ZACHARY HOGLUND: @ADVZACH
By Paul Strubell of Dirt Orcas – 9/9/19
For the one hundred and ninth installment in our ongoing interview series here at Dirt Orcas, we are thrilled to share the story of Zachary Hoglund. You may know him as @ADVZACH.
I have been following the Zach’s adventures for a while now. Following along as he shares his love of off road motorcycling and adventure riding through his Instagram account @ADVZACH, on Facebook, and his YouTube Channel. However you do it, I recommend that you start following along if you aren’t already. Zach’s love of riding enduro, dual sport, and adventure bikes makes him a veritable one stop shop for knobby tired action. Following along as he travels and his horsepower interests ebb and flow.
Living in the Pacific Northwest enables just about everyone who lives there a slight edge when it comes to taking pictures of things. The muted lighting and the lush background material is simply transcendent. However, I still think that when it comes to shooting a picture of a bike in beautiful places, few people are consistently producing as much good content. Give him a follow.
Zach is a wonderful reminder that trying to fit all of your motorcycle desires and requirements into one bike it a fruitless ambition. As famed BMW stunt rider Teach McNeil once said to me when I asked him if he had a favorite bike, “No, I want all the flavors.” The idea of one bike to do it all is a novel one, but as Zach clearly shows, if you can make it happen, get all the flavors.
Check out our interview and Zach’s photography below. Cheers.
What do you consider to be your job?
I consider my job to explore everywhere I haven’t been, and to capture the moments of that experience with my lens. It doesn’t reward me monetarily yet, but it fills my soul.
Tell me about your bikes. Do they have names?
Right now I have three motorcycles covering all aspects of dirt. First and foremost, I’m an Adventure Rider and my 2019 BMW R1250GSA “Traveller” and I embark on the high-mile trips together. When I need something plated that can take me anywhere I jump on my 2019 Honda CRF450L “Jolene”. She’s a true trail-to-trail machine that is happy almost anywhere. For the gnarly backcountry stuff my 2019 KTM 300XC-W Six Days “Gisele” will handle anything; (it’s also the most fun bike I own). I’m a firm believer in having the right tool for the job because it allows me to not damage the environment that I love so much.
What other vehicles did you consider and what made you ultimately pull the trigger on the ones you bought.
I worked at a couple of motorcycle shops after I ended my time in the Navy, and that allowed me to learn a lot about different motorcycles and try out quite a few of them. So I guess I can say I considered all of them on some level. Ultimately, I pulled the trigger on the ones I own because they are the best bikes for me in their respective classes. I adore BMW for offering a big adventure bike that’s nimble, comfortable, and oh-so versatile. For over 30 years BMW has been fine-tuning this machine into what it is today, and it shows. The 450L was fate for me. When Honda announced it, I put money down immediately. Street legal, comfortable, and capable. When you pair those qualities with Honda’s build quality, you get an impressive platform that can be molded to fit the rider’s needs. Lastly, the KTM 300 has had a similar development process to the BMW and when it comes to trail riding and hard enduro, it’s dialed, and an easy decision.
Have you made any upgrades or changes to them?
All three bikes have had my touch in one way or another. For my GS Adventure I only needed the necessities because these bikes come setup very well straight from the factory. I added a set of Clearwater Ericas for visibility for me and other vehicles with yellow covers, double take mirrors (for added durability and convenience in foldability), and tinted windscreen for looks. For travel purposes, I put on BMW hard cases and a BMW GPS unit from my first GS. And finally for protection, I installed Barkbusters to protect my hands and levers. A skid plate, crash bar re-enforcement, a headlight guard, and radiator guards from Altrider will be installed as soon as they are available, along with a set of X Head cylinder head guards from Machineart Moto when pre-orders are shipped.
The Honda has had the most fine-tuning: from an upgraded Vortex ECU, FMF Q4/mega bomb exhaust system, a comfortable but functional Seat Concepts seat and of course protective hard parts to increase its chances of surviving trail riding. Those include a skid plate and rad guards from Emperor Racing, rear disc guard from Enduro Engineering, tail tidy kit from Emperor racing, an Enduro Plate license plate protector, and wrap-around hand guards from Acerbis. I also added a 3 gallon IMS gas tank, foldable double take mirrors, a Trail Tech Voyager Pro GPS/instrument unit, and Tubliss with Goldentyre GT216AA (Fatty) front tire and GT333 rear.
When it came to the KTM, I mainly concentrated on protecting weak spots on the bike. I added a skid plate/exhaust guard combo and silencer guard from Doctor Racer, radiator guards and rear disc/caliper guards from Bulletproof Designs, Trailjammer Designs engine case savers, and Cyrca hand guards to finish out the protective parts. I added a dock for my Trail Tech Voyager Pro so I can put it on either dirt bike depending on which one I’m riding. Finally, because KTMs don’t have spark arresters installed on their dirt bikes, I put an FMF silencer on before I left the dealership to make it legal on the trails and most importantly protect against forest fires.
Motorcycles are such a personal way to travel; I put a lot of emphasis on modifying them to fit my needs. I truly enjoy the process of fine-tuning, and the joy it brings me when my modifications do their job like I intended.
What is your favorite part about it living/working out of your vehicle?
The only time I live/work off of my bikes is when I’m traveling. But while I’m traveling, I really enjoy being on my own timeline. Once I leave my home I’m doing my own thing, and I like to keep it loose. I only plan enough to ensure that I don’t waste the opportunities I have to ride and do what I love. My favorite part is pull over, take in my surroundings and let the calm wash over me.
What is your least favorite part about it?
I’m not sure any of it is my least favorite part. The challenges may not be fun at the time, but that’s what I always remember about the adventure along with the triumphs.
What is the best place you have taken it?
Anywhere I haven’t been, seeing a new place from the back of a motorcycle is where its at for me.
Is there just one?
No, there really isn’t. Everywhere I ride I enjoy and always want to return at some point. But honestly, I’m most alive when I’m seeing a new part of our planet. I like to minimize the impact I have on the world by keeping my locations general [at best] or not even mentioning them at all. It’s easy to scroll social media and make lists of places you want to visit, but that isn’t satisfying to me, I want to find them for myself. What I like about that is: even if there’s been a road there for 100 years, often I didn’t know it existed until I ride up on it… and that’s how I like it because I feel like a true explorer, even if it’s just in my own head.
Favorite road you’ve ridden?
The 10 days I spent going up the US West Coast on the 1 and 101 from San Diego to Washington State with my old GS. The West Coast highways are not necessarily the most adventurous of places, but I found it extremely calming to immerse myself in the endless beauty of that part of the world.
In one word, what describes your approach to life?
If you could give a person one piece of advice when thinking about living from a vehicle, what would you tell them?
Prepare, don’t plan. Prepare for what lies ahead, prepare for eventualities, and prepare mentally for what may happen. Plans often go awry, or need to be changed, or should be changed and aren’t.
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 that kind of person?
For me there wasn’t specific point, it was a slow realization. After countless times of reaching my final destination, then wondering how I got there, I started to slow down and take that picture or enjoy that view instead of just focusing on the end of the journey. I still have to remind myself of this almost every trip I take, but it’s slowly sinking in.
You have found a strong place in the community of moto-travelers. What values do you think your home or family instilled in you, that you take on the road?
I’ve spent a lot of time in the woods during my life. My father taught me the importance of preserving the environment and not leaving my mark everywhere I go. Things like reigning in the power of the motorcycle to prevent damaging the trail, or putting a fire out fully with a bucket of water, and if that’s not available- don’t light a fire. What it really comes down to is treat everything like it’s yours, and do the right thing even when someone isn’t watching. There’s a lot of destruction out of our control, but the one thing you can control is how you act and I’ve always strived to be a good example even if it’s just me.
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 still live fairly conventionally, other than enjoying solo travel where most do it with a partner or two. I’ve always depended on myself and my abilities so this came naturally when motorcycles entered my life. My ultimate plan is to travel the world on my motorcycle; almost everything I do is centered around that eventual goal. I have some obligations that will keep my life conventional for a while longer, but as soon as those are gone I will be dropping everything to see where the journey takes me.
Where do you want to go next?
Geographically I want to start with the Americas, and go to places in the US I haven’t explored first. Before, after, or during my US explorations I will turn my wheels north and explore Canada and Alaska, then it’s Central and South America for me. This is all down the road a ways, so for now I’m honing my skills at capturing that journey, and developing my riding skills. When the time comes, I’m sure I won’t feel completely ready, but I will be as ready as possible. My career is up in the air, but I would love to find a way to support myself on the road. I don’t know how that will happen, but I expect it will be through story telling in one way or another.