dinner when we have been guests. Or at the very least, directions to a good place to go eat.

Of course, if for any reason you need or want to say no to a prospective guest, you always have that option.

What regrets do we have from all this? None. Absolutely none. Honestly, we wish we had more people staying with us. That’s how much we really do enjoy it.

So if you’re at all interested in this sort of thing, you have four more days to sign up at MotoStays for free. I’m going to be doing that because between the two organizations we will have a lot more options. And if you join either and plan to come to Denver, give us a call.

Biker Quote for Today

Murphy’s Motorcycle Laws: 3. Motorcycles are to yellow bugs what aircraft carriers once were to kamikaze pilots.

In Case You Go There

Monday, November 10th, 2014
Port Costa California

"Downtown" Port Costa with the Burlington Hotel on the right and the biker bar on the left.

You may never find yourself anywhere close, but in case you do I want to tell you about a really sweet little off-the-beaten-path town and biker bar up at the far north end of the San Francisco Bay Area.

It’s Port Costa and we heard about it from a park ranger at John Muir National Historic Site in Martinez, California, just a short distance away.

The national historic site was the home of John Muir, good buddy of Teddy Roosevelt and acclaimed the father of the National Park Service. Seeing as how I work for the park service, this stop was one on our California vacation agenda. We had been in the city (San Francisco, that is) for a few days and then headed out to go to the wine country.

When we were ready to leave the park we were interested in finding some place nice but not overly expensive as knew any place around Napa would be. We were particularly interested in the area on the south shore of the strait and Suisun Bay, which separate the northern part of the Bay Area from Napa County.

“Take California 4 west to the very next exit and get off on McEwen Road to Port Costa,” one of the rangers told us. “It’s a really cool little town and they have a great biker bar there.”

Who could resist that?

So we did and you have never seen a narrower, twistier little road than this one. It led into this funky little town that was just a trip. At the end of the road was the strait. This place had once been a busy shipping area for locally grown wheat.

The downtown consists of six building. The Burlington Hotel, where we stayed, is one of those grand old hotels of days gone by, only this one is still not exactly restored to its old grandeur. But it was cool and funky and we liked it.

Across the street was . . . I don’t know what. That is, I don’t know what it was built as. A warehouse? Hard to say. But it now houses one of the most interesting bars and restaurants you’ll ever find. You’ve surely seen some of these chain restaurants that fill the place with all this collection of antiques and kitsch and whatever. They’re trying to be this place. This is the real thing.

And it’s a favorite of bikers. The parking lot was loaded with bikes the whole time we were there, and what a collection of bikes. There were old Nortons, modern Harleys, ancient stripped down cruisers, not to mention some old Hondas and old Triumphs and you name it. In fact, it was surprising how many of these bikes were old.

And then there was the rest of the town. We walked down the main street and it seems everyone in town has done what they could to make their house and yard as original, as totally different, as imaginable. And there are chickens walking around, numerous motorcycles in various stages of repair, orange trees full of fruit–an incredible mish-mash.

So I’m telling you, if you ever find yourself out in the area, go there. This is a hidden gem. Heck, the park ranger who told us about it said he had lived in the area his whole life and he only found out about this place a couple months ago.

But I will warn you: nothing is cheap there. Beer is beer but the restaurant serves lobster, steak, prime rib–the whole shebang, and you’ll pay. Likewise, the hotel may still be shabby but it ain’t cheap, either. But it’s such a cool place.

Biker Quote for Today

We are here to show those guys that are inching their way on the freeways in their metal coffins that the human spirit is still alive.

Motorcyclist Lodging Recommendation in Northwest Colorado

Monday, September 29th, 2014
Vacation cabin in Hamilton Colorado

Interested in a little luxury after being out on the bikes for a few days?

One thing I really like about running this website and blog is all the really great motorcycle-focused people I meet and the way it enables me to stay aware of what’s going on. The latest in this long list of folks are Sandra and Turner duPont who are riders living in the tiny town of Hamilton, between Meeker and Craig on CO 13.

Sandra contacted me initially because they were interested in perhaps doing some advertising on the website. And what might they have to advertise, you would ask? A cabin for riders to stay in while out riding Colorado’s terrific roads. Could they get listed on the Biker-Friendly Motels and Hotels page and what might my ad rates be? And by the way, if we should ever get up that way, would we like to stay a night as their guest, just so as to really see what they have to offer?

As it turned out, Judy and I were planning a trip right up that way in just two weeks. We’d be happy to take you up on your offer. Is the cabin free on this date?

It was and the arrangements were made.

Sandra gave me directions to their house and said we should come there and they would lead us to the cabin. I Google Earthed the area and realized that when I split off from the OFMC to do some dirt last summer I ended up coming right past their house on my way to rejoin the guys in Meeker. That would be a fun fact to share with them.

So we headed out, stopped for dinner in Steamboat at a terrific place that Sandra had recommended, and found their house on the Williams Fork River. We were warmly greeted and soon made our way into their spacious garage where there were, among other things, half a dozen motorcycles. There was a KLR 650, a couple other dirt bikes, an old BMW, a KTM, and even a V-Max. And this was the thing that made what they’re offering special: Any riders staying at their cabin are welcome to use this fully equipped garage to do any work needing to be done on their bikes. With the exception of changing tires–Turner told me he does not have that one piece of equipment. How many other places have you stayed when traveling that offers that option?

So then we made our way over to the cabin. I should say “cabin.” Because this is nobody’s image of a cabin. It’s a two-story log structure that is thoroughly modern and beautiful. It also sits along the Williams Fork and activities available include hiking, fishing, floating, and just general relaxation in a peaceful, idyllic spot.

The concept, as Turner explained, was that they had lately seen a proliferation of adventure bikers going by and thought it would be a good niche to offer these bikers after they’ve been out on the trails and living in tents some place nice to rest up, clean up, and perhaps do some bike maintenance. And now it has become a reality. The place sleeps six but I suspect you could get more people comfortable if you have bags and pads.

We loved the place, and we also liked Sandra and Turner very much. As I said, I meet the nicest people via this website. So yes, this is a shameless plug. I suspect you would like it, too, and if you’re ever up that way needing a place to stay, here you go. You’re welcome.

Biker Quote for Today

Life is too short for traffic.

A Biker-Friendly Motel I Can’t Recommend

Thursday, August 11th, 2011

The OFMC headed out on our annual summer trip recently and this year we stayed mostly in Colorado. Whenever we’re in Colorado I always have my thoughts focused on additional information I can pick up to add to the website. One major category of interest is my Biker-Friendly Motels and Hotels page.

A view from on top of Grand MesaI’m always divided on what to include on that page. Should I only list places that I would recommend? Or should I list any place I have information about and spell out the bad with the good? After all, warning someone away from a bad place is at least as helpful as pointing them to a good place.

That dilemma arose on this last trip because of a bad experience we had in Gunnison, at the Super 8. Now, the Super 8 in Gunnison seems to do very good business with bikers. There were 6 of us there and there were 31 with another group, as well as several other smaller groups. And when we were checking in the lady at the desk made a point to offer us rags to use to clean our bikes. All in all I would have to classify them as biker-friendly.

In our case, though, they were not guest-friendly. I’ll just lay the thing out chronologically.

We make our plans for the trip well in advance, so it was several months ago that I called to arrange for one room with three beds and another with two beds. I spoke to some guy who spoke clear, normal English. Then one of our guys decided he would not be with us in Gunnison so I called back to change that to one room with three beds plus a rollaway. The woman I spoke to was not a native English speaker and communicating with her was hard but we got the job done.

Then, a few days before we were set to leave, I was told two more guys would be with us in Gunnison after all, so I called and arranged for a second room with two beds. Again I got the woman who I had trouble communicating with but we got it handled.

On the day we were headed to Gunnison we discussed the arrangements and someone suggested that maybe we should just switch to three rooms with two beds each so no one would need to sleep on a rollaway. We knew it would cost a bit more but it sounded like a good idea. So when we got there I asked if that would be possible, but it was the same woman I had spoken with on the phone and if anything, communicating face to face was harder than on the phone. Beyond getting the absolute basics nailed down I gave up trying to understand anything else she was telling me.

Well, it turned out that the other things she was telling me were that since we wanted to make this change she would need to just delete our previous reservation for one of the rooms and create a new reservation for the two. And apparently the prices had gone up in the interim and we would have to pay the higher price. When we’re on the trip we each pay for rooms and even it out in the end, so I had already paid for one and left the desk when this came to Bill’s attention. He argued that that was inappropriate but she wouldn’t budge. We suspect, frankly, that they use corporate Super 8 software and she just didn’t know how to override its defaults, so she did the only thing she could do, which was to cancel and rebook.

So here we were at the Super 8 paying, with tax, $108 for one room and $135 apiece for two other, identical rooms. Now, I don’t know about you, but $135 for a room at the Super 8 strikes me as pretty dang pricey. Especially when there was another motel right next door with vacancies running, per their website, $45 to $110 per night. Bill went ahead and paid but none of us were happy about it. Of course if we had just canceled it all and gone next door they could have stuck us with the late cancellation fee.

And then later we noticed they had a sign out front that said “Special Walk-In Rates.” So like, $135 a night is less–or is it more–than their normal rate? We did qualify for the walk-in rate, didn’t we?

I hoped the next morning to find someone else at the desk who I could talk with who spoke better English but no dice. Same woman. I mean, she personally was a very nice person, smiling and friendly, but charging us the higher price just seems wrong. Add to that the fact that there were comparable but cheaper places close at hand, I can only conclude that there is no reason to stay at the Super 8 in Gunnison. Even if they are biker-friendly.

Recent from National Motorcycle Examiner
Second Hoka Hey Motorcycle Challenge has supporters, challengers

Biker Quote for Today

My soon-to-be EX-wife knows my ’75 750F has been around MUCH longer than she has and understands this (scratch that) DOESN’T HAVE A CLUE.

A Good Stop to Consider on the Colorado Motorcycle Tour

Monday, July 11th, 2011

Sparky and Rocky at Nine Mile Guest Ranch

A little over a year ago I got an email from Sparky Pappas asking about being included in my list of Biker-Friendly Motels and Hotels on the website. She added that “if you’re interested, we would give you a complimentary one-night stay so you can check us out and – we hope – add us to your listing.”

I replied that I would be happy to add them to the listing, that it’s offered as a service to the visitors to the site and I’m happy to add anyone who is actively seeking motorcyclists as guests. And I did add them, the Nine Mile Guest Ranch, to the listing.

Fast forward a year, and Judy and I were planning to be out that way this past weekend. I emailed Sparky to ask if the offer still stood. It did and we dropped by.

One of the key things that Sparky and Rocky (in the photo, above) have to offer that our group looks for in accommodations is the larger, group sort of rooms. If we can get a room or suite that has five beds we’re taking it. Dividing the whole group up by twos is a lot more expensive. At Nine Mile there are four cabins with a total of 13 beds. We have eight going on our trip in a couple weeks and two of those cabins could handle us all. The rates are $75 per night for two, plus an additional $15 for each extra person, so that would come to $26 per person for us. You’ll have a hard time doing better than that.

Plus, the place is beautiful. It’s north of Meeker about 9 miles on CO 13, headed toward Craig. It’s quiet, the cabins are clean and homey, and the quiet is amazing. You won’t get plush or luxury here but the bed we slept on was great. We had stayed the night before at the Sheraton in Steamboat Springs and I liked this bed better.

You will need to figure on running into Meeker for dinner, or else bring something that doesn’t require cooking beyond the microwave. There is a barbecue grill, however, so you can use that. And there are refrigerators.

One other thing you’ll want to be aware of is that Sparky and Rocky don’t take credit cards. Plan accordingly. And don’t depend on your GPS to help you find the place. I looked on Google Maps and it showed the location about four miles further north than it really is. Sparky told me of a group of bikers who said they were on their way and she watched as they rode on past, then back the other way, and they finally called to ask “Where are you?” GPS is wrong.

So there you go. We liked the place and would definitely stay there again. If your group is heading out that way and you’re looking for a place to bed down for the night you could do a lot worse than the Nine Mile Guest Ranch.

Recent from National Motorcycle Examiner
Taking a spin on a Triumph Tiger 800

Biker Quote for Today

We all share a tacit understanding that houses are just a support system for riding motorcycles. — Peter Egan

Striking It Lucky in Casper, WY

Monday, August 16th, 2010

I slept last night in a good hotel. I went shopping today for jewels.
–Joni Mitchell

Credits to Joni, I did sleep last night in a good hotel, though I did not go shopping today for jewels. Fact is, I found a jewel last night when I rolled into Casper, WY.

I had been in Sturgis for four days for the rally, and then went to Yellowstone to meet up with my wife and her family for a family get-together. I headed home to Denver yesterday, not knowing what my route would be, where I would stop for the night, or whether I just might go all the way home, about 600 miles.

my room at the Sand and Sage Motel in CasperPulling into Casper, a bit more than halfway home, I hit a Starbucks to use their WiFi. I hoped there might be a Motorcycle Travel Network person close who could put me up for the night, but checking the MTN site I found there are no members in Wyoming at all. I also thought about going on to Wheatland and staying there, but I knew there were only two motels there and a quick check showed that they were both way out of my price range.

So it was going to be Casper or all the way home, another five hours of riding. And as far as I was concerned it was going to depend on price. If I could find a decently priced motel I’d stay in Casper.

Coming into town on the old U.S. 20, I figured I’d find some old (read: cheap) motels. Just before I reached the river and the bridge that takes you into downtown I saw a sign a block off the highway for the Sage and Sand Motel (901 W Yellowstone Hwy, Casper, WY 82601).

Now, this caught my attention because we have stayed at the Sage and Sand Motel in Saratoga, WY, many times. Were they connected? No they weren’t, the manager said, and he was asking $50 plus tax for a night. That was beyond my limit so I thanked him and turned to go. Making some money is better than making no money, however, so he offered me a price reduction and I checked in.

But before all this, he had showed me the room. I was blown away. This is a nondescript older motel in an industrial area and the room was beautifully decorated. (See the picture.) Underneath the shabby exterior, this was a classy place. So when he dropped the price I was ready to go for it. And for the first night in eight, I slept in a bed, rather than on an air mattress. Nice.

Recent from National Motorcycle Examiner
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Biker Quote for Today

For some there is therapy; for the rest of us there are motorcycles.

Motorcycle Travel Network Offers Touring Alternative

Thursday, January 28th, 2010

Imagine if you had a large network of contacts all around the country, so you could travel on your motorcycle and have a place to stay the night pretty much everywhere you went.

Motorcycle Travel Net logoWell, you can. I don’t know why I only just learned about this but that’s exactly what the Motorcycle Travel Network (MTN) is all about.Through a membership in the MTN you have the ability to locate people where you’re headed and arrange to stay at their homes, rather than getting a motel. You also can provide accommodations for other motorcycle travelers and receive a small compensation for putting them up at your own home.

Of course, the best part of this has to be that you get to meet and make friends with other people who share your interests. I’m very interested in learning more about this, and when I do I’ll pass along what I’ve learned.

The way it works is that you pay $30 a year to join for one year, or $45 for two years, or $90 for five years. Then when you stay at someone’s home you pay them a gratuity of $15 for one person per day, or $20 for two people per day.

Here’s a bit of what the MTN has to say on its site.

The goal of MTN is for motorcycle enthusiasts to share their knowledge, experiences and stories with each other in a warm friendly and comfortable environment, namely, in a member’s home. We want to help insure that as you travel you will be staying with people that share your enthusiasm for motorcycles and travel. When you stay with MTN hosts you will be staying with “local experts” on where to ride, where to eat, sites to see or where to get mechanical service. Likewise you will be staying with someone who is interested in hearing about your riding adventures, and sharing their own.

They seem to have this thing pretty well worked out; check the site for a lot of info on how it all works. And if you have any experience with this network I’d love to have your comments. Thanks.

Recent from National Motorcycle Examiner
Victory Motorcycles offers road trip for 10

Biker Quote for Today

I would rather wake up in the middle of nowhere than in any city on earth. — Steve McQueen

Motorcycle Camping: The Ultimate in Low-Cost Travel

Wednesday, September 17th, 2008

Are you a camper? Is sleeping on the ground in a tent something you like to do? I know that for a lot of people the answer is no. Heck, even for the guys I’ve gone camping with for 30 years the answer lately is no.

That’s really too bad because motorcycle camping is a great, and incredibly inexpensive way to do some terrific traveling. It also allows you to be more flexible in your trip. With hotels and motels you usually need to have a reservation, which locks you in.

In the earlier days of the OFMC we didn’t plan. Before we left we picked a direction to head and we took off. Then we would just go until we decided to stop. Or we’d go in this direction until we decided to go in that direction. Two things made this possible: there were only three of us and we all carried tents, sleeping bags, and foam pads or air mattresses. On more than one occasion that gear was a life saver when we rolled into some town late at night and found no room at the inn. There’s always some place to set up your tent.

And it’s not like you need a lot of gear. We never carried things like stoves or cooking implements. We would just eat in town before riding on to the camping site we chose, or, if close enough, we would set up camp and ride back in for dinner. Then in the morning we’d get up in a pretty quick manner, load up, and head into town for that cup of coffee we all had foremost in our minds.

Some people do carry more than we did. I know some folks on the big rigs have room for cooking gear. And then there are people like Rider magazine’s Clement Salvadori who likes to travel alone and pull off somewhere in the wild and drink wine with his campfire dinner. Clem really knows how to do motorcycle camping.

If you’re even remotely interested in camping on your bike you really ought to give it a whirl. I’ve made a point on the website to help anyone so inclined to find good motorcycle-accessible campgrounds. There are a lot of campgrounds in Colorado that are not motorcycle-accessible and they’re not included. If I’ve included it you can be assured that a campground is accessible on two wheels. There’s no better way to really experience Colorado.

Biker Quote for Today

The best alarm clock is sunshine on chrome.

Nice, Out-of-the-Way Place to Stay While Touring Colorado

Monday, September 18th, 2006

We had a family gathering recently at a beautiful spot and I figured if you’re coming to Colorado on vacation you might want to know about this place. Or you may live in Colorado as we do and you’re interested in a new getaway spot. The place is Columbine.

So where the heck is Columbine? Near Steamboat Springs is the short answer. More specifically, you take Elk River Road (County Road 129) north from the west end of Steamboat and wind through some gorgeous country up through Clark to the Hahn’s Peak area. It’s good pavement all the way to the little town of Columbine, where the pavement ends. If you keep going you’ll come out at Savery, WY.

There’s not much at Columbine, which is a good thing. What there is is a little store and a bunch of cabins and you can rent one or all of the cabins depending on the size of your group. They range from primitive, with toilets over there to modern with kitchens, bathrooms, and everything else. Except televisions, which is a good thing, too. Here’s their website so you can check the place out.

There’s a lot to do around Columbine. Two state parks are just minutes away, Steamboat Lake State Park and Pearl Lake State Park, and you can hike to the top of Hahn’s Peak. Or you can ride 30 minutes in and hit Steamboat Springs for dinner and whatever else you fancy. Just be on the look-out for deer as you make the evening ride back to Columbine.

For what it’s worth, this is a totally unsolicited, unpaid recommendation. We liked the place and I think you will, too.