I took a big long solo trip back in 2010 that really changed my life. 10,017 miles in 62 days across the country and back. I was 21, with no motorcycle travelling experience whatsoever. I wrote a blog periodically, which I've archived and stored, but I actually discovered ADVrider only part way through the journey and never wrote a real ride report. I have very much enjoyed reading the few that I've had the opportunity to read here, and I hope sharing my experiences will be a blessing to someone out there. Also, I have the selfish desire for the “therapy” of documenting my experience again and getting to re-live it. So, here goes nothing.
I purchased my first road bike in the summer of 2008. A 2007 Suzuki Bandit 1250 with 4500 miles.
My previous bike had been a 98 XR100R, so it was quite the upgrade. I commuted back and forth to work and school on the Bandit and had taken a day trip out to Western NC with some old timer friends. I was the first in my family to own a motorcycle and the idea of traveling on one was a completely foreign concept to them. That was literally the extent of my traveling experience on two wheels prior to this 10,000 mile journey.
My girlfriend, who I eventually married, and I were in Nicaragua when I got the crazy idea to do the trip. Here we are at some point on the trip.
We were living in this dirt floor poor sugar cane village just outside of Chichigalpa, Chinandega working with a non-profit called New Song. Map below.
We’d both taken a semester off from college to go on this adventure. We’d visited annually for 2 weeks at a time since 2007, and I’d been for 10 weeks the year before, but this was our first time together. We were living in community with 5 or 6 other young people and loving life. Here's a shot of our crew with a few visitors. I'm the big bearded guy in the middle.
Here's how we got accounting work done during the 10 weeks we were without power after a transformer blew in the village.
Our group always stopped at this “On The Run” gas station just outside of Leon when we would go there. One day I saw a farkled out KLR650 parked out front with Alberta, Canada plates. Sheepskin seat, ammo can panniers. I was totally mesmerized. I knew what a KLR was but that was the end of my familiarity with the ADV world. Didn’t have the courage to introduce myself to the rider, but it got the wheels turning. If someone happens to recognize the bike PLEASE let me know.
On Feb 2, 2010, we were on our way to the beach on, Las Penitas outside of Leon, where we frequented on our days off. We got to our hostel of choice, Playa Roca, and at some point I remember two guys showing up on KLR650s. These had surfboards mounted to the side on home built racks. One had left from Vegas, the other from somewhere in Canada. They met in Guatemala, and continued on together. They had the racks built somewhere in Central America along the way. In-freakin-spiring. Remember, I didn't know people did this sort of thing. I hadn't discovered ADVrider, and certainly hadn't met anyone who had done anything like these guys. Had the guts to talk to them a little. They were really cool guys, long haired surfer types, and that’s about all I remember. Here's a sunset shot at Playa Roca I took that day.
I remember beginning to plan out a trip later that night. I felt this pull in my soul to do something like that. Get out there, see the world. I already had a bike. I’d met people from all over the country while in Nicaragua that I’d love to visit. I’d never been west of Tennessee. I was young. School didn't start back until August. No family of my own, no mortgage or rent. No better time.
I spoke to one of the short term visitors we had who was from northern California about my idea and he immediately started listing off places I needed to go. That's Steve with his wife Kelly on a hike with us near Granada, Nicaragua.
“I've been all through the northwest on Motorcycle, it’s great. Here are some places you definitely shouldn't miss,” I remember him saying.
It started to come together. I was glued to Google Maps for the next several days. I plotted out a trip counter-clockwise around the whole country and it added up to right around 10,000 miles.
I remember walking over to my best friend’s room and telling him what I was going to do. I showed him the map. He knew about radical adventure – he’d moved to Nicaragua right out of college just a year prior. He thought it was awesome, and offered some input for people we’d met recently that I could stay with scattered across the country. It was coming together.
By the time we left Nicaragua and went back to NC in April I had most everything planned out. What gear I needed to buy and the route I would take. I announced to friends and family what I’d be doing. The old guys with Harleys that I knew told me they wished they’d have done something like that. The women and people my age said I was crazy. Truth be told I loved the fact that I was about to do something nobody I knew would ever dream of doing. I had no idea what I was about to do, though.