The middle of L.A. seems an unlikely place to find a guy who’s made a living spending a good deal of his life in the wilderness, but Adam “Scooter” Timm is a bit of an anachronism. Talking to him, you get the impression that L.A. isn’t so much of a home as it is a place to rest before going somewhere else. And typically that somewhere else is about as far from a city as one could get.
In June, he was off to Utah to work with Rawhyde Adventures helping guide and teach others on the finer skills of riding a motorcycle on a surface other than a well-maintained fire road. Late last year, he drove the support vehicle and served as medic for Expedition 65 , a group of 15 adventure motorcycle riders who spent two months riding from Cartegena, Columbia to Ushuaia, Argentina. In between those trips, you could find him at Atlantis Motor Garage wrenching on bikes owned by the average biker and the rich and famous.
Not a bad gig if you can get it, and this only scratches the surface of a resume that includes leading expedition-based mountain biking, rock climbing and sea kayaking trips, and teaching wilderness medicine with the National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS).
Adam with students at North Carolina Outward Bound School.
Adam taking a canoe through whitewater.
“I wanted to be an outdoor instructor since I was about 15 or 16. My mom would tell me I couldn’t do that my whole life. And here I am.”
Adam’s mother might have seen it coming, though. That love of the outdoors. Thrill seeking. Living a non-traditional life. The odd thing is that despite having a ‘no handguns and no motorcycles’ rule in their house when he was growing up, Adam’s mom helped initiate him into two-wheeled servitude by allowing he and his brother to rent a moped on a trip to Florida. Oh, the irony.
That might have been a trigger of sorts to eventually prompt Adam to going from “always wanting a motorcycle” as a kid to buying a series of eclectic bikes starting with a Honda Twinstar – a special edition, Reagan-era police escort bike that was the biggest thing he could afford at the time. This was followed by a 1979 Yamaha dresser then a BMW F650 that has its own story.
“That was a great bike. I sold it to a dude who lived in Oregon. He wanted to ride it to South America. It was cheaper for me to ride the bike across the country to deliver it to him than to ship it. So I did.”
It’s not difficult to imagine Adam saying, ‘screw it, I’ll just ride it there myself.’ He’s a determined sort who also seems to have had a bit of luck on his side on more than one occasion.
When he decided as a teenager he wanted to work outdoors, he reached out to a friend who worked for Outward Bound in North Carolina. Adam applied for an apprenticeship, but was rejected because he was too young. He was offered an interview a few months after that because of his outdoor skills, and started working with them shortly after his 21st birthday.
Then there’s the story of how he got involved with Rawhyde Adventures.
“I was dabbling in adventure medical training and realized that no one was teaching emergency medicine to people who go into the backwoods on motorcycles. I really wanted to work for Rawhyde since they were taking people into these remote areas. So I started blasting them on Facebook. Jim (Hyde) eventually got back to me and told me they were having a work event to help clean the property. So I showed up and worked my ass off for three days. I told Jim I wanted to work for him even though I’d never really ridden off road.
He said, ‘I’ll tell you what. I’ll put you through the training, and if you pass you can work it off as a sweep rider.’ I did the training in March of last year and started working for him two months later.”
Adam with Expedition 65 tour organized by Jim Hyde of Rawhyde Adventures. (Photo courtesy Alfonse Palaima.)
That dabbling in training adventure riding skills and years working with NOLS has shown Adam a thing or two because he’s seen a thing or two. He admitted one of his worst experiences wasn’t motorcycle related. It was getting stranded on an island in the Gulf of Mexico with 10 Outward Bound 9th and 10th graders.
“We had canoed out to this island, but a major storm came through and kept us from being able to leave later that day. The Park service tried to rescue us, but they got stuck out in the Gulf. So we had to spend a night in 30 degree weather with nothing but a tarp to keep us dry. We got off the island about 30 some hours later. But I gotta tell ya’. The young women did a better job of keeping it together than the guys. So we got them off first.”
As for Adam finding himself somewhat settled in LA, you’d be forgiven if you thought it was because of the weather, being close to other outdoor activities or something related. He admitted it was because he wanted to be a Baja (500) driver. He said he soon realized that wasn’t going to happen without some actual driving experience, so he thought being a mechanic might get him there instead.
He created a resume focused on his background as a mechanic then peppered every major garage and some not so major with it. That eventually landed him the job at Atlantis Motor Garage in the Silver Lake area of LA working on what Adam describes as “a lot of hipster stuff, a lot of café racer stuff, and fixing bikes owned by famous people.”
Adam wrenching at Atlantis Motor Garage.
A plethora of bikes wait outside the Atlantis Motor Garage.
While Adam said he’s had no formal training as a mechanic, he credits working on his parent’s nursery as a kid and his uncle with teaching him the skills he still uses to this day.
“Growing up, my dad was always fixing anything that broke, so he taught me to do the same. When the engine blew in an old pickup I owned, I needed some extra help. So my uncle came up and helped me fix it. I credit him with teaching me the mechanics I still use today.”
It was this combination of medical and mechanical background, as well as backcountry motorcycle riding and four-wheel driving experience, that got him a place on the Expedition 65 tour. For over two months, he was loading gear, fixing bikes and attending to one rider’s trip ending injuries in areas that mostly avoided big cities and paved roads.
The van Adam drove during the Expedition 65 tour. (Photo courtesy Alfonse Palaima.)
Adam at the final destination of the Expedition 65 tour. (Photo courtesy Alfonse Palaima.)
“It was literally the hardest I’ve ever worked in my life. Five days into the trip, I was still building out the van. But the hard work isn’t what made the trip challenging. We were figuring out things on the fly. For someone who was used to being outdoors in more structured situations, that was probably the hardest thing to get used to. And it took me about two weeks into the trip before I figured out that lack of structure was on purpose.”
While that trip wasn’t the time and place for Adam to dole out advice, here’s some he has for any would be adventure traveler, whether on two-wheels or four.
Have a plan as to where you’re going and what you want to do, but don’t be married to it. (Evidently, shit happens!)
Find out about the pragmatic things, like Visas and shots, and get them taken care of early.
Get to know your equipment and how to fix it. Like your backpack. Your solar collector. Know how to field repair it. (Most people fear adventure travel because of the vehicle, but if you know how to fix it, then that fear isn’t much of a factor.)
Less is more (people who go overlanding eventually start shedding some of the stuff they thought they needed).
Adam said his ideal trip would be heading out on a bicycle or even leaving land behind and setting sail for parts far offshore. While he seems content to just consider these as just options for now, given his ability to make things happen once he decides what that thing is, peddling and sailing will no doubt be part of Adam’s reality sometime in the future. The question will be which comes first?