JOSHUA RALLO: @ADV.007
By Paul Strubell of Dirt Orcas – 3/5/18
For the sixty sixth installment in our ongoing interview series here at Dirt Orca’s, we are very pleased to share the story of Joshua Rallo. You may know him as @ADV.007
I found started following Josh’s Instagram account because he was posting some great adventure bike photography, but I also was surprised at the various places he was riding. He really gets around you might say.
Many of the people I interview for this series are on a world or continental tour of sorts and their trip becomes predictable by way of inevitability. You can sort to expect the next part of their travels because there are only so many countries to pass through when you travel from South America to Alaska. I have also interviewed many people who make the most of their riding in a specific area.
Josh doesn’t fall into either of these categories. He basically just pops up in a new great place to ride and starts churning out great adventure photography soon after. Which makes him an interesting follow.
You can view his Instagram gallery here and follow him.
One of the things you’ll read in the interview is that Josh is a person who stays open to pushing his own boundaries. This is evident in his pursuit of adventure as well. He has checked off several bucket list rides already and has his sites set on big things to come.
Please check out the interview below.
What do you consider to be your place of work?
Starting off with an easy question, sort of. My work life isn’t shared socially because it’s such an issue for so many people and there are many that quickly start to bash me solely based on my career choice. The State of Alaska is my place of work. I’m an Alaska State Trooper (yes, I’ve been on the show) and I’m starting my 14th year with them in two days. Being born and raised in Alaska, I’d seen and experienced a lot all across this state. However since starting this career, I’ve experienced so much more than I ever would’ve dreamed. Places in Alaska that visitors will never experience because it’s so far off the beaten path. I’ve bounced around the state doing all sorts of different duties ranging from SWAT and K9 handler to vessel operator (yeah we have big boats too) to major crimes investigator. My current gig though, it’s the best. I work in rural Alaska where I have to fly in and out every two weeks. This is what has allowed me to start wandering as much as I have in the last year. Working two weeks on/off just may be the greatest work schedule in existence… aside from retirement.
Tell me about your bike. What do you call it?
I call my bikes a lot of names. Some are sweet nothings that I’m whispering to her and others are bad words that I used to get a lot of soap in my mouth as a kid for saying. No matter what though, everything I say always ends up being followed up with a very heartfelt “thank you”. Whether I’m having the time of my life and everything is going great or whether I’m absolutely miserable, I’m still thankful. I’m thankful for the experience and the memories. No matter how “bad” it gets, there’s always something to be thankful for. There’s always something to be learned from the experience.
(After that rambling, I just had to go back up and read the question again because I’d forgotten what I was supposed to talk about. haha!) So, more specifically, I’m currently down to two bikes. A 2015 BMW R1200GSA and a 2017 Honda Africa Twin. One I love and one that I’d like to get rid of for a dirt bike. I don’t suppose you want to buy a well broken in GSA do you? 😉
When and how did you get them?
The GSA I bought after a few years of significant events in my life that kept knocking me to the pits. I’d decided to buy a bike and just go. Luckily, at that time I had a good amount of personal time off built up and was allowed to take nine weeks off. I’d decided that I was just going to wander for the next nine weeks while living off the bike. No plans, no itineraries other than I needed to be in Phoenix at the end of that nine weeks to leave the bike and fly home to AK. I’d never moto-traveled before where I was camping and living from the bike. I learned a lot. That trip cemented in me a full on love for bikes as my travel choice. (I’m stopping myself here from going on another ramble.)
My other bike is a still new to me ’17 Honda Africa Twin. What a bike. I bought this bike last summer and within three months it had been from Alaska to Florida, checked off the Trans-America Trail, parts of the Nevada and Arizona Backcountry Discovery Routes, as well as Baja Mexico, and a ton more. That bike had over 19,000 miles on it in less than three months. Every time I turned around a ride seemed to be developing.
What other vehicles did you consider and what made you ultimately pull the trigger on the one you bought?
If it’s got two wheels, I considered it. In the end, the decision to buy both bikes came down to the same thing that I tell people that ask that ridiculously over-asked question: “What bike should I get?” What bikes excites you the most and makes you want to get out and ride? Get that one. There are so many travelers that have gone to so many countries on everything from Harley’s to moped’s to full on sport bikes. It doesn’t matter. Just get the one that excites YOU and pay no attention to what the keyboard warriors of the interweb and endless forums are telling you to do with your money.
Have you made any upgrades or changes to them?
My GSA is basically bone stock. I have a proper bash plate on there from Black Dog Cycle Works and their Helo Pad rear rack where the pillion seat should be but that’s it. The rest is stock aside obviously from the paint job.
My Africa Twin has several things on it though. The best of the best is on that bike. Outback Motortek skid plate and crash bars, wheels from Woody’s Wheel Works, lights from Clearwater Lights, rear auxiliary fuel tank from Camel-Adv, and soft luggage from Mosko Moto.
What is your favorite part about it living/working off of your bike?
I don’t work from my bike but living off of it is the ultimate goal. When my retirement papers are filed, I’ll be wandering in no specific direction with no end date. When I feel like taking a break, I’ll store it and fly “home” when I want. That freedom and ability to not waste life is the best. When I’m on a jet flying from one place to another I feel like I’m just wasting those hours of my life. Staring out of the window and wondering how many people I’m missing out of meeting, how many sights I’m missing out on seeing, and all of the new places that I’m not experiencing. On a bike, sure it takes much much longer to get around than jets, but I don’t feel like a single moment of it is wasted. “It is not that we have a short life to live, but that we waste a lot of it.” – Seneca
What is your least favorite part about it?
When it ends and I need to go back to work in order to fund the next trip.
What is the best place you have taken it?
Everywhere I’ve been has been the best in it’s own way. The world is so different from one place to the other that it’s difficult for me to say one place was the best over all others. There’s no one “bar” to measure all locations with. Every place that I get to experience just makes me wonder even more what else is out there.
Is there just one?
Favorite road you’ve driven?
I don’t want to say. It’s a remote trail, definitely not a road, in Alaska that I’ve luckily been able to experience time and time again without seeing or hearing another soul in the area. I’m just going to be greedy and not say where it is. I just realized that I’ve not even ever shared any pictures of the area with friends or on the page. haha! Awesome.
In one word, what describes your approach to life?
Balance. In my career choice, you deal with the bad side of society day in and day out. It’s very easy and all too common for officers to become jaded and think that everyone is horrible and to just shut yourself away from the rest of the world’s wonders. The moto-travel experiences, the people, the places, all prove to me on every single trip that there is so much more good in the world than there is bad. I’ve unfortunately met some bad people while traveling as well but it’s rare. Working makes me appreciate traveling more while traveling makes me appreciate the job more in that I’m helping out the good folk that I rarely get to meet when working.
If you could give a person one piece of advice when thinking about living off of a bike, what would you tell them?
Be open. Be open to the people around you that will surprise you and invite you into their homes despite being a stranger. Be open to the random trail that is intimidating but looks like it could be fun to explore. Be open to paths that aren’t the shortest distance between two points. You can travel the world with a closed mind but you’ll learn nothing, experience nothing, and not grow at all.
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?
I can’t think of one exact time. As far back as I can remember, I’ve always explored. Whether it was the back yard (in rural Alaska I had a big back yard) building forts and waging wars on bee hives (I lost), or all of the countless hunting, fishing, and camping trips that I’d done growing up where I did, I’ve always wanted to explore more. I was an honor roll kid that also played sports and was luckily offered a scholarship to go play hockey. I turned it down and had to convince my parents that they needed to sign waivers for me to join the military instead. I was only 17 and I wanted to go, not stay. That was the path I chose and I luckily ended up stationed in Italy for the next four years where I used my time off to wander all over Europe. Wanderlust is truly a drug. The more countries I visited and experienced, the more that I NEED to continue exploring. I haven’t been on a trip in a few months and I need a fix. I’m a junkie. Haha
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 definitely wouldn’t say that I have a strong place in the community of adventure riders. That aside, I just try to be genuine. I just try to be me, the goofy, random, me. Friends and family seem to enjoy that and it seems that a lot of others that I haven’t met yet do as well. I strayed from that genuinely me path for a bit this summer and learned a ton about myself and who I don’t want to be like. I’m just a dude with a bad travel habit that likes to take bad pictures with a smart phone that usually has a motorcycle blocking the gorgeous view behind it.
I avoid most forums because so many of them are filled with constant bashing. Why are so many more content to spew filth about something than share their awesome stories? Facebook is now the new ‘forum’ so I’ve been perhaps not-so-slowly reducing my use of Facebook by removing over five thousand followers and now just have a few hundred actual friends on there. My Instagram is public and will stay that way because it’s just pictures without the nonsense. At least for now it is.
I just want to do what makes me happy and people seem to like to follow along. I’ve gotten a few messages from people that want to go and do the endless exploring but truly can’t. Whether it’s financial, family home care obligations, health, or the plethora of other things that have them not able to go, they send messages thanking me for sharing. It helps me to realize how lucky I am and drives me to want to “help” them with another random picture of something I thought was cool. That’s just from my small following, I can’t even imagine how many people reach out to the actual popular travelers.
Where do you want to go next?
Ah, the catch. That’s the problem that I’m in right now. Career wise, I’d like to promote and move up a bit in pay as well as take on new challenges. The problem is that by doing that I have to give up my current position of working two weeks on and two weeks off. This request for the interview of sorts has actually come at a very good time. A promotion that I’d been chasing for the last few months and passed on a couple of trips for didn’t pan out. As I’m going through these questions and thinking about all that I’ve been allowed to experience in the last year has made me appreciate not getting that promotion. That said, there are still a few other positions with the department that I would give up this schedule for.
Geographically, I want to go anyplace new. After reading on your site a bit, I keep seeing the Bartang Valley in Tajikistan mentioned. That sounds like an incredible experience.