Muskogee, OK: Motorcycle City

By Cary Estes on October 3, 2011 at 9:34 pm EST
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They say you should never ask a motorcyclist for directions if you’re in a hurry. You’ll reach your destination, but you’ll probably have to navigate twisty back roads to get there.

Unlike most travelers who simply use the nation’s asphalt arteries to get from point A to B as quickly as possible, motorcycle riders favor the meandering journey. The rural two-lane blacktop is their route of choice, and the curvier the better.

The Muskogee Chamber of Commerce is helping bikers find dream drives throughout eastern Oklahoma with the Motorcycle Ride Guide, a collection of five routes totaling 700 miles. The guide touts the region’s “asphalt rollercoasters” with detailed descriptions of the loops, including historical information and recommended sites to see.

It’s all part of an effort to promote the area as a motorcycle tourism destination, with Muskogee as the hub.

“Bikers enjoy getting out of the traffic of big cities. Muskogee offers the amenities of the bigger cities, without the traffic,” says Chamber President and CEO Sue Harris, who rides motorcycles with her husband. “Bikers can ride out of Muskogee, enjoy the day, and then come back at night for the restaurants and the hotels. We have what they need when they’re not on the bike.”

A Biker-Friendly City

The hills, rivers and forests of the surrounding countryside are what entice bikers to hit the road, but Muskogee is giving them reasons to return to town. Many local businesses have window stickers promoting themselves as “biker-friendly.” This can include anything from special parking areas for motorcycles to shipping discounts for bikers who purchase merchandise they are unable to carry home.

“We’re going to be very biker-friendly when they come here. We’ll help in any way we can,” Harris says. “The Chamber is very open to working with bikers and biker clubs, because we’re riders, too. We know what a great area we have, and we want to share the road with them.”

The Ride Guide

Muskogee native Max Boydstun, the director of the Chamber’s tourism committee and a motorcycle enthusiast, came up with the idea for the Ride Guide in 2008. The Chamber spent more than a year working on the project, and in 2010 the guide became available both online and through printed brochures.

An executive with Citizens Security Bank, Boydstun has ridden every one of the 700 miles depicted in the Guide, enjoying what he calls “knees-in-the-breeze therapy.” He says one of the best routes for weekend visitors is the 50-mile Sunset Tour, which takes riders to Lake Fort Gibson where they can watch the sunset.

“It’s a great little ride when you don’t have a lot of time,” Boydstun says. “Take a picnic and enjoy it.”

For longer rides, Boydstun recommends the 200-mile Winding Stair Journey, which includes a trek along the Talimena Scenic Drive. Boydstun calls it “one of the most spectacular fall foliage routes in Oklahoma.”

All of the Ride Guide routes contain samples of the rolling terrain that Boydstun says is attractive to bikers who live in the flatlands of neighboring states.

“These are the kinds of roads they look for when they go on their weekend rides or vacations,” Boydstun says. “This is paradise for them.”

Find out more on activities in Muskogee, OK.

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Sitting outside my office right now, I can see what looks like a grandpa and his grandkids, little ones, and they’re out here on the pier fishing. And to see that every day makes me feel like we have accomplished something important to Muskogee and to Oklahoma.

Scott Robinson, Port Director for the Port of Muskogee