RAY FRIEDRICH: 2 WHEEL VAGABOND
By Paul Strubell of Dirt Orcas – 1/30/17
For the seventeenth installment in our ongoing interview series here at Dirt Orcas, we are pleased to be speaking with Ray Friedrich. You may know Ray from his extensive travels by motorcycle and his nickname the 2 Wheeled Vagabond.
Beginning in journey in December 2012, Ray is currently riding his motorcycle through many parts of the world. Starting from and covering much of South Australia, through the islands of Malaysia, across SE Asia (Covering Thailand, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, and Myanmar), and into Napal and India. This is just the beginning.
His methods for continuing his travels are to bounce between work and his bike and make it happen.
One of the best things about following Ray’s trip is that he has taking a decidedly less common route than most who set out to see the world by motorcycle. Dictated surely by location, but also out of a sense of adventure.
Ray is a great reminder that the call of the road can be deafening.
What do you consider to be your current job or goal?
At the moment I see myself as a full time traveller, however motorcycle travel doesn’t pay the bills so when I’m not gallivanting around the world on my bike I work as a commercial diver to fund my trip. A few years ago I was sitting behind a desk managing a real estate office, I realised that I was so focused on “getting ahead” that I was letting life pass me by so I decided to make a change, my goal since then has been to travel the world, experience different cultures, find great adventures and accumulate some good stories along the way, so far its worked out pretty well.
Year, Make, Model of your bike?
My bike is a 2012 BMW R1200GSA
Did you name your bike? What do you call it?
My bike has had a few names since we’ve been together, I originally named her “the Black Pearl” but my family kept calling her “Black Betty”….. these days I just affectionately refer to her as “The Big Girl”
When and how did you get it?
I purchased my bike in November 2012, which was when I started my motorcycle travels, it was a big commitment as my trip is totally self funded and it was the first bike that I’ve ever bought brand new, we’ve had a lot of adventures together since then.
What other vehicles did you consider and what made you ultimately pull the trigger on the ones you bought?
A motorcycle was really the only option for me, I love riding and nothing screams adventure like an overland journey on bike, no other form of transport gives you the mobility and freedom that a motorcycle does. The big question was whether I go for a big off road tourer or a smaller bike more suited to dirt trails, reliability versus fun. I chose the BMW because I knew it would make the distance but along the way the bike has surprised me by how well it handles on winding forest roads and despite its weight its handled some pretty decent off road tracks.
Have you made any upgrades or changes to it?
The bike is almost completely standard other than a few basic add-ons like a headlight protector, oil cooler guard and wider side stand foot, I am due to get some aftermarket suspension however as that has taken a little bit of punishment on my travels.
What is your favorite part about it living off of your vehicle?
The best part is definitely the freedom, home is where you want it to be and you can go where you want, when you want.
What is your least favorite part about it?
The worst part is when things go wrong, especially overseas, trying to organize repairs when parts aren’t available and communication is a problem or being stuck on a remote road when nobody knows where you are can definitely put a damper on your day.
How many miles have you put on your bikes?
The bike has now done 115,000 km
What is the best place you have taken it? Is there just one?
There’s never just one best place, however the island of Bali in Indonesia would have to rate very highly, away from the tourist areas there is some amazing off road riding through forest trails, postcard perfect beaches and volcanic sand in the islands mountains areas.
Favorite road you’ve ridden?
I’ve ridden many amazing roads but my favorite is the Great Alpine road in Victoria, Australia. The 340 km stretch of sealed road winds its way along a diverse variety of Jaw dropping scenery, taking you over the mountain ranges of the Victorian Alps, through vineyards, lush forest, dramatic valleys and some of the Australia’s most beautiful country towns, you’ll spend half a day riding it and then you will want to turn around and do it again.
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?
Take your time!!! That was a piece of advice that was given to me very early on in my trip and it’s the best piece of advice I’ve been given. I’ve met so many overland travelers that seem to be more concerned about their time frame than the journey itself, whether its long term travel or a day trip don’t let the journey be defined by ticking boxes, slow down and enjoy the ride.
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 kind of people?
When I was younger I always wanted to travel, I had plans of seeing the world and then somewhere life happened to get in the way, it took a few years of the corporate life before I regained my adventurous spirit and realized there is a lot to see in the world and there is no better time to start than now.
You have found a strong place in the community of adventure riders, do you see yourself as someone who gets more out of your travels knowing that you have a following of people appreciating what you’re doing?
One thing I’ve found everywhere I have gone is that riders stick together and help each other out, whether it be local riders coming together and showing me the best roads an area has to offer or a fellow rider on the internet giving me some mechanical or travel advice it’s a great feeling knowing you have that support when you’re riding alone in a new country. I really don’t see myself as someone who is doing something special, I just found that the best way to see the world is by motorcycle, so when somebody takes the time to tell me what I’m doing is inspiring or even something as simple as posting a comment that they like one of my photos it’s a very heart warming feeling.
What values do you think your family instilled in you that you take on the road and bring to your trips?
The idea of not being scared to follow your dream and committing to making it happen no matter how many people tell you it’s not possible or how crazy it is. I’m lucky that my family are my number one supporters, they have never questioned the idea of giving up everyday life and taking off on an overseas motorcycle journey, that support makes the journey possible.
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 definitely took a leap of faith, spending your savings on a motorcycle and an overseas trip isn’t what society would deem as responsible behavior but the more I travel the more the more people I meet who have done just that and the more inspiration I get from them to seek out my next adventure.
Where do you want to go next?
I’m currently stuck in a hotel that I can’t leave for security issues in Quetta, Pakistan waiting for snow covered roads to clear up so I can get clearance to travel to Iran, so literally right now I really want to go to Iran. After the chaotic roads of Asia I am looking forward arriving in Europe and spending some time enjoying the Alpine roads on motorcycle.