Motorcycles As Mancation

Hell For Leather, HFL -



Wilderness Collective, a new company in California, promises “epic adventures for men.” We tagged along on their very first trip, riding dual-sports through the Sierra Nevada Mountains, from Sequioa to Yosemite National Parks.

The vault was located 50 feet below ground, in a building that used to store the government’s gold. A bartender stood in a nook at one end, pouring whiskey cocktails while 14 men gathered around a long table for a brisket dinner.

Four had come from Florida, three brothers in their 20s and their father. Two friends in their 50s from Utah, fresh off the plane in khakis and collared shirts. Two from Texas, a 40-year old ad exec and his father. The rest were Wildnerness Collective guides.

All had gathered here, in this secret meeting place, for one purpose — two-wheeled adventure.

An air of secrecy pervaded matters. We knew we were riding dirt bikes and we knew roughly where, but after finishing dinner, surrendering any and all digital devices, then climbing into a van for a trip of indeterminate length through the night, the rest was left for us to discover it as it happened.

After hours on the highway, then an awful long ways up a twisty road into the dark mountains, we arrived at a campsite. The last people along the way were a pair of trucks full of coon hounds, braying as we passed. Well after midnight, each guest was issued a tent, then left to put it up on their own.

Motorcycles As Mancation
The fire pit

Awaiting us when the sun rose was a roaring campfire surrounded by matching camp chairs, resting on each a large gear bag printed with our names. Matching helmets, jackets, boots and gloves were found in each. Personal effects had to fit into the small, supplied backpacks. There was room for a couple pairs of underwear, socks, a t-shirt or two and some water. This was very much an exercise in letting material things go.

Motorcycles As Mancation
The kitchen

Behind the fire was a row of matching red Hondas. Mostly XR650Ls, but a few CRF250Ls were interspersed as well. A chef got pheasant sausages on the go while craft coffee was handed around. We packed up, suited up, then followed the WC guide out of camp, still not knowing what to expect.

Through the giant redwoods and northwards out of the park, Wilderness Collective had spent weeks charting a course that was pretty much all of road, winding its way up the forested slopes of the Western Sierras.

Motorcycles As Mancation
Crossing stream

A motorcycle license was a prerequisite for the trip. The least experienced rider, the middle of the wild pack of miscreants that quickly became known as The Florida Boys, had gotten his license just three weeks before, specifically to come along. The most experienced was probably Hal, who commutes through Houston on a Triumph Scrambler. Riding dirt bikes up and down mountain passes, through glades of Giant Sequoias, was a new experience for everyone.

Motorcycles As Mancation
Crossing mud

And that did mean some crashes. Ruts caught front tires and the steep descents got the better of steeper learning curves. But because this was off-road and because the technical nature of the trails kept speeds down, injuries were limited to bruises.

Motorcycles As Mancation
Big tree

Probably the biggest scare of the first day came when a blind corner revealed an extremely large, one-horned bull who just didn’t seem too scared of a pack of identically-dressed dirt bikers. “Has anyone noticed all the bikes we’re riding are bright red?” pointed out a Florida Boy that works as a master dive instructor back home.

The bull eventually took a side trail and we eventually found ourselves at a swimming hole in one of the rivers that snake their way down out of the high peaks to the east out to the sea, far to the west. It was even colder than you’re picturing.

Motorcycles As Mancation
Going for a swim

Continue Reading: Motorcycles As Mancation >>

  • martin

    is this some sort of macho calendar shoot in disguise, cigars, booze, facial hair and admiring each other as they swim?

    • Jonathan Noble

      You won’t like this then

      • Damo Von Vinland

        OMG not that video again…uggh.

        • Piglet2010

          Well, that was bloody ‘orrible.

    • Piglet2010

      And what’s up with it being a “sausage party”?

  • markbvt

    Oh good. Another woodland excursion to separate rich guys from their money. Meanwhile the rest of us can tour for over a month on what these guys charge for a weekend. And this whole “adventures for men” schtick is just embarrassing.

    • Wes Siler

      Not everyone has a month to spare dude. Or the wherewithal to plan their own trip. WC handles all the bullshit so you (or the you with boatloads of cash) don’t have to. And they get you to the best riding and feed you well in the process.

      • markbvt

        Like I said, great way to separate rich dudes from their money. More power to the WC crew. But for what it’s worth, I don’t have a month to spare either… just saying that the cost of one WC weekend trip could fund a month’s worth of touring for those of us used to doing it ourselves.

        But ultimately it’s not the fact that they’re doing guided motorcycle trips on rental bikes that’s embarrassing — my friends at MotoVermont do that too, quite successfully — but rather the way they’re wrapping it in this cloak of alleged manliness. What’s embarrassing is that there are apparently plenty of guys out there insecure enough in their masculinity to buy into this nonsense. Who cares if you’re a “man” or not — male or female, straight or gay, black or white or any other color, just get out there and ride without an aura of bullshit, and the vast majority of the motorcycle community will have nothing but respect for you.

        • Mark D

          Agreed, branding this as a “Man-cation” is pretty unnecessary, and to be frank, kinda douchey.

          • Wes Siler

            There’s a difference between a headline and branding.

            How much did your bike cost? How much is insurance? Maintenance? Gas? How much would you spend on riding gear and luggage and tools to be equipped for a trip like this.

            It’s great if you already have all that, but what if you’re just a dude that fancies a bit of two-wheeled adventure for a weekend? According to your badass biker ideal, he has to buy all the above, for much more than one of these trips costs, just so he fits in your club?

            • Damo Von Vinland

              If you can’t see how much of a poseur-cation this is, I just don’t know what to tell you.

            • DaveDawsonAlaska

              How much is a used XR650L? Or a DRZ400? Or a DR650? $1500-2000? Insurance where I live and have lived is about $100/year. A good HJC dirt lid is $100, $20 for googles, ebay a pair of dirt boots for $100, and find jacket, pants, and gloves on clearance for another $300-400 total. Now you’ve got a bike that you can go play on or commute or travel around the world on and the gear to do it. Buy a tent from Walmart, find a decent sleeping bag on clearance at REI, etc. And you’re no longer limited to a weekend.

              • Damo Von Vinland

                Exactly, not to mention after the vacation was over you would still have a nice fully insured bike, as opposed to giving it back.

            • Piglet2010

              What’s the deal with the matching gear? I presume you send in your measurements ahead of time so the fit is close to being right? And is it re-used, or do you get to keep it?

        • grb

          i just thumbed up your comment, even though, whatever way it is, if they are attracting and promoting more people into motorcycling its good for for all of us, because its good for the industry, and if its good for the industry all riders benefit. as you know if more people buy bikes the industry has more money to invest in development and we get to ride better yet cheaper bikes, so yes, to promote motorcycle riding at any level is good, specially now.. I also think that concept wasn’t necessary and it could be as or more successful with just the simple bike adventure theme, but if this or anything else pulls new people in to riding, then its all good

    • JP

      I spend most of my time chasing a two year old and hanging out with my wife. I love them both dearly, but I would fucking jump at the chance to be on a mancation, manventure, or whatever you want to call it.

      Maybe the term is cheesy but I seriously miss the times where I can just hang out with the guys and just be a regular guy doing guy stuff.

      I wouldn’t appreciate this before I got married and had my son, but I would now.

      You can separate people from their money, but sometimes time is something you value as well. An experience with a bow on top can be appealing to someone without a lot of time.

      Just my $.02

  • Mark D

    Next camping trip, I am also confiscating everybody’s cell phones and locking them away for the weekend.

  • Stef

    these trips are great! What would be great for a student like me would be a trip halfway between setting everything up myself and going on a fully organized tour.

  • ADVgoddess

    Saw this “humorous” video a couple months back. Kinda disappointed that RA/HFL was a part of the group. My favorite quote – “This was very much an exercise in letting material things go.” Yet if you can bear watching the entire video, you will find irony in that drinking cocktails out of matching barware while wearing matching gear is hardly letting material things go…Here’s a better idea. Pack some basic clothes and gear in a throw-over bag and just start riding. Pick a road and go. See where the it leads. No need to ridiculously plan as the best experiences in life usually aren’t.

    • Wes Siler

      When will the proletariat rise up to crush the bourgeois ruling class and create a populist utopia?

      • ADVgoddess

        The whole concept of adventure (from those who have had it, which are likely the same who probably find this whole WC thing amusing) is not at all in creating a utopia, but in the imperfect, the flawed, the unplanned…This touring outfit presents itself as more of the hipster version of adventure, which I gather is what the bulk of the comments here will poke fun at.

        • Piglet2010

          Yeah, I would rather bumble along eating pre-packaged gas station sandwiches and pizza, than being catered foo-foo food while wearing matching outfits with a bunch of over-paid, white collar hipsters.

      • MotoEnthusiast

        You could have just put “There’s always a hater” lol

    • ADVgoddess

      Comments on the first RA post = vindicated.

      Now watch the movie….

      • mrtasty

        Hearing “[this will be] an exercise in letting material things go” just before I hand them $2.5k somehow makes sense.

        Who knows, maybe one day they’ll work up to Osho-like mind-wallet-mystification levels:

  • Trevor Stepan

    I’d be way more impressed if WC picked their elite guests like in The Skulls. Blindfolds off, I see matching chairs and gear and bikes and I know I’m being groomed for manliness.

  • Davidabl2

    A dude ranch with bikes?

  • Justin Henry

    Looks like a lot of fun. I’m already thinking about who I can get to go with me.

  • Emmet

    reminds me of glamping-all the novelty of being out in the wilderness without the risk or hardship.

  • DaveDawsonAlaska

    Some of their newer trips are much more interesting. Sailing and surfing in California, snowmachining in Alaska… all very cool trips that really would be hard for the average person to duplicate on their own.

    But a weekend camping trip on motorcycles? When you already have to have a motorcycle license to ride it, meaning you probably already have a bike? Really? I actually would really like to do a trip like this with my fiance… she doesn’t ride yet, and she likes good food almost more than I do and would really appreciate a ride like this. Lose the manly men rediscovering their dangly bits motif and market it as the yuppie guided tour vacation that it is.

  • Chris Cope

    I saw a video for this a while back and it looked kind of cool. But at the same time, that over-focus on ‘manliness’ is just a little creepy. It reminds me of the time in college that I went camping with a group from Campus Crusade for Christ. There was that singular focus hanging over everything. I had loads of fun but the whole time kept thinking: “At any point they’re going to break out a tub of Vaseline and I’m going to be expected to take part in something really strange.”

  • sean macdonald

    you look ridiculous in that top pic

    • Jesse


      • Wes Siler

        Ridiculously hungry, we hadn’t had lunch yet!

  • Eric Hall

    Love the attention and banter over this series. This previous story struck a chord as well

    I love the free market and like to see people get out and enjoy dualsport riding but it is kind of a sad commentary on manliness in the 21st century as well as the ever-present adventure touring fascism of “it can only be done this way.”

  • HellomynameisAG

    umm well i guess my comment was deleted –

    so here it is again.

    HellomynameisAG • 3 minutes ago −
    Um this was discussed and reviewed a while ago – and
    ” We tagged along on their very first trip” – as of Jan. no you did not.
    I am confused.
    •Edit•Reply•Share › TwitterFacebookLink

  • Wes Siler

    Here’s an explanation of our commenting system:

    This was the first actual trip WC organized with paying customers. The trip in which that video was made was run last fall in order to iron out the wrinkles. I’d wanted to go on that, but did the whole ass injury thing just before.

    • HellomynameisAG

      Cool, thanks for taking the time to explain.
      It was such a big discussion back and forth last time, hence remembering the article.
      I get it, and like I said last time, I dig it.
      good article – although it did kinda read like an intro to a Clive Cussler book.

  • sean macdonald

    This was the first official trip with people paying to participate. The previous trip was the beta and was just with friends of the guy who started the Wilderness Collective so they could shoot the video for promotion.

  • Wes Siler

    Well, Sean did that last trip to Big Sur, not me. And they’re pretty different trips.

    He and I are (and you) are not really WC’s target audience. Look at the guys in these photos. They’re all rad dudes, but they’re not going bike camping every weekend. They have busy work and family lives, but they still want to get out there and do something legitimately amazing. WC allows them to have a really, really epic experience that’s totally turnkey.

    Me? I get to ride bikes all the damn time, wherever I damn please. I want to get invited one of their sailing or mountaineering trips, those are experiences I don’t really get to have on my own.

  • fletchty

    Their promotional video was laughably retarded.

    • Jonathan Noble

      I remember comments on that video were being deleted. There were loads and now there’s only 28 (positive ones) and comments are now disabled. Lame.

  • fletchty

    yessssssss this is the way.

  • Wes Siler

    Real men smash things with rocks, not girly store-bought hammers.

    • Beale

      Fine, as long as they’re not selected for their exceptional shape, texture and character, infused with rich authentic tones.

  • Justin Henry

    What you’re talking about is a completely different vacation. Both have their places. If these guys wanted an “unplanned vacation” they wouldn’t sign up for this. Instead, they’re signing up for an adventure where someone else has to worry about the planning, food, equipment, etc. The only thing they have to worry about is having as much fun as possible.

  • HellomynameisAG

    dude that link is a joke right? please tell me its a comedian making fun of society or something.

    • carbon

      It’s a joke. Same guy did the “My New Fighting Technique Is Unstoppable,” and “Get Your War On.” See:

  • Derek

    It’s just like rich dudes paying sherpas to drag them up Everest. The exact same circumstance, type of happenings, flaccid result, and relative cost.

  • Harry Paratestes

    Adventure touring for those lacking imagination but possessing an over large wallet

  • Sasha Pave

    These adventures are fascinating: Luxurious but rugged. It’s like an extension of the trendy urban/outdoorsman/lumberjack aesthetic with bikes and beards. And probably some nice small batch bourbon at night.

    We (RideApart readers) are far from the target so this is an easy thing to poke fun at. But for that highly paid hip urban dad who might want to see what this whole “adventure touring” stuff is all about, I think it’s great. He’s going to bring home lots of rugged instagram photos to show friends. Plus it’ll give his beard some gravitas.

    If there’s a chance some of these riders will go buy a bike, I’m all for it. Even if they end up with a 1200gs with a boatload of touratech it means more riders enjoying our passion, only with ESA suspension and heated saddles.

  • Sean B

    In some was I feel like as a general idea something like this is a great idea. I’m curious if you get to keep the gear or do you turn it in at the end? Seems like it would be good for networking. I know from experience there are people who pay to do things like this who may not have a chance or the skills to do it to do it on their own. The part that gets me is the male only side of it. I wish they offered a trip for women or one that includes them.