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Motorcycle camping

Thursday, August 18, 2016
I've been riding motorcycles for nearly 20 years, and camping off them nearly as long.  I'm always interested to understand how someone who loves riding, doesn't love camping, since there is so much in common with both.
 
First, let's look at some aspects of driving to a destination and why they align with hotel-ing.  In a car, you're enclosed in a shell seperating you from the elements.  You've got a window that allows you to see the outside, but you don't really experience it, except perhaps when you roll down the window at the drive thru.  You've got climate control, and are able to remain reasonably comfortable, regardless of the outside conditions.  If it's cold outside, you have a heater to keep you warm.  If it's hot, the A/C is probably on full blast, keeping the sweat at bay.  You've got cup holders to keep a beverage close by.  You've probably got a comfortable seat for the long haul, and can adjust the backrest to change position easily, avoiding cramps.  Essentially you are isolated from the world thru which you travel.  You see it thru a screen, and don’t fully experience it.
 
Now, imagine you go to a hotel.  Just like in a car, you can see outside, but don't interact with it.  The weather is kept separate from you, and the internal climate is all your experience is.  Your bed is made for you, you don't have to carry a pillow or blanket with you.  The entire experience of staying somewhere other than your home is sanitized a bit, and feels more like home.  It feels comfortable, and perhaps a bit safe.
 
What about riding on a motorcycle?  You're out in the elements.  If it is cold, you are cold.  If it's hot, you are hot.  If it's raining, you are wet.  You smell the freshly cut grass as you pass a field, you feel the sudden chill in the air as you ride along a mountain stream.  While good gear can mitigate a bit of this, you are more a part of the world thru which you travel.  That experience is part of the beauty of riding.  You feel the bumps in the road, pick your line around the gravel in the middle of your lane.  If you brought the wrong gear, you "suffer" more thru the ride.  The "pain" of the experience is part of what makes it so rewarding.  You inhale nature to its fullest.
 
When you are camping, you have many of the same aspects as riding.  You are in nature.  The smells of the land fill your nose.  You are aware of the temperature.  You have to be self-sufficient in your shelter and sleep system.  Your "bed" is as comfortable as you made it by bringing stuff, or adjusting to the location.  The very same essence that makes riding a motorcycle such a rewarding experience is the same when you camp.  There is a natural connection between riding and camping. 
 
When you ride with a group and then camp together, the camaraderie you feel is further heightened because of the shared experience. You cook together, make a fire together, tell stories and may even share a drink together. That's not to say you can't spend time with your fellow riders in a hotel. But the connection loses something... Like driving loses a connection with the places thru which you travel. 
 
There are those that don’t want to try motorcycle camping, saying “I don’t like camping”.  But was their camping experience where they drove in a car to the campsite and then camped?  If so, the journey was lost, and they missed out on the amazing experience that is traveling on a motorcycle. 
 
So to those that ride but don't camp, I say: Give it a try!