Shrinking The Planet – One Ride At A Time

Can You Have An Adventure On A “Guided” Motorcycle Tour?

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I had often asked myself whether was possible to have an “adventure” on a guided motorcycle tour.  Or put more succinctly does a guided motorcycle tour constitute an adventure ride?  Is it really an adventure if somebody has done all the homework, planned all the routes, figured out all the stops, determined the best places to ride and you just follow behind them? Purists would probably argue that it’s not really an adventure if you follow somebody’s planned route, enjoying the fruits of their labor and simply enjoying what’s presented in front of you.  Others would argue that as long as you embrace the idea of adventuring you are indeed on an adventure ride.

So where do I stand on this issue?   On this one I am firmly in the middle. For me there’s no doubt the planning your entire route doing all the homework, planning all the stops, and managing all the issues that pop up during the trip really do require quite a bit of work and hence could make the ride seem to be more “adventuresome”.  Then there’s the other side of the coin that says if you plan everything, and there are no unknowns, there is no adventure.  But wait, there’s even a third side to the coin (now that’s something!) and that is riding in a guided motorcycle tour.  In this case, someone has already done all the planning and on top of it, there are people on the trip that help you manage any issues that may pop up.  Some might ask, “where’s the adventure in that?”

I must admit, that until a little while ago, I was one of those persons who held that if you didn’t do all the planning and manage the issues on your own, it wasn’t an adventure ride.  But with age, my stance has softened quite a bit.  Frankly, as I’ve gotten older, I really don’t care about what people think.  I don’t need to be a symbol of “macho-ness” and I don’t need to obtain anyone’s approval of how a ride was executed.  Whether I ride solo or travel with friends in a group led by a company that we paid to support our ride.  I don’t care because how I ride really doesn’t make the ride an adventure or not.

If you want to ride solo into the heart of Eurasia with nothing more than a dual sport single and soft luggage, great.  But if you want to do a similar trip with a company who helps you get across borders, assists with mechanical fixes and carries your gear in a support vehicle, that’s great too.  It’s what you get out of the ride, what you encounter, experience, share and learn along the way that is important.  Did you make something of your trip?  Did you see new things and interact with new people?  Did you learn a thing or two along the way?  Did you encounter weather, road hazards, mechanical problems, difficult people, whatever.  All of those things are part of the adventure ride and they exist on any kind of ride be it solo or with a paid group.  In fact, one might argue that riding with a group is more of an adventure because you have to deal with a group of people in close confines which itself can be quite an adventure!

So what does this boil down to?  For me, adventure rides aren’t really just the planning or the execution of a ride or riding in difficult terrain or conditions.  When you step back and think about it, adventure rides are more about the experiences aren’t they?  Planning, riding solo or with very limited supplies and no support can be elements of making an adventure ride fulfilling for the rider.   But I would argue it’s not the most important part.  No, it’s what you get, what you take away and what you share during the ride that really makes the trip an adventure.

Ultimately, it’s really how you approach the ride that will tell you whether it was an adventure or not. Adventuring doesn’t just happen as a result of your planning it happens as a result of the overall experience.  Don’t let someone tell you that your ride was or was not an adventure.  You are the only one that can make that decision.  If you felt the excitement, if you felt the challenge, if you had some new experiences, then I say you had an adventure.  The hard part is keeping all the excitement, challenge and new experiences in your rides so that you can continue to feel the adventure.

So, can you have an adventure on a “guided” motorcycle tour.  Sure, it’s what you take from it that will be the mark of the adventure.   At, least that’s my take.  Let’s hear yours!  Please leave some comments with your thoughts!

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16 responses

  1. Benny

    Adventure Anywhere!

    Like

    December 5, 2012 at 7:25 pm

  2. tengoal

    Thank you Mike, for putting my thoughts in print, using your words. My 2 best rides have been at totally opposite ends of the spectrum. One was getting to meet you and Kim on our adventure in Patagonia where everything was planned and a support vehicle was along, just in case. My other great trip was to see the country. The “4CornersTour” was done with a credit card and what I could carry. There were cheap motels, fast foods, friendly people, and great scenery. Most was done on the super slab, and while most ADVers might say that a month and a half on the pavement (with a week included to see Yellowstone) might not be their idea of an adventure, it’s a great way to “Shrink the planet – one ride at a time”. Great friendships can be made from our rides, and you and Kim are the best example of that.

    Like

    December 5, 2012 at 8:36 pm

    • Matt,

      Kim and I enjoyed meeting you as well! I think you hit the nail on the head, great friendships can be made from our rides, and that’s one of the greatest forms of adventure! Thanks for your comment amigo!

      Like

      December 7, 2012 at 10:19 pm

  3. tengoal

    Nice picture!! 🙂

    Like

    December 5, 2012 at 8:39 pm

  4. itsmewilly

    Absolutely can you call a ride organized by others an adventure. If you saw new countries met new people, did new things you never did before, all these are part of living an adventure. Maybe, even because you don’t need to worry about preparations and break downs ,you are able to enjoy a ride more since you let other people do the worrying for you. So, yes, a ride organized by others, if you have new experiences, can also be an unforgettable adventure..

    Like

    December 5, 2012 at 8:54 pm

    • Willy,
      You’re right, the new experiences really do make for some awesome adventures! Thanks for your comment!

      Like

      December 7, 2012 at 10:21 pm

  5. A guided tour certainly may be an adventure but it depends on the individual. For those with a limited amount of time a guided tour is one of the best ways to utilize the time that you have available. Each rider has a different perspective as to what to what constitutes an “adventure”.

    Like

    December 6, 2012 at 8:13 am

    • Fred,
      You make a great point, each rider does have a different perspective on adventure and I would agree with you that what one brings to a ride, sets them up for what they might take away. Great comment and thanks for taking the time to post!

      Like

      December 7, 2012 at 10:23 pm

  6. Jeff

    Really cool site! Any ride for me is an adventure, Heck! I will ride 200 miles just for a hair cut and a pack of gum.

    Like

    December 6, 2012 at 12:52 pm

    • Jeff,
      Glad you are enjoying the site. I think there are a bunch of others who feel the same way that you do! Thanks for the post!

      Like

      December 7, 2012 at 10:24 pm

  7. Frostbit

    Can you have an adventure on a “guided” motorcycle tour?….. Absolutely!

    Mike, you spelled it out very well, as usual. The biggest difference that I noticed between guided ride and relying on your own wits is the general state of mind. With the guided ride I’m free of all logistical concerns an have far less stress cluttering up the gray matter. Unique, off the beaten paths and opulent accommodations (in comparison to my old tent) unfolding day after day with little effort (other than depleting the bank account) is truly a worry free adventure. The three week guided trip through South Africa will forever bring a smile to my face and the experiences that we had would have been out of reach if we were traveling on our own.

    As for traveling on a wing.. it brings about much more interaction with the locals and when the locals speak a different language… well it makes for great stories. All the planning in the world flies out the window in a heart beat but that is when the good stuff usually begins. My theory hasn’t been tested for more than a month on any given trip so far but I’m counting on it holding true for the longer hauls in the future.

    Till we ride together again,
    Frostbit.

    Like

    December 7, 2012 at 1:39 am

    • Frostbit,

      Thanks for taking the time to write such an excellent post. You make two great points and I fully agree with both! I know that you and ML had a great time in SA and here’s to hoping that you both get many more similar trips. Perhaps we’ll get to ride together again soon; I hope that that time comes much sooner than later.
      All the best,
      Mike

      Like

      December 7, 2012 at 10:27 pm

  8. Anonymous

    I’m in the middle as well. I’ve done a lot of guided adventures and enjoyed them all. A few months back my Son retuned to the US and we jumped on some dual sports and headed down the Baja without any plans and had the best ever time getting lost, talking to locals and riding with the wind. Tons of fun.

    Like

    January 8, 2013 at 12:05 pm

  9. Anonymous

    Great discussion. I love being on two wheels, and I know that I have no doubt at all that the tour I took through Peru with IncaMoto was definitely an adventure. Some of my fondest memories!

    Like

    February 12, 2014 at 10:39 am

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