BY: TED BARNABY
About four months ago, 26 year-old Sebastiaan de With and his friend, Stuart Philkill, returned from a motorcycle trip that captured the interest and imagination of young adventurers across the world. The photo gallery—highly popularized by Reddit and Imgur—chronicles a journey inspired after, as de With puts it, “[I] got divorced, lost my job, so me and my buddy got on our motorcycles and rode North to the Alaskan Arctic until the road ran out.”
Their trip spanned from San Francisco, California to Anchorage, Alaska—a winding stretch of highway crest that moves with the ocean through some of the world’s most incredible mountain views. The two captured the entire length in a photo-series bound to strike jealousy in the heart of an aforementioned divorced wife. Their trip took two months all in all.
According to de With, “It has really allowed me to kind of ‘find myself’ after such a turbulent time, and I’m now doing plenty of job-seeking with renewed inspiration to spend my time saving up for more experiences like this.”
A current San Francisco resident, de With is described as a photographer, designer and general motorcycle enthusiast. Stuart Philkill is also a photographer. The two created a Kickstarter campaign to fund the production of a photo-book of the trip, as well as a number of gallery-worthy prints to send to their contributors. Their campaign successfully raised over $10,000. A few motorcycle-friendly companies even chipped in to provide the two adventurers with gear for their trip.
However, de With and Philkill’s trip wasn’t popularized by the Kickstarter campaign, sponsorship or even the two’s promotional activity—their journey became one of 2014’s most-widely followed adventures because it tells a profound length about life, and the two roads that meet at the foot of turmoil; de With turned his back on self-pity to call ‘solitude’ footloose, re-defining hardship as opportunity.
We either crumble under uncertainty, or embrace the unknown.
1: Atigun Pass in the Arctic northernmost region of Alaska. The view at our destination, over 5,000 miles since we departed home. How did we get here?
2: We departed San Francisco with some seriously loaded bikes.
4: We took the roads less traveled by the most beautiful scenery. Crater Lake, Oregon…
5: … is mind-blowing.
7: and then made time for Portland
8: we spent all our money on gas and gear, and crashed with friends in Portland (pictured) or camping on free land.
9: we got to haul ass at times through cities as we preferred to stay close to nature and make miles north
10: Washington State means ferries! You get to go on and get off first as a motorcyclist and hang out with other riders.
11: Washington state: Olympic National Park. Amazing place.
13: As we wanted to chronicle the changes in landscape and nature, we went on hikes. Here’s one of the higher places in Washington, Hurricane Ridge, with a big stag chilling in the evening light.
16: … we made friends, who invited us along on a massive illegal bicycle rave (!)
18: We rode out the morning after the crazy bike rave and were properly on our way north.
19: We camped in places we found by riding up random dirt roads and setting up a fire ring and a tent. Home for the night usually came with incredible views.
21: … and started getting set up later and later in the day. This was at 10 PM or so. Late light was very nice.
22: Long, dreadfully boring roads up to Alaska at times meant relaxing with the feet up!
23: Sometimes we camped in funny places. This is a cow pasture. Briefly after this shot we were chased off by a herd of curious cows and a big bull.
24: But, thanks to this fence we could sleep and set up camp on the side that was safe from the bovine menace.
26: We met other riders, like this guy from Bolivia. Some people ride from the top of America to the bottom…
27: Late light and long sunsets in boreal forests, the last forested areas before the tundra. Not pictured: intense shitloads of mosquitoes.
28. We hit the Alaskan Highway in the Yukon and found it quite decent as far as pavement goes! Incredible scenery and scale.
29. Maintenance involved Yukon Walmart parking lot oil changes and mechanical adjustments. The bikes did great!
30. Our first trip to the small Alaskan town of Skagway was breathtaking. The White Pass, known well from the time of the Klondike Gold Rush is insane.
More photos www.ridenorth.net and www.dewith.com