I remember when I first started talking about wanting to take a solo motorcycle trip. For so long, I wanted to embark out on my own, on two wheels, to some far-off place that held beauty in the landscape.
When I spoke of this idea, I was surprised at how many fear-filled comments people would make. Even by a few fellow riders who felt the need to tell me a few of their horror stories that were a result of their own carelessness.
Comments like, what if you break down and you’re alone? What if you meet strange people? What if you have an accident or you get lost? I wondered, if I were a man, would these “what if” scenarios be asked of me?
I started to feel discouraged and even fearful, questioning my own dream of travel by bike that I held in my heart for so long.
I do understand there are risks in motorcycling, but I also know you have to weigh those risks against the benefits and do your homework to minimize the risks as much as possible. I also understand when loved ones worry, and I respect that. But it’s the people that were filling me with fear that I knew I needed to stop listening to.
In Sept. of 2013 I decided it was time to set out on my own solo motorcycle trip and beat the fear that had been instilled in me just because I am a woman rider.
I wanted to do this trip in honor of my dad who had passed, because he always taught me to do what makes me happy, no matter what people thought about it.He gave me his old Army duffle bag and even though it was not fancy like many of the expensive moto bags, I decided I would use it on my trip as a way of bringing his spirit with me. He also instilled in me a love for the Southwest so I decided that would be my destination.I spent many nights mapping out possibilities of where I would go on my trip. This was so much fun, and while many people don’t believe in planning a trip, I found it to be exciting. I had 2 weeks to spend on my adventure and I wanted to make the most of it.Finally, it was the night before my trip. My bike was all packed, clothes laid out, check list checked. For the life of me I could not sleep. I was excited, scared, nervous, and happy all at the same time. The alarm went off at 5 am and I was just laying there waiting for it.
I’ll never forget the feeling of swinging my leg over the bike, putting it in first gear, and rolling out the driveway. That first moment of, here I go…so many thoughts in my head. Do I have my wallet, my phone? Did I pack the maps? Are my zippers zipped?As I rode out of my neighborhood, I hit the freeway as the sun was just peeking over the hills and this feeling of exuberance and light washed over me like a tidal wave. The nervousness washed away and I was left with excitement and joy that I was finally doing this.
I had so many amazing experiences on this trip, you can read my blog for those, but I will list a few of the highlights. Favorite moments? Here are a few:
Stopping in Pie Town, NM (yes, it’s a real town just near the Continental Divide) for some really stellar pie (although still not as good as my mom’s). I also got to meet some interesting locals while dining. Riding into New Mexico, truly the Land of Enchantment:Riding through the ancient dwellings of Native Americans in Bandelier National Forest.And lastly, riding into the Petrified National Forest in AZ. It was one the most profound experiences I’ve had on a bike. I rode in later in the day, and the desert sky was dark, threatening a storm. The park was eerily empty, I only saw one car on the 27-mile ride through the giant stone trees.
It was so quiet, there was an ancient feel to the air and I knew this was a special place. I walked a short path to one of the giant stone tree trunks. It was so beautiful, like orange Quartz. I touched it and could feel the age of it in my palm. I imagined it and how it had been here for over 200 million years, when the desert was a jungle and it got buried under volcanic ash. And here it was, touching the palm of my hand with a coolness that calmed me. The impending storm was moving in so I continued on under dark rumbling skies. The Painted Desert looked darker with the sun hiding, still beautiful with its contrasting colors.
I rolled on slowly, taking in all the beauty and stillness. I had a sense that my dad was there with me in this quiet place, looking down on all of it and guiding me through. That feeling stayed with me the whole day and into the evening.
These were just a few of my highlights on this trip. I also had some good learning experiences along the way and met so many amazing people. And yes, I did get lost a few times and it made my adventure even better because I discovered beauty I didn’t know existed. Imagine if I had let myself be taken over by the fear of others?
If you have been dreaming of doing some solo travels, and fear has stopped you, do yourself a favor and don’t listen. Of course weigh your risks and do your best to mitigate them, but don’t let fear stop you. It was the best trip I’ve ever taken and there are many more to come.
And don’t think you’ll be lonely on your solo trip, because nothing draws people more than a woman riding her own motorcycle. Everyone wants to know where you’re from and where you’re riding to. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard strangers tell me; “I wish I could do that”. I love riding with friends, but there is something magical about doing a trip solo. You learn about who you are and what you are capable of. Now all you have to do is decide which direction you want to head.