Yes, you read that correctly – it is, in fact, motelorcyclist.
Andrew Beattie, owner of the Motelorcycle Chronicles and author of Sleeping Around in America, tours the open road by motorcycle and is a vintage motel enthusiast. Given the lengthy history and disappearance of motels across America, we were immediately drawn to how Andrew chronicles one of America’s most authentic niche industries.
FT: What is your favorite moment from touring by bike?
AB: I can’t say there is a single moment. Every time I go out on my motorcycle it is like I’m reliving the freedom of my first two wheeled bicycle. Your senses are hyper tuned to all the elements around you – including the potential dangers. However if I had to choose one it was an early morning departure coming out of Tahoe approx 7,000 ft of elevation where I descended through a continuous snake of switchbacks to the desert below in Nevada. Because there was no traffic I was able to cut the corners on my way down like a slalom skier without any traffic to slow me down. That was a high!
FT: What has been the worst moment?
AB: From my Sleeping Around in America tour it would have to be riding from Manns Choice PA to Virginia Beach. I was heading down the interstate on a hot morning, cruising comfortably at 70mph when a lady came racing up beside me and was frantically trying to get my attention while pointing at the back of my bike. I looked behind me to see my panier was open and it’s contents gone. Inside had been all my electronic equipment – laptop, cameras, recording equipment, charging cables and my journal. I pulled over as soon as I could – backtracked thirty miles and retraced my steps in hopes that I could find it. Well I did. But the remains of my electronic gear were strewn a full quarter mile along the highway. I called that chapter Road Kill in my new book.
FT: What has been your most memorable motel that you have stayed at and why?
AB: On the favoured side I get this question a lot. The truth is there were 33 of the 51 motels on my journey that I characterize as true destination experience motels. And each offers something different making them really fun! Of the balance – these were standard experience motels that try and compete with the branded chains. Again it’s hard to pick one more memorable than the other – especially here because like chain hotels they have a tendency to blend into one.
FT: I realize this is a softball of a question for you, but we have to ask – what is your favorite mode of transportation and why?
AB: Clearly by motorcycle for all the reasons I mentioned above. However later this year Amanda and I are to be married and our honeymoon is a return crossing from Southampton to NYC on the Queen Mary 2. I am looking forward to the luxury, formal balls and dancing that we will experience on board this ship. I anticipate it will be tied with motelorcycling as my next favourite mode of transport.
FT: What is on your bucket list for motorcycle trips?
AB: For motorcycle journeys, I have three. First is to ride up to Tuk – the road to Tuk opened for the first time a couple of years ago and I am excited to travel up to the Arctic circle. I plan on making that journey in June 2021. For the other two my dates aren’t set yet. However I am in the very early stages of planning a follow up tour to Sleeping Around in America with a circumnavigation of Australia. Independent motels are very popular there but like the US they are endangered and in fear of extinction due to development. And finally to tour Chile and just ride from Viña Del Mar to Mendoza in Argentina. I grew up in Santiago as a teenager so I want to see how it is today – by bike!
FT: What is on your non-motorcycle trip bucket list?
AB: And non motorcycle travel – there are so many places in this world my list is as long as my arm and I can’t begin to list them.
FT: Has travel insurance ever helped you out during your travels?
AB: Well it has frustrated me. Fortunately I have never needed the medical insurance that I purchase. But the roadside insurance I did purchase turned out to be a bust when I blew a flat in South Carolina. I ended up having to pay out of pocket on what should have been covered 100 per cent. Fortunately I had the means to do so. But for a variety of reasons not everyone does and I would hate to think what I would have done.
FT: You used to work more heavily in the travel industry, what was the catalyst behind getting more into the journalism/blogging side of things?
AB: In the hospitality industry you get to meet a lot of people from all walks of life. And I like meeting people, learning their stories and building connections. I had risen to some senior executive roles and felt there was nothing left for me to accomplish- except that the stories of place and people that I uncovered over the years were fun and fascinating and needed to be told. Meeting new people and learning new things about each other with an open mind is what brings humanity together. So I set out to uncover and retell these stories. In each, I try to sprinkle them with fun facts that hopefully spurns interest in my readers to get out and experience new travel destinations for themselves. And besides it is way more fun to be a guest!