Wednesday, September 24, 2014

New ADV Riders, Don't Listen to Keyboard Warriors

Alright let me begin with a disclaimer... in the following blog post I sound really, REALLY negative. when I wrote this, I'd just been barraged with a whole lot of hate for posting a few tips that I found helpful for distance ADV riding and felt a bit maligned when sticking my neck out there to offer suggestions to new riders. When reviewing the following post, I realized I got a bit out of hand and came off as really arrogant. I'll leave the original post below, but wanted to let you know the core of what I was trying to say... just during a moment when I was pretty charged up.

The summary of the article is this: Be kind, help others, make the ADV community a place where new riders, old riders, seasoned riders, and budding adventurers feel welcome. Too many times I think people get scared away from ADV riding because there can be a lot of drama and complication. Setting up for a long ride and getting out of your comfort zone can be really frightening, and going into a hostile forum or group can make people run away from, not to, this amazing hobby of ours.

Evaluate the reasons why you're replying to a comment or thread. If it's to boost your ego, mock somebody, pass judgement on things you don't have experience with, or even to boost your cred by getting another "post" under the column... then hold off and rethink it. If it's to help somebody, offer credible advice, be objective, be encouraging, and/or make friends... then you're building an amazing community and are a wiser person than I am at many times.

As I'm 1/2 of the way through a 3 week "dip the toes" adventure through the West Coast of the US, though it's quite a limited perspective, I have found that adventure motorcycling is far more than scenic views, epic rides, magnificent bikes, or amazing foods... it's the people, camaraderie, and relationships that make adventure riding so fantastic. It's also what can make the online ADV community either amazing or appalling. Let's make it amazing. Let's welcome everybody and shun nobody. Let's help guys like you and I fulfill dreams and check off bucket lists. Let's help the introverts break comfort zones, let's help lurkers be inmates, and greet everybody we see on two wheels with a smile.

You wouldn't pass a fellow adventurer out in the world who was stranded or stuck. I'd wager you'd probably stop, help, and even become good friends after a bit of wrenching. And we'd NEVER stop next to somebody who needed help and mock them for their choice of bike, choice of oil, choice of tires... whatever... So why do we do that in the digital world? Let's be a true brotherhood and sisterhood. Let's leave the exclusive, elitist, condescending stuff out, and be the most welcoming, friendly, give-you-the-shirt-off-my-back travelers in the world.

So if you're in the mood to read a very long-winded rant fueled by some extremely negative and condescending comments, then continue reading this post... maybe you'll get a laugh... but really, you've already read the important bits.

Reader... continue with caution:

Whether it's a blog, a YouTube channel, a post in a forum, or even a comment to any of these things... you will undoubtedly come across the highly qualified and omniscient keyboard warrior. This is the guy who--no matter what you post or how you offer to share your life, give advice, or entertain others--will undoubtedly show up to show you and everybody else how he knows more, is vastly cooler, or tell you how you're stupid because he knows everything and does everything correctly, every time, without fail. He is the safest, fastest, smartest, cheapest, richest, most mechanically inclined, farthest travelling, most ADV man in the world.

He's the guy who--no matter where you've been, what your ride, or what advice you have to offer-- will show you how stupid and worthless you are to everybody else on the forum by tearing you down without offering anything useful or conducive.

That's right, when you create any kind of motorcycle-related content on the web, the keyboard warrior will be there with criticism and how to "do it best"... yet lack any kind of photographic, video, or GPS evidence to back up his claims of superiority. Hence he has earned the title of "Keyboard Warrior", because the only evidence of his apparent amazingness comes from what he can type.

When you encounter the keyboard warrior, don't fear. Take any tidbits that might be useful or logical, and then disregard everything else.

If you are worried that you may become a keyboard warrior, there are things you can do. We've all been keyboard warriors before by knocking somebody down to make ourselves look cool... but these tips should help build communities and friendships around ADV motorcycling:
  1. Think about whether your response to comments, videos, or posts is constructive and will provide service to the community, or whether it will only benefit your ego to show how awesome you are.
  2. Will your post, comment, or reply help to get that person out the door on an adventure, or will it discourage them?
  3. Will your post, comment, or reply make the person feel welcome in the community, or will it drive them away?
  4. Is sharing what bike you ride, the adventures you've taken, or the experiences you've had relevant to the conversation, or are you just sharing these things to, again, show how awesome you are? Let's say somebody posts, "I hear a sort of "clack clack" when I reach high RPMs on my KLR, is that common?" Lending credibility to your comment (ie. "Hey, I used to ride a KLR! I might be able to help you fix that,") is helpful. Showing off, (ie. "You should ditch the KLR and get a real bike like a KTM 990, then go around the world blindfolded and live off of only wild berries like I did because blah blah blah . . .") is not helpful. 
  5. It's not helpful to launch into what products you swear by when others work just as well. (Tires, oil, etc). This often "hijacks" the thread. There is a constant battle between schools of thought in the motorcycle world: expensive versus budget, staying light versus being prepared, red versus blue versus orange versus green versus yellow... just remember, different strokes for different folks.
  6. Be moderate. See other people's points of view... but when something may be unsafe, or looks sketchy, or is just different from what you do or prefer, offer sound advice when you've had first hand experience with both sides of the coin. (ie. Don't tell somebody their bike sucks if you've never ridden one like it.)
In closing, this is an open letter to the keyboard warrior in all of us (especially me).

Dear Keyboard Warrior,

We're sick of you and your ilk. We know you have an inferiority complex and have to prove how awesome you are, but you and the other one-uppers who try to make others feel inferior for taking "less-worthy" adventures than you scare off new ADV riders and people who take to the web to look for help with their adventures.

You're not helping, you're hurting. Your minuscule self-confidence and burning need to tear down other people's advice or offers of assistance to make yourself sound awesome not only make you look like a tool to other adventurers, but those who haven't encountered you or your type (and aren't yet aware of your complex) are easily driven away from the joys of Adventure Motorcycling and its many amazing groups and forums because you have to be a fargin' know-it-all.

If you're going to offer to help, then offer to help. Give tips. Give advice. Help others be practical, safe, and have fun... but don't be such a condescending bag of stale dog crap and make it a point to belittle other adventurers or their points of view when they go out on a ledge to share what works for them. Don't tell people they're stupid for asking questions or trying to make the ADV world better with their ideas. And for the love of all that is holy you don't have to tell everybody how you're so incredible because you are more ATGATT, or harder, or safer, or went farther, or ride a better bike at the end of every. single. comment.

Your advice is always welcome. Your condescending remarks are not.


The Entire Frickin' Motorcycle Adventure Community

10 Simple Tips for a Better Motorcycle Adventure & some MUST-HAVE ADV GEAR

My first day on the road taught me some awesome things that I never knew before getting out and taking an adventure for myself. I've only traveled 300 miles so far, but what I learned from today's ADV may help you on your own journeys, and that's what this blog is all about.

  1. Keep baby wipes in the tank bag so you can clean off your face shield after playing chicken with june bugs and have quick-access for potty breaks. Baby powder is also nice in a tank bag to re-apply whenever you stop for gas or a pee-break. You can also use it as a smoke screen in case you're being chased by bad guys. Just pop the cap and use it like a grenade. Not really... but it's fun to fantasize about bombing that overcompensating tail-gater, isn't it? Then again... a trucker bomb (a coke bottle filled with urine) MIXED with baby powder would be epic. Now I'm daydreaming. "Taste the sweetness of my revenge, you idiot cager in the gigantic white truck that overcompensates for..." I tip.
  2. Ear plugs. Put them in your pocket. Put them in your tank bag. Put them in your back pack. Put those things EVERYWHERE so you never go without them. Hearing loss while riding is real, my friends. If the exhaust noise doesn't get you, the wind noise will. Use ear plugs, especially on long rides.
  3. Get one of those curly, bright-colored, little wrist-loop key chain thingers to put on your key. That way you're more likely to see it and remember to take it out of the ignition at the gas station. You can also loop it around your wrist so you don't have to put the key in your pocket and rummage for it later. You can snag a five pack at a dollar store, or get one from Wal Mart for like $3. Cough*RIPOFF*cough.
  4. Packing things behind you on the seat is not a bad thing, and wearing a backpack doesn't cause fatigue if it can rest on the seat or on something you've packed behind you. When your butt gets a little tired you can half-stand on the pegs and distribute your weight through your legs and rest your hams (not your butt) on whatever you've packed behind you. Riding like this is actually mega comfy provided you're following the next tip.
    ****UPDATE**** Riding with your backpack on is doable, but it is far more comfortable to simply strap the backpack down somewhere else and keep all that weight off your shoulders. Even if the pack is propped up by a bag behind you, it's just more comfortable to leave it off.
  5. Take the peak off your dual sport helmet while on the highway. It might block a few centimeters of the setting sun during the five minutes of the day that that's even a problem, and granted it does make you look like a ridiculously-cool ADV veteran... but riding with that thing on the freeway is like flying a giant fourescent orange flag from the top of your helmet. Aerodynamics and comfort should trump looking cool every time.
  6. Get a tool tube so you can save room in your soft luggage. I've poked holes through soft bags with tools before... it's better to have them in a hard container. I picked up a welding rod holder from Harbor Freight for 5 bucks, and will hose-clamp it onto the front of the skidplate.
  7. Get a Ram Mount for your phone... that thing was AWESOME! It gets the GPS right up there where it's visible, puts the phone in a place where you can use one-button voice commands, and generally allows you to safely (and securely) use the moto-centric features of your phone hands-free on the road. Also, once the phone is in the "X Grip"... it is IN there. I have ridden some intense enduro with my phone in there and it didn't move a centimeter. Now don't get me wrong I HATE when people use their phones in their cars and you're an idiot if you use it while on the bike. However, it sure makes it a lot easier to access phone features WHEN YOU PULL OVER instead of fumbling through your tank bag or pocket where it's prone to scratch. It's also nice to see who is calling before you pull over to rummage through your stuff only to find out it's a telemarketer or ex.
  8. Get a Sena Headset to listen to music and get handsfree phone calls while on the road. This thing was seriously a life saver, and sounds a LOT better than wind noise, even with earplugs in. I often turn my Sena up a bit with my earplugs in. No wind noise, no exhaust noise, just clear music and phone calls to make the miles fade faster than memories of said exes. You might think that the people on the other end of the call can't hear you well? Nope. Comes through loud and clear. I love this thing.
  9. Get the Green Chile Adventure Gear soft rack to hold your whatever. That thing is AMAZING! It held my laptop case on solid as a rock, and then was modular so I could strap stuff on TOP of the case. This thing is ESSENTIAL for adventure! Or even for a commute! I love this thing because I can also use it on my DRZ 400 without the hassles of installing a rear rack. It's way less expensive than a rack, way more modular, no bolts or loctite, easier to remove, lighter, easier to strap things to, and did I mention it's rock solid?
  10. Get a Seat Concepts seat... they are well worth the money and IMHO the best value for the dollar in motorcycle seats. You'll have to spend some time installing the new foam and cover to your old seat pan, but unless your time is worth $200 for 30 minutes and a few staples, Seat Concepts seats are a steal... and a well-known player for value and comfort in the ADV seat market. As you know, I've had issues with my buttocks that at one point threatened to end my motorcycling permanently. Surgery definitely helped, but let's just say that I would not be taking this 4000 mile trip if not for my confidence in this seat.

Day One of the West Coast ADV - The Hardest Day of my Life

Today was perhaps the most difficult day of my life. I've had days where I've lost loved ones, broken bones, passed kidney stones, been stabbed, been fired, and been too depressed to get out of bed... but today... today was different. All of those other ailments were caused by some external force--whether chemicals in the brain or a short flight from a motorcycle seat--while today's difficulty came of my own volition.

Last night I was up until only about 1:00 prepping and packing the KLR for this three-week adventure across the west coast. For the first night in a few, I actually slept soundly. The stress of packing the bike with all my ADV gear was over, and I could simply snuggle with my wife and crash.

This morning was vastly different.

Wife to work. Kids to babysitters. Dad to... British Columbia? Suddenly there was this big disconnect, and following the kids out the door to the car with about 60,000 hugs didn't make it any easier. "Daddy will be gone for a long time," has been a common theme in our home for the last month, but they still didn't understand. They were just excited to go and see the new toys at the babysitters'. I would see Jess at work once the bike was packed... but for the kids, that was it. Three weeks.

To some people three weeks is nothing. Deployments, business trips, or even long work schedules make "three weeks" sound ridiculous. Still, this will be the longest time without my kids or wife, and since I'm also a "full time dad" it's tough.

And then I had what could best be described as a sort of "near death experience". They pulled away with oblivious waves as I was hit with intense regret. Not for motorcycling or adventuring. That is my job, and the time I am away will pay dividends when I get to work from home upon my return. No, it was for wasted time. Time playing utterly pointless pirate games on my phone. Purposeless time on Facebook. Time "dinking around" as we say in my family... simply wasted time that I will never get back. Time that could have been spent creating adventures and memories with my kids.

This hit me so hard that I lost all sense of what I should be doing. My mind was split between prepping the bike and thinking about my kids. I would be in the garage and think, "I need to get my socks on," then go upstairs to the room and... dust the computer? Only to find myself back in the garage facepalming because I still didn't have my socks on.

Finally I pulled it together and finished packing Brent's KLR 650, "Serena". The load was secure.

I tried to cram down some generic Cinnamon Toast Crunch, but my stomach was too "blegh". I double checked my list, hopped on the KLR, and started the adventure.

The first thing I noticed was how awkward the KLR now felt. It was like a sea lion on land. Just getting the kickstand up (a quibble I've always had with the KLR) was a chore. I had to lean the bike to the right near the tipping point to kick it up. Maneuvering it out of the driveway was no less awkward. With all that crap loaded to the back, the seating and position was also wacky. I was firmly sammiched between the tank bag and he rear bag... and wearing a backpack only added to the sardine-ness of the arrangement.

It was on to my wife's work, then fuel, then the open road.

I ambled to Jess' work and rattled in the front door feeling like C3PO in all my gear. Leaving my wife was the hardest part of the whole morning. It was a long goodbye, and I managed to get a few minutes of it on video before putting my helmet on, then taking it back off for more long goodbye without the camera. There were some brutal tears, but those were interrupted by some passerbyers. Gotta look manly when you're tip-to-toe in moto armor. It's a good thing I had already shaved my beard or it might have shriveled up and fallen off my face.

Letting her go I just looked at her. Tears in her eyes, tears in my eyes. I was about to call the whole thing off.

Finally it was time to go. Tear that bandaid off quick, man. I fired up the bike as she disappeared behind the door, and got on the road.

Getting the stand up and stopping on the seal--er...I mean KLR 650--is a chore. But if the KLR is a beached seal at a stop, it's right in the water on the freeway. 65-75 was no problem at all with stock gearing. Brent's oversized windscreen was awesome, as were the Gen 2 KLR's fairings that I had previously seen as overkill in an old review. Wind fatigue was a non-issue. At that speed I can make good time, enjoy the scenery around me, and ride in comfort. Suddenly all that stuff sammiching me was a support for my core, and the distance from Saint George to the I-70 was easily crunched. The apprehensions about the adventure all but disappeared when I got on the road and found out how comfortable I would be for the next 4000 miles. That would worry me no longer. The tunes cranking from the Sena SMH10 put me in a sort of zen that dulled the miles and feelings of anxiety like morphine.

One thing I can say about riding on the freeway... take the time to remove the peak on your dual sport helmet. It might block a few centimeters of the setting sun during the five minutes of the day that that's even a problem, and granted it does make you look like an ADV veteran... but riding with that thing on the freeway is like flying a giant flag over your head that not only whips your head around with wind, but also says, "ADV n00b." Aerodynamics trumps looking cool every time.

My route was diverted when Mr. DuhFactor called me with news that he, Mr. Rojoneck, and Adventure 2 Wheels would be in Springville to guide me in from the first leg of the adventure. I planned on riding through Spanish Fork Canyon, but changed directions at the prospect of riding with some of my heroes. Going through Nephi, I had to get a hold of my great friend Dr. Dual Sport to join us. We met up, Charles (Dr. D) got his bike ready, gave me a gift (I'll let you see that on his channel), and we rode to the Cracker Barrel in Springville to meet.

I thought we'd be riding from Hobble Creek to Squaw Peak for the last leg of the adventure... which happens to be one of my favorite fire-trail rides in the world so far, but time-crunches meant that the Misters would have to get back to SLC.

They escorted me, a huge overloaded B52 Bomber, like fighter jets on the freeway. Darting around me signing "love" and throwing out shakas while buffering my lane from the semis and idiot cagers. With all their cameras rolling I felt like a rock star. Finally they peeled off as I approached the bombing run in Bremen ("Memphis Belle" inside joke, there). Only Dr. Dualsport remained with me to meet my parents and give me encouragement and a final hug before heading back to Nephi on his Dual Sported WR 450.

Stop one was at my parents' house. (I know... I know... but family first!) I unloaded the bike and headed to Harbor Freight for some staples, a tool tube, and a few other tools with my dad. Tomorrow is another big day of bike prep. I now have even more stuff to haul, and will be replacing the stock seat with a beautiful Seat Concepts Commuter. Ohhhhh my posterior will be in butt-nirvana once I get that baby on.

That sounded weird.

eveRide out.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Pre ADV Thoughts and Feelings... Worries, Finances, Goals, & Dreams o#o

A rather raw look into some of my apprehensions about the fast-approaching West Coast adventure ride, the future of my channel, finances, and goals. I noticed that through this video I probably sound pompous in some parts. I'm not sure if I'm overcompensating for the deep fear I have of the whole venture and fooling myself into security... or perhaps I really do feel confident in my future because I know who's at the helm. We'll find out together.

I figure that while others have traveled farther, ride better, pack smarter, go faster, or are better in than me in a million different ways... I can offer you my realness. I can tell you what's really going on in my mind, and perhaps we can relate to each other. The way I see it with just a day left before it's go-time, riding the thing will be the easy part. The mental and emotional battles I face will be much more difficult. That doesn't mean that the whole adventure will be a sob fest or a depressive rant. However, I do intend to reveal the true fears, anxieties, hopes, and emotional complexities of taking huge risks (among many of the other logistical preparations) through adventure riding.

A gigantic THANK YOU for using the Amazon links. Honestly, none of this would be even close to possible without you guys doing that simple gesture of trust in me!

I promised full disclosure on how this whole thing would work, so that's why I'm talking about finances etc. Keep in mind, my mortgage payment is $900 a month, which is the same as rent in my area. If you guys have questions about personal details of how I make ends meet I'd be happy to disclose... I really do want to show anybody how they can have adventure in their lives while still living a regular life and/or even making money while adventuring. I've just gotta find out how it's done for myself first :)

Sunday, September 21, 2014

3 Week West Coast ADV on a KLR 650

Here is my packing list for my three week journey aboard one my great friend Brent's KLR 650. Pictures to come soon of how it all packs up on the bike.

I've got a lot of emotions running through my head right now. As an average guy with a bit of anxiety, this "little" trip is a very big deal to me. It is literally nothing compared to the hardened adventure riders who circumnavigate the globe or brave countries that nobody has heard of... but to me, the average guy, and perhaps to you, too, this is 3500 mile trip is the biggest adventure of my life. It will be the longest away from my family, the farthest from them, and the riskiest endeavor I have ever undertaken. I say this because in lieu of returning to the world of teaching high school special education classes, I have decided to become a professional adventurer and "YouTuber". Now before you say, "Why not just keep teaching?" Well... that's a topic for another day. To keep things short-ish, let it suffice that there is something out there calling me. Something that I've had all my life. I need to find it. Whatever it is...

Perhaps you've felt the same way... like there's something more than the 9-5 desk job or punch-in-punch-out-pay-the-rent lifestyle... part of me wants to find this "it" for myself, and part of me wants to inspire you to find your "it" while I try to find mine.

Enough about emotions and weepy-eyed sentimental stuff. There will be plenty of time for writing (and filming) about those later. Let's get down to brass tacks before I spend the next three weeks in the fetal position on my bed instead of enjoying life on two wheels through the great North West and the PCH.

My packing list is based on a few nights camping (hopefully not urban camping), with most of my journey spent couch-surfing with my amazing and generous friends who I haven't met yet.

Please comment if you think I'm missing anything vital! Also, how would you pack a 17" laptop on a motorcycle? I've determined that I have to take it... as it is my connection to my life and this new work I am perusing.

    1. 3 sets underpants
    2. 3 sets undershirts
    3. 3 sets socks
    4. 2 riding jerseys
    5. 1 riding pants
    6. 1 casual pants
    7. 1 gym shorts
    8. 1 Down Jacket
    9. 1 Waterproof Pants
    10. Sanuks
    1. Balaclava
    2. Cold Weather Gloves
    3. Thermals
    4. Layered Jacket
    1. Tent
    2. Flashlight
    3. Sleeping Bag
    4. Tarp
    5. Sleeping Pad
    6. Stove
    7. Water Filter
    8. Knife
    9. Lighter
    10. Electrical Tape
    11. Duct Tape
    12. Utencils
    13. Toilet Paper
    1. Spare Tube
    2. Tire Irons
    3. Zipties
    4. Tools
    5. Pump
    6. SPOT
    7. Multitool
    8. JB Weld
  5. ARMOR
    1. Knee Guards
    2. Boots
    3. Armor
    4. Helmet
    5. Gloves
    6. Neck Brace
  6. FOOD
    1. Fiber
    2. Mountain House Meals
      1. 3x Dinner
      2. 3x Lunch
      3. 3x Breakfast
      4. Spare Water Container
    1. Extra Mic
    2. Hat Cam
    3. Boom King
    4. as100
    5. as15
    6. a3000
    7. Anker Battery
    8. Chargers
    9. SD Cards
    10. Laptop???
    1. Deodorant
    2. Baby Powder
    3. Toothbrush
    4. Toothpaste
    5. Baby Wipes
    6. “Roid” Wipes
    7. Chapstick
  9. MISC
    1. Ear Plugs
    2. Paracord
    3. Spare Bolts
    5. Notebook
    6. RAM Mount
    1. Passport
    2. Wallet
    3. Spare Key
    4. Phone & Charger
    5. SunGlasses
    6. Copies of important documents
    7. Insurance Documents
    8. Spare Cash

Monday, September 15, 2014

Marriage vs. Motorcycling - What If Your Wife Wants You to Sell Your Mot...

What do you do if your wife asks you to stop motorcycling? This has happened to me before. I ended up selling the bike, but I came out with some good insights. So how did I convince her to not only let me get another motorcycle, but start adventure motorcycling full time? I even convinced HER to get a bike, and ride with me! Well, the secret is... there was no convincing. Find out how we made it work by watching the video above. Make sure to check out the videos when the credits roll for more dual sport motorcycle ADV with my wife!

Sunday, September 14, 2014

The Very Real Panic of ADV Motorcycling Prep & Risk

Last night was a rough and deeply personal night that shed new light on my cowardice and shortcomings, but in the spirit of documenting everything about the adventure and its preparation, I feel I should share even though it not only discredits me as a "brave" individual or adventurer, but may also put me in the camp of, "This guy should never go adventuring. Ever. Ever ever ever."

After a great live hangout with so much help and feedback from so many awesome people, I went to bed feeling pretty amped up about the adventure. Now I know that this trip is not a big deal. It covers a relatively short distance and gets me pretty much nowhere truly foreign. Thousands of others have gone much farther with much less support. Yet, despite the apparent ease and excitement of what lay ahead, last night was a brutal wake up call to the realities of adventure in my life.

From about 2:30 on I woke up to what could best be described as a panic attack. My daughter was crying in the other room, and my sweet wife quickly hopped out of bed to help her. Suddenly my mind was racing, and the stress soon turned to a type of terror I have only experienced a few times in my life. My stomach knotted and my immune system went completely haywire. I had everything from nausea to heartburn to unrelenting allergic reactions. I broke out. I was sweating profusely. My nose ran like a faucet. My heart was beating through my chest and between trips to the bathroom to attempt to vomit or clear my sinuses, there was no chance of sleep.

But the real assault wasn't on my body, it was on my mind and my confidence. My resolve was shredded to pieces, and the happy-go-lucky attitude turned into dread and some serious negative introspection. I'm not some adventurous jet-setting bachelor with tons of time or money or experience in foreign countries. I don't have a job that allows me lots of time off. I don't have a job, period. I've got a family, and some immense responsibilities to provide for them. And if this stuff doesn't work out and my fears are manifested... then it's going to be a long and painful recovery.

I'll try to recall the things that I was most afraid of, and perhaps this will someday ease your mind in that odd an inexplicable way how humans tend to connect through hearing of others' adversities.

Now you have to realize... panic attacks rarely focus on the rational. So these thoughts and emotions may seem baseless or trivial, but at the time (and to some degree even now) they seem like insurmountable obstacles. From my perspective (and perhaps from yours, too) these are legitimate concerns.

According to the farmer's almanac (which is uncannily accurate) this winter could be the coldest in 50 years. This news comes on the heals that the ultimate destination of my adventure (Victoria, BC) depends on a piece of paper issued by a dysfunctional government. My hopes of getting out by mid September are quickly fading to a realization that, at best, the travels will start in mid October. At that time, my home in St. George will be a pleasant 75-85 degrees and sunny, while high temperatures in the north will dip to the 40s to 60s depending on elevation, and below freezing at night. I have camped in much worse, but never from a motorcycle, never alone, and never without a "bailout" plan. These changes in fall weather could lead to dangerous conditions on the road. Wet weather, frost, and even snow could create conditions that could stop the journey completely. This, coupled with the fact that I have no insurance (life or health), and you can understand why my mind went into a tailspin.

And then there was the notion of giving up. Turning back. Failing, which I can't allow. Not only would I disappoint the people that I've committed to educate and entertain, but I would have invested nearly 1/5 of my family's quickly dwindling nest egg of savings into a fool's errand. Buying the KLR back was a mistake not because it's not a worthy bike, but because a 1994 KLR, no matter how good of shape Damon can get it into, will never be worth more than $1500 to re-sell. In short, I will never get my money BACK on that investment, but there's no chance in hell that I won't get my money's WORTH.

The idea of failure is crippling. It would mean not only a huge disappointment for the people who watch my content, who support my dreams, and who most importantly I consider to be "friends I just haven't met yet", but it would doom the entire dream--the entire channel goal. A failure on my first soft-pitch adventure would prove disastrous for my long term career goals as an "adventure educator". Now this morning, with a more rational mind, I realized that this was not the case. If the adventure failed the channel would continue to grow at its regular pace. However, again with a rational mind, I realized that growing at the "status quo" will soon mean that the whole dream is over. A channel with such a small reach as mine has no chance of supporting my family even at the current rate of growth based on Amazon affiliate sales and adsense alone. We only have so much saved to get this started, and unless something big happens (hopefully a shot of massive growth spurred on by the adventure travels) then it's over. A failure to deliver on the "dip your toes" adventure will kill my ability to create content, as I'll need to wake up and get a real job within the next few months if something big doesn't happen. A job will mean an end to large-scale adventures. As you know, family must come first.

So my mind and heart raced onward, pushed by necessity to provide. I have to go. And then came the smaller doubts and concerns--and while trivial and insignificant--they were in some ways just as potent as the panic about financial and physical ruin.

What about my family? Weeks and perhaps months at a time spent on the road. I would miss them dearly. Though my kids are sweet, they're also a handfull. My wife often needs my help to bail her out when she's feeling stressed with the kids. Where can she turn? Where will they turn? They grow up so fast, even a few weeks is like an eternity. Will they feel that I've left them forever? Will they still be close to me when I return?

And my wife. I will have nobody to hold. She is such a strength in my life. She fuels me in so many ways. I need her just as much as I need food, water, and oxygen. I know that sounds corny, but it's true. When I'm without her I feel an inexplicably hollow feeling. Like starvation that no food can satiate. She, more than motorcycling, more than meds, more than anything else, is my antidepressant. Not only does she keep me from sinking low, but she is constantly what lifts me up. And I mean this with all the respect and reverence toward matrimony and our marriage covenants that can be conveyed through words, but what about sex? That loving act is so powerful in our lives... to be without that most important kind of affection and intimacy for a long period of time is certainly going to be difficult.

And now onto more trivial matters...

What about uploads? How could I upload content on the road? Do I prepare a pre-scheduled stream of content while I'm away? Or do I attempt to upload from the road? Editing, comments, and the managerial side of running the channel takes days of work that I don't want to spend away from my family. While I am out, I want to be adventuring, not editing. I will most likely prepare content for the weeks I will be away, then edit and upload highlights of the adventure when I get back home.

Then there's the content overload. And comment overload. And message overload that I'm sure to get when I return. I'm sure to have hours upon hours of footage to sift through... and just like the UTBDR episodes, Moab episodes, and my recent 1000 mile trip, I burned out on editing so the footage either sits unused or the content was uploaded raw. And what about your reaction to these uploads? Would they grow tired of the trip series? These videos can't just be "entertaining"... they must be so good that people feel they are worthy to not just watch, but to share. Without massive channel growth, the dream is DOA.

What about my health? It was not long ago that I had surgery on my "exhaust port" that made riding infinitely more tolerable, but problems still remain with my digestion and ability to handle foods and, more importantly... take craps. I am like Conan the Barbarian to any bathroom I encounter. In other words, I conquer and destroy without mercy. And here I am being offered to stay in people's homes with these destructive digestive issues? Maybe it's not as bad as I think. I certainly hope it's not. For those of you considering hosting me, just know I'm handy with a mop. (Kidding, really... I'm all noise.)

And what about hygiene and showering? When out in the woods, riding a motorcycle, or playing soccer, volleyball, or racquetball I could not care less how I smell. However, making first impressions on people with the odor I can emit is sure to create an experience that they nor their olfactory senses will never forget. I feel awkward at the idea of showering in another's shower, pooping in another's toilet... washing clothes in another's laundry. When I talk about "comfort zones"... that is what I mean. I have yet to tell the trail tale, but I am petrified... I mean absolutely mortified, of defecating in public places.

And I dread repairs. If you know me, you know there hasn't been a single repair attempt beyond replacing a sprocket that has been successful for me. I even struggle with changing tires. Even changing the oil is a 50-50 success rate for me. I am the world's worst mechanic who wants to adventure on a 21 year old motorcycle. That's like a blind man who endeavors to become the world's greatest birdwatcher.

And then there are the little comforts of home. Sitting in a chair. Pooping on a toilet instead of squatting. Baby wipes and spare toilet paper. Air conditioning and heating. A warm shower. A washer and dryer. Changes of clothes. Water on demand. Even a bed with my beautiful wife next to me and a blanket that I can stretch in instead of a sleeping bag that keeps me cramped up like a cocoon. Even my little kiddos waking me up early each morning... this will be a huge adjustment.

True adventurers are laughing at me right now, because I'm sure that Alex Chacon or Ted Simon never worried about these things. Maybe Ewan McGregor did. Probably not Charlie. In any case, I truly am the most ill-equipped human being to go on an adventure in the history of mankind.

Then there's the social norms that I am sure to be clumsy with. My own awkward (and to this point hidden) codes of social conduct and dogmatic rituals that others will undoubtedly find draconian. Some good friends who I have met while riding already know this... and the "dodging" conversations that ensued led to hilariously awkward stammerings on my part,  but I don't drink. The consumption of libations seems to be almost as much a part of ADV riding as putting on a helmet.

Now most people understand total sobriety from alcohol and accept that as a part of some people's lives if they've struggled with alcoholism, or who don't like the taste, or who can't handle the booze, or just would rather not have it... but then there's people like me, where it's not a choice of health or preference, but of religion, an aspect of my life that I haven't really revealed publicly. I assume that many people have guessed my religious beliefs based on where I live and the gratuitous replacement of actual swear words with a more PG rated dialogue, even to the point of replacing socially harmless words like "douchebag", "damn", or "hell" with a bleep. Religion plays a large part in how I try to live. I say "try" to live and not just "live" because I'm deeply aware of my own vices and flaws that haunt me every day. I'm certainly not a standard bearer or posterboy for my faith, and the way I live comes more from personal convictions than from a set of religious rules or "righteous posturing" to look "holier than thou". It is how I was raised. So abstaining from alcohol is one thing, and is quite normal. However, politely declining coffee and tea is just downright weird to most people. And I'm okay with that. I'm okay with being weird because of my religious beliefs, and I will never push them into anyone's face. However, I would very much like to avoid (and even fear) being told that I'm going to hell because I believe differently than other religions. Nor do like hearing that I'm wasting my time in a faith that limits what I can and can't do. As you've seen from my videos, though I struggle with depression and some social weirdness, I'm generally content, I am who I am, and although it's a big part of my life and I find happiness in it's teachings, I very rarely talk about religion at all.

In my life I have lost friendships because of my faith. From experience, I would much rather keep friendships than push my religion (or try to defend faith when others attack it) and lose friendships over what should be largely private and personal paradigms and convictions of how we each choose to live. What is sad to me is the reality that some people, after reading the last paragraphs, will distance themselves from me, make me into a damned soul who needs saving, or cut me off altogether because of something so private and personal. Please don't do that. I have been spit on, assaulted, illegally detained, and had my life threatened at gunpoint over my faith. If you don't think that happens in America, then think again. My fear being attacked both physically and mentally over my faith is very real because it has happened in the past. However, even with these threats I won't deny my personal beliefs. 

So respectfully, let's let each other live the way we choose to live, without judgement and without criticism. Our paradigms are so unique that we can only do the best we can with the lives we have seen from our own perspectives.

On that vein, there has been a very distinctive and respectful way that people have interacted with me both on my channel, when commenting on videos, when sending messages, and even in person. The respect that my friends and audience has shown me by keeping comments clean and family friendly has truly meant a lot. Some riders who I associate with and super-subscribe to even bleep words or try to maintain clean language in their own videos when that isn't their norm. I have immense respect for these people, but hope they know that I would appreciate them and enjoy their content with or without the censoring.... I just might have to wait until the kids are in bed to watch! You should always be comfortable around me to be who you truly are. I will not think less of somebody simply because we have different ways of living. I guess that when it comes to fears, I fear that you will judge me for being a religious wingnut, and I want to lay to rest any fears you may have that I will judge you because of my faith paradigm. That is simply not the case. We are all doing our best to be good people, and that should be enough.

So these fears are real. They spin and entwine. Behind them all is the dread that comes from failure. There's a lot more on the line than a fun trip. We're talking about the well-being of my whole family here, gambled on what... the success of a few motorcycle rides? A YouTube channel? It sounds absolutely insane.

Granted, there is more at stake for me than for most adventurers who have jobs, money, and some time off to go and enjoy what they love. I am staking my livelihood on it. It's both a blessing and a curse. I get to do this as much as I want, but if the money runs dry it is over for a long, long time. I know that my family will recover if I fail, and we will be happy no matter what because we will have each other. But I must admit the guilt I feel for such a risky endeavor is intense. Intense enough to induce these panic attacks at 2:00 am.

However, now that I'm awake and fully conscious--writing for the last few hours and sifting through these fears in my own mind-- the fears are no less real, but the success is plausible, too. The money that I make from YouTube and YOUR help through the Amazon program is nowhere near enough to support a family on, even when compared to a Utah teacher's salary in a single-income home. However, in the last two months that I have worked hard full time on this YouTube stuff, the support shown via the Amazon links has been a major boon to my efforts. The sharing, the comments of encouragement, the private messages with generous offers and kind words... even care packages from amazing people filled with little things for my kids, local treats, or cultural treasures... they fill me with the hope that this really can happen. 

In short, the fear is massive and it is intense in so many ways both large and small... and if I didn't have the support and kindness from friends like you this idea of adventure would have never even crossed my mind because I am just too scared of what would happen if I fail.

However, it's going to happen. To prove to myself that I can do it. To prove to you that you can do it. To prove to anybody with depression, or social anxiety, or panic attacks, or even just a weird and awkward fear of pooping in public places that it can be done. Rain or shine or snow or phone calls or flat tires or having to use truck stop bathrooms, it can be done.

What do I really have to lose? Barring a serious accident that costs life or limb (which we all face daily, on any risk we venture)... just money, really. Money that comes and goes and means nothing in the long run. I could lose some time MAKING money... the cost of going for this dream instead of earning a steady income at a job. However, we've positioned ourselves to have almost no debt. We may lose our home, but that's not the end of the world. Our mortgage is only slightly more than what rent would be, and far less than what rent would be in a similar sized duplex. We may stay below the poverty line, but we're already there, so that's not a factor in our happiness, so that fear has no grip on me. I could "lose" the YouTube channel. Not really, but if I failed I would have to divert my time to other endeavors to support my family, which would take time away from the adventures, editing, and interaction that I so massively enjoy right now. I would revert back to a time before "full time YouTubing", which meant less riding but still showed me a fulfilling life as a special education teacher. That's not a bad thing at all.

I fear the little things, really. Social quirks. My own shortcomings. My inability to leave a bathroom intact. 

What do I have to gain from this?

Well... let's find that out together.

Much love!