ALLEN STOLTZFUS: FROM PA TO AK TO PATAGONIA
By Paul Strubell of Dirt Orcas – 6/26/17
For the thirty eighth installment in our ongoing interview series here at Dirt Orcas we are very pleased to speak with Allen Stoltzfus. Along with his two childhood friends, James Barkman and Jeremy Beiler, Allen is currently on the trip of a lifetime, riding Suzuki DR650’s from Pennsylvania to Alaska and then down to Patagonia.
We are very excited to share their story and photography.
You can follow their journey on advrider.com for regular updates and interaction.
You can also check out their individual Instagram feeds as well Allen, James, and Jeremy. I highly recommend the follow.
These three friends are inspiring to say the least. In addition to taking this gigantic motorcycle journey together, they are also planning to do some fantastic climbing on they way. They recently completed a summit of Denali in early June.
Many people dream of setting off an a trip like this with their best friends, but few actually find the way to make it happen. This crew is one to watch.
Check out my interview with Allen below.
All photos by Allen Stoltzfus and James Barkman.
What do you consider to be your place of work?
I graduated with a Bachelor’s in Mechanical Engineering from Penn State on the day I left for my motorcycle trip. Prior to that I spent parts of 3 years at a local engineering firm mixing full and part time work as school allowed. But I am now unemployed by choice and will be for the next 12 to 18 months.
Tell me about your bikes. What do you call them?
We have three Suzuki dr650s. They are all post-1996 so they are exactly the same. That aspect was very important to us so that we could more easily work on and diagnose problems with them. They are 96, 97, and 98 models. Jeremy’s bike is named “Ernest” after Ernest Shackleton I believe. The other bikes are currently unnamed.
When and how did you get it?
We got all three bikes on Craigslist for very cheap prices. Maybe too cheap… my bike is currently in a shop after breaking down in the middle of nowhere on the Alaskan Highway.
What other vehicles did you consider and what made you ultimately pull the trigger on the one you bought?
We chose dr650s for their versatility on and off road, simplicity, and price. We never strongly considered any other bike. They are relatively lightweight but they can pull well on the highway. I also love the air and oil cooled motor.
Have you made any upgrades or changes to it?
We added bigger tanks and upgraded the suspension. We also worked with a local start up leather bag company to design a set of saddlebags and tank bags. Mosko Moto gave us a great deal on their luggage mounting system which we implemented with our bags, so a huge thanks to them.
What is your favorite part about it living/working off of your bikes?
The freedom of it. Bikes are small and you can drive to and camp at so many unique locations. But any day you can pack up and move hundreds of miles if you want to.
What is your least favorite part about it?
It is hard to carry more than a few days of food.
How many miles have you put on your bikes?
Around 5000 miles
What is the best place you have taken them?
So far we have only driven them from Pennsylvania to Anchorage, Alaska. This route took us up the Alaskan Highway which was extremely wild and beautiful.
Is there just one?
Definitely not. There were many places driving up that were breathtaking. And I am sure there will be many more.
Favorite road you’ve driven?
I basically answered it already, but it was definitely the Alaskan Highway.
In one word, what describes your approach to life?
Not sure about this one. Maybe ‘Industrious’. Not that I am always diligent or hardworking, but I enjoy encountering problems and finding the solutions. We are never short of problems on the road.
If you could give a person one piece of advice when thinking about living off of a bike, what would you tell them?
Do it because you want to, not because you saw it somewhere else and thought it looked cool. It takes a lot of work to do anything vastly different from the status quo, but it’s worth it.
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?
I have done quite a few trips so far in my life, and looking back on them I always realized that I remembered and appreciated the small things along the way rather than the big goal like summiting a mountain or arriving at a destination. Enjoy the process.
You have found a strong place in the community of adventure riders. What values do you think your home or family instilled in you, that you take on the road?
I have a great family that instilled solid values such as hard work and caring about those around you, to name a few. They have had a huge impact on who I am today.
I admire your outside the box approach to career and home. Do you see yourselves as people who took a leap of faith to live in an unconventional way or do you think it kind of just happened?
We all are definitely unique people, and this trip probably fits us better than regular life does. James has lived out of his van for years and Jeremy and I have always loved change and travel. So this trip was right down our alley.
Where do you want to go next?
We plan on driving up to Deadhorse, Alaska then turning around and going to the bottom of South America. We are planning on spending 12 to 18 months to get down there. After the trip is done I hope to use my degree to do something beneficial. Most likely somewhere on the West Coast, but I have no concrete plans for after the motorcycle trip.
These guys are now in Colombia, I find it brave riding such a wild adventure.
By the way, the Humpback whales will be on the Pacific in October.