A Motorcycle Is . . .

“A mechanical horse.
A work of the devil.
Freedom.
A good way to get killed.
A sex substitute.
The most absurd form of transportation yet devised.”

— Roger Lovin, The Compete Motorcycle Nomad

Whew… Just returned from my first weekend camping trip with the KLR. Summer Meltdown Festival in Darrington, WA is a backyard party that’s grown into an incredible music festival with national headliner acts. It’s located at the Whitehorse Mountain Amphitheater, an absolutely magnificent venue located at the base of a gorgeous mountain positioned opposite the stage. It was my first real experience with the contemporary festival culture, and a hell of a way to spend my 24th birthday (I now understand electronic music much better than I did a few days ago).

The ride out there was really great. It’s about an hour and forty-five minutes, with half of that on winding country roads. This was my first time loading the bike with a small camp, using only my newly-mounted Pelican 1550 topcase as luggage. I had read that loading the bike offsets everything & basically produces a new machine. Taking a test ride around the neighborhood, I realized this was quite true. After redistributing the weight, bringing the heavy items forward by putting them in my backpack, I was confident in taking off. There’s much less room for error with a loaded bike, & though this was initially alarming, once I got cruising I realized it made for a more challenging and rewarding riding experience. Turns required more fine-tuned maneuvers, and (minus the semi-cramped seating) it was more fun than riding without a load. This gives me confidence in loading up the bike with a full nomadic rig. It’ll take some getting used to, no doubt about that, but once I get a feel for it I imagine it’ll be natural as can be.

Over the last week and a half, I’ve been collecting riding gear. It feels a lot better to be cruising around in armor, instead of a Carhartt. I now have a top case, fender bag for tubes, a cover for the bike, new tires, Joe Rocket jacket, some armored pants, and two Pelican 1520 cases (on the way) for panniers. I still need to get a mounting rack and a tank bag, but after that I believe I’ll have all the gear to get going.

I must say, there was something very rewarding about packing up at the end of the festival and riding out with my home on my back. I had fit a decently-comfortable 3 night stay onto the back of a motorcycle. The scenic drive gave out there me a glimpse at the rewards of being a motorcyclist. This was a great learning experience, and I look forward to going on a few more camping trips before heading out. I know there’s a lot of bugs in my system to work out, and I’m determined to get as prepared as possible before departing on the trip of my life.

I promise I’ll start loading photos soon =/ I miss having a good smartphone!