October 21, 2021
Our friend Rihards recently went on a momentous tour around the perimeter of Latvia. Rihards is passionate about adventure riding and believes you don't have to sacrifice good food and real cooking when you travel by motorcycle. Here is what he has to say about his trip:
It took me 16 days to ride around Latvia and I covered 2761 kilometers, though the actual length around Latvia is around 1866 kilometers, I went more inland and even at one point crossed the border and was outside Latvia. It was my summer vacation and I wanted to make the best out of it, and I succeeded! This was my best adventure so far! Here’s how it all went down.
To be honest I at first I was planning a road trip abroad but since covid had its own plan then I was stuck inside Latvia and unsure whether the borders would be open by the time when I’m ready to go on an adventure, so I decided on the safeties thing – travel inland. Traveling around Latvia was on my bucket list and I guess this was the best time to do it.
It’s not a long distance to travel, 1866 kilometers can be done in a week, hell, it can even be done in 3 days but that’s not the way how I travel. I like to take things slow. I don’t like waking up early, I don’t like or want to ride many kilometers in one day, I don’t want the rush and stress. This is my vacation and I want to rest as well before jumping back into my day job, btw my day job is in front of the pc screen and brain muscle is needed, so that’s why I like having my vacations away from that.
My Google maps with the points that I wanted to visit. You can check out the map here – OUTDURO – apLatvija 2021.
The route was simple, clockwise around Latvia’s border. The first thing that I did was open Google My Maps and I started marking interesting points around the border. I marked a lot of old military objects since Latvia is filled with them and I’m interested in them as a military person myself. I marked a lot of historic places and even asked my friend historian to mark a couple of places because he had already ridden around Latvia in 2016.
I marked beer breweries and pubs/taverns so that I could taste different meals and beverages. Of course, I marked a lot of museums, scenic places, and interesting objects and I ended up with a map with a lot of points. I knew that I’m not gonna visit all of these points because then I would need a whole month for this trip. So that’s all I did, I did not create a road map because things change when you’re on the road and the best option is to head from one point to a different and plan the route on the spot depending on where you wanna go. You can read more about my planning in a different post: Planning to ride around Latvia.
I upgraded my motorcycle with a couple of accessories that would help me battle the elements and would also make the ride more pleasant.
Custom OUTDURO kickstand
At first, I thought I would travel alone or maybe max with 2 or 3 other friends but I ended up attracting many people not just from my club “apPasaule” but also my friend, a historian who was a great addition since he could tell more about the history in an interesting place.
I like to travel in groups but it’s a lot of work and a bit of stress when you’re the one leading the group because you have to think about things like complexities of a route because some riders are less experienced than others and this also creates a bit of pain for those who are more experienced. You also have to think about more stops for food, water, gasoline and so on. You also get a lot of questions like when is the next stop, how long are we riding, where the hell are we? So you kinda start feeling like a guide and it puts a chore on you.
But then there is the good side of traveling in a group. There’s more joy when you can share it with the group. We called our selves team even though some of us rode together for the first time. It was the ups and downs that we went through that bonded us closer to each other and made us better friends. It made the evening experience cooking camp meals together more interesting when everyone’s involved and this brings us to my next big thing – preparing your own meals.
My around Latvia crew. From left – Me (Rihards), Anita, Jānis, Lelde, Miķelis and Egīls
Making food over a campfire is one of my favorite things so that’s why I brought along with me a whole kitchen set that included a cast iron pan, a smoker, a waffle maker, a large pot, a cutting board, plates, bowl, knives, spices, and other kitchen utensils and things.
All this fitted nicely in my large touring bag.
The best thing about having so many kitchen utensils and traveling in a group is that you can share the love of making food together and thus bond with each other. This is exactly what happened in this adventure. Since people joined and left frequently and I was the only one to ride the whole distance from start to finish then I had to quickly bond with new companions for me to have a good time with them and I found that making food was the perfect way to do it.
At first, everyone was a bit shy to involve in the food-making process, just asked me if I needed any assistance and so and of course I gave them tasks to do it but it quickly turned to people making ideas about what food we could make next or what way we could prepare the food and even at a level where I’m barely off my bike and my kitchen bag is already open and everyone is working together to prepare a meal.
Burgers are the easiest food to make while travelling on a motorcycle, in this case it’s lamb meat burgers
This is what I would recommend to all motorcycle riders who have luggage systems… take more food-making tools with you, learn how to prepare a new meal together with your rider buddies. Use the advantage of a motorcycle to carry more than just a gas stove, a pot, and a spork. Don’t settle for noodles. You’re going on an adventure! Why not prepare an adventurous meal?
Fresh smoked fish is the perfect snack with beer
Another goal of this around Latvia motorcycle ride was to taste the food in local cafes, inns, pubs and being guests in friendly places that took us in and prepared meals for us. So every morning we cooked our own breakfast but for lunch, we would stop at the local cafe, inn, or pub whichever was closest to the route. We also had separate points that we pre-scheduled and arrange with friends to take us in and have them prepare a meal for us.
Latvian traditional cold soup in (cafe “Cambuse”)
Such occasion was when we were in the northern part of Latvia, where my friends hunting collective friend took us in and prepared a game meat stew.
As I already mentioned then at first I created a Google map with all the locations and sights that I found along the border and I wanted to visit. I knew I wouldn’t visit all of them because they were so many but at least would have many different options to choose from based on the mood and that’s exactly why I didn’t pre-plan any routes only separate section that I found that could be interesting because they either go along rivers, lakes or objects that are scenic.
Most of the places I visited were scenic places, lighthouses, watchtowers, historic places from world war I and world war II, and of course many ruins from soviet times.
Even though it was summer and we’re in Latvia where there is no extreme weather I still managed to get wet, cold, muddy, dusted, and even over-heated. I experienced all these elements in two weeks. Going from extremely hot and dry weather to a lot of rain and one point getting super dusty.
Looks like there's no escaping rain!
Latvia has so much more to offer in scenic sights to see, museums to visit, and history to learn about. I feel like I’ve learned more about my home country and I feel grateful for being born here and having the chance to experience all that this country has to offer but I want to travel further, see more, and experience things that I could never experience here in Latvia, like high mountains, desert plains, and remotes areas.
If you ever travel to our through Latvia then make sure to visit at least some of the points that I’ve marked on the map. If you need a guide or travel tips then feel free to reach out to us and we can arrange something. Also, OUTDURO would gladly invite and hang out with fellow travelers by hosting a bbq & beer party.
Our near future plan is to create more local trails and maps for other local and foreign travelers. These maps and trails would include interesting sights seeing the scenery, objects, museums, monuments, watchtowers, and much more.
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