Mild mannered commuter by business day, boisterous seeker of freedom and adventure by vacation day. Drinker of whiskey and teller of stories by night.
These are my self proclaimed titles while I ponder “what’s the next destination” as I humdrum my way through another traffic-filled commute, backpack strapped comfortably across my back while the rain sheets down, all around. Water, the worst enemy to anything electrical, is kept at bay with this magically waterproof material that Velomacchi uses on their bags. I’ve had just about every conceivable weather situation with these bags and they’ve yet to let me down. In a world, so full of uncertainty, it’s good to be able to count on the simple things to work. Clearly someone put some thought into this so that I don’t have to, while dodging cars and SUVs on the highway.
Back to my daydreaming: Where to next?
Before I can decide where to go, I need to decide what to take with me. After over two decades of riding motorcycles, there’s one thing I’ve learned when it comes to the subject of “what to pack”: Less - keep it simple and pack the essentials. I used to pack two or three changes of clothing when I knew I was going to be gone for weeks on end and realized that I barely touched anything other than socks, underpants and undershirts. My motorcycle safety gear stays on my body for majority of the trip and it’s not terribly difficult to find a laundry facility to clean up all of the unmentionables.So, let’s go over the list:
- Tent, check.
- Sleeping bag, check.
- Sleeping pad, check.
- Pillow, check.
- Freeze-dried foods and cooking/eating wares, check.
- Water, check.
- Knife and axe, check.
- Chair, in case there aren’t any camp tables around, check.
- Inflatable solar powered LED lantern and LED head-lamp, check.
- Body wipes, check.
- Coffee and tiny espresso maker, check.
- Tools and ziplocks (lots of ziplocks) rolled up neatly, check.
- GPS tracker, GPS maps, phone, Camera, and laptop, check.
- All the wires to keep things charged, check.
- Hygiene products, check.
My favorite duffle bag swallows up most of this stuff and what doesn’t fit in there goes into the backpack along with a few healthy-ish snacks in the front pocket of the bag. I carry a little under 2 gallons of water in a RotopaX container and the Velomacchi 50L duffle bag straps down, neatly, on top of that. Everything tucked in and out of the way in less time than it takes for most people to put on their helmets. Did I mention it’s all waterproof? This matters a lot to me since I am a proud resident of the unbelievably beautiful Pacific Northwest. On a mission to see sunny beaches, one may come across a thunderstorm or two.
Be prepared, not disappointed.
I have hard bags that secure and lock onto the bike, sure, but my rainy commute daydreams involve being off of the paved roads and into the backcountry discovery routes - the path less traveled. Less is definitely more in this scenario as the constant rattle, bump, jump, hop, and skip of the path less travelled has a tendency to loosen hardware, at the very least. At the most, I may tip over, and I don’t want to find out what it feels like to get my leg caught under a hard aluminum pannier.
Time to pull out the maps and scour through to see where this adventure rig will end up. Idaho looks very interesting, but Oregon beckons and I’m drawn to the Cascades with their trees, rivers, waterfalls and the mighty high desert, east of it all. There are a few close friends who ride bikes very similar to mine, if not the same model, and we’ve made a pact that this year, 2019, is the year of the Backcountry Discovery Route (BDR) with promises of views, comradery, fireside laughter, and enough memories to satiate us until next year.
So, as my rainy commute comes to an end and I pull the bike into the garage, I smile at the bin that’s full of my camping gear and trusty bags with the promise of adventure with friends who’ve become brothers through thick and thin. All it takes is the right partners, the right gear, and the right attitude to get out there and discover yourself in the dirt roads of this beautiful country.