Meet James Barkman
It’s that time of year again – crisp air, falling leaves…and cozy nights in? Not for James Barkman, the cover star for our recent release Off the Road (German edition). He’s spending this fall on an intense mountaineering and motorcycle adventure through the whole of America. Read our interview with this intrepid explorer – and if that ignites your wanderlust, check out Off the Road, where you’ll find plenty more inspiring stories of overland expeditions.
It looks like you’re enjoying the autumn colors on the Pan-American Trail. What brought you there?
Absolutely! Fall is my favorite season, and I’m more than stoked to be riding through (in my opinion) some of the most beautiful places in North America during peak fall colors.
The Pan American Trail is 30,000-mile motorcycle and mountaineering expedition, spanning from the tip of North American to the bottom of South American on the saddles of DR650s. The goal of the project is to climb the highest and most respected alpine routes along the way, such as Mt Denali, Mt Robson, and Aconcagua. For years, my two childhood friends and I have been talking and dreaming about this trip, and thankfully that dream has now become reality!
What is your set up when you travel? Do you ride by bike or by 4x4 or by caravan?
For the past few years I’ve lived and traveled in a 1976 VW Camper Van, but this trip has been and will be completed on Suzuki DR650 Dual Sport Motorcycles.
You must have some thrilling tales from the road—any particularly breathtaking sights or unforgettable memories?
Too many to count! One of the most memorable and rewarding moments so far, was a few months back when my team and I, led and guided by my good friend Sterling Taylor, summited Mt Denali. For almost as long as I can remember, it’s been a big dream of mine, and we couldn’t have been more amped to start the trip with Denali in the bag. Getting stuck in a 7-day storm at 14,000 feet made the summit experience a bit more rewarding! Denali was the first summit of many, and we hope to spend much of our attention and time in the Andes Mountain Range in South America.
Could you tell us more about the leather goods line you just released?
Over the past month I launched a Leather Goods Company called Welsh Mtn Co. I grew up in the Welsh Mountain Range of Pennsylvania, and spent much of my childhood exploring and cruising through the beautiful fields, woods, and streams. The Company is based in the foothills of the Welsh Mountains, and every product and item is manufactured right in my hometown. For years, t’s been a big dream of mine to launch a company, and it’s proved to be a great learning experience so far! It’s been a bit of a challenge to operate and manage things off of a motorcycle, but things have been going very well.
What tips do you have for someone looking to start a life on the road?
I think having purpose and vision is a big part of keeping this lifestyle sustainable. It’s easy to “float” around rather aimlessly and not work or strive towards a goal. I’ve chosen to live this lifestyle so as to provide the opportunity to pursue the things that I value and love during this season of my life. My advice would be to live with purpose and vision, and if a life on the road helps that pursuit, then go for it!