Riding alone used to be my favorite way to travel, before I was intimidating.

Beholden to no one, I could go reallyreallyfast!! or reaaaallllly slow or sometimes both in the same 10-mile section. I could stop on a dime to take a picture. I could eat lunch three times a day. Mealtimes could get a little lonely — sitting alone at a big booth in the middle of nowhere — but they were good times to jot down thoughts from the road. Road descriptions, people descriptions. Eveningtime in a hotel meant more jotting down before crawling into bed early with a book. I could be back on the bike in the morning as quickly as it took me to dress and reattach my saddlebags.

At some point, I started riding with other people. I think Alaska was really the turning point: three weeks of riding with people, every day. We had to learn to love it or we’d all go insane (well, more insane). I learned to expect someone ahead of me, someone behind me. A person to chat with at mealtimes. Someone to pose for my photos.

Now I expect it all the time. I find myself looking over route maps and thinking “who’ll come with?” as much as “where’ll we go?” If I think of an overnight trip, I get cranky if Peter doesn’t have the time or inclination. When I imagine myself standing in front of some huge piece of scenery out in god knows where, I imagine photographing someone else there. My self-timer and tripod don’t even register.

But now there’s no one to ride with.

Peter says I’m intimidating. He says that it creeps people out a little that I pore over maps so much and plan routes and know all the history of an area before riding there. I need about a half-hour’s prep work to head out on an overnight trip (maybe an hour if the ride would be a week or more). Intimidating.

I’ve never been intimidating. I’m always the well-meaning girl who sort of grasps the conversation but is better at just looking up the details later. I trip over things. I really like cats. This is not what I would consider an intimidating combination.

The answer, I think, is to get back to riding alone. I’ve become almost frightened of it again, which is an unequivocal sign that I need to do it. I can get back to reading history books at the dinner table and spreading maps out all over hotel beds and not worrying about anyone else. Is he bored? Is she hungry? What if they’re miserable and just not telling me? The only things I’ll fret over will be “will my camera battery hold out?” and “will the restaurant tonight have good beer?”.

I think I’ll start next weekend. Luckily, I know just where my California map and Roadside History book are….

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13 Responses to Solo.

  1. tony says:

    Intimidating? Wow, I totally disagree. I think you’re a great rider and friend, and I’d be happy to take another trip with you any time. You’re a bit obsessive maybe, but I’m not the least bit creeped out by it. I married an obsessive woman! ;^)

  2. carolyn says:

    Careful, or you’ll sign yourself up for being on the receiving end of OCD spur-of-the-moment trips to Baja or Maine. 😉

  3. BeardedJon says:

    Carolyn –
    There is a place for both (and I think Tony’s comment hits it). You’ve got to find people with compatible quirks to do the group thing with, but don’t give up the solo time. You pointed out the best of both and you can’t get that unless you do both. I love the group stuff that I do (which is rarely overnight; probably why I love it) but I can’t live without the solo stuff (which often happens when Jamie pisses me off and I’ve just got to get out and ride). The best part is when it’s just Jamie and I (and our riding relationship is something we developed years after we married). Maybe you and Peter just need to find a groove.

  4. Stephanie says:

    You’re not intimidating!
    And evidently I’m obsessive. 😉
    So we should ride together pretty well.
    Oh, wait! We do!
    Let’s go somewhere on a weekend.

  5. Kim says:

    I don’t think you’re intimidating. But I do think you need to be aware that we’re all differently neurotic. Just speaking for myself as one of many quasi-autistic Silicon Valley types, it can be really stressful to try to dump plans or a routine and jump into someone else’s spontaneous riding plan. On the other hand, I don’t plan as comprehensively as you do (or Jason did), but I don’t object to having that planning done before a trip as long as I don’t feel like I’m traveling with my dad. 😉

  6. Curtis says:

    Freedom to slide out of everyday life is a godsend. Not everyone has that luxury. To have the opportunity to go and not look back (for a day, a few, or more), is an experience not many will attempt due to life’s obligations (back and forth to work really sucks here). Intimidating? YOU? You are the rider in your circle who is, at once, ready to ride with the group, AND ready to strike off on her own as the chance arises (Peter?). I have been following your site and then blogs for a while now. You are intimidating to ME, perhaps due to your flexible schedule and your love of “getting out there”. Ride Safely…

  7. Duane says:

    Intimidating? One persons intimidation is another’s’ attractiveness. I have to disagree with your beau. I know others just like yourself, they’re not intimidating but fascinating. I have three map programs on my computer, a huge collection of state maps and LOVE my GPS. One of my favorite pastimes is planning and conversing about trips. There are groups of others like us. A real plus use to be finding a woman with this same interest and hobby. I was immediately smitten when I’d meet such women. Do not loose heart for traveling with others. I understand your points about traveling alone, it simply takes less work. But I believe sharing beautiful experiences with others heightens that experience. A foil to bounce ideas off of and to interpret the situation from another’s view. To say it’s better to travel alone feels like a step towards becoming a cynic. Please take heart; know that if Peter doesn’t understand there are others that do.

  8. wookiee says:

    There are definite advantages to traveling alone, like you said. I rather enjoy it, for a day or two, and then I start getting bored, and there’s no one around to talk with – “Did you see that.. ?!”

  9. carolyn says:

    I should clarify — Peter wasn’t being derogatory or critical with the “intimidating” comment. I left out a whole bunch of non-motorcycle-related context . 😉

  10. Michael says:

    I kind of know where you’re coming from on this one. I’m one of those folks that tend to pore over every detail on things that I’m really interested in. I agonized for weeks when I bought my last digital camera over things like an extra few minutes battery life, a fraction of a second faster shutter speed, etc. I tend to get that way on trips whether bike or car because I really like the journey as much as the destination. I have also come to realize that other people don’t “get” that sentiment. To them it’s all about the destination and what to do when you get there. Just remember one person’s obsessive is another person’s “highly interested”. Too bad we live on opposite ends of the country, a ride with you would have to be a blast from everything I’ve read in here.

  11. carolyn says:

    > I agonized for weeks when I bought my last digital camera over things like an extra few minutes battery life, a fraction of a second faster shutter speed, etc.
    Ha! I spent all weekend researching digital cameras, too. 😉 Which one did you end up with?

  12. Laura says:

    The only time I find you intimidating is when I’m trying to keep up with you going down 17… And what’s wrong with pre-trip planning, I’d like to know? There’s nothing wrong with trying to maintain a healthy balance between solo & group riding–small group–like one or two other people. I participate in those herd rides for the sake of our club and meeting new riders, definitely not for the enjoyment of the ride. If you really are having trouble finding riding partners, which I find really hard to believe since you’re definitely one of the most easy-going people I know to ride with, please keep me in mind. There must be some times our schedules mesh. And I love long trips and long days, provided I don’t have to set up a tent at the end of the day.

  13. Eric says:

    No more maps, no more books, no more planning……FOR 1 TRIP. Wake up, get on your scooter, throw some gas in it and go. solo.
    You have no idea where you are going, and you do not care. you have no idea where you are sleeping that night, and you don’t care. you don’t care about anything but the ride. Only requiremrnt: Ya have to be gone two days or more.
    Then Write about it poof!

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