Rifling through some pictures from our Patagonia motorcycle tour back in March just reminded me how our group reacted 15 minutes into our first stretch of gravel on the 9-Day trip. (See some pics here on our Facebook page, and while you're there...you Like us, right?)
The first day of this Patagonia Experience motorcycle tour is always nice: Smooth paved turns heading up through Parque Nacional Nahuel Haupi, and down into Bariloche. Nothing too extreme or challenging, just the perfect 1st day for everyone to get acclimated to their BMW motorcycles and surroundings.
Day 2 starts out similarly with well-paved, graceful turns heading through Llao Llao and south from Bariloche into the heart of Patagonia. We deal with some elevation change and the occasional high-speed pass of a slower vehicle, but again, nothing too challenging up until lunchtime in El Bolson. Everyone's enjoying the great scenery and smooth riding, but demeanors remain pretty "relaxed."
After lunch though, we take a little detour to head through Parque Nacional Los Alerces where the pavement disappears and gravel, dirt, light sand, rock walls and tree canopy enter the situation. As if each rider had forgotten we'd be riding off-pavement, as if it was exactly what they'd been hoping for and now came upon, and as if it was the major deciding factor on how impressed they are with Patagonia, everyone seems to come alive!
At our first photo stop along the lakeshore just 15 minutes into the gravel riding, the group had a different aura about it as riders took their helmets off to soak up our surroundings. Clearly energized as they hopped off their bikes, each rider was completely revitalized by what they were taking in. Leftover jetlag had disappeared along with thoughts of email, budgets, and daily career concerns thousands of miles away, and this indescribable feeling that dual sport adventure riding tends to conjure up permeated the group of 8 travelers.
What I'm pointing out here is that, for a variety of reasons, stepping off the beaten path of everyday life still can ignite passion and excitement, especially if our normal living doesn't allow for it. Getting away from the plush & comfortable conveniences we indulge in every day and out into the natural world lets a certain revitalization into us that can't be drawn up any other way. For many of us, the conveniences of cement, air conditioning, smartphones and televisions might seem like the answers to staying comfortable and entertained, but as this rider has experienced and witnessed numerous times, outdoor adventure riding can strike a chord in us like none of the aforementioned "luxuries."
This is not to say that motorcycle riding on pavement isn't energizing or therapeutic in it's own way. (Surely we've all seen the bumper sticker that says "You never see a motorcycle parked outside a psychiatrist's office," right?) I'm saying is that whether you're a seasoned dual sport rider that hasn't done so in a while, or a street-only rider that's been wanting to get into this "adventure riding" type of travel, please don't let anything get in your way. Nothing says you need to ride the dirt trails at the pace of the Dakar Rally competitors, and anyone who teases you for riding at your pace is just asking for karma to slap them silly.
RIDE Adventures, LLC was built around the notion that motorcycle travel and the experiences that come with it are essential for some of us. Perhaps more specifically, this dual sport adventure riding type of travel is what's needed and what affects our souls the most. In almost 3 years of business we've been able to accumulate a great list of motorcycle rental locations and for those who prefer, guided motorcycle tours to support riders. It's the easiest work in the world, arranging these trips for you in the sense that, motorcycle travel is rarely unsatisfying!
A bit ambitious using a term like "Zen" in the title of this article, you say? Clearly you haven't been out playing in the dirt for a while...