So You Want to ADV: What to Expect as a New ADVRider

Adventure riding has a unique and, let's face it, romantic appeal. Picture yourself astride a bike that can go anywhere, packed with your camping essentials and tool kit, as you make your way to a far off village filled with mysterious people willing to share their unique culture. No idea how long you will stay, who you will meet, or where you will go next. Thoughts of traveling the world in search of adventure leave many of us with a similar daydream.

For most of us, quitting your job and selling all of your possessions to travel the globe by motorcycle seems a bit extreme. Don’t let that discourage you though, there is still plenty of adventure to be had in your own backyard. Most “ADV riders” are simply weekend warriors at best. We plan for months to go ride in the woods for 3 days with our friends, and wake up Monday morning tired and sore with a new list of parts to order before the next get together. Some of us, though, are lucky enough to venture out on short excursions to ride in other parts of the world or get the chance to do a few long journeys in between the happenings of life.

Finding a nice balance is something that we are all trying to achieve. No matter what compels you to join the ADV community, we’re happy you’re here. There are many resources available to help new riders find their way, and lucky for you we don’t mind sharing some of our secrets too.

Here are a few things you can expect as you enter the ADV riding world:

You will make some of your best lifelong friends.

The ADV community is a unique niche of motorcyclists. Most of us are decently responsible, fun to hang around, and the best part is you don’t have to “explain yourself” to us. We completely understand why you would want to venture off the highway on your 500lb machine to find far off camping spots that remain untouched by most. Trust me, you aren’t as crazy as your family says you are. Stick around long enough, and you will end up with life long friends all over the country, maybe even all over the world.

You will meet some of the most incredible people

If you do get the opportunity to travel from your motorcycle, you will get to meet folks you never would have before. Try riding your adventure bike up to a rural fuel station in South America without someone stopping to ask you questions. Speaking to people from various walks of life and different cultures is something you should never pass up. Every person you meet will leave a lasting impression on you, and you are leaving those impressions on the others as well. While it is best to learn the local language, it is not always feasible to become fluent before a trip. Do not fear those language barriers, you would be amazed at what a smile and some friendly hand gestures can do. I once shared a meal in a park with a complete stranger - neither of us speaking the same language. In the hour I spent communicating with this man, and helping him eat his lunch, I gained a greater appreciation for the courtesy, patience, and beautiful life of others. It is moments like this that make adventure riding really worth it.

You will see spectacular places.

As you travel you will see beautiful landscapes, bright and bustling cities, and small rural villages. Even if you never venture out of your home country, there is a lot to explore that the average person does not get to experience. The world has much to offer in the way of beauty, and when you travel by motorcycle you are not just seeing these places but feeling them, smelling them, and hearing them. It is a completely immersive experience that one does not get when traveling by car.

Sometimes you will NOT be comfortable.

Don’t let the fantasies lead you to false security, ADV riding is NOT always comfortable. Sometimes you have to make camp in the pouring rain, or eat your last granola bar for dinner. You will eventually have a flat tire on the trail, get caught out when the temperature drops, or have 100 miles left to tackle before the sun goes down. You might have a more serious mechanical malfunction in the middle of nowhere, sprain your ankle but have to continue on riding, or get hopelessly lost. You might spend 2 days waiting at a border crossing, or get stopped by police in a country which you do not speak the language. All motorcyclists at some point or another will suffer from chapped lips, dry skin, monkey butt, and blisters. All of these experiences only make you appreciate the wonderful moments you do experience; like the sun setting over ocean after a long day fighting the bike in the sand, or the feeling when you sit down to a delicious meal prepared by a local family. You will NOT always be comfortable, but it is completely worth It is physically demanding.

Riding any motorcycle takes at least a minimal degree of physical fitness to properly operate the controls. Riding a motorcycle off-road takes that up about 10 levels. Being able to manage several hundred pounds of machine off the beaten path is a bit more exhausting than some people think. You will drop your bike. You will have to pick it up. Sometimes that will happen several times in a day. Tackling dirt, rocks, sand, and mud all take different riding skill sets and will require varying levels of physical fitness. You will be sore at the end of the day, and it takes a while to work up to the point where you’re not. We aren’t just watching Discovery Channel from the couch any longer. Get in the gym, take some yoga classes, and above all else get more saddle time. You will eventually work up your endurance and strength with just a little sweat and persistence.

It changes the way you see the world.

As a product of today’s society, we get caught up in daily routines. Spending hours a day commuting to a job we do not like, so we can live in the house we can’t afford, and drive the latest model car. Working our lives away; and for what? So that the kids can have the latest cell phone in their hand or the most popular name brand clothing otherwise risking humiliation by their peers. Many folks biggest concern is what they want to eat while they sit in front of the TV each night. It seems this has become the American dream. Well here is some valuable advice to help you overcome or avoid becoming one of these brain washed, materialistic types. Sell all the stuff that you don't need, buy a cheap motorcycle, and spend some time exploring on two wheels. Before long, you will realize that many things you thought were important in life actually aren't all that important. As you meet and interact with others from around the country and world, your mentality will begin to change. You will want even less ‘stuff’ and you will start to value the things that are actually important in life; beautiful and generous people, the food you have to eat, the safety that you have on a daily basis, your clean drinking water, not to forget the glorious Earth itself. When you return home from your journeys (no matter how small) you will be a different person. You will be a better person.

Regardless of what brings you to the ADV world - whether it be a passion for adventure or the need to spend a few weekends camping in the woods with your friends - welcome to the family! You are continuing to help our niche of the industry grow, and for that we thank you. Our only requirement is that you leave positive, lasting impressions wherever you go.

Marisa McInturff