Mike McClure loves to get off the beaten track and listen to the sounds of silence.
“As kids, we traveled to Europe with our parents. After graduating from university I spent another six months there, visiting a girlfriend, and my dad who was working there. Five years later I traveled to Asia with a buddy in the Peace Corps. In southern Thailand, I met my wife and we’ve been together ever since.
“Traveling makes the world a lot smaller. You meet people that seem way different than you, but they aren’t. You see interesting things in places that give you a bit of perspective on where and how you live.
“When I’m traveling, I feel good. I’m always learning something.”
Mike owns Tom’s Cycle Shop in Walla Walla, Washington. “We’re an independent shop that sells and services bikes. It’s the kind of shop you’d want to run into if you were traveling and ran into a problem.”
He started riding motorcycles as a child. After a 20-year hiatus, he started up again 15 years ago, striking out from Walla Walla to tour the western states and provinces. Five years ago, he picked up Dual Sport riding and has become fond of gravel roads and mountain camping.
When he can combine travel and motorcycling, he’s in paradise.
Mike’s first international and organized group travel on a motorcycle was Renedian’s Victoria Falls to Cape Town safari in 2015.
“I loved the huge open spaces of Namibia. I’d create a big space between me and the other riders, stop in the middle of the road, turn the bike off, remove my helmet, and let my ears adjust. I’d stand there, take in the landscape, and listen to the sounds of silence —until the next bike came along. Then I’d gear up, ride ahead, and do it again.
“I came to look at riding on gravel as a metaphor for life. You can’t look down at the problems that are right at your feet. You’ve got to look ahead at your life, keeping your eyes out. You need to have confidence and keep your momentum up. At the same time, you’ve got to feel where the bike is because it’s moving underneath you.
“You get in the zone and it changes your experience.
He jumped at the opportunity to join Renedian’s beta Journey to Ushuaia tour. “I like the way Rene travels and I didn’t know much about the area.”
“In South America, we rode a gnarly, twisty, gravel road around a lake. Huge drop-offs and big climbs added challenge. I was giggling in my helmet, thinking how lucky I was to be here doing this. It surprised me to hear others commenting on road conditions or being cut off by cars.
“Africa is fantastic for the culture, animals, and scenery. South America is more of a rider’s trip with challenging roads and BIG scenery—20 days of vast plains, lakes, glaciated peaks, mountain passes, and riding along the coast. And wind.
“Spring time is vibrant and alive with rivers running full, strong, and clear. Animals are out with their babies and wildflowers flourish everywhere. Acre after acre is thick with lupens.”
This summer Mike will be riding his Dual Sport bike in Washington’s Cascade mountains.
“A hundred miles from downtown Seattle we find these little lakes with no one there. That’s where I go to get immersed in the sounds of silence.
Photos Courtesy the Collection of Mike McClure