Alex Chacón: The Modern Motorcycle Diaries
By Paul Strubell of Dirt Orcas – 12/26/16
For the thirteenth installment in our ongoing interview series here at Dirt Orcas we are overjoyed to speak with Alex Chacón. Alex is the creator of The Modern Motorcycle Diaries YouTube Series and website of the same name.
He is an extremely well traveled individual, who not only takes amazing trips, but one who also excels at storytelling.
I first became aware of Alex in 2011. As an adventure rider myself I was always looking for inspiration and ideas about places to go or roads to seek out. I cam across his YouTube videos and was immediately impressed. The scope of his trips are jaw dropping for most riders (at this point he has ridden in more than 50 countries around the world), but his knack for videography and editing are equally impressive.
He was early to bring selfie style shots to his travels. This landed him on many new outlets and became a spokesman for adventure travel. CBS News – This Morning had him on to discuss his 3 Year Epic Selfie, which now has over 14 million views on YouTube.
Alex is an excellent reminder that pushing yourself outside of your comfort zone can lead to a life you had only dreamed of.
What do you consider to be your current job?
Digital Content Creator and Influencer
Year, Make, Model of your bike?
Currently I have two bikes the 2007 KLR that I used during the ride from Argentina to Alaska and a 2015 Kawasaki KLR. However, I am renting bikes or purchasing new ones for many of my travels abroad these days. It really simplifies things.
When and how did you get it?
I rode a 2008 KLR in high school. It was at the time just a cost effective way to get around. I felt that I knew those bikes well so I got one for my trip to Argentina then Alaska.
Did you name your bike? What do you call it?
I actually do not name them because I don’t want to get attached to them. I find it best to buy a bike and sell it after your trip to help afford it. Like I mentioned I am also renting more bikes when I travel to other continents to ride. It simplifies things to not have to ship your bike.
What other bike did you consider and what made you ultimately pull the trigger on the one you chose?
I really feel that any bike can be an adventure bike, but I was familiar with the KLR and it made me feel comfortable to undertake a long trip on it.
Have you made any upgrades or changes to it?
Yes! I need to be able to carry a laptop, camera equipment, and a drone, so a well situated pelican case and waterproof panniers are essential to protecting that stuff. My KLR is outfitted with cruise control, a PVC tool tube, fork stabilizer to help manage the 80 — 100lbs of gear I bring on a long distance trip, highway pegs (these come in very handy when you are doing 15 hour days for 500 straight days), and a gadget cradle to secure my phone and charging sources.
What is your favorite part of living off your bike?
I really enjoy the challenge each new day brings. Getting out of your comfort zone and getting into the mode of being an explorer – discovering new lands. I also really enjoy the elemental caveman side of it. The simplicity of providing for your basic needs to keep going.
What is your least favorite part about it?
The financial side of it. Managing the costs. Constantly trying to save for a trip then worrying about making that work on the journey. The physical torment is also challenging. When you are living on the road you still have to be able to create a life for yourself. Properly eating, sleeping, and staying healthy is a real challenge.
How many miles have you put on your bike?
On the KLR’s that I used for the Argentina to Alaska trip, over 83,000 miles but I have put many more on many other bikes as well.
What is the best place you have taken your bike? Is there just one?
No it’s too hard to pick just one.
Favorite road you’ve ridden?
They are all special in different ways. I find that your mood can really influence your experience. You may be on one of the most beautiful roads in the world but if you are tired and hungry you might not have the best experience. Similarly, you might have great experiences at random places because you are in the right mood.
In one word what describes your approach to life?
If you could give a person one piece of advice when thinking about living and travelling off of a motorcycle what would you tell them?
Have a plan. Have a financial plan, a production plan, and a backup plan. In fact, make plans A, B, and C.
It takes a special kind of person to recognize that the journey, not the destination, is the point of life. Travelers know this. Was there a point in your life where you became conscious that you were one of those people?
All my life really. I noticed very early on that I gathered joy by recognizing the benefit of challenges. I really understand what it takes to get to the destination. In adventure motorcycling or in anything else. The journey is the present experience but the destination is the rewarding memory you keep afterwards.
You have found a strong place in the community of adventure riders. Do you see yourself as someone who gets more out of your travels knowing that you have a following of people appreciating what you’re doing?
It is always nice to have fans because it gives your efforts merit. I try to live in an authentic way and this is a good way to experience life. I think I make content because I enjoy it and it’s a way to show my own unique truth.
What values do you think your hometown instilled in you that you take on the road and bring to your trips?
I’m from El Paso, Texas. It’s called a black hole because 90% of its people never leave. My family is very conservative and comes from a traditional Mexican background. They wanted me to live a traditional life, i.e. school, job, kids. I was very much a product of my own environment. I didn’t believe that you should be afraid to get outside and explore, the traditionalism of El Paso and my heritage was something that I was willing to look beyond, because I wanted to see more and experience more.
Do you see yourself as someone who took a leap of faith to live in an unconventional way or do you think it kind of just happened?
Motorcycles provided a means to explore. They made the logistics to explore beyond my hometown possible. They were the literally and figuratively the vehicle to explore my dreams. I had faith that the world wasn’t as dangerous as people said it was. I had the confidence and the courage to go out and discover things for myself.
Where do you want to go next?
The trip plan for 2017 is to ride from South Korea through Mongolia into Eastern Europe.