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Two-wheeled Cabin Fever

As is typical for me, starting in January and with increasing intensity through late March, I spend a lot of time daydreaming about motorcycle adventures during the coming riding season. Now that I am quarantined at home due to the Coronavirus pandemic, this two-wheeled cabin fever is hitting me harder than usual.

Like a pilgrimage, I watch Long Way Round or Long Way Down (or both), and imagine traveling to exotic lands and having many adventures on my 2007 Suzuki V-Strom 650. One of my bucket-list trips is to ride to Prudhoe Bay and dip my feet in the Arctic Ocean. This time of year, I think about that trip a lot.

My latest fantasy ride is the Oregon Backcountry Discovery Route. This is an off-road adventure trip that traverses eastern Oregon from the California border near Goose Lake to the Washington border near Walla Walla. It’s over 1,000 miles and 95% of it is on unpaved roads or even two-track trails. I’m not sure why I so badly want to accomplish that trip considering the fact that riding off-road kind of freaks me out. Maybe that’s the point.

That which does not kill you makes you stronger.

I’ve always had a sense of adventure, especially when I was a kid. My Side of the Mountain was one of my favorite books growing up. The thought of treading new ground or overcoming deadly obstacles to emerge from the jungle or mountains or tundra barely alive but triumphant is appealing to someone like me with an over-active imagination.

Adventures only suck while you’re having them. Afterward, you have some great stories to tell.

Back in the 90’s, I hiked and backpacked a lot, almost exclusively solo. I had a few adventures that definitely sucked at the time, but I do look back on them with some fondness using the filter of time and hindsight. I nearly died on a few occasions.

Now that I am older and in far worse shape physically, I let my friends Shinko and Metzeler and Heidenau do the walking instead of Danner and Merrell and Keen. There are a lot of similarities between backpacking and adventure touring on a motorcycle, though. And sleeping in a tent is the same experience entirely, only I now carry a much thicker and more comfortable pad to sleep on.

Working from home used to be a nice luxury, especially when I had to get something done domestically. I’m fortunate that my career lends itself to remote work; not everyone is so lucky. Now that I’m basically forced to work from home due to public health concerns, it feels different. Doing something is one thing; having to do it is another.

Perhaps my itchy feet and restlessness is my normal, seasonal desire to get out of the house after being cooped up all winter. I think there’s more to it this time around, though. Now that there are quarantine-induced restrictions of all sorts, my options are strictly limited to camping off the bike. Motels and hotels and restaurant food are essentially off the menu.

Yet I feel the need to roam is even stronger.

I don’t mind camping off the bike as long as the weather isn’t too extreme in the wet or hot categories. Being able to camp in a formal campground with showers and running water is a nice compromise. However, I have camped completely unaided by modern conveniences many times, just not on an extended basis.

If I am to go on any two-wheeled adventures this coming season, it will most likely be of the unsupported type, off the beaten path, and without the aid of someone-else-cooked food or end-of day hot showers.

I’ve already begun brushing up on my camping food/cooking knowledge and watching videos of riders tackling the growing number of backcountry discover routes (Oregon was the first, as far as I can tell). Time will tell what I actually get out there and discover this summer.

Stay tuned.

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