© 2014, Roadracing World Publishing, Inc.
by Michael Gougis
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They come for the tracks: The opportunity for
non-professional racers to take to the circuits that they see on TV, the
pavement that MotoGP stars pound. Tracks like Phillip Island in Australia, the
Sachsenring in Germany.
They come back because the process of getting to those
tracks turns out to be equally amazing, says Cat MacLeod, General Manager of
Leod Motorcycle Escapes, a motorcycle tour company that combines road and
circuit rides into a single seamless adventure.
"Hearing, 'I came for the track, I had no idea the
roads we were going to be riding were going to be this awesome - I could go
home happy without even doing track time,' is just incredible," MacLeod
says. "It's also great to take people out of the U.S.A. for the first
MacLeod started the company after a couple of decades
working in the powersports industry, the travel industry and spending time on
the track with the California Superbike School and a variety of track days.
"After 20 years, I had too much experience to qualify
as an 'employee' anymore," MacLeod says. "I have a love for the
authentic and a loathing for tourist-trap crap. When one of my German buddies
took me to a track day at Gross Dölln, I was reminded how riders are riders the
world over. So ... I resolved to create a tour that would allow riders to
experience a great track day in a foreign country. It all started with
Sachsenring and the Italian Alps and the possibilities just keep growing with
Spain, Thailand and Australia. Most recently, we are investigating how we could
do Sepang and Malaysia."
The company's tours start with one-day adventures through
the roads of Northern California. The shortest international track tour is a
five-day romp through Thailand with two days at Bira Circuit aboard
track-prepped Kawasaki ER6n 650cc Parallel Twins (basically, a naked version of
the Ninja 650R). The longest is a 12-day blitz through the same region.
are tours through the Italian Alps with track time at the Sachsenring; along
the Australian coast with track time at Phillip Island; and a Spanish tour with
track time at Cartagena Circuit, a course frequently used by international
teams for testing. On most of the international road and track tours, riders
use BMW S1000RR machines on the track and various BMW machines on the road; in
the U.S., riders can chose from a wider variety of machines for differing events.
MacLeod promises one other thing: That the tours aren't
designed for the casual sightseer. "We are there for the ride, not to be
taken on the tourist trail," he says. "You'll ride like a local, eat
like a local and only be taken to sites that a local would want a visitor to
For more information on schedules and other details, visit
the company's website at www.leodescapes.com.