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Taking a break from our usual tips and tricks, I wanted to use this weeks post to discuss another one of the many reasons that makes the outdoors so great. I’ll be sharing a personal trip that I took with some friends a few years back. When I was in college I shared a house with several roommates, many of which became great friends. We would frequently take trips to the wilderness or use camp sites to keep our costs low on long road trips. Being outdoors was something we all enjoyed, but as life goes, we get older, and each of us moves on to our own prospective lives. It wasn’t until years after we parted ways that we decided to reconnect, blending our love for motorcycles and our love of the outdoors into one of the most memorable trips I’ll ever take.

While we still talked every so often it was not nearly as frequent as it once was. When we lived in the city our bikes were our passions, and that is one thing that never changed, coupled with our love of being outdoors. Someone brought up the idea in a passing conversation, but the rest of us were immediately encapsulated with the idea. Sure, we had all packed up a car and gone to a camp site, but we had never taken our bikes on such a trip, and the challenge, along with the journey itself, was too tempting not to entertain. So, with a mutual agreement that we absolutely had to do this, we made plans to reconnect, years after we shared the same roof over our heads.

As most trips should start it began with the planning phase, deciding to embark on a ride along the scenic Mohawk Trail on the western end of Massachusetts. At this point we were spread out all along the Northeast, each of us having to pack our gear and ride out to a mutual meeting point, where the trip would really begin. We picked a campsite on the end of the trail, giving us the first two days of our trip to make it there. The destination picked was to allow us to spend as much time as possible riding through scenic, winding roads, blending both of our passions together.  200 miles and two days later we arrive at our campsite, finally allowing us to unpack our bags, reducing the weight on our bikes.

One of the best parts about riding a motorcycle is that you aren’t just driving through a place, you really feel like you’re a part of it. Completely exposed to the elements, the wind whistles through your helmet, carrying with it the smells and noises of each environment you pass through. The sun and the heat of your engine are acquitted by a twist of the throttle, pulling you forward into sights unknown. The best part of taking our bikes for this trip was that when we came across a visage, we stopped to take it all in. Like we would do on trips years past, we would say we needed to pull over – but that sentiment remained the same, each of us deciding, without needing to speak to one another, that we simply couldn’t resist stopping to take it all in.

Having packed most of our own gear on each of our respective bikes, we had to take into consideration the different carrying capabilities of each bike. This made for some very creative workarounds – especially for my bike being designed for urban environments, some MacGyver engineering was needed to even fit storage containers on my bike.  With all of this in mind, we discussed in detail who would be able to carry what, and how we were going to do it. Since most of our time was spent on our iron saddles, picking up fresh groceries every night was a part of our plan. After all, with no coolers or ice, we weren’t going to be preserving any meats. We were adamant that we cook our own meals each night, and we did so, enjoying a juicy Tomahawk steak on our final dinner.

In total, we spent 5 days camped out with only the gear we could fit on the bikes. It was the first time we had done that, and many things could have been done differently. And this is the reason that these trips are so great. It’s not just the lead up, the journey itself, or the destination. It’s the seconds in between it all, the ones where you simply have to stop to take it in. The conversations you have about what worked well, what didn’t work well, and what needs to be done for next time. There’s always the next time, and there is always more to come, but this first experience will always be uniquely special, no matter how many more trips and experiences are added on to my life.

By Phillip Chen

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