If you haven’t heard of him yet, now is the time. William Gloege is taking adventures that we’ve only dreamed of, and he’s allowing us to come along for the ride. Have you ever imagined riding around the world? Sure you have. We ALL have. But then you just think that it’s too crazy and impossible and you let the dream go. Well, Gloege actually did it (twice), and the whole adventure is documented on YouTube.
It only takes a visit to his vlog to see the many adventures this world-traveler has been on. In fact, you can view his first expedition on a Kawasaki KLR650, a bike famous for its durability on ultra long rides. In his latest journey, you witness his 2016 Africa Twin in action as it circumnavigates the globe.
If you’re new to YouTube, then you might not be aware that there are several motorcycle vlogs out there, but there are some key elements that make William’s stand apart. For one thing, his casual honesty makes us feel like we're with him, as a buddy. Gloege provides tips for long rides, chronicles hilarious and sometimes scary events along the way, and goes at a comfortable pace, making both him, and us, feel like we’re just taking our time.
So how does one manage to become a self-sustained adventure motorcyclist? In all transparency, Gloege’s second trip around the world was sponsored by Honda. That doesn’t hurt. In a recent interview online he said, "Don't use the 'W' word around me...it makes me a little sick to my stomach." This was in reference to the word “work,” of course. Can you blame him?
"I used to carry one of those silly expandable batons...such a waste...people in this world are great. No one is out to get you. Just be smart,” he said. Talk about a unique perspective. In a world where everyone is freaking out and afraid of one another, what makes Gloege stand apart is that he has a unique and zen-like perspective that only comes from navigating the globe on a motorcycle. In fact, you might even call his viewpoint philosophical.
Riding since he was 10 years old, William recalls his dad putting him on a Yamaha YSR50, and then the rest was history. It was when Gloege turned 18 that he bought his first Suzuki DR350, and today he owns numerous bikes, including the 2014 Kawasaki KLR 650 “the Burra”, 2006 KTM 450 EXC-G, and a 1977 Honda XL175.
The adventure riding bug bit him during a 300-mile loop on the eastern slope of the Sierras. That’s when everything changed, Gloege says. A lightbulb went off. We all know that moment. He was drawn to the simplicity and ease of living off his bike for days. The sense of freedom was intoxicating, and the experience of self-sustainability, which today he has pretty much mastered, was like a calling to him.
Gloege teaches us that adventure riding is a soulful experience; not just figuring out the logistics of packing, but also knowing how to fix the bike out in the middle of nowhere with just a few simple tools. And then there’s the people: “More paved roads, the internet, and globalization are all contributing to a more homogenized world. Getting out and seeing the differences in food, culture, people and landscapes is what I am trying to do before the whole world is blended together.”
It’s clear that William understands that he’s exploring a world that is seriously about to change. “As technology evolves and grows, the now hidden parts of the world are losing some of their authenticity and the true reason for exploring them. Don’t get me wrong, I know this evolution is inevitable, I simply want to make sure that I can experience both sides of it,” he said.
So, what is adventure riding to William? He would tell you “freedom.” It comes from picking an unknown route that isn’t about getting from A to B in the fastest way possible. It’s about taking your time and challenging yourself as a rider, and as a human being. Getting out of your comfort zone, focusing on the road, and emptying your mind. If that doesn’t sound like a spiritual practice, then we don’t know what is.
“For me, an adventure ride usually involves some or all of the following; seeing something new, a new road, sleeping in a tent, several roadside cups of coffee, meeting new people, a nap on the side of the road, a fall, some type of mechanical failure and surely that tingle down the spine. Although I love to cross borders on my bike, county lines are sufficient on the weekend. Just pick a place on a map and go.”
A note about those falls: If you watch William’s vlog, you’ll hear him talk about how he takes a lot of them, and he just keeps getting back up again. In his personal life, William is a yoga practitioner who is challenged by meditation. But once he’s on the bike, he clears his mind with ease. For all of those reading this who have gone on long rides, you know what that state feels like. There’s something about riding on a motorcycle that makes the mind peaceful, and William Gloege’s adventures seem to be in active pursuit of this state.
Gloege lives in sunny Santa Cruz, California, but he’s been to pretty much every country imaginable. He’s tech savvy, so you can find him on Instagram and Twitter, but more importantly, he’s got an old soul, wrapped up in a lighthearted personality. When you watch his YouTube channel you gain expert tips for going on long rides with very few provisions, he’ll teach you a thing or two about the best tools to carry along, and make you laugh at some of the antics that are bound to happen when riding solo around the world.
Perhaps the coolest thing that Gloege imparts to us all is that riding on a motorcycle is meaningful. You don’t have to tweet your feelings about it or create a Moto vlog, but you can have a better sense that every time you get on your bike and hit the road, no matter how far you’re going, it’s a freeing experience. And it’s one that is only your own.