EP62 | Solo Adventure Travel with Filmmaker and Motorcyclist, Sterling Noren

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Episode Description

It is common for many to offer the conventional advice to “never travel alone.” Filmmaker, Sterling Noren, has some alternative thoughts, however, when it comes to solo travel.

With extensive solo traveling experience by motorcycle throughout many remote regions of the world, Sterling is on the podcast to share his insight, expertise, and rationale for solo travel along with a couple of good stories based on his vast variety of experiences.

Learn what Sterling Noren considers the five essential skills for solo travel, why solo travel can sometimes be safer than traveling with a group, and how to minimize your risk and optimize your fun while solo traveling aboard a motorcycle or in a vehicle.

Having filmed 10 out of the 12 popular BDR films (Backcountry Discovery Routes) along with a host of compelling documentaries, Sterling now focuses most of his creative energy on his Motorcycle Travel Channel on YouTube, where his films exhibit a Zen-like, meditative quality that allow the viewer to be present within his experience.

In addition to his work as a filmmaker, Sterling co-owns the Jonquil Motel in Bisbee, AZ along with his partner/girlfriend, Eva Rupert.

Get inspired to try heading out on your own by joining Sterling and Jimmy for a deep dive into all things solo travel.

Detailed Episode Summary

Part 1 (0:40-9:11) Sterling Noren of “The Motorcycle Travel Channel” Bio and Background: Sterling started making films when he was in high school and “has never stopped” as he puts it. Sterling explains his own origin story as both a filmmaker and motorcyclist, taking us back to his first documentary with Helge Pedersen of Globe Riders.

Extra Resources Mentioned in this Part of the Episode:

Part 2 (9:12-13:08) Sterling Noren’s Experience Filming BDR (Backcountry Discovery Route) Films: Backcountry Discovery Routes have become immensely popular for ADV motorcyclists and overlanders, alike. Each BDR has its own film documenting the ride, and Sterling Noren has filmed 10 out of 12 of these documentaries. Sterling explains how he got involved with filming BDR routes and shares a bit about his experience riding them and making these films.

Extra Resources Mentioned in this Part of the Episode:

Link to Sterling’s BDR Films

Part 3 (13:09-26:02) How Did Sterling Noren’s Love of Filmmaking Lead to His Solo Travel Experiences? Sterling explains how his desire to create his own unique films, in part, led to his interest in solo travel in which he could ride his own ride and film it in his own unique way. The result is the incredible body of work now featured on The Motorcycle Travel Channel. He also shares details about his incredible solo journey aboard a motorcycle into Mexico in of a story that led to his making the film, Run Free: The True Story of Caballo Blanco.

Extra Resources Mentioned in this Part of the Episode:

Dick Proenneke At Home in the Wilderness Building a Cabin in Alaska YouTube Series

Part 4 (26:02-31:14) How Traveling Solo Can Alter Your Experience and Lead to Meeting New People and Discovering Unique Stories: Sterling explains how the fact that he was traveling solo led to gaining the trust of Micah True and Sterling’s telling of the story, Run Free: The True Story of Caballo Blanco. Jimmy and Sterling discuss how the vulnerability of solo travel leads to meeting new people and gaining their trust and support.

Part 5 (31:15-37:28) Zen and Solo Adventure Travel: Sterling shares other reasons he enjoys riding solo, highlighting the differences between solo and group travel and additional reasons he prefers solo travel for his style of filmmaking. He further explains the “Zen” of adventure motorcycle travel and the meditative qualities of the experience.

Part 6 (37:28-40:10) Is Riding with Partners Safer Than Riding Solo? Jimmy and Sterling discuss some of the riding hazards caused by the partner and group dynamics and Sterling makes the case for riding solo while recognizing some of the great times that can be had with partners or groups.

Part 7 (40:11-46:06) ADV Motorcycle Travel vs. Overland Vehicle/Van/4×4 Vehicle Travel/Thriving vs. “Roughing It”: Sterling also owns a beloved 4×4 van which he enjoys traveling in and even toting along his motorcycle on a heavy-duty carrier on occasion. Sterling and Jimmy compare and contrast motorcycle and vehicle travel and look at thriving while traveling by motorcycle vs. “roughing it.”

Extra Resources Mentioned in this Part of the Episode:

Part 8 (46:07-1:00:25) What Can Go Wrong When You’re Riding Solo? As an experienced solo traveler, most often aboard a motorcycle, Sterling breaks down a list of likely issues one might face while traveling solo in the backcountry, noting everything from proper regular maintenance and servicing of your motorcycle to knowing how to repair a flat in the field. Sterling wraps up this segment of the podcast with a fantastic story based on his personal experience with misadventures and solo travel mishaps.

Part 9 (1:00:26-1:08:20) Short Trip or Long Trip? Sterling Outlines the “7 Levels of Motorcycle Travel”: There are all different types of motorcycle rides people can go on: a day ride, an overnight, a weekend trip, round-the-world, etc. Sterling lays out the 7 levels of experience he’s familiar with in an attempt to provide some guideposts for moto adventure travel. Not surprisingly, all of these are applicable to vehicle-based travel as well.

Part 10 (1:08:21– 1:15:22) 5 Essential Skills for Solo Adventure Travelers: Sterling outlines what he thinks are the five essential skills to have before heading out on a solo moto or vehicle-based traveling adventure, looking at navigation, camping, and mechanical, skills among others. Sterling further explains how important it is to monitor your own physical health to avoid things like heat-related illnesses by following a healthy diet, staying hydrated, and getting adequate sleep while traveling.

Part 11 (1:15:23-End) Sterling Noren’s Current Film Projects and Thoughts on His Future Adventures: Sterling shares his future content ideas and his new focus on educational content to help people learn how to enjoy solo adventure motorcycle travel for themselves.

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