This time of year seems to be the hardest to keep my focus going on what the summer months bring. Early in the winter, I start planning my trips for the following spring, summer, and fall. I may be weird, but I enjoy the planning of routes and figuring out the miles between fuel stops and points of interest, calling local motorcycle clubs, motorcycle shops, and businesses to get the dirt on any local trails they don't mind sharing.
This keeps me focused more on what the future has in store for me and less on how crappy the weather can get during a Colorado winter, albeit the winters are fairly mild in Denver compared to those I lived through nestled up next to the Continental Divide at 9000 feet in Winter Park, Colorado. This is my short list of topics most people will tell me keeps them from joining my wife and I out on our trips.
Logistics- The preparation of any trip can become a barrier or even a stopping point for many looking to start the adventure motorcycle or dual-sport lifestyle. It takes time to truly map out and plan a long ride. It takes patience to research the route you are dreaming up. I use Rever to build my routes and download them into my phone and GPS. On average, it takes me about 8 hours to really build a route. I open Rever in one screen on my laptop and Google Earth on another laptop. I inspect the route in detail on Google Earth looking to see if it is truly passable. I search the roads on YouTube to see if anyone else has recorded portions of the route and find in most cases they have. It may seem like a lot of work, but it is worth all the effort.
Challenges- My wife rides with me (on her own bike) and hates the idea of any black-top with speeds over 55 mph. So planning a trip from one side of a state to the other creates its own challenge. I combat that with renting a one-way van or truck from near where we plan to finish a ride, drop my truck and trailer (if out of state) and rent a U-haul. We then head to the starting point (getting any highway driving out of the way), unload the bikes, and make our way back to our vehicle days or even weeks later on those forgotten BLM and USFS roads.
Cost to start- People usually ask me, "How much money does it take to gear up" or "How much does the bike cost." I always have the same answer. If you have the money to buy a top-of-the-line bike and gear, go for it. And if you don't, then be willing to make adjustments without compromising. By that, I mean, don't hold yourself at the level of social expectation only your wealthier friends can live up to. Life out there in the backcountry, off the beaten path, doesn't go better if you're riding $25,000 worth of bike and gear; in fact, it hurts more when you dump that sweet machine and beat it up.
Motorcycles- My wife rides the Chinese Zongshen RX3 250, which is as affordable as you can get for a fully equipped bike. Yes, it lacks on power, yes, it's made in China, but she is as happy as she can be when we're out adventuring. She tends to tip over a lot so the dings, dents, and scratches give her bike character, as she would put it. I ride a Honda Africa Twin that is my dream bike. I fell in love with the AT back in the '90s. It, of course, cost a bit more than the KLRs of the world and is less than the KTMs and BMWs. I bought it for its durability, reliability, and the fact that it is a proven off-road machine. It could use some help in the suspension system, though. All in all, it gets me where I need to go with ease on every terrain.
Communication- We use the Sena 20s Bluetooth comms on our rides. They offer great quality and durability while out in the wild woods. Communication with each other is very important to us. We chat about life, the scenery, how our bikes are running, and once in a while, we simply argue about why it takes me so much time to set up the camera or drone to capture the moment all through the com in a helmet, which is important , just in case she throws a rock at my head.
So when you get the idea to start a life of roads less traveled, be willing to spend the time to buy the bike you feel will fit you best physically, fit you best financially, and make you most happy. If you love what you do and love what you intend to do it on, you can't lose. Trust me on this: any extra effort put into the making of an adventure is paid back tenfold as long as you never hold yourself or the trip to any level of expectation. Adventure is found in the unknown. It is just over the next hill or at the end of a canyon. Adventure is never found on a map, but is always found along the way. It comes in the form of an amazing view, the smell of the sage after a summer rain, and in the emotion we feel as we break free of those stress-filled days at work.
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