BRANDON MEEK: @ADVEXPLORE
By Paul Strubell of Dirt Orca’s – 4/30/18
For the seventy fourth installment in our ongoing interview series here at Dirt Orca’s, we are very pleased to speak with Brandon Meek. You might know him as @advexplore.
Brandon is an adventure rider. The kind that caught that bug badly. He rides with a local group of riders, who like to explore the back roads of his native Kentucky. He rides solo. He takes long trips to places like Moab and Glacier National Park. He just loves to ride.
A true adventure motorcyclist, Brandon uses his bike to ride local trails but also to travel great stretches of highway miles. This is something to which I can relate. Using the big adventure bike the way it was intended.
I really enjoyed sharing his story. Check it out in the interview below and if you enjoy the big KTM’s, here is a link to our interview with Randy Commans.
Also don’t forget about the 2nd Annual Dirt Orca’s Summer Classic on June 23rd. It’s a really fun event and might just be the prefect way to break up a summer ride out West. Click the link for details and registration info.
What do you consider to be your place of work?
To fund my adventures I do what most like-minded people do, they make it happen however they can. I have worked as a brick laborer, a window installer, a furniture salesman, and more to fund my trips. If you truly have a passion for something you will find a way to pursue it. No excuses.
Tell me about your bike. What do you call it?
I ride a 2015 KTM 1190 Adventure R. Her name is Fiona.
When and how did you get it?
I bought Fiona brand new from Commonwealth Motorcycles in Louisville Kentucky in October of 2015.
What other vehicles did you consider and what made you ultimately pull the trigger on the one you bought?
I was riding a 2012 Kawasaki KLR 650 when I decided I want an upgrade. I loved the KLR, but I wanted more power, a 6th gear, and something more aggressive off-road. I first considered getting a KTM 990. I loved the way those bikes look and still do. At the same time I had been reading about the KTM 1190 Adventure R. The more I read about the bike the more I felt it would be the perfect fit of off road capability and long haul touring. So I drove up to Louisville Kentucky to see one in person and ended up buying it.
Have you made any upgrades or changes to it?
I installed a Rottweiler Performance stage 3 intake system which replaced the stock air box that has been known to let particles through in dusty environments. I’ve also installed a skid plate from Altrider which I’m extremely happy with. Other than that the bike is essentially stock.
What is your favorite part about it living off of your bike?
There is no better way to travel in my eyes then by motorcycle. It hearkens back to the days when people crossed this country on horseback and I feel a motorcycle is as close to that experience as one can get. To be exposed to the elements, the wind, the rain, the sun, the cold and heat, makes the journey feel more alive. You’re out in it with nothing between you and the road but your two wheels! There’s simply no better feeling.
What is your least favorite part about it?
I have no least favorite part. I enjoy it all. Even when I’m soaking wet from riding in the rain for hours at the end of the day I look back and smile. Yes it can be uncomfortable at times, but adventure is always worth it!
What is the best place you have taken it?
Fiona and me have been all over the country. To narrow it down to one place is impossible. Each place is usually uniquely amazing in its own way. But here are a few of my favorites: Glacier National Park is staggeringly beautiful. Moab Utah is an off road mecca that one could spend months exploring and still never run out of new things to see not to mention it’s just a cool town. I’m also a huge fan of Zion National Park. Zion has a fantastic landscape and epic roads to ride. Closer to home in Kentucky is the Kentucky Adventure Trail. I series of mapped out dirt trails mixed with gravel roads and some pavement that goes for miles. My summers are usually spent exposing these trails in the backwoods of Kentucky.
Is there just one?
See answer above.
Favorite road you’ve driven?
It would have to be the Going To The Sun Road in Glacier National Park hands down. I don’t have words to describe the scenery. That drive is just simply epic! If you haven’t ridden it you need to put it on your list.
In one word, what describes your approach to life?
If you could give a person one piece of advice when thinking about living off of a bike, what would you tell them?
Don’t get caught up in nice luggage, the best gear, or perfect bike… just go! My first few trips around the country was on a KLR 650 with a backpack ratchet strapped to the back. My riding gear was a Columbia jacket, a pair of blue jeans, and hiking boots and those trips are still some of my most memorable. So just go! Make it happen.
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 those kind of people?
The moment for me came after I got out of the Navy in 2007. I had saved up my money and I flew to Europe where I backpack for a year. It was there as I was hopping trains and hitchhiking that I realized I didn’t care so much where I was going, just so long as I was going. The journey was the adventurous part not the destination. And the adventurous part is what made me feel alive and still does to this day. When I’m on my motorcycle riding through the Rocky Mountains or home in Kentucky hitting the trails I feel alive. I feel I’m able to capture some ancient feeling of danger mixed with excitement that so many of us never get to experience in today’s world. I need that feeling and I will continue to pursue it for the rest of my life.
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?
Speaking on the Adventure riding community real quick, you can’t put a value on being around, whether in person or on social media, people who motivates you to get out there and explore. Locally I ride with a great group of guys who share my passion for adventure riding. Also on Instagram I have found a strong community of like-minded men and woman who amaze me every day. When I open my feed even morning and see so and so ripping in Moab or so and so riding through the Alps it lights a fire in me to explore farther and seek out adventure. Again a price cannot be put on the importance of surrounding yourself with motivated adventure seekers.
I got lucky growing up in solid Household. My parents instilled in me honesty, pride, and a since of adventure. I remember my mom taking my sister and me hiking and caving at a local state park. She would say let’s explore around. As a little boy I found so much excitement in exploring new trails and caves with her. I always wanted to run ahead and be the first to see whatever new thing was around the corner. That need for adventure and exploration is what I carry to this day and I’m eternally thankful to my parents for their amazing outlook on life.
I admire your outside the box approach to career and home. Do you see yourself as people who took a leap of faith to live in an unconventional way or do you think it kind of just happened?
I never really planned out anything looking back. I just did what I loved and it developed into something more. I believe the passion has to be the driving force behind everything. If you’re working about every little detail or stressing that you want a certain lifestyle it takes away from actually doing what you’re passionate about. I’m not saying have no plan, but definitely let your passion and the excitement of doing what you love to direct your path. You’ll find it most always leads to great places.
Where do you want to go next?
Next on my list is probably Prudhoe Bay Alaska. It’s something that has been on my radar for a long time and I would like to make it in the next year or two. Obviously I will be taking shorter trips around the states and locally. As far as my career goes I’d like to get into writing and reviewing and maybe even throw together a YouTube channel. But as always I’m going to let my passion for adventure riding dictate my path.