Eric Lange is owner/operator of RIDE Adventures, a motorcycle tour company offering some of the best two-wheeled experiences around the globe. He sat down with Essential Moto to share his own story and how RIDE Adventures came to be.
Living out a dream is something that most people think about, but few realize. Whether it’s a trip, a career, or the basic pursuit of happiness, people often forego what they want to maintain security. The safety of knowing where you’ll be tomorrow, the next day, or a year from now is one of those notions that is impressed upon the masses early on in life because it makes for a productive society that is, beyond all else, predictable. So when events like the US market crash of 2008 occur and predictability has all but disappeared, it’s strange to see the various ways that people react.
Eric Lange was one of the many who unexpectedly found themselves without a job. Instead of trying to weather the storm and search for another career that left him feeling empty, Eric chose a motorcycle. He packed up the essentials, stored the rest, rented out his home in Atlanta and headed West for something different.
There he spent six months with a tour company specializing in a practical approach to travel. Minimalist vacations where people could maximize the amount they got to see was a very niche market, but still a market. Eric learned firsthand that people, regardless of the current economic situation, wanted to be moved by locations they hadn’t yet seen. But life behind the wheel of a tour bus wasn’t meant to last. Shortly after, Eric found himself cruising down the Pacific Coast Highway in search of more two-wheeled adventure.
This is when Eric met a fellow motorbike enthusiast named Peter, who was keen on a less than traditional way of life. Peter had made the trip from Germany and just finished the Trans America Trail when they met and, like nomads do, they found friendship and safety in their shared cageless experience. It so happened that Peter was headed to Argentina, and Eric had no excuse not to join him. Peter introduced Eric to international moto-travel and the concept of being a motorcycle tour guide.
The idea of a motorcycle tour company stuck with Eric, but the trip to South America he was on seemed uncertain at best. Heading into multiple foreign countries with some random German, on a bike, with no plan on how it was all going work, he was met with a breakdown just miles across the Mexico border. Many would have taken this as an indication to turn around and saunter back to the safety of home, but not Eric. Thankfully he persevered and paid attention to the subtle signs that indicated he was on the right path, like the steam ship he took from Panama to Chile that held the same name as his mom, Jeanne.
Once Eric hit Chile, he and Peter parted and his solo exploration of South America began. In between a few short-term teaching gigs he saw most of what Chile had to offer, and while the scenery was breathtaking, he was also enamored by the people. Eric explains the welcoming nature of South America and its people as nothing like the stories you may have heard. If help is needed, people help. The people of Chile and the rest of South America left an impression on Eric like that of distant family—welcoming with open arms and always willing to share what they have.
It was during this time that Eric was considering ending his exploits with his newfound Chilean family due to a dwindling bank account and the beginnings of the US market recovery, but then he came upon Motorider. They were a local motorcycle touring company in need of a gringo, and Eric fit the bill perfectly.
Motorider allowed Eric to explore even more of South America, and especially Patagonia. Eric recounts this time in his life with an adoration normally reserved for a significant other, affectionately referring to Patagonia as “nature’s freakshow.”
Through an unfortunate series of events Motorider came to an end, but not before leaving Eric with the confidence that he could realize a dream. The name RIDE Adventures came to Eric in the early hours of the morning, and just as that steamship named Jeanne was a sign, so was this. Eric knew he had to share Patagonia with the rest of the world and, with the connections he had made along the way, he could use RIDE Adventures as a conduit. RIDE Adventures would be a way to let people who want to see the world on a bike do so without danger or fear of having a trip ruined by the logistical nightmares that go along with multinational motorbike travel, especially in locales not always accommodating to the would-be adventurer.
Fast forward to August 2017, RIDE Adventures has it’s seven year anniversary and is thriving, but doing so with care. Seeing the mistakes made by those who came before him, Eric relies on three hallmarks to ensure RIDE Adventures is one of the best experiences you can get on a motorcycle: Satisfying, Intriguing, and Safe. Eric makes sure that every trip he offers can live up to these guidelines by personally riding the path, working out kinks and experiencing all the possible negatives of trip so you don’t have to. But the key to ensuring these criteria are always met is the RIDE Adventures crew. The guides that show you the way are locals who can navigate the particulars of any given locale. With the deft touch of someone who knows the area better than you ever could, RIDE Adventures can offer an adventure you can trust because even when the unforeseeable happens, you have a local to help figure things out.
All the planning, border authorizations, accommodations, and bike rentals do come at a cost, so attempting to DIY a life changing moto-adventure may cross your mind. Even Eric took to his own devices when deciding to blow the proverbial popsicle stand, but be warned. Part of the dream RIDE Adventures offers is not only the trust that you’ll come back, but also that you’ll get started. So when a gentleman contacted Eric, having foregone the RIDE Adventures experience in favor of doing it on his own, he had been stranded without a bike for two of his three-month South American journey. Being the genuine dude that Eric is, he helped the guy make the most of what remained of his once in a lifetime adventure.
That’s what drew me to RIDE Adventures and Eric. RIDE Adventures genuinely cares about riders because they want to share their life-changing experiences. The want to share such a trip is why Eric refuses to ever let quality suffer and if he can’t vouch for a trip, he won’t let it happen.
The future for RIDE Adventures is slow and steady growth with plans to add in purposeful extras, like the latest addition of 4×4 vehicles. As for Eric he lives a minimalist lifestyle, adding in only what he needs—like the Sprinter van emblazoned with the RIDE Adventures logo that takes him to MOA rallies and anywhere else he needs to be. That’s where Eric sets himself apart, his focus is always on what’s best for his clients. You can feel Eric’s dedication when talking to him, and that sort of devotion is special because it makes RIDE Adventures more than just a tour company–it’s a customer service company that does tours.
As demonstrated by his reaction to having his life turned upside down by the market crash, the questionable trip to South America, his time in awe-inspiring Patagonia, and his experience building RIDE Adventures, Eric chooses to live life differently than most, and that’s a very good thing for anyone who has ever considered a far away adventure.
Photos courtesy of RIDE Adventures.