JASPER VLOEDGRAVEN: @THEMOTOTRAVELER
By Paul Strubell of Dirt Orcas – 11/27/17
For the fifty fifth installment in our ongoing interview series here at Dirt Orcas, we are very pleased to share the adventures of Jasper Vloedgraven, or as you may know him, @themototraveler.
I discovered Jasper’s travels through Instagram. You can view his account here and I highly recommend giving him a follow. He is doing a post-graduation ride from Amsterdam to Sydney by motorcycle. Crossing some of the most beautiful and challenging places on earth.
I was lucky to catch up with Jasper while he was in Pakistan.
His trip so far as included travelling in freezing temps, crossing glacial streams, and temperatures so hot, that the rubber of his handlebar grips melted to his gloves and literally stuck him to the bike.
I really enjoy Jasper’s travels because I relate to his “plan” on a deep level. Many times when I do these interview’s people have created a way financially to “adventure indefinitely” or on others, the trip is defined by “we have saved enough to take one year off for this”. With Jasper, he has a basic idea that he will be travelling until he reaches a destination, but hasn’t really put an expiration on it. I am sure he has a framework in mind of how long it will take, but more importantly, he understands that this plan can be reworked if something changes. I resonate with this approach to life on the road.
Far too often I interview people who have certainty built into their trips. Life has a way of laughing at certainty and I think we can all learn a lot from Jasper in this respect.
Check out Jasper’s pictures and our interview below.
You can also read many more of the interviews I have done with other adventure riders and overland travelers here.
What do you consider to be your place of work?
Actually I recently graduated and am currently burning my savings.
Tell me about your bike. What do you call it?
It’s a 1998 Honda Transalp, 600 cc. What do I call it? My bike. Or piece of shit. Depends on how well things are going, really.
What other vehicles did you consider and what made you ultimately pull the trigger on the ones you bought?
I never considered any other bike. I had another Transalp, before this one, that got me around when I was a student, but a heavy accident had the total loss bike being send to a scrapyard – and some of my bones replaced by metal. I didn’t think twice about buying the same bike again because there really is no better travel bike for the money than the Transalp 600. Its engine is just mechanics, making it easy to maintain, and it doesn’t weight too much. I’ve met other travelers with a much more expensive and much heavier bike. They were not able to drive in soft sand and when they fall they are not even able to pick all the weight up by themselves. And when they have issues, no mechanic in developing countries can fix their electronics-filled machine, and spare parts are not available. I bought my bike for just €1900, why spend much more on something much less practical?
Have you made any upgrades or changes to it?
First thing I immediately changed was the exhaust. The sound of the original Transalp exhaust is an absolute joke. I was looking for something much louder and more powerful sounding, and am pretty pleased by the exhaust I have now. In Europe I had to drive with a decibel killer but the moment I was out of the continent I removed it immediately. BRAAAP! I also put on Barkbusters handguards. They don’t come cheap but it is important to protect your levers and cables etc. Because I knew I would fall plenty of times haha.
I placed a Scottoiler on it as well which automatically lubricates the chain. Takes some work out of my hands while at the same time significantly lengthening chain life. Now isn’t that a good deal?
Then the side panniers. There are a lot of insanely expensive panniers out there but these relatively cheap Heavy Duties are absolutely amazing and I wouldn’t want to change them for any other. They are dust and water proof and built like a tank.
What is your favorite part about it living/working off of your bike?
Freedom. Unlimited freedom.
How many miles have you put on your bike?
Almost 25000 km so far on this trip. Maybe you can tell me how many miles that is haha. ( It’s 15534.28 Miles 🙂 )
What is the best place you have taken them?
The Iranian deserts and the mountains of northern Pakistan.
Is there just one?
Favorite road you’ve ridden?
The “road” to Shimshal, Pakistan. It’s almost as if someone designed the ultimate riding track, with some parts with soft sand, others with big rocks, or gravel, or insane cliffs, steep ascending and descending parts… and on top of that it is scenic as hell. I had a blast up there.
In one word, what describes your approach to life?
Squeeze as much out of it as possible.
If you could give a person one piece of advice when thinking about living off of a bike, what would you tell them?
If you are thinking about it, just do it. Seriously, just buy a bike and go. I did it too so there really is no excuse.
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 never thought of myself as one of any kind of traveler or person. I just do my thing and yeah there are probably others doing similar things.
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 traveled a lot with my family. For instance, we used to do long bicycle trips through Europe when I was a kid, camping and cooking on the way. Last year, my dad cycled from his home in Holland to Rome through the Alps and right now he is doing Vietnam on a moped, in his late sixties. I guess it’s in the blood.
I admire your outside the box approach to career and home. 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?
I don’t know. I guess it just kind of happened. I really don’t plan much.
Where do you want to go next?
I see what comes from day to day. Career wise, I will choose the entrepreneurial path. This could be anywhere, or even location independent. Currently I am in Pakistan and India’s next.