MAD Maps On the Road showcases a road trip as it happens. It’s real people, real trips, in real time.
In our inaugural journey, Mad Maps has teamed up with Cycle World Senior Editor, Gaz Boulanger, as he undertakes more than just a two-week ride from Milwaukee, WI to San Francisco, CA with his son, Henri on two Harley Davidson’s. It’s a chance to form a special bond with his son on an unforgettable two-wheeled sojourn.
Read about Gaz’s motivation for this ride and how his son made him fall in love with motorcycles again in Cycle World.
As anyone who has undertaken a road trip, of the two-wheel or four-wheel variety, can tell you, the journey begins much earlier, in the inglorious and tedious hours plotting routes, researching destinations, and securing lodging. The Boulanger cross-country journey was no different. It began innocently enough in June with an email from Gaz to MAD Maps founder, Jenny Lefferts, saying “We'd love to use some MAD Maps packs to light the way.” Soon after that, the planning stage turned into a bull-session over coffee and MAD Maps, as a general game plan was hatched.
There is an interesting backstory to this specific route, and it perfectly exemplifies our core values. At MAD Maps, we don’t just sell maps; we are in our heart fellow explorers who feel connected to our extended traveling family. In short, we want to celebrate seeking the open road and are dedicated to helping others do the same. To that end, we wholeheartedly encourage our family to help us make the best maps (and experiences) possible by providing suggestions.
As it happens, the final route that Gaz and Henri will take is a prime example of our “It takes a village” ethos in action. For such a long journey, their itinerary crosses through several of our MAD Maps US Road Trip (USRT) series, specifically USRT090 of Michigan and Wisconsin along with USRT060 and USRT050 of the Dakotas, Montana, Wyoming, and Idaho. Our team of local scout riders are actively updating the entire northern region for a NEW release in the spring of 2019. But the maps you see are not just a byproduct of our staff. No, we are wise enough to listen to good advice wherever it comes from, especially when it comes from local riders with years of knowledge. In this case, it was Ed Schiff who reached out to MAD Maps with suggestions for numerous improvements to the routes around Michigan and Wisconsin. Ed is 80 years young and still riding four bikes regularly!
When MAD Maps realized that the Boulanger’s route would be going right through Ed’s backyard, we reached out for some of his expert advice. Ed was gracious enough to fine tune Day 3 of the trip from Madison, WI to La Crosse for the Boulangers so they would transverse the “unglaciated” part of the state that includes lots of exciting hills and curves. Another example and shout out goes to Shannon and Peyton Ewing, another father and son team who met our founder, Jenny Lefferts, at the top of Beartooth Pass, MT. (More on that in a future post.) Shannon was happy to help construct an awesome cruise through Wyoming and Montana. It just goes to show you that MAD Maps are built by a thousand voices.
With the route secure, we asked Gaz and Henri to explore some of the new routes and give us feedback. To enhance the experience and add an interesting element to the trip, MAD Maps reached out to Scout GPS to partner up for the fun. Scout sells American made portable tracking devices that easily mount to your motorcycle and tracks your progress in real time. It even provides a link you can share so others can follow your progress. Gaz and Henri eagerly added this gear to their travel list and have been using it since they started.
As we pick up the story, Boulanger Boys have already laid down some serious miles. They’ve darted across the plains and slid into the Black Hills, made the obligatory tour of Keystone and Mt. Rushmore, and will finish the day in world famous, Sturgis. Their journey into Big Sky country will begin in earnest tomorrow with a flyby of Devil’s Tower National Monument and will follow the route developed by the Ewing’s. Stay tuned as we bring updates throughout the week.
Congratulations to the Boulanger’s for taking the time to form lifelong memories and explore the road together, and a thank you for letting us in on their story and progress. And many thanks to Ed, Shannon, Peyton, and all the other members of the MAD Maps family that makes all of this possible.