Unbeaten Alleys

Your Next Adventure Could Be Just Down The Street

By Andrew Cherney

How do most adventure rides start? With a visit to ADVrider.com, followed by a trip to the newsstand to pick up the requisite adventure magazines? Then a computer session spent mapping out waypoints for the GPS? Finally, a load up of the fully farkled dual-sport (aluminum panniers optional)?

Maybe, if you have nothing but time— and a corporate sponsor. But not everybody has the inclination, or, frankly, the cash to go off the grid for that long. The good news is that even if your budget is tight or destination possibilities slim, all you really need is a set of wheels and a little curiosity. An adventure bike is totally optional. I’ve seen guys on Honda Metropolitan knockoffs surefootedly clamber down a treacherous mountain pass without missing a beat.

Photos courtesy of Lindsay Cimina Photography

Photos courtesy of Lindsay Cimina Photography

In fact, I did this local “urban enduro” run some years ago in Portland, Ore., which routed riders onto the inner city’s network of crumbling, sometimes passable alleyways that run behind homes. Because they’re city-owned, everyone has a right to these semipaved paths, but not many people know of their existence. These were all back roads, hidden in plain sight, that could’ve passed for parts of Bombay or inner Mexico City (except the signs were in English, but you get my drift). There were guys squeezing through the brush and broken bottles on everything from Zuma scooters to Honda XR650s and all the way up to big-boy KTM Adventures (though that’s really bringing a gun to a knife fight). It was a fascinating look into the underbelly of my own city, and just 3 miles away from home. Yes, it was pure adventure.

There’s no need to ride halfway around the world to find thrills. Just a little trail ride or a brief urban blast can do wonders to clear your head and recharge your soul. So look a little harder at your own landscape, and get out there.

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