Out of Nigeria USA Ride
Adventure motorcycling on the back of my BMW R1200GS Rallye is my favorite thing to do! But traveling through the southwest United States may be the most adventurous and exhilarating destination you can think of. My new friend from Nigeria, Toyin Adebola is passionate about motorcycles, adventure travel and the “Old West,” it seems. It was the fulfillment of his dream to have Epic Nomad take him on an adventure through California, Nevada, Utah and Colorado to see how roads and sights compare to his home and his latest adventure through Europe. It was up to me, the people and nature to win his heart over. All I wanted to hear him say was "This was the Ride of My Life!"
I am frequently flooded with inbound emails asking to film motorcycle adventure riders all over the world. They can range from John Doe's back yard to full blown relief projects to help out a devastated part of a continent. Primarily many are not prepared for the journey. Then there are some special requests that seem too good to be true. My spam folder used to be flooded with several guys claiming to be the “Barrister of the Prince of Nigeria” promising just a small percentage of their millions if I would simply allow them to use my bank account for a wire transfer. Basically anything from Nigeria has been typecast in this vein. However, one email caught my eye and I had to see if this was too good to be true.
A pastor from Nigeria named Toyin Adebola who has a special love of BMW Adventure Motorcycles was connected to my good friend Ron Grace from Colorado. Ron was promoting Toyin’s first film "Out of Nigeria, Fire and Ice" because he genuinely appreciates motorcycle adventure films and this was suitable for an entire family to watch. In Toyin’s first film he and a few members of the Nigerian based Eagle Motorcycle Club travelled more than 8,000 miles from Nigeria through North Africa, into Europe to the IceHotel in Sweden and around the Arctic Circle.
The trip started off with Toyin being greeted by a San Diego welcoming procession of a few significant 6.0 earthquakes. We had a day before we needed to head to Hollywood for Toyin to receive a Documentary Film Award so we met up with my friend Chelsea Middlebrook who invited us to visit her Braaaaptastic camping trip in the Laguna Mountains. 10 minutes after we left the freeway, Toyin is yelling in my ear, hooting and hollering, concerned for his safety and I asked "what's up, you ok dude?" He was just elated with the ride so far and had to let it out. I mentioned, "dude, you have not seen ANYTHING yet!" It gets pretty easy to take your current surroundings for granted, Toyin was fully engaged in this new terrain and the quality of the San Diego roadways.
I accompany Toyin to Hollywood where he receives his International Independant Documentary Award with warm smiles and a welcoming applause. It is really inspiring to see a group of moviegoers who embrace an adventure film about motorcycles as happily as we do.
We leave the theatre and learn that Toyin has never been camping. His first time in the great outdoors. First time to sit around the campfire and recap his enthusiasm on the beauty of his first time in Southern California. Truly a special experience to sit by a campfire, sleep under the stars and smile from your day of riding. Our guest has never done ANY of this before. He has never even slept in a tent! When you look at where you live through somebody else's eyes, you come to a new appreciation of your own famialiar scenery. I can’t help but laugh at what Toyin is going to see on day 2! For me it is some of the most epic sights in the world and comparing it to my home made my home seem insignificant.
We eat up miles through the rest of California, through Death Valley, passing Las Vegas and landing in Utah in the middle of the night. As we drive through the small towns we try not to focus on the ghastly immense beings staring at us like giants in the night. The towering rock formations of Zion seemed foreign almost like ancient beings watching vigil over us.
The phrase “I don’t have words….” came up frequently. Zion is nearly indescribable, it makes you feel small somehow. You know the world is big but when you are sitting at the bottom of the river beds looking at these beautifully colored rock formations that jettison out of the earth so abruptly you really feel like all the little problems in your life are simply nothing.
Being on a Motorcycle through Zion is unique, as you are not confined to a few windows of an enclosed vehicle you can really take in the scenery more easily. While you pass these iconic locations you get some "helmet time" to reflect on what you just saw. Too often a family will get to the viewpoint, take their photos and be back in the car watching the latest animated animal movie as they drive to the next picturesque destination, shortly forgetting the resting power of these places. As the whole crew with Toyin chat to each other in the Sena 10C communication systems, we all rolled away with a new perspective, as if we had a mental cleansing.
Not too far from Zion we pitched tents and camped in Bryce Canyon and were ripe with anticipation to arrive at our first off road destination, Moab! Captain Neil Hightower was navigating us towards a route called Fins and Things the area known as Slickrock and it did not disappoint. Toyin loves adventure motorcycling, but as much as his Adventure Bike is ready for off-road, he has not had the opportunity to put it on dirt and rocks. Our Moab trip was his first time riding off-road. There is a couple of learning lessons Toyin received: 1. Don’t touch your front brake! 2. Stand on your pegs for balance 3. Body positioning is fluid and critical! Although nervous at first, Toyin was shocked that he had so much grip and had a complete blast riding Slickrock and came out a hero.
While we could stay there for another month, we had people to see and places to be. Namely, Woody from Woody’s Wheel Works was waiting for Toyin and our crew. He was starting the inaugural "WoodyStock" and Toyin was the Guest of Honor. We leave with a “PermaSmile” and head off into grand state of Colorado.
When we arrive in Denver at Woody’s Wheel Works, Woody opens his arms, house and shop for the entire team. Surprisingly, Evan Firstman and Owen Balduf from E&O Medicine Show showed up and immediately became best friends with Toyin. The moment they met, they were making music together and laughing as if they were old friends, truly a beautiful moment. E&O Medicine were the headliner of WoodyStock and their spin on cover songs really lights up your heart. And when you have a Nigerian Pastor / Musician / Rock Star you have to put him on stage.
While mingling with the concert goers we meet George Furko the founder of the Northern Colorado Adventure Riders, followers of The Ride of My Life. They invited to their campsite and we were welcomed with BBQ and cold beers.
Toyin needed to update his garage a little bit and picked up a BMW R1200GSA AND a Honda CRF450. Ron Grace volunteered to take him to the motocross park to teach him as well his kids how to ride the dirt bike off jumps and around burms. 30 minutes later he was ripping, it only makes sense. We leave Denver feeling as if we're supposed to live in those moments forever. Our tour of the Southwest of the United States has reached its halfway point.
As we finally pass the mountains we hit the familiar desert. Rolling hills, large rocks that look like grains of sand from far away. Then we start to see Aliens, large facilities with alien spaceships, extra terrestrial museums and a 30 foot tall statue! I may be going out on a limb here, but I don't think that there are areas in Nigeria that can compare to these little towns. I just cannot imagine backwoodsman of Nigeria building circular spaceships and crafting metal Alien statues. It is truly Americana. We pass unmarked black vehicles and the infamous Area 51 roads that extend beyond the curvature of the earth, even when you are on the top of a mountain staring out into questionable oblivion. Despite our adventurous spirit, we continue on course and don't follow our curious tangents.
The Badlands by Klim is heavy and can get hot. It is made to endure some of the most intense elements. 118 degree heat, not so much. Sweat is your friend in the desert. The Klim venting can only do so much, it is like being shot in the face with a hair dryer. If the heat is too much find shelter. Don't remove your helmet and jacket to continue riding. Neil was diagnosed with Heat Exhaustion from removing his gear, he had to learn his lesson the hard way. We can take it as a lesson to keep our gear on, no matter what.
ATGATT (All The Gear All The Time)
Although a couple of the riders had to peel off, we kept forging on. Finally we arrived at Yosemite National Park to witness El Capitan in all its glory. To ride those roads with the beautiful scenery around you without lines of traffic was a special moment for all of us. Plus we got some new commemorative gear from Toyin.
If you can stretch yourself out of your comfort zone, get off the couch and see the world at least a weekend at a time, you will broaden your horizons, meet some really interesting people and you may just develop some friendships that will last for a lifetime. Oh, and wear your gear, it may save your life!