Darvin and Todd Puhl, a father-son duo from Southern Ontario, have traveled with Renedian to Africa, Mongolia, and South America. They share unique perspectives on the same trips, and what it’s like to travel together.
“I was banned from motorcycles forever when I was younger, but I decided to get one anyway. My parents found out when I came in the driveway on my RF600 Suzuki, a snazzy crotch rocket.
“Dad decided we’d both take lessons, and that started our riding together.”
When the opportunity to join a group of riders from Budds BMW in Africa came up, it was a win-win. Todd says it was uncharacteristic of his dad. He and Todd’s mom Deb worked eighty hours a week for close to twenty-five years with never more than five straight days off. Deb had always wanted to go to Africa; Darvin and Todd could explore by motorcycle.
“My only gravel experience before the Spectacular South West Africa safari was the quarter-mile twisty, dirt driveway to our house in the country. None of us knew what we were getting into.
“It was awesome to spend that time with them on the road. I wouldn’t trade it for the world. I’d ride with mom and dad a fair bit, and on other sections I’d blast ahead.
“When I rode close to my dad, I was more concerned that he was safe. If I went through a difficult section, I’d watch in the rear view mirror and wonder how my dad was going to get through it. He impressed me with his skills, and knowing he was riding at his own pace reassured me.
Mongolia was an eye-opener for both Darvin and Todd, and taught them about off-road riding. Both struggled at times.
“It was scary when dad hurt himself. He’s as tough as nails. I knew he’d be okay, but I could also tell he was really hurt. I got why he fell and that put a little more fear into my riding. On a different note, having him in the truck gave me a little peace that he wasn’t going to get hurt.
“The day he came back on the bike was the hardest day of riding on the whole trip, yet he handled it with ease, in spite of his injuries. Once I saw how comfortable he looked, I stopped worrying.”
On the second last day, it was Todd’s turn. He got caught in a giant sand rut and landed on the hard dirt beside the sand and broke his collarbone.
“When I look back at Mongolia, as tough, bleak, and desolate as it was, its rawness made it my favorite experience. It’s as close as I’ll ever get to going to the moon.”
South America was amazing in a different way. The riding wasn’t as tough as Mongolia and the culture shock not as great. It was still so beautiful—and still an adventure to share with his dad.
“There’s a level of comfort having someone who knows you inside and out, sharing an experience that’s out of this world. On one level, it provides you with a level of comfort and security. There’s also the level of being able to share an incredible experience with someone who loves you unconditionally.”
Todd and Darvin left their marks in another tangible way. The red toque Todd’s wearing is part of batch of custom hats they made up to give away to kids and helpful locals in Africa. They were so popular, they repeated it in Mongolia, incorporating new designs. Unfortunately, they booked their South America trip at the last minute and didn’t have time to order another batch. The original red one has gone just about everywhere with Todd since Africa.
“I’d love to take my daughter to Mongolia. It would be an eye opener for her and a fantastic experience to share. She’s only twelve, but it’s not too soon to dream.”
In the meantime, he and Darvin are waiting for the next Renedian beta trip, wherever it is.
Photos courtesy of Darvin and Todd Puhl.