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From Dream to Reality

Jun 22, 2011 // Trips on Two Wheels //

Special guest post by Stuart Updegrave.

Stuart Updegrave heading out on his BMW F 800 GS from Radford, VA

Many of us who ride motorcycles dream of taking some big trip. For most, these dreams get sliced up into weekend rides, maybe a couple weeks here and there, but we have a hard time making the break needed for something bigger. About a month ago - after four years of dreaming - I ran through one more check of my gear, climbed onto my new F800GS, and headed out of Seattle. Destination: the world! The following is a bit of how I got from dream to reality.

Really, this trip has been brewing for much longer than four years. When I was 15 or so, I spent a lot of time staring at atlases and globes and started thinking, “I want to see every continent. I want to know the world”. A few years later, on the far side of my collegiate experience, steeped in wanderlust, I read “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance,” and in it found a possible future.

Bryce Canyon - one of Stuart's stops

Fast-forward to 2005: my first big act after leaving a job of nine years was to embark on a ten-day solo motorcycle trip through WA and OR, with no clear idea where I was going. I simply wanted to put some miles behind me to help the job slip away. I got into a few misadventures along the way, taking my very obvious road bike onto some of the thin gray lines on the map, and loved it. The next two years found me in the saddle again for a week or so, off by myself seeking clarity, beauty and solitude.

Then in 2007 I saw “Long Way Round,” and it clicked: I like traveling by motorcycle, I want to see a lot of places; perhaps I should combine the two. The dream came to life!

Yosemite Valley - Stuart's journey through the US

Giving birth to a dream is easy, but turning it into reality is a lot harder. I didn't know a thing about long-term adventure travel, so I started by doing research: what kind of bike should I consider, how should it be outfitted, where should I go, what are the logistical hurdles, what will it cost? So many questions came up in rapid-fire succession that I started a Google Doc, initially to track the questions, then some of the answers, then the inevitable followup questions.

Choosing the bike was pretty easy, in part because I'm a BMW guy to my core. At first I thought about an older R1100 / 1150 GS, but after a little research I decided on a new F800GS. The combination of lower weight and easier field maintainability than the big R-bikes certainly appealed to me, as did being under warranty. Having a friend who works in the service department at Ride West BMW enthusiastically support this decision certainly helped. I added on hard parts and luggage from (of course) AltRider and, well, some other adventure motorcycle gear companies.

Capitol Reef and a BMW F 800 GS

In determining where to go I considered places I would like to visit (whether for the first time or return), potential routes between these places and generally better times of the year to see them, resulting in this rough itinerary.

To tackle logistical issues, I turned to people who have done this sort of thing before: the online communities ADVrider and Horizons Unlimited and Chris Scott's Adventure Motorcycling Handbook. These are all excellent resources if you are want to turn your big trip dreams into reality. For specifics, I would frequently use these resources as jumping-off points for an internet search – for example, overland travel through China, ferry service to Egypt and so forth.

The last big question is “How much will it cost?” I've budgeted for $100/day over the course of 18 months. Some places (Western Europe) may end up being more than this at times, and others (Central and SE Asia, for example) will be far less. I suspect I'll come in under this amount over the duration of my trip.

So, then: want a simple (or at least simple-sounding) formula for turning your dream into reality? Start with a great dream, research, ask questions, find answers, make a plan and execute.

Stuart Updegrave can be found online in a number of places: blog, Facebook page, Twitter. In the real world, he can be found somewhere around here.


6 weiterzählen...

guest // Jun 23, 2011
Breaking it down to a simple formula makes such a trip much more attainable. Good luck on your journey and I'm looking forward to tracking your progress and stories thereof. Go now and ride great adventurer. May the wind be at your back and the throttle in your right hand treat you well.
2212.garage_profile // Jun 24, 2011
Thanks, Sean! When and where are you going on your big trip? ;)
2212.garage_profile // Jun 24, 2011
FYI, the photos from top to bottom: Me and my trusty (yet unnamed) steed, as I'm heading out of Radford VA for a day in the Appalachians Bryce Canyon NP, UT View of Yosemite Valley from the Wawona Tunnel overlook, Yosemite NP, CA Capitol Wash, Capitol Reef, UT
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