Max tagged one of his motorcycle photos with our hashtag #rideandwander on Instagram (@maxarch). I was really inspired after seeing photos from his 12,000 mile motorcycle trip across the United States and wanted to learn more. Here’s his story.
RIDE & WANDER: How long have you been riding and what got you interested in it?
Max Archambault: I have been riding motorbikes for as long as I can remember. I got my first “real” motorcycle when I was 17. It was a 2007 GSXR600 and I’m still not quite sure how I didn’t end my life on that thing. It was great fun, but sport bikes could only excite me so much. If I wasn’t leaned over in a twisty, I wasn’t having much fun. Five years later I began reading about adventure riding, following photographers who decided to purchase a GS or KTM and hit the (dirt) road. The idea of being able to dominate the dirt and gravel was enthralling. I found a bike that I could afford and purchased my first semi-adventure bike, a 2013 Honda CB500X with TKC80s and some other off-road goodies.
RW: What does adventure riding mean to you?
MA: To me, adventure riding means having the ability to roll out of my garage and onto the road in the morning – knowing full well that later I will be sleeping in a tent far from any semblance of a road. I’m going to push that bike to the limits and it better smile and ask for more. Getting a knee down on my GSXR was fun, but there is nothing quite like ripping down a dirt road in search of a place to sleep.
RW: Where did you go on your 12,000 mile trip?
MA: There are almost too many places to name! My friend and I began our trip in New Jersey and headed south. We took Skyline Drive to the Blue Ridge Parkway and continued onto the beautiful Cherohala Skyway through Tennessee. Arkansas, Oklahoma and Texas were nothing to write home about but each had their own little stretch of beautiful scenery. My god, the wind in Arkansas was rough. From Texas we went through Albuquerque and Santa Fe via the Turquoise Trail. The area surrounding Santa Fe has a special type of beauty.
We passed through Durango, CO on our way to Telluride, taking the San Juan Skyway. I cannot say enough about that road. It was, in my opinion, the most beautiful road I had ever seen. From Telluride we headed towards Moab. After seeing Arches National Park, we headed for Zion National Park, passing Capitol Reef and Bryce, as well as a little gem called Kodachrome State Park (home of the infamous Penile Point). We skipped the Grand Canyon due to weather, replacing it with Las Vegas, as we thought any other human would do. What a mistake that was. A couple hundred dollars later I was ready to get out of that shining desert dungeon.
Joshua Tree was our last stop before picking up my girlfriend in San Diego. We rode Highway 1 from San Diego to San Francisco. What an amazing ride that was. From San Francisco, we headed to Yosemite and then towards Oregon. Crater Lake was our first stop. Next was Bend, OR, a great little city with its fair share of good food and great breweries. After stocking up on IPAs for a couple of days, we headed for the coast – free beach camping is something we can’t ignore! Olympic National Park was next, what a fantastic place.
To speed this story up, we shot straight for Bellingham, Washington to visit some college friends who had just moved there last year. Then through Idaho, into Montana. Glacier National Park was my favorite national park. Afterwards, we took the Beartooth Pass into Yellowstone. Also a beautiful ride, although we were gifted with freezing rain up in the mountains. From there we hit Devils Tower National Monument, Mount Rushmore, Crazy Horse Memorial, and Badlands National Park. After that, we had a week left and didn’t see much else. Riding Sioux Falls to Chicago, to home, was a wet and miserable ride. Our bikes had been through a lot and we ran into some mechanical issues that last week. But we did make it home on time. It was a rather complicated route, with highways almost completely avoided until the last couple of days.
RW: Why did you take this route?
MA: We saw it as the most diverse path, enabling us to see the various terrain, cultures, and people that this massive country has to offer. There were various world-renowned parks and scenic byways along the way as well.
RW: Besides loving motorcycles, what’s your main gig in life?
MA: My main gig, that’s a tough one [laughs]. I’m in my last semester at University studying Speech Pathology and hope to hit grad school for Audiology afterwards. I’m also a soldier in the National Guard and am very passionate about becoming an audiologist so I can work with veterans within the VA. I also hope to transition to Aviation with the Guard in the years to come. I’ve flown planes since I was 16 and hope to move to helicopters within the military. Aviation is another passion of mine!
RW: What ride are you looking forward to in the future?
MA: When I start to make money and not have to pay it all to student loans, I hope to pick up a KTM and ride from Alaska to Chile. I also have a friend working the Peace Corps in Ecuador and will likely trade my Honda out for a KLR and ride down there next summer. However, it’s important to remember that even small day trips can satisfy the need for adventure!
Photos by Max Archambault – Check out his website at http://twowheelsandalens.net/