Matias Corea & Joel Estopà: Two Wheels South
By Paul Strubell of Dirt Orcas – 4/17/17
For the twenty eight installment in our ongoing interview series here at Dirt Orcas, we are extremely excited to be sharing the adventures of Matias Corea and Joel Estopà. You may know them from their recently completed, 25 thousand mile motorcycle journey from Brooklyn, NY to Ushuaia, Argentina. Their trip affectionately titled, Two Wheels South.
I discovered their trip through their Instagram account, @twowheelssouth. They traveled through 15 countries on vintage BMW Motorcycles. Immediately I was hooked.
This trip is the benchmark of what I try to instill in my readers here at Dirt Orcas. Having the tools to build a life, a job, and with marked success, but still striving for a greater life experience. Padding your experiences with adventure and expanding your view of the world are what we are ultimately here to achieve.
I have included many photo’s from their trip within the interview but I highly encourage you to check out their social media and website directly to see more. It is all fantastic and inspiring.
I spoke with Matias for this interview and I have also included a small video profile on him from 2014. It will help give you some perspective on the man before the trip.
Both Matias and Joel are terrific reminders that our time here is short. Taking the risk will always bring you a far greater reward than playing it safe and towing the line.
Tell me about your bikes? What are they and what do you call them?
1983 BMW R80ST conversion to GS
1985 BMW R80GS Paris Dakar
A friend named mine and I kept the name, I’m not good at naming things! The PD is called Duncan, Joel’s is called Joudini but we never really use the names 🙂
When and how did you get them?
I got my PD from Arun in Moto Corsa in Portland like 3 years ago and it was pretty impeccable. Had only 32,000 miles on it but had been really well taken care off.
We bought Joel’s on Craigslist almost 5 months before we departed from a guy in Ohio. He bought it from someone else and was planing to do the same trip we’re doing with his son but it fell through. I was going to get a ST and make the conversion myself but this one was done great and it was ready to go!
What other vehicles did you consider and what made you ultimately pull the trigger on the ones you bought?
Very early on I was looking at Hondas XT650R and Suzuki DR650 because of the weight and the potential availability of parts and so forth. But ultimately we wanted bikes we could work on ourselves and be self-sufficient on the road. I had been learning under Peter Boggia from Moto Borgotaro for 6 years and I did a restoration of a 1976 R75/6 so I’m already familiar with how a boxer engine works, why go out of my way to learn Honda or Suzuki for this trip. Also at some point in the decision making I came across Helge Pedersen’s book and he did 250K Miles around the world on a GS, what other prove did i need that this was the right choice?
Have you made any upgrades or changes to them?
- New Willbers progressive front springs for both
- New Willbers rear shock for Joel
- Factory rebuild for my rear Ohlins shiock
- BMW heated grips for both
- I added the PD fairing which I didn’t have
- BMW clock to keep proper road time
- New Heidenau K60 Scout tires
- New Hepco Brecker bags for Joel
- Shorei gel battery for me
- Build our own tool kit specific for our bikes and packed it in Union Garage’s tool roll
After having done the trip anything you would do to them that you haven’t?
The BMW front forks are good but not great. When in off-road situations we wish we had something more responsive and maybe adjustable. I’d change the front forks for something modern.
Fuel capacity wasn’t a huge issue but I’d make sure Joel’s bike had also 32 ltr instead of 24 ltr tank. depending on how much you adventure out of the beaten path you’ll have a hard time with fuel, Bolivia was definitely a challenge and there was a couple of times we didn’t go somewhere due to lack of range.
What is your favorite part about it living off of your vehicle?
The independence, the self-sufficiency, the capacity to improvise and not have to wait around for buses that never come or trains that have specific schedules. Knowing you can leave when you’re ready and when you please. Also reducing your life, everything you have and keep to just two side-bags and a weekend bag, shows you how little you need in your everyday life. It’s a great exercise.
Also: Favorite about Leaving from home
- Most people ship their bikes to Buenos Aires and then make their way up. We thought it was a lot more interesting to get up at your home and get on the bike thinking ‘let’s go for a ride to Ushuaia!’
What is your least favorite part about it?
That sometimes it’s more comfortable to have a roof where wind, cold and rain don’t penetrate through your entire body…?
How many miles have you put on your bikes?
So far 18,171 Miles / 29,073 km
How long was your trip?
167 days / 4,008 hours / 240,480 minutes
What is the best place you have taken it? Is there just one?
Luckily we can’t really pick one. In so many months of riding we have gone through 15 countries, each one of them has had an incredible moment. But maybe Nevado Ruiz in Colombia, Cotopaxi volcano in Ecuador, Lago Atitlan in Guatemala, Crossing from Chile to Argentina, and the landscapes os south Bolivia have been outstanding.
Favorite road you’ve ridden?
Impossible but… Maybe this road in the mountains of Collonce in Colombia at 3600 meters high
In one word, what describes your approach to life?
If you could give a person one piece of advice when thinking about living and traveling off of a vehicle, what would you tell them?
Less is more. Really think through what you’re taking with you and why. It’s not only the weight but also always having to pack and repack objects. We’ve gotten better at reducing and purging.
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 lives where you became conscious that you were those kind of people?
I think it was early on when we did our first motorcycle trip together. We were 21 and we rode from Barcelona to the south of Spain which is only 1000km each way. We remember more about those KM’s that what we did when we got there. The more you travel the more you realize that the destination is just an excuse, a motivator. The Ithaka poem explains it well.
You have found a strong place in the community of adventure riders, do you see yourselves as people who gets more out of your travels knowing that you have a following of people appreciating what you’re doing?
We’ve been thinking about it since before we left and the thinking has changed. Part of us posting on Instagram or Facebook has many reasons. We want to be able to look at it in a few years and remember stuff, you see so much it’s hard to remember everything.
Also, we try to tell our story, the good and the bad, the struggle and the moments of happiness. So in a way we use our sharing as a way to record our thoughts on the fly.
Making sure our parents don’t have a heart attack is also important. We love the idea that we can share our experience so others can pick up what they find useful and use it for their own adventures.
What values do you think your families instilled in you that you take on the road and bring to your trips?
– We all love, fear, laugh, miss, hurt, we are all the same.
– Be kind, as everyone is fighting a battle you know nothing about.
– Be open, people will surprise you if you give them a chance.
– Asking for help, let people be a part of your journey.
– Experiment the unknown, even if it burns your tongue.
– Curiosity, empathy, compassion
– Leave behind prejudice
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?
Interestingly enough this doesn’t seem unconventional to us, it’s just a different moment in our lives. What seems odd is that we spend all of our lives in front of a desk, working away 5 of every 7 days of a week, with 2-3 weeks of vacation a year… does this sound reasonable? It’s just what we have been socialized to understand and accept but it’s not what we consider ‘normal’.
I think everyone would benefit from leaving and seeing the world and its people. It would surprise people to know how little money you need to do this. As long as you’re up for camping and sleeping in modest places central and South America are very inexpensive.
The experiences that you take with you are worth a lot more than the money you will spend.
Where are you going next?
Ironically right now I’m in a car. Joel’s bike clutch has an issue that we can’t fix on the lawn of our hotel so we have to take the bikes to Mendoza, Argentina.
In life? On our travels? Not sure, this trip has opened our eyes even more about how much there is to see and know. I think we could use some months of processing and reflection to let also the need to be on the road build up again.
Wherever we go next I think we will not spend too much time thinking about it. Again, it really doesn’t matter as long as it has roads to be ridden.