What is Adventure Motorcycling, and How Can I Do It?
Firstly, while some bikes are marketed as 'adventure' bikes, they aren't always the best for adventure motorcycling. Most AM (Adventure Motorcycling) enthusiasts care more about the experience than the vehicle, and while adventure bikes are sometimes more suited to the task of off-roading, you can have a great adventure experience on whatever bike you happen to own. However, if you are serious about getting off the beaten track, or don't think your current bike is up for the task, you can always we buy any bike for money towards a shiny new adventure motorcycle.
With that out of the way, let's get into what you might expect as an adventure motorcyclist! (Shortened from here on to AM).
AM is basically about travelling long distances (often through multiple countries) on your bike, and, as Carson Tahoe Moto puts it, 'if the pavement starts to disappear, it doesn't mean the ride has to end'. You can go alone, with a passenger, or with a group of riders. You can take camping gear with you or book hotels along the way. You can scrupulously plan every detail of the trip or make it up as you go. And it can last for as long as you want- the options are endless. This really is an adventure in that it can take you anywhere, and be different every time. Some people even make this their lifestyle, working part time wherever they end up, or distance working on a laptop when they stop. Some even save up for years to take a 6 month break from their lives with nothing to worry about. If you're interested in trying AM, I'd recommend taking some time to write down your expectations and resources you'll need. For example, if you choose to go camping you'll need a lot of gear to support yourself and it'll all have to fit in your panniers. And there are different laws about travelling like this as you move through countries, so you'll need to wise up on that too.
I realise that research takes the joy out of a thing for some people, but you'll have a much better time out there if you're confident about what you're doing. And for those of you out there who can't get enough of research (I know that for me it's half the joy of it), you might want to try creating a Pinterest board, making lists or pin-pointing a paper map with your destinations. There are also some books available specifically about AM which could answer any specific questions.
If you do go with a group, make sure you meet up and discuss the trip face to face (if possible) before setting off, to minimise any arguments that might follow as no one brought a towel, or because someone wasn't told they would be going off road. And if you or someone in your group is new to riding, you absolutely need get them/yourself comfortable and confident on the road. Can you imagine the horror of setting off and looking in your mirror to see one person hasn't even figured out how to start their bike?
Another good thing to do before you start AM is to up your skills- be ready for anything. Learn how to cope with different weather conditions (Tip: RainX for rain, earplugs for high speed in the wind), how to make your journey more comfortable, and how to fix minor issues and maintain your bike. Learning basic first aid and taking a first aid kit is common sense no matter the situation, but if you know for a fact that you'll be careening through mud around corners at high speeds, there's no excuse for forgetting it. I promise all this prep won't take away the spontaneity of your trip- in fact, it will leave you with no worries on your mind other than focusing on the road.
To sum up, AM can be a one afternoon rush, a week's holiday, or a lifestyle choice. It's an incredibly flexible form of travel and can renew your excitement about riding- perhaps even reinvigorate your life. With the right knowledge and gear you can have a very successful and personal adventure, without spending hundreds on plane tickets and all the trappings of the usual holiday.
If you have any questions or comments, leave them below and I'll be sure to respond.