Motorcycles As Mancation

Hell For Leather, HFL -



Camp that night was tucked away by a little stream in the middle of nowhere. WC’s chef whipped up the kind of meal that you’d more commonly see served on a white linen table cloth while the rest of us reclined around the fire, drinking pre-mixed Negronis. Someone who hadn’t seen it before asked if that was the Milky Way. Indeed it was, this far out there, you could really see the stars.

Motorcycles As Mancation
Night time

But there were no stars in the next night’s campsite, located in a grove of Sequoias; the massive trees completely obscured the sky. As we drew nearer to Yosemite, the terrain had gotten more mountaineous and rugged. “Stay a far to the right as possible, hug the cliff face” we were warned at one point. Good advice, because it was at least a thousand feet straight down on the left.

We’d encountered two other vehicles that day, both minivans. One was a long ways up rutted, potholed ascent. Further up than you’d have given it credit for, it was nonetheless permanently stuck and had, subsequently, been shot up and partially disassembled. A mule car for the illegal marijuana grows that exist in the most remote parts of these mountains, the thinking went.

The second minivan was in motion, driven by a surly local who, judging by his weaving, was either off-his-face wasted or actively trying to prevent us passing as we rode up “his” fire road. A quick pass through the bushes and he was blocked as everyone else roared pass. He just stewed angrily at the prospect of 14 angry bikers.

Motorcycles As Mancation
River bank

Lunch that day was served on the shore of a wide river. An old railroad bridge ran across it, making a perfect diving board for (off)road weary travelers.

The biggest incident of the trip came when of the guys sent his 250 flying down a steep embankment. The bike was barely scratched and he was fine, so out came some tow rope and four men managed to haul the bike back up the slope.

After a “shortcut” through an OHV park and its challenging trails, the last day’s riding ended mid-morning. There’s no off-road riding in Yosemite National park, so the 35-ish miles from entrance to the epic overlook up top had to be accomplished on tarmac. The views along the way were so nice that no one seemed to mind. No one dared speak it, but the sense of relief that the challenge had finally been met was palpable. The Tunnel View Overlook, with its panoramic views of Yosemite Valley beyond, provided a suitably epic backdrop for the trip’s conclusion.

Motorcycles As Mancation
Yosemite Valley

A long van ride back to Los Angeles and we reconvened for late night sausage and beer at Wurstkuche. The topic around the table was wasn’t so much stories from the trip, but plans for the next and how the experience would alter everyone’s day-to-day life from that point on. Emerging from the wilderness sometimes provides the best perspective on civilization.

Should you go on a Wilderness Collective trip? Well, they are expensive. But in the same way going deep sea fishing or flying somewhere warm to play golf is expensive. And you’re going to have a much bigger adventure with WC, out in the middle of nowhere, than you’re every going to get on the back nine.

Motorcycles As Mancation
Sitting around the fire

The trip had much more to offer over my standard weekend of dirt biking than just fancy cocktails and good food. The company and the camaraderie certainly add to the experience and WC does a great job of really getting you off the beaten path and in making the real outdoors accessible, without removing any of the danger or experience that makes it worth seeking out in the first place.

Having said that, Wilderness Collective isn’t catering to experts seeking to get the most out of their expertise. Its about making an epic experience like this accessible to people who wouldn’t normally find themselves riding dirt bikes in the shadow of a giant sequoia. Or sailing tiny trimarans through the Channel Islands. That’s where they are as I write this. As someone who hasn’t sailed in years, I’ve felt a palpable sense of envy all weekend. If you want an outdoor experience way, way outside your norm, Wilderness Collective is where you’ll find it.

Motorcycles As Mancation
The view
  • 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.