Friday, November 16, 2007

When I Ride Alone, I Prefer to Be By Myself.

Picture: A long way from home, Nashua, MT

As I first contemplated riding cross country to the 2004 MOA Rally in Spokane, WA, my initial impulse was to find someone to ride with. This impulse was fueled by the constant posts I’d see for riders looking for someone to hook up with, be it for a trip across town, across state or across the country. So, I guessed that’s what I needed to do too. But in doing so, my right brain wasn’t listening to what the left brain was saying…I like to ride alone. My lack of experience caused me to defer to what “everyone” else was doing. Luckily finding a companion didn’t work out for me and I planned for a trip solo.

I was thinking about solo long distance riding because I was contacted by an MOA member asking for ideas on how to find another rider, or group of riders for a trip to next summer’s rally in Gillette, WY. His stated reason was that he “would like the companionship and safety riding with a group can offer, particularly in the case of a mechanical problems.” I urged him to consider the joys of solo riding.

Even though I spent 9,000 miles this summer 2-up with my daughter, it may as well be classified as solo riding, seeing I was the only rider! I love riding solo. When I ride alone, I take the route I want, at the speed I decide, with the stops I need. I stay out for as late as I want, or retire for the day as early as I want. There is no compromising, no hurt feelings, and no lack of control. If I don’t like what I’m doing…I do something different, with no one to apologize too. Of course riding with Kiddo, I did have some compromises, but not when it came to things like route & speed. Differences of opinion with my riding partner in those two categories can drive me batty.

But what about the concerns with safety, companionship and mechanical woes? Companionship? Friends were only a phone call away. I spent many a rest break in 2004 on my cell phone, hungry to talk to a friend. At the close of the day, I often encountered other solo riders, or just other motorcyclists who welcomed me to join their table. This year I had Lisa, and I also had the internet. My Blog & Forum friends served as a nice social outlet.

Safety? I do make accommodations for safety. I took a group tour of Arizona some years back because I felt it would be unsafe for a solo female rider to be riding on the Mexican boarder. I was less confident about my skills as a motorcyclist and was happy to have a guide. Having a guide and a group also worked out well for me on the Alps trip. In both instances, I’d still go back with a group and would be comfortable with that choice. But when I’m riding New England, the Canadian boarder, interior US, I feel safe. In full gear it’s not obvious that there is a woman on that bike, and I don’t feel like a target in that regard.

Mechanical problem? It’s why I have a BMW. I expect a reliable trip. I was reluctant to take my 20 year old bike due to the mechanical concern, but I was reassured that I was not going to be far from help. At the MOA we have the Anon book, a book organized state by state with people you can reach out to if you need a hand.

Why do you balk at solo riding? If it’s just inexperience, only time and miles will help you gain confidence. If it’s mechanical, can you learn some basic skills that will make you more comfortable? I’m not saying solo is for everyone, but I’m putting it out there…give it a thought! Not everyone is traveling in packs!


Karen Weimer-Boyd said...

I saw your blog on twowheelfemales, I'm AKrider over there. As far as riding alone goes, I agree with you. My husband is a great riding partner, but there are times when we want different things. It is a great feeling to be able to ride your own ride.

I have 14 year old twins who are desperately waiting to get motorcycles of their own. I look forward to the fay when I can ride with my girls too.

Unknown said...

Just ran across your site and I really enjoyed it. I hope you don't mind if I link to this site.

Rock said...

My thoughts exactly. I stumbled on to your blog this morning. I really enjoyed reading your posts and it's inspired me to start my own blog. I've never done this before, so we'll see how it goes.

I'm also looking for advice since you're a NH resident. I'm flying into Portsmouth from Indy a week from today. Would you recommend visiting the BMW dealer there in my free time? We don't have one in Indy and I thought it might be cool to check one out since I've never set foot in one (bought my 2005 K1200LT used from a guy in Ohio).
Anyway, anything motorcycle realted you could recommend doing while in Portsmouth would be greatly appreciated!



SheRidesABeemer said...

Wow its great to have you here, thanks for your comments! Someone posted my address over there, and I saw the link in my blog tracker. It is not easy to find female focused rider, outside of the "chicks & babes" site, which is not who I am.

Rock, If you're in Portsmouth, do stop at MAX BMW it's a class operation. N Hampton, is only 15 minutes from downtown Portsmouth. Downtown Portsmouth is a terrific place to while away the hours!

Anonymous said...

I agree on solo riding. I have a relative that rides an 1150RT and I ride a 1200RT. We both agree on riding most times, so I do not mind riding with him at all. I was on a ride recently and came upon a van that had a "Caution: Motorcycles Ahead" sign on the back. I promptly passed the van (when legal) and ended up behind a pack of 30 bikes. All of these were very capable bikes ('wings, 1200LTs, 1100 and 1150 RTs, and a Concourse 1400) but Holy Cow! They would scoot along nicely on a straightaway and then hit a turn. The leader took the turn nice and fast, but then slowed tremendously to make sure that everybody made it around, so by the time the middle of the pack hit the turn, they were at a snail's pace. This was a very twisty road, so there were no real safe places to pass before the next intersection nearly 20 miles later, so I was stuck. If that is what group riding is all about, count me out!

Anonymous said...

I forgot to mention that my Wife and I love your site. My wife also rides, not as seriously as you or I (yet) as she is still getting used to the whole two wheeled thing. I bought her a Honda CB650 Nighthawk that she is using as a learning bike. I hope to get her a k75 one day, although she wants a teal r1100RS.