by Victor Wanchena
There isn’t as much for adventure in the world as there used to be. That’s not to say that motorcycling isn’t still the most exciting form of transportation out there, but some of the romance and adventure of the early years of motorcycling is gone. There are few if any records left to set. Modern roads and modern bikes mean that virtually no area of this immense country is inaccessible. It is no great feat for a rider to criss-cross the country and to do it without any mechanical problems. So where does a rider craving adventure turn?
In my opinion there are two ways to still find some of that adventure. The first is what is commonly called adventure-touring. This normally involves a dual-purpose bike and remote terrain. Point your bike off into the wilderness and go. You can spend weeks exploring areas rarely seen by other humans. The combination of camping, off-road riding, lack of outside resources/aid mean it is as close to a Lewis and Clark expedition as any of us will ever see. This is truly a great way to spend two weeks. The downside is the number of areas to truly enjoy this facet of motorcycling are few and far between in this neck of the woods. The western part of the US and nearly all of Canada is full of great areas to explore but they are remote for a reason. Temperature extremes and inhospitable terrain mean slow and tough traveling. Dangers do abound and it is best to travel with a friend in case of emergency. Nevertheless, the rewards of such a trip far outweigh the risks.
Then there’s the area of motorcycling that is my personal favorite, endurance riding. Far from the preconceived notion people have of endurance riding being simply a matter of staying hopped up on caffeine, nicotine or something worse and riding at anything but legal speeds it instead is a rather fine art of balancing your physical stamina with the endurance of your machine while fighting the elements and any other obstacles that traveling throws in your way. While this type of riding does not appeal to many it does become a passion with those who have tasted it. And why not? It’s incredibly fun to think that Kalispell, Montana is only 20 hours away or that you can visit any number of amazing rib joints in Kansas City and be back home in the same day. The possibilities are endless. The end point of the ride is really not important, it’s simply a goal. The real fun is the ride. The combination of the adventure of traveling great distances along the challenge of pushing yourself to accomplish what you thought impossible and managing all the factors that govern your ride make endurance riding a great way to spend those valuable days off. The best part is you don’t need a special bike or seldom used equipment. Many an unassuming machine made a fine long distance bike.
The Holy Grail for endurance riders is the Iron Butt Rally. Not your typical gathering of riders. The Iron Butt has competitors riding 11,000 miles in 11 days or essentially one lap around the country. Not for weak of heart it is obvious how the rally got its name. There are various other rallies of the same ilk around the country and Minnesota is fortunate enough to host one of the largest versions. Known as the Minnesota 1000 or MN1K, it is hosted by Team Strange and has become one of the premiere events on the endurance rally calendar. This year riders on the MN1K captured the world record for the most riders to ride the same 1000-mile course in the same 24-hour period. Too cool. You can read a couple of perspectives on the MN1K in this issue and to learn more about endurance riding visit the Iron Butt web site www.ironbutt.com or Team Strange’s site at www.teamstrange.com.
So ride fast, take chances and this month do it on the long haul.