There are many reasons why people keep some sort of record of their travels. For most of us it is a way to save memories, to network with others, and to keep in touch with family and friends. There are others who document their rides for work, to share their experiences with the world, for learning and educational purposes, or to raise awareness for a cause. The list goes on.
For me, I fall a bit in between all of the above. I like to document my motorcycle rides to serve as a personal collection of memories from all the places I have traveled. I also believe it is a fun way to practice my love for photography and videography. Last but not least, I do enjoy sharing my experience on the road as a reference for other bikers who would benefit from sharing tips, places to ride, places to camp. Being a part of the tight knit motorcycle community it is our nature to share experiences.
How the hell…
The ways to record your rides are broad. What is going to work for you is what you can do on the road comfortably. Some suggestions are to keep a journal and write the highlights of each day, or use a voice-recording device for the same purpose. If you are more of a visual person you can use photography, video, blogging, or geotagging. Other creative and fun ways to keep track of your travels are to send home postcards from the places you visit, snap a picture of the same pose in every place of interest, or sketch quick drawings from your stops.
I personally document my rides in several ways. I love to take photographs and videos and share them on social media. Another fun way I record my journey came about from this story:
Long ago a friend doubted my desire to travel far and beyond frontiers by motorcycle. He thought my passion for long distance riding (LDR) was dumb, dangerous, and pointless. After the argument, I carried on with my dream, and as I was riding and reaching new places I thought it would be fun yet satisfying to get back at the naysayer by flipping the finger at every frontier crossing. Is a "look son of a bitch, I made it here" kind of thing... So nowadays I have a large collection of pictures giving the finger at almost every State or Country sign I’ve visited! So the giving the “sign” at the “sign” has become one of my memorable ways to record the places I have visited. It is now a personal tradition and a travel signature.
I also love to write letters and postcards while I am on the road. I find writing to be the best way to keep myself consonant with my journey.
The above ways that I document my rides, in my experience, does not disconnect me from the internal dialogue of my travels. This is very important to me. I do not want to have the pressure or distraction of doing any other activity that would risk disrupting my travel experience by doing so.
Starting with the most simple, I carry a small journal. In this journal I write down quick notes and observations that may pop up throughout the day. Sometimes I write my thoughts at the end of my ride when I am back comfortably in my tent or room. I choose a pocket size journal that can easily fit in my LOBO vest. This is ideal, because I have it handy at gas stops, which I also keep track of my gas expenses in the journal.
For the heavy lifting of the documenting tasks, I bring a GoPro camera with several mounts (handlebars, helmet, headlamp, etc). This allows me to alternate between them all and capture many different angles of the ride. I also use the GoPro in a hand held mode to establish documentary style cameras shots when I am off the bike.
In addition to the GoPro, I also bring my DSRL camera which serves my passion for photography and it’s my main tool on my documentary work on the road. I have a Nikon D750 as my primary camera, in addition to a few FX format lenses that fit this model. I bring a good 35mm prime for wide scenes, which also allows me to achieve a beautiful depth of field on tight close ups. I also carry a practical 70-300 tele that brings the sketchy things like moose and bears closer to me from a safe distance.
Finally, as easy as it gets, I also use my smartphone camera for the mandatory selfie and casual snap.
To edit the photos and videos on the road, I use a couple apps that I truly enjoy. Enlight is the best photo editor out there for the phone. It has a robust set of tools to make your photos sing and get ready for social media. For video I use Splice, which allows me to edit my clips on the road without having to bring a laptop. It comes with a cool selection of royalty free music to make sweet quick postings of your travels.
When I am off the road and back at home, I work with the Adobe Creative Cloud. This is for the more involved videos and photography projects I do after the ride.
To share or not to share…
As in the real world, there is also good and bad in the social media world. In my opinion, it is up to each rider to find the personal limit of where these modern channels’ serve your purpose. My only suggestion is to remain vigilant in not letting it get in the way of your travel enjoyment.
On the upside, social media creates chances to meet up with other like-minded riders all over the world. For any of you who have followed my travels you know I have been blessed to meet, ride, and share information with many rad people I have met through Instagram. Many of these people have opened their homes for me or showed up when I needed help. This is priceless when you are not near your comfort zone of your own home and family. Some social media friends have joined me on my travels to some of the most remote places I have been, people I now call them brothers and sisters.
Staying connected through social media can also, if desired, serve as an element of companionship. Shared comments and likes can create a sense of support while you face the challenges of riding. Getting some cheering here and there can help mentally and sure is welcomed.
The downside of this virtual world resides fundamentally on the distraction factor. The importance we give to it, and how much it takes from our reality, from our enjoyment of the physical places we are seeing, from the tangible human experience of our rides.
As always, find a balance, research, and do your own ride...
Leave us your comments, let us know and share what your approach is, we'd love to hear from you.
It’s your journey… Ride Far!