Immersed in Motorcycle Travel at Horizons Unlimited

This past weekend I attended my first Horizons Unlimited event. This gathering of motorcycle travelers is just one of many Horizons Unlimited events that happen all over the world each year. They are part of a larger online community and resource network serving the motorcycling community that brings us together for learning and fun in real life.

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Our home away from home at Horizons Unlimited – Virginia, the 4H camp near Appommatox.

Horizons Unlimited – Virginia…

For my time in Virginia at the 4H facility where the event was held, I attended sessions on travel photography, emergency preparedness, and even the nuances of motorcycle tires. There were also many speakers who shared their motorcycle travel experiences all over the world. Every one of these sessions was valuable to me for helping shift my mindset from auto travel to moto. They are very different beasts and I know I’ll benefit from the insight of more experienced travelers. I had to forego rides out to explore and train obviously, but diving into the information sessions instead was a very worthwhile distraction.

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Cathy Davies and Larry Johnson are an amazing inspiration… and oddly enough, it turns out they live near Val in Real Life HQ. Go fig, right? Check out their story on their blog.
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Getting very hands on in the tire session…
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Grant Johnson giving us the low-down on tire irons.
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A fellow #Motochat Twitterphile, Andrew Pain, giving us insight into motorcycle travel.

A Tale of Two Expos…

You know I’m a fan of Overland Expo which embraces the larger travel and overlanding community of both the four and two-wheel variety. Horizons Unlimited is much like Overland Expo but focused on motorcycle travel and differs in size and frequency. Their events happen across the globe a couple dozen times throughout the year instead of the two that Overland Expo now offers.

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Motorcycles in infrared, blending two of my passions at Horizons Unlimited.

Both events feature seminars and technical sessions designed to help you refine your travel skills and knowledge. Given it’s scale, Overland Expo offers more options for seminars and instruction than Horizons Unlimited, almost overwhelmingly so. But since Overland Expo is less frequent, it’s also less accessible.

Compared to Overland Expo, the Horizons Unlimited event I attended in Virginia was much more intimate. I’m guessing there were a couple hundred people there… not the thousands that attend Overland Expo. I value both venues for building my travel skills as well as my personal community but I will give the edge to Horizons Unlimited for building a community of travelers. The less-chaotic vibe and smaller attendance simply lends itself to that more. Their online travel forum fosters lasting connections between travelers. And with no enormous vendor area, the event is more focused on the heart of motorcycle travel which is the experience and people.

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We were all a little grimy and tired by Sunday morning but Grant and Susan Johnson (the founders of Horizons Unlimited) are amazing travelers and all-around nice folks. It was a huge honor to meet them.

Reality check…

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I took a little grief for my big, luxurious tent but my fellow travelers cut me some slack under the circumstances.

You know I’m all about keeping it real. I will admit it was emotionally difficult to have to drive instead of ride but it was still very much a worthwhile journey. Physically, the trip was demanding. Even though I’m walking sort of functionally, Frankenleg (as I now call it) and my claw of a right hand were not terribly cooperative. The long drive was challenging for a gimp like me. For someone well-seasoned in long-distance driving, that’s a harsh reality.

This was also my first attempt at camping since January’s crash. Being car-based for this, I took the big tent and cot so I could have a little more comfort leeway. I managed to get the tent pitched ok but it was a slow, uncomfortable process. Clearly I still have a long way to go.

So yes, I’m out-and-about, getting back to life. But the whole process is much harder than it used to be. If I weren’t passionate about what I do, I’d probably not be inclined to make the effort at this point. But I do love this, and that will carry me far.

Adventure on, friends.

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Camping at the event ended up a wee bit soggy but there’s nothing adventure riders love more than mud, right?

And now for your moment of green…

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A whole lot of moto traveling awesome right there. That fuels my fire.


  1. I’m glad you could make Horizons Unlimited-Virginia. I wish that I could have been there. I agree with your assessment of the two expos–Horizon Unlimited vs. Overland Expo. I think HU is more down to earth and community building. Just take one step onto the grounds of OVEX and you are immediately surrounded by hundred-thousand-dollar vehicles and very expensive vendor products. And, that’s after you’ve paid the price for admission. Both have lots of education, but I think the prize for sharing and comunity building goes to HU–it’s travelers teaching and sharing with other travelers. –Brent

    1. Exactly. They’re both useful in very different ways and seem to draw a different kind of crowd. I like them both. Definitely looking forward to attending another HU.


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