This post was kindly contributed by The Canadian Dirtbags.
I desperately want to avoid being labeled as “that guy,” the guy who talked about doing it but seems to have every excuse in the book not to do it. Nevertheless, here I sit idle inside my residence seeking refuge from the cold November rain while 20 meters away 3 motorcycles impatiently await their repair. I stare longingly across an expanse of soggy green grass, a symbolic chasm of apathy separating me from my bastion of manhood; the motorcycle shed. Suddenly, I find myself rudely awoken from a peaceful daydream with a pang of guilt, the knowledge that I am quickly running out of time to get everything organized for a motorcycle adventure ride of epic proportions. Procrastination, it is the harbinger of many well-intentioned but unridden motorcycle adventures. Simply put, not the best personality trait to be afflicted with when you are 10 months away from embarking on an extensive motorcycle trip from Vancouver, Canada to Ushuaia, Argentina. At a time when I should be excited and motivated, I find myself to be quite apprehensive and reluctant about what exactly I have committed myself to. In addition, I don’t want a word of this uneasiness to reach a potentially fragile travel partner who may be having his own second thoughts about this whole damn trip thing.
At this point in time, I was certainly hoping to be more organized and to have accomplished considerably more of the preparations that were earlier recognized and documented in our ambitious trip manifesto. Over the last 2 years a myriad of “must do and necessary evil” lists have been written, discussed, and continually edited. All this list-making, and the lingering debates have embedded the trip so deeply into our psyches that, at least on paper, our trip seems an inevitability. Although the idea of jumping on a dirt bike loaded with camping gear and riding across multiple continents was bantered about for 20 years, it was only recently that two friends presented each other with an ultimatum aimed at bringing the trip closer to fruition. Solidified just over 2 years ago by a fateful handshake and a lager fueled bravado, the trip has been viewed as a fait accompli, that is up until now.
Over the past 24 months we have endeavored to get things done and move forward with all the preparation and work necessary for a successful extended 6-month motorcycle trip. However, what we are just beginning to realize is that we are very good at making lists and talking but not so good at getting things accomplished. At this point in the game, the only ones held responsible for what has and hasn’t been done, is us. I presume this arising angst is all just part of the experience, just some of the unavoidable baggage that goes along with organizing and committing to something like this.
What emerged as a proposal, an idea built on speculative aspirations of traveling and adventure via motorcycle has slowly evolved and pushed two riders closer to their ultimate goal: to get on their bikes and just ride wherever they want for 6 months. It has been a long process that at times has left us doubting whether this trip would ever materialize. We only recently reached that defining moment where we both realized “holy shit, we have committed to something big and we are nearing the point of no turning back.” As our departure date quickly approaches, we still face many obstacles, but it is comforting to know we have successfully negotiated many of the boulders that line the rock garden of broken rides. Here are some of the things we have done to avoid becoming another casualty coldly cast onto the ever growing pile of unridden adventure rides.
One of my first priorities was to find an adept and compatible travel partner and to nail down the trip logistics as far as securing a mutually agreeable trip timeline and a prospective route. This, in my mind, was a vital initial step in bringing our trip closer to becoming a reality. It wasn’t until this happened that I began to think wow this may actually happen. Travel partners can be your biggest asset or your biggest ass, so it makes sense to choose wisely. My rationale behind choosing a compatible partner centers not on the days when everything is rainbows and sunshine but, on those days where everything is the shits. Those days when it’s pouring rain, you’re wet, cold, hungry and your tired from being in the saddle for 14 hours. It’s basic human nature: “misery loves company” so I chose a close friend to share all that good stuff with. You’re welcome Canadian Dirtbag! Secure a good partner and trip itinerary as early as possible.
Another one of our initial priorities was to secure the time needed to do this trip. Six months away from work, family, and everyday life is a substantial undertaking, so we figured it would be imperative to manage this as early as possible. I concentrated my efforts on two important bosses: the one at work and one at home. Luckily, I have strategically garnered the support of my wife through some creative bribery- a side trip for her to one or two of the more exotic locations along our route: sound advice also passed onto the Canadian DirtBag. However, when it comes to my boss at work, bribery or blackmail was not an option. There are no naked or incriminating pictures of my supervisor to be found anywhere on the internet. It’s not all bad news though. I have been able to get the first 3 months away from work covered through various means. Work coverage for January, February, and March is another story and a situation I am still working to remedy. Do whatever you can and find the time to travel.
ADV trips cost money and you must set a budget and attain funds that address the nature and duration of your journey. We set the total budget for our trip at a modest $40,000 per person all in: equipment, accommodation, food, daily expenditures, contingencies etc.etc. We wanted a budget that was realistic and reasonable, a budget that falls somewhere between shoestring and RedBull. We have dedicated half the funds to equipment and the other half to our day to day travel expenses and needs. I am not sure how reasonable these numbers are but that is what we are going with. We do plan on being as self-reliant as possible regarding food, accommodation and other travel expenses to lower costs. Currently, I continue to personally beg, borrow, steal, and set aside funds whenever possible. I also have 3 motorcycles that I am prepared to sell resulting in an additional and significant sum of money. Despite these and other conscientious fund-raising efforts over the last 2 years I still anticipate being well short of the money budgeted to do this trip. Most of us simply don’t have the financial means at our disposal to finance a trip of this nature. I never expected to raise the whole amount that was budgeted, so instead I have accepted the fact that I will have to borrow money to do this trip and I am okay with that. We all wish we had more money but who doesn’t. Assign a budget that will address your trip needs, do your best to raise funds and be prepared to borrow money if you have to.
Anticipating some long and torturous days on the bike is an impetus behind prioritizing physical fitness and personal health for each rider. I set personal goals to increase my overall fitness levels and to lose 20-30 lbs of body weight. Not quite there yet but I continue to ride anything on 2 wheels in an attempt to meet the above objectives. Be it road bike, mountain bike or, in particular, motorbike I have consistently made an effort to increase overall riding fitness. Thanks to all the hard work from the dedicated members of the Blue Mountain Motorcycle Club, I have one of the best locations on the planet just 15 minutes from my house where I am able to hone my off-road riding skills. In addition to time on the bike, I have agreed to a comprehensive physical examination by my personal physician to confirm my suitability for the challenges that lay ahead. However fit or prepared you think you are, it doesn’t hurt to be even fitter and better prepared physically.
With a plan to be as self-reliant as possible it makes sense to be well equipped. No one wants to be uncomfortable and we definitely want to be as prepared as possible for the unforeseen. Easier said than done, especially when considering the desire to keep costs within budget. This is one area proving to be a little more expensive and more involved than anticipated. We originally thought we could rely on equipment used in the past for shorter trips to remote locations throughout British Columbia, Canada. However, the fact is that much of our existing equipment just isn’t adaptable to the wide range of conditions that will present while riding almost every climatic zone and topographical challenge earth has to offer. In particular, the two areas where we see the biggest need for upgrading is with our choice of motorcycle and also our selection of navigation and communication equipment. The timing for bike purchase is January/ February 2020 which will allow us 7 months to outfit and test the bikes before heading out on the road. Research is still ongoing as to what navigation and communication devices would best serve our needs, so if you have any solid intel on that send it.
We have approximately 10 months until our departure date and there seems to be an overwhelming amount of preparation and planning still required. The next milestone I eagerly await is the purchase of the motorbikes. This major purchase will further cement our obligation and commitment to making the trip a reality. We look forward to providing additional updates to ADVrider on the lead-up to this adventure ride and once the trip commences additional up-to-date ride reports as we travel southward. Keep’er pinned eh try not to be “that guy.” Until next time, The Canadian Dirtbags.