Is it too cliche to say, "It's a dirty job, but someone's got to do it?"
Hey, it's the truth. This business started by riding and researching motorcycle routes, and it continues to grow partially due to such efforts. Now in eastern Europe this past week, riding the Dolomites of northern Italy and the Alps of Austria and Slovenia, I'd say RIDE Adventures will have more to offer soon!
Steve Atwill, a Repeat Customer of RIDE Adventures joined me for the first 4-5 days of this research project which was just really just a motorcycle & GPS rental starting in Zagreb, Croatia. We're also doing an actual guided motorcycle tour offered by one of the local operators, but that's down through Bosnia & Herzegovina and Montenegro before circling back to Zagreb.
What a ride though through the Dolomites and Alps though! Unseasonably heavy rains hampered things a bit, but didn't stop us from crossing EU borders without a problem, whizzing along through beautiful valley settings, and staying at, dare I say, some of the "charming" Gastof's typical in this region.
While I'm obviously a proponent of the guided motorcycle tour format, there's something to be said about the self-guided experiences we offer as well. In this central/eastern European region, you can have so much fun if you just arrange good bike (I'm riding the BMW R1200GS,) a Garmin Zumo or similar GPS, and set the "Avoidances" to keep you off main Interstates, Highways, and Toll-Roads. These tiny villages in Austria and Slovenia are just picture-perfect, with a "Gasthaus" or Bed & Breakfast-type option available on nearly every road. It's really easy to travel here, guided or self-guided.
A real highlight (fortunately as the weather cleared for us a bit was the "Nockalm Road" or "Nockalmstrasse" named for the Nockbergs, or uniquely shaped small mountains that line the National Park here. Like they say, it's motorcycle paradise! There's a small fee of about 10 Euros to enter the 34km stretch of twisties, and as such, we could tell some riders were essentially "lapping it" by going back and forth without leaving the road. It never gets terribly high in altitude, or even in the busy season here did the road seem over-packed. Well, if it was packed with anything, it was great scenery and fun twisties.
More on this region soon....we'll have self-guided motorcycle trip or guided tour service to offer you soon. Actually started this blog post a few days ago back in Croatia, and now we're in Sarajevo, Bosnia. What a site, and city rich with history!
Another incredible Southern Patagonia season has just about come to an end, and with a smile, our list of happy customers has grown quite a bit more. Things couldn't be better for RIDE Adventures, now in its 4th year of operation.
Please note, I said "Southern Patagonia." There's still some time to enjoy the Northern Patagonia region though! In fact, we're working on a new Patagonia trip itinerary that should be announced within a couple of weeks, so stay tuned and make sure you sign up for our eNewsletter if you haven't already. This new route should be plenty accessible through April, and even into May by typical Patagonia weather statistics (see link here for Temuco statistics, althought you can see that May's weather typically means a lot of rain.)
Patagonia has changed more this season as we knew would be the case, but suddenly it starts to seem like the incoming pavement is for the better, not for worse. Many of our customers are seeking as much dirt riding as possible on their motorcycle trips, and we've supported them in finding it. Truth is though, there's a fairly small percentage of the riders out there in the world that really handle our "Patagonia, Tierra del Fuego & Ushuaia!" route on any first attempt. The terrain alone is a factor, but a full-blast of Patagonia wind is a complete gamechanger for riders who don't have much experience in such conditions.
We still offer these Patagonia trips as publicly available tours, so don't worry if you don't have a group to bring...just bring yourself! The shown itinerary and calendar dates will pretty much have to stay as they are, unless again, you want to form your own group. The other possibility is that you do have a group formed, and we can custom-fit an itinerary to your exact wishes. A day of rafting on the Futaleufu River? No problem. Fly-fishing excursions for a rest day from the bikes? You'll be in a fly-fishing paradise in Patagonia, so why not enjoy? Tell us what the best motorcycle trip ever would be like for you, and I bet we'll still surprise you about how great the overall Patagonia riding experience is.
Perhaps the best example of what I'm talking about came from one of the riders in our February group. For me as the guide, and the guy who designed the tour for this private group, it's both extremely fun and extremely satisfying when riders reveal how impressed they are with the trip. In particular, one rider, who was otherwise one of the most reserved and quiet of the group eventually lost composure in one of the National Parks and muttered out in his Latin accent but perfect English: "this is fucking incredible." If this had come from any other guy, it wouldn't have been so special perhaps. But coming from a guy who mostly kept to himself, it's extra special to hear and see the impression Patagonia makes on a rider!
Anyway, it's with tremendous satisfaction that we say this Patagonia season ended on a high note, and as mentioned earlier, more research has been done on a Northern Patagonia tour route that will be announced soon. The Lakes Region around Pucon and San Martin de Los Andes has been an overlooked area for far too long, so it's quite exciting to have something new to start offering. (Plus it will open up September and April as travel months for Patagonia.)
It's all part of the job here...finding the best reasons and excuses for you to get out and RIDE! Just contact us anytime you're ready for what might be the best motorcycle trip you've ever taken.
KTM Riders in the northeastern U.S., have you met Pete Manzoli yet? Keep an eye out for him…this rider practcially bleeds Orange, and gets around the riding scene.
I first met Pete at the 2011 KTM Adventure Rally in Mill Hall, Pennsylvania. KTM had pulled together a group of about 30 adventure riders in combination with the few-hundred “Durty Dabbers,” a local dual sport riding club known for riding in the Pocanoas. With only 30 of us on the bigger adventure bikes, it was pretty easy to meet the other big-bike riders, and guys like Pete.
What I didn’t know about Pete at first glance was just how far back his passion for the ‘big orange brand’ goes. Truth be told, he looks more like a guy that just got off his Harley and is about to walk into a bar than someone who has been out grinding away through the rocks, mud, and dirt. He’ll be the first to admit this, saying “I know I don’t look the part.” Maybe that’s part of what’s so neat about this slice of humble pie… he is who he is, and isn’t afraid to be.
Back when I was in high school and we joked about the virtually unknown KTM brand as standing for “Kick Twenty Minutes,” Pete was out riding the hills of New Jersey and the Cascade Mountains of the Pacific Northwest, with thousands of miles and smiles forever imprinted in the wilderness. For many of us, brand loyalty stems from memorable experiences where a brand far exceeded expectations. The motorcycle that kept running a few kicks after being submerged in water, the bike that you got lost in the woods with but somehow kept running on what seemed like an impossible amount fuel, or the bike you were riding when you met someone you’re still friends with 20 years later. Whatever the reasons, Pete has his and you probably have yours.
By conversation at the 2011 Rally, I already knew Pete loved the brand; however, it was an invite to his home in New Jersey that truly unveiled his level of devotion. I was due for a valve adjustment on my 2004 950 Adventure S at the time, but still lived on the road promoting and growing www.rideadv.com, and didn’t keep all the proper tools, carb-sync meters and such with me. Gladly accepting the offer for a proper workshop (instead of my usual hotel parking lot or campground) I found that Pete’s garage, all the spec sheets, and everything I could have possibly needed were all set up specifically for KTM work. As if it was a shop dedicated to Marc Coma, Taddy Blazusiak, or another top-level KTM sponsored rider, we enjoyed the weekend hanging out talking bikes, and getting mine back to tip-top shape.
Walking through the lower level of his house, “Orange” decor is splattered all over the walls. Covered with original posters from the 80’s, news articles about bike releases from the 90’s, and every bit of brand history makes this area almost a “KTM History Museum.” If it happened to the Austrian brand, Pete knew about it and saved the article or press release. Simply awesome to see such a passion for a brand.
While Pete’s appearance, his garage, and his bikes may be donning Orange and Black, don’t mistake him for a typical Harley rider; he is a true adventure rider that will seemingly have nothing to do with a bike or brand that doesn’t boast the KTM logo. Say hi to him when you have the chance to at the next rally or race, though. His new 1190 KTM Adventure is on the way, and once he gets that, I don’t imagine you’ll be able to catch him!
Friends and fellow motorcycle riders, a huge thanks goes out to all of you for making 2013 such an incredible year for RIDE Adventures, LLC! The business saw fantastic growth in its 3rd year since opening, and we'll proudly continue with more plans for making more happy customers in 2014 and beyond.
A few highlights from 2013:
Rider Magazine Article: March 2013 saw a group of highly respected motorcycle industry owners and managers get together for the "Industry Invitational 2013," and Arden Kysely from Rider Magazine came along to cover our Patagonia Experience motorcycle tour. That article from August has helped promote the service we offer, helping riders see the incredible Andes Mountains of Chile and Argentina.
Motorcycle Rallies and Events: Always looking forward to getting out and meeting you in person, we had booths at the MSTA Star 2013 in Lexington, Kentucky, the BMW RA at the Biltmore in North Carolina, the BMW MOA Rally in Salem, Oregon, and the Curve Cowboy Reunion 2013 in Bend, Oregon. So great meeting you all in person! We look forward to more events in 2014.
Expansion of Partners Network: It's no secret, we depend heavily on our trusted Partners and fellow tour & rental operators around the world. Anyone in the travel business who tells you otherwise, just isn't telling the truth. As such, we've taken our relationships with existing Partners to new levels, allowing you to communicate directly with them through our website. So you still get the comfort of dealing with the U.S.-based RIDE Adventures, LLC, and you still get the reassurance that we're connecting you only the best providers in each region, and you still get the benefits of the Repeat Customer Discount program; but now, you can communicate directly with the best providers in each country for arranging your motorcycle trip! This year we added motorcycle rentals in South Africa and New Zealand to make sure you're taken care of when winter rolls in up north.
The list could honestly go on forever, but as you can tell by the gaps of time in between recent blog posts, things are VERY busy right now, and time is tight. I personally am off to Colombia in the morning to help with the last "Discover Colombia" guided tour for 2013. Then off to Chile and Argentina for Patagonia tours through March.
My best wishes go to all of you for similar travel plans and a safe and healthy 2014. Perhaps I'll be seeing you on one of these tours, if not in 2014, sometime soon!
In case you hadn't noticed, the 14 Day Self-Guided "Fly & Ride Peru" tour is now available!
As the overwhelming majority of riders out there still prefer to "go it alone," we've got great options like this one that make it easy for you to experience Peru without blowing any budgets out of control. Now you can arrange a trip with a group of friends or by yourself, and with a pacakge like this one:
- Simply Contact Us to reserve the trip with RIDE Adventures
- Show up on your scheduled date in Arequipa, Peru
- The Peru motorcycle rental you've reserved will be waiting for you
- Follow the GPS or map instructions we've provided
- Enjoy the route highlights that simply cannot be overlooked (especially in Peru. With the Nazca Lines, Colca Canyon, and Machu Picchu, it's impossible not to be amazed!)
- Stay at the nice, reputable hotels we've pre-reserved for you
- Have the time of your life on a motorcycle trip that costs about half of what most guided tours cost!
LARS IS READY TO ANSWER YOUR QUESTIONS Contact Him About Riding In Peru!
A vacation package like this one comes after many requests to have both a) lower priced options for our customers, and b) tour routes that focus on paved riding, more than off-pavement. On our "Pavement Only" tour page, you'll find a number of options, including this one in Peru, that allow you to ride an entire trip and never see more than about 5% off-pavement. (Sometimes it's just unavoidable due to construction, preserved National Parks, etc.) Still, even those small gravel or packed-dirt sections you'll encounter are simple enough that even the most "amateur" motorcycles handle them without a problem. Keep in mind folks: Nothing says you need to blaze through a motorcycle trip at "Dakar-like" speeds. Take it slow and easy, and you'll arrive just fine!
The only months you should avoid in Peru are about late December through March, as the rainy season in the Alti-Plano (High Plains) region of the Andes Mountains is in full effect. We've had groups do this trip in February, and they've enjoyed thoroughly...it's mostly a matter of whether you mind riding what could be quite a bit of rain. (With the right motorcycle gear, rain riding isn't much of an issue and can actually be a pleasure.)
So it's up to you: Are you going to wonder forever what it's like to ride motorcycle in Peru or Contact Us and reserve your trip now?
LARS IS READY TO ANSWER YOUR QUESTIONS Contact Him About Riding In Peru!
As you've noticed by now, we at RIDE Adventures also support the individual riders, the "Lone Wolves" if you will, who head out and Ride the World on their own motorcycles. While we hope to bring more of you into our service offering, we're not just supporting those who purchase our guided tours & motorcycle rentals.
In the same spirit, we've noticed a unique story about a unique motorcycle rider named Allan Karl, how his leap of faith led to him amazing cultural discoveries and experiences from around the world, and a new project that has evolved from this in the form of a book. Enjoy Allan's comments and photos below, and you can be part of his fun publishing project (photos by WorldRider or Allan Karl)
FORKS, the new book by WorldRider Allan Karl debuts on Kickstarter
What inspires us to wander and wonder, to pursuit our passion or to push our minds and bodies beyond the limits? The more I travel, the more I learn how important travel is to growing personally and learning.
Unlike those who are happy traveling afar only to cocoon themselves in an all-inclusive resort buffered from culture beyond the resort walls, I believe those of us who prefer to travel overland by motorcycle or 4x4 are motivated by an insatiable curiosity to explore and discover.
Several years ago I woke up to the fact that I was jobless and my marriage had ended. I had come to another fork in my life. At first, I started another business. It didn’t take long for me to realize that my work was unfulfilling. That’s when I decided to travel around the world—alone on my motorcycle.
For two years I planned my adventure, poring over books, maps and internet sites. I searched for the best modifications I could make to my BMW dual-sport motorcycle, spending hours in the garage getting it ready.
I winded down my business, sold almost everything I owned and headed to the Arctic Ocean. The journey north from California was an adventure and a test ride. I would have a chance to tweak my bike and load, which I did, before crossing into Mexico and heading south to Patagonia, Tierra del Fuego and beyond.
Along the way, I traveled 62,000 miles through 35 countries on five continents. At first, I traveled too fast, buzzing through British Colombia, Yukon and Alaska. I quickly learned that the goal of travel is not to check destinations of lists, but rather to experience culture and connect with people.
There were challenges along my journey. I broke my leg badly in Bolivia. I was marched into the Colombian jungle at gunpoint, and I had to plead with the governments of Syria and Sudan to let me into their countries.
My journey lasted three years. Most people don’t have the time, resources or will to travel for so long. For me, travel is the one thing on which I spend my money that nobody can ever take away from me. Travel is an investment in both time and money, and its return is immeasurable.
After returning from this adventure, I’d come to yet another fork in the road. What do I do next? I decided to write a book—another journey that took me nearly as long as my around the world motorcycle ride.
At first I planned to write a traditional travelog or memoir, but I realized the best way to share this adventure would be beyond words. That is, to see it with photos, to feel it through stories of culture and connection and to taste it with flavors of local food.
Agents and publishers asked me to simplify the idea, take out the food and photos. Rather than compromise, I decided to turn to the crowdfunding site, Kickstarter. After three years of work, my book is ready to print. FORKS, A Quest for Culture, Cuisine and Connection, is a 270 page hardcover book with 500 color photos and 40 recipes from all over the world.
I hope that my Kickstarter campaign will succeed in generating enough preorders to fund the expense of first-edition printing.
The book, along with collector-edition postcards, photographic prints, coaching sessions and keynote speeches are some of the rewards that interested backers can expect from pledging on Kickstarter. Rewards start at $10, and books can be pre-ordered for as little as $45.
FORKS The Book: www.ForksTheBook.com
Original WorldRider blog: www.worldrider.com
The kids are back in school, and you noticed it's getting colder out again, right? We can tell, because of the number of inquiries and reservations that have been pouring in the past couple of weeks. Winter vacation motorcycle rentals are on your minds!!!
Most assuredly, the majority of the motorcycle trip options we're advertising on our website are neither in the price range nor duration of what many riders have available. For this reason, we're pleased to announce yet another winter motorcycle riding option with our rental motorcycles: Big Bend National Park in the South of Texas.
The bulk of the dual sport rental fleet in eastern Tennessee will be moved to the town of Terlingua, Texas for the months of January thru March. Through the Interstate system, the Alpine, Texas airport (ALE), or other means, riders can pre-reserve their dual sport bikes and have all the fantastic off-road riding terrain they could ever ask for just waiting for the twist of their wrist. Kawasaki KLR 650's and Suzuki DR200's will be there for those who reserve in advance. Should anyone request an R1200GS or other big-type adventure bike, we can bring those, too. We need to know now though which bikes you want to ride this winter!
You can consult with us about routes, types of riding terrain, and the best highlights to see around Big Bend National Park. Interested in riding into Mexico? That's an option as well, and we'll help you with getting all the necessary papers & insurance arranged. If you're interested in having an experienced local guide show you the way, that option rests amongst the list of possibilities.
So please be sure to Contact Us about riding in Big Bend National Park. Again though, there'll be a limited number of bikes available, and plenty of interested riders, so don't wait long to reserve!
USE THE FORM ON THIS PAGE To Contact Us or Reserve Your Dual Sport Motorcycle Rental in Texas
"An agonizing feeling, that tele-tubby box of a camera haunted my dreams. The more I saw it the more I wanted to scream inside. Not out of anger, but out of disbelief that something so ugly could take over the market like a tidal wave." - Marc Barros - Co-Founder of Contour Inc. (Source: marcbarros.com)
Folks, I can't believe it happened, but the best helmet camera company out there just shut down last month. A classic example of how big money and huge marketing budgets can propel an inferior product to the front of the market and squash the best camera companies into oblivion, this is quite a shame. Equally shameful is that this kind of thing happens in many other industries, including the motorcycle touring & renting business. Big money and advertising has many customers "running to the biggest" company, instead of getting the most value out of their dollar with others who don't spend as much on advertising. Oh well, such is business for now I guess.
Still, I thought it was important for you to know about these great Contour HD cameras, as there are still some out there you can grab for cheap.
Along the lines of my other motorcycle gear review about neck braces, another frequently asked question I get when standing in line with my motorcycle helmet is about the camera mounted on the side.
People often ask "is that a flashlight?" (which I suppose, it could look like.) Also funny is that many even ask "is that a GoPro?" When in fact, the Contour HD that I have mounted looks nothing like the hideous glob of plastic that lops off to the side of helmets of many other riders. Hey...I'm being honest here, and clearly in agreement with Marc Barros as shown above. One on hand, aesthetics are hardly important; but at the same time...that GoPro looks ridiculous.
I'm on my 2nd Contour HD camera at this point, after the 1st one lasted a solid couple of years through a half-dozen countries, about 100,000 miles, many hours of footage, rain, sleet, snow, and dust. It was neither in a waterproof case, nor claimed to be waterproof, yet still lasted a long time in such and recorded some great video footage for RIDE Adventures.
This latest version I'm using, the Contour ROAM2 took their already great camera design just a few steps further:
- Waterproof without the need of an external plastic case
- "Instant-On," allowing you to record/stop in a split second (previous version needed +/- 5 seconds to power-up)
- 60 Frames Per Second video recording capability, which helps smooth the scenes and for slow-motion editing
What good does this information do for you now that Contour is closed for business? Again, there are still a bunch of Contour HD Video cameras out there on the market that you can grab for cheap, so you might want to take advantage. Maybe Contour will even reorganize with some new funding, and pickup where they left off. In the meantime though, hopefully you'll seek out the best helmet camera from some smaller online or store front retailers, and recognize the underlying purpose of this article.
SEE VIDEO FROM OUR "PATAGONIA EXPERIENCE" Motorcycle Trip on This Tour Page
Named in part for the fantastic Giant Loop Motorcycle Saddlebags that adorn our Partner's motorcycle fleet in Colombia, the "Giant Loop of Colombia" tour looks exctly like that though: A big loop!
Starting from Cali, which is affectionately known as the "Salsa Dancing Capital of the World," this is the most complete tour of Colombia we offer and requires 16 Days of your time (including arrival and departure days.) The idea for this tour spawned largely from the simple fact that, travelers who arrive in Colombia just don't want to leave! Some other tours like "Discover Colombia," and "The Heart of Colombia" have been plenty popular as well, but each of them only being about 10 days long made it clear that we need to offer a longer touring option.
How do These Motorcycle Tours Work?
When you arrive for what might be a much needed winter getaway, you'll be greeted at the airport, taken to the hotel in Cali, and unless you've built your own private tour with friends, you'll have the chance to meet the other riders about to embark on the journey of a lifetime. What follows for the next 15 days is that you simply ride, smile, enjoy, take photos, and probably wonder why on earth you hadn't done something like this before! Sincerely, there's very little you have to think about or plan for, as we do the translation, hotel reservation, motorcycle maintenance, and everything crucial to an enjoyable trip for you.
Surely you got to this point of "Colombia Curiosity" for one of a few reasons:
1) You saw what Cliff Atkinson wrote about his experience riding motorcycles in Colombia just a few weeks ago (see link.)
2) You saw this report that explains Colombia was the "Happiest Country in the World" in 2012!
3) You know very well that all the crap you see on television and in movies isn't necessarily an accurate depiction of what is going on in the world. (Don't know that? Don't get me started....)
4) Simply put: You love to ride, experience new places, enjoy gorgeous scenery, witness different cultures, and drive your friends crazy with envy about the places you get to ride!
Cliff's energetic response about his Colombia trip isn't the only one we've gotten, as riders from all around the world are typically very pleased with their Colombian riding experience. Did we mention that motorcycle riders are kind of treated like royalty by the Colombians? Most of the bikes buzzing around the countryside are little Chinese 125cc mopeds, so when you show up with your entourage, aboard a 650cc+ beast of a motorcycle, you'll be turning heads and making friends with the locals in no time.
So have a look at the motorcycle rental options we have available for this tour, and please be sure to check out the upcoming dates and details about the "Giant Loop of Colombia" motorcycle tour, and Contact Us with any questions about making this trip happen for you.
CONTACT US ABOUT RIDING IN COLOMBIA The 16-Day "Giant Loop" Tour Covers the Most!
Did you pick up the August issue of Rider Magazine and notice that our March 2013 "Patagonia Experience" motorcycle tour was featured in it? Of course you did...that's why we've been so busy with inquiries about this upcoming season!
Our thanks goes out to Arden Kysely for writing such a befitting account of what the group experienced on the 11-Day journey earlier this year. Somehow pouring all that we did into those few pages could not have been easy, so credit goes to Arden.
Another thanks goes out to the Chris Olin from Rox Speed FX for helping form the original "Industry Invitational" tour idea, and for helping to secure our fellow riders from Heidenau Tires (John and Pierre), Twisted Throttle (Erik), Kaoko Cruise Controls (Nic), and Macna Gear (Patrick). A fantastic group of motorcycle industry professionals all came together for the experience of a lifetime riding through Patagonia, and enjoyed the obvious networking potential amongst us.
RIDE Adventures will undoubtedly run this tour format again within the motorcycle industry, and of course our fans and followers out there are encouraged to Contact Us about organizing your own private group motorcycle tours through RIDE Adventures. While many tours are offered publicly, your private group can customize the itinerary, what's included, meals, and many other factors with our help to make sure it's exactly the Patagonia riding experience you wanted. All that's needed is to start the conversation with us about what you want!
Enjoy the video from this trip below, and we look forward to hearing from all of you interested in adventure riding in Patagonia.
SEE THE PATAGONIA EXPERIENCE Guided Motorcycle Tour & Upcoming Dates By Clicking Here