On the other hand… riding solo part 2

by on August 24, 2013
in Other Biker Chicks

Editor’s note: I was really interested to read all the comments about my piece on riding solo, both here on the blog and over on the Facebook page. Interesting points made on both sides of the question! Michelle Landry of Tylertown, MS sent me this wonderful accounting of her initial solo riding experiences, and I wanted to be sure to share it with you so I asked her to send some pictures too! This is kind of the “other side” of the story – what happens when you step wayyy outside your comfort zone, and make something great happen!

 

by Michelle Landry

photo33After years of talking about bike trips that my husband and I wanted to take, I realized our work schedules were going to keep us from ever going together.

That was when I started thinking about taking a solo trip: Stay at home and keep waiting or stretch my wings and find out if I had it in me to have an adventure alone. Needless to say, my husband was skeptical that I would actually do it and was also concerned for my safety.

I researched different routes and finally decided on the Natchez Trace. I would never be more than 500 miles from home, no commercial traffic or red lights, and plenty of history and sights on The Trace. I spent the next several weeks packing, planning, and getting my bike ready. The morning of my trip I had butterflies from nerves and excitement.

photo13

I spent the next five days and 1100 miles riding the Natchez Trace solo. I rode a few hundred miles each day and camped or stayed in a motel at night. I even met another woman riding the Trace solo! We ended up riding together a couple of days and had such a good time we decided to plan a trip together, so this past June I rode 800 miles to Tennessee where I met my new friend!

We spent the next few days riding the entire length of the Blue Ridge Parkway. We don’t have switchbacks or mountain roads where I’m from so this was really something new for me. It definitely challenged me and my biking skills but we had a great time. And we met another woman riding solo! This time I spent 2 weeks on the road and rode more than 2500 miles, over half of the miles alone.

What if? What if your cell phone charger breaks and your family can’t reach you? You pack a wall charger just in case and use it when you get to a motel. What if your bike breaks down 800 miles from home . . . in a rainstorm? You call Geico or whatever towing service you made sure to get and have it towed to a garage to get it fixed. And be thankful you put everything in Ziploc bags. What if you have a minor accident on the bike? You make sure you’re ok and then use duct tape and super glue to fix a broken signal light.

photo22I’ve had a lot of what-if’s happen but I’ve also had incredible experiences out on the road alone. I’ve ridden some beautiful roads and seen some gorgeous scenery. I’ve also met some really great people. When you ride in a group, other bikers will talk to you, but when you’re a female riding alone, everyone talks to you. Safety is always my number one concern and I have left places because I didn’t feel comfortable. You really need to listen to that inner voice. And riding alone gives you a good chance to hear her.

Each trip has left me feeling more empowered. Stronger. I’ve met obstacles and dealt with them. Yes, I would love to take a bike trip with my husband. Yes, we would have a wonderful time. But that doesn’t mean I can’t have a wonderful time riding alone. I’ve discovered I’m not such bad company!

 

 

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    Comments

    6 Responses to “On the other hand… riding solo part 2”
    1. KathyW says:

      Awesome. My husband is very encouraging… and my solo biker sisters have been very inspiring!

    2. karyn says:

      I did my first solo trip this may 1967 miles..did the blue ridge and met up with my son in wayneboro va, then to rolling thunder.. loved it.. It was wonderful to get to know myself again.. loved reading about your trip. .

    3. Whyswoman says:

      I just returned from an 10,000+ km trip from Winnipeg Manitoba, Canada to our Maritime Provinces…The first 7000 kms were ridden solo – I rendezvoused with my husband in St. Stephen NB (across the border from Calais, Maine – and together we road the remaining 3500 kms to get back home…

      I especially loved the solo part of my trip…and for a variety of reasons – the primary one being that I now know that I can go anywhere I want to go, when I want to go…

      What a blast…I posted my “not quite a ride report” on ADVrider – for the purpose of thanking all the wonderful people I met along my journey…If you are interested in reading it, please check out this link:

      http://advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=912336

      I used the ADVrider network to help me meander my way east, and I will do so again for my next big trip…It is such a blast meeting new people who share and support my passion for riding…

    4. Gloria Y. says:

      Michelle you mention camping as well. I’m curious about something for my own planning purposes. You looked like your packed pretty light…is there a tent and sleeping bag on there? I’d really like to hear more about the camping aspect of it because it’s something I’ve thought of doing, but then when I look at all I feel I would need to pack, well it becomes a tad overwhelming and I prefer “simplicity.” Any tidbits you could offer would be appreciated! – Gloria

    5. Michelle says:

      Hi Gloria, I do like to go camping and I do try to pack light. When looking for camping gear, I always look for backpackers gear because it’s lightweight and portable. When deciding on a tent, I actually took the measurements of my luggage rack to the store to decide which one to buy. I rolled items into my sleeping bag to save space. I even had a backpackers camp stove that folded up to the size of a deck of cards. I also like to pack a liter of water to make coffee in the morning (a must!). And you can pick up more water at a gas station. Depending on how long I’m going for, I’ll buy my food along my route at grocery stores. And I also have a small cooler that I bungee cord to my bike.

      This might sound silly but my motorcycle jacket has pink in it so other drivers know I’m a girl. I think people give me more room or take a second look for that reason. Anything to get their attention and know I’m on the road. But when I’m riding solo and camping for the night, one of the first things I do is hide my jacket or anything that gives my gender away. That way at night anyone driving through the campsite that sees a Harley and a tent, just assumes (of course) it’s a guy. I even try and camp near families. I’ve never had trouble at a campsite but you can never be too careful.

      When packing the bike, if you think you might need it, you probably don’t. Anything you have two of, just bring one. You get the idea. If you really need it, chances are there’s a store somewhere close by. Every trip I’ve taken I’ve learned something. Just trial and error. And bungee cords, bungee cords, bungee cords!

    6. KathyW says:

      Thanks, Michelle. Your insight is really helpful. I’m planning a little solo camp out at a local park. I figure I’d rather work some of the kinks out right here rather than 500 miles away from home!

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