My last few discussions with people about riding and the type of riding I like to do has brought me a few, well more than a few questioning looks when I mention that I prefer to ride solo. The first question is usually, does your wife ride with you? My usual reply is, I like her too much to do that to her. You either get that or you don’t.
I can pretty much count the number of people who I’m happy to ride together with on one hand after that, it’s a bit like how I approach working with people in film. If I don’t know you or somebody who I know and trust can’t vouch for you, it ain’t going to happen.
I’d love to say it’s a me thing but really it’s an, I don’t know what you’re capable of thing.
It’s not that I’m some super skilled rider either, far from it but I do like a certain amount of off road in my trips and that’s not everybody’s cup of tea or something their comfortable with. Dirt, gravel, sand and mud are all different cats to deal with and on some tracks you’ll hit all four. I have a hard enough time worrying about me, let alone somebody else. Which I hear is the polite thing to do. I’m also not that fussy about where I put my head down at night as I’m usually on a budget and prefer old school motels to hotels. My eating is sporadic and sometimes dictated by location. Local spots can be good, they can also be real bad. Most times you can tell but not always. I had some good eating this last trip but a couple of trips, I have lost days (and pounds) flushing out my ass whatever poor practices in the kitchen made it into my food. Chain restaurants are not always a win on the cleanliness front either. The Subway in Hardin, MT was a one that got away from the inspectors.
Mostly I like the ability to keep to my own schedule. If I want to ride from Mississauga to Des Moines in a day I can. No whining or complaints from somebody else to slow me down. The bike’s about as set up for me these days as it’s going to get. We literally are a well oiled machine and if I think I’ll be going to somewhere remote or a place where the gas stations might be a bit spread out, I fill the fuel cells and with those and a full tank of gas, I’m good for 700Kms.
Maybe some people think there’s safety in numbers but for the most part I’ve never had any trouble on any of my trips and there’s always other guys and gals on bikes to talk to when you pull into some small motel at the end of the day. Sometimes that’s my favorite part, talking about where you’re from, where you’ve been and where you’re going.
It’s not all sunshine and roses. I remember riding into Reno, Nevada with my buddy Kelly. I’d known my chain was on the way out when I left from home but my plan was to replace it and my tires in Reno and I figured it was still good for another 4500Kms. This of course proved to be a bit of an optimistic assessment as the last 500Kms I had to stop about every hour and a half to tighten my ever loosening chain. Added to that was the fact riding in Nevada was like riding into an oven and the winds were nuts. In fact I’d fought the wind all the way across America from Iowa, which proved to be pretty exhausting.
Other times I’ve been near hypothermic, blown about like a leaf, drenched from storms and baked by the sun but at the end of a long trip when you look back on it, that’s the stuff that makes it worth it. because you and the bike managed to beat all of that and come out the other side. You may look like crap, everything might hurt and you probably don’t smell too good. But you got to see a lot of stuff that people whizzing by in cars never notice.
And I’d explain it to people who don’t ride when they ask how the trip was but really, who has the words for all that?