Motorcycle adventure travel is a broad church. Some people need to ride around the globe before they call themselves motorcycle travelers, other just need to make it across that gnarly trail that separates their comfortable home loop of sealed road from the next valley’s. All are entitled to call themselves anything they like, really.
As travelers they are also perfectly entitled to set their own goals. Where do you want to ride, both “to” and “in”? Once again, it’s a personal matter. Is your goal to knock over the run from Alaska to Tierra del Fuego, or would you consider yourself a success if you manage to ride across Australia, down the length of Britain or all of Route 66?
There are endless goals you might set yourself. What about riding the allegedly highest ‘motorcyclable’ road in the world? It’s not the one you think it is, by the way. It’s not even in the same continent. I’ve written a whole post on this subject, and while researching it found that Kardung Lal in not even in the top 10. So you might want to do a little research before you set out.
Is it the TAT that sets your mark for desirable motorcycling achievement, or would you like to traverse the Khyber Pass? Both are entirely possible, but they do require different kinds of preparation, funding… and courage. Or possibly stupidity. Who am I to judge?
Motorcycle travel is an intensely personal kind of endeavor. The same level of courage or simple sang froid might take you out into the Nevada desert, down to the coast of Croatia or up the valleys of the Hindu Kush. There is no absolute scale of bravery or achievement for human beings. I know a bloke who builds his own motorcycles from scratch (although eh cheats every now and then and uses a bought-in carburetor). The bikes run. They are works of art, but perfectly rideable ones. Yet he never rides them anywhere except in an annual parade through his little country town.
He is a chronic introvert; even just rolling down the main street is a major challenge for him. To me, he is as courageous as someone who takes a Vespa across the Gunbarrel Highway in Central Australia. And yes, I know someone who has done that just to stick it up the people who reckon you need all sorts of adventure equipment (and an adventure bike) to cover a thousand or so kilometres of deep sand and no fuel.
To go back to my starting point, adventure motorcycle travel – like all of motorcycling, really – is a broad church. Or it ought to be. There should be room for the young couple I met in Hanmer Springs in New Zealand who had just ridden the somewhat notorious Molesworth Track on a couple of Groms, and had enjoyed it hugely. Just as there should be space for my friend David McGonigal who not only rode a two-stroke across most of Asia without a clutch cable, but managed to persuade the captain of a Russian icebreaker to give him and his BMW tourer a lift to Antarctica so he could justifiable claim to have ridden on every continent of the planet.
Any other claimants for that title out there? I’d be delighted to hear from you.
Where does this all take us? Well, I would love to hear from you about the places you want to visit. It’s difficult or impossible in this time of the coronavirus, but what the hell. Where would you like to go if you could, and where will you go when you can, again? What preparation will it take; will you need to buy a new bike to do it, or will you happily do it on whatever’s in your garage or locked to your carport right now? Will you head off across country and visit Antelope Canyon if you’re American; the Icefield Parkway if you’re Canadian; Cape York if you’re Australian; or North Cape if you live somewhere in Europe?
Or are you perhaps seriously hardcore with a plan to cross the Darien Gap?
I’m not asking this to steer you in any particular direction. I’d just like to know what rings your bell while you’re in this annoying confinement. There are roads you will never know you wanted to ride until you tackle them. I knew I wanted to ride the Khyber Pass before I managed it, but I would never have known that the Jawarhal Tunnel between Jammu and Kashmir was far and away more terrifying, though rather shorter.
I would never even have suspected that Swartberg Pass into the Karoo in South Africa gave access to some of the most exquisite dirt riding in the world over alternately packed and loose sand between vertical cliff faces.
The world is a wondrous place. Which slice of it do you long to explore?