Adventure riding is a phrase that is bandied about all over social media and in magazines and blogs. It's often represented by photos of extreme riding in exotic, faraway places. But what is adventure riding? I've found it is different things to different people. No one definition will do, so all one can reliably say is what adventure riding means to them.
For me, and by extension for Road Dog Publications, adventure riding (and adventure travel, because adventure is not only experienced from the saddle of a motorcycle, although it is a wonderful way to adventure) is any kind of travel that pushes the boundaries of the rider. Because every rider has different limitations that also change over time, what makes riding an adventure is a constantly changing thing, from person to person and as time passes for each rider. Carl Parker, publisher of ADVMoto magazine, recently offered a definition about as good as any: “When everyday people commit to dreams and make them happen, we call that adventure.”
For some people making a dream happen may simply be overcoming the obstacles of working and family life and getting away to experience the road and the countryside. For others, who may already be experienced road riders, the adventure may be when they venture down that National Forest Road on gravel. For others, who've traveled close to home, the adventure may begin when they push further on a multi-week adventure. For some pushing further may mean heading into another country, across a continent, or around the world. Some people's adventure might be getting to know others along the path they ride or learning about other cultures whose countries they pass through.
But what ties all these adventures together is what goes on within the minds of the participants. That's where interesting stories lie (and that is what Road Dog Publications wants to help share with other adventurers). No matter how seasoned an adventure rider is they can always learn something new from the thoughts and reflections of fellow adventurers. Reading about a new rider getting his feet wet touring and what they thought of their experience may make an old hand at adventure riding look at something differently or maybe remember something they had forgotten. And, of course, new riders can learn a wealth of information from those who have blazed the trail before them. While the journeys themselves may be wonderfully interesting, the riders' thoughts and reactions become the real stories.
Because adventure travel is relative and unique to every rider, there is no reason why one cannot be called an adventure rider because they do not loft their front wheel over a log across a trail or do a water crossing when a stream crosses their path. One does not have to cross the Arctic Circle or the Darien Gap to be an adventure rider. Those things describe the extremes of adventure riding, but don't define it. So don't let those dramatic images of hard-core riders slinging mud or your watching Long Way Round convince you that you're not adventure rider material. If you have a dream, and push yourself to accomplish it, you are an adventure rider.