Going it Alone: Thoughts on Riding Motorycles on your Own

Going it Alone: Thoughts on Riding Motorycles on your Own

For years I have participated in online forums, groups and mailing lists pertaining to motorcycles. These avenues present you with a wide spectrum viewpoint. The quality of information and exchange varies from excellent, inspiring, challenging and on the flip side downright pathetic. There is a little something for everyone.

Are there new ideas?

As people come and go over the years I’ve seen a natural reoccurrence of the same questions and topics on these electronic hangouts. One reply theme that repeats itself is; motorcyclists that don’t like to ride on their own. I’m not talking about people who prefer to ride with someone. I mean people who stay home because there is no one to ride with.

Cringe-worthy Phrases:

“I want to go for a ride but I don’t know where to go.”
Don’t pressure yourself to always have to do something monumental. Sometimes just deciding to ride 50 miles away for a slice of pizza is enough. Adventure has a way of unfolding without your consent. Life is so random; a lot can change in 50 miles. Maybe you’ll make a left you never have before and get a great view of an inspiring sunset. Who can know? Just… go!

“I don’t know the roads.”
Seriously? How do you think the people that ‘know’ the roads, know them? Get yourself a map or view Google Maps online and make a route sheet, fire up the GPS set a waypoint and GO! I’ll even give you a head start. Here’s a little map tip: The wiggly shaped roads that are away from population centers are good ones.

Am I being too harsh?

I view motorcycling as an independent activity that you sometimes do with other people. Even when doing it with others you still have to maintain your independence of thought. Setting your own pace, safe following distance, deciding that maybe you don’t like the vibe of the group and being secure enough to peel off on your own are all imperative. Sheep-think gets people into trouble on the bike.

When I first started riding, I rode alone. Not yet knowing anyone else who rode motorcycles meant if I didn’t do things for myself I wasn’t going anywhere. I quickly found that it was easy to meet people, being a young woman on a sportbike. Though I did spend a lot of time riding with new friends, I never lost the interest in setting out on my own. Even now that I have long-time friends I enjoy riding with I still ride alone more than I do with someone else.

Downsides of Riding Alone:

  • Loneliness
  • Not being able to effectively share what I saw
  • Eating alone is less fun

Upsides of Riding Alone:

  • FREEDOM!
  • Stopping for pictures is much easier
  • FREEDOM!

Tell us about yourself!

  • Do you go it alone most often or is most of your riding with a group?
  • What are the pitfalls or benefits?
Triumph Speed Triple in the White Mountains of New Hampshire

10 Replies to “Going it Alone: Thoughts on Riding Motorycles on your Own”

  1. Nope, not too harsh at all. I’m perhaps an extreme case of someone best suited to riding alone but I like it and can’t see why someone would have trouble with figuring out where to go. Leave driveway, turn left. Next time, perhaps try going right. I have suspicions about those that won’t ride alone but I hate generalizations so I’ll avoid one here. A longer trip only serves to magnify the pros and cons of riding with other people. On the plus side, people can be fun to talk to at the end of the day and it does make trouble along the road a bit less stressful. I’ve met a lot of truly good people through motorcycling and have expanded my skills and experience through them.
    On the con side, pace can often be an issue and getting stuck behind someone who’s not consistent is a drag. Stopping for a Coke becomes an exercise in logistics. Sometimes you’re riding too fast, sometimes you’re a goddamn anchor.

    I guess as in all things, sometimes it’s just right and other times, not so much.

    In the end, I love to ride and riding alone provides an escape that is hard to beat.

  2. Those who “won’t ride alone” only do so because their moto is an accessory to preen on/next to. They ride to be seen, not to ride, which is why their pathetic excuses make the hair on your neck stand up the way it does.

    Of course, I could be wrong.

  3. Many of our journeys are done with just Ian and myself. We have been known to ride 180 miles just to buy a DVD from the shop only 1 mile away!

    Over in the UK we have the Round Britain Rally. This is an event where the entrant is given a list of landmarks to visit and take a photo of their motorcycle next to it.

    Even when traveling alone it is easy to have conversations with other people as they can be very interested in your transport. Don’t forget that their are always other motorcyclists on the road riding by themselves and they may just be in the same situation.

  4. @BikerTed:

    I play a similar “game” on ADVrider.com: Tag-o-rama

    Someone takes a photo of their bike in front of something and you have to figure out where it is, ride to it and be the first person to duplicate the picture. You then get to post your own tag. Its quite fun, really. 🙂

    I agree with you. Even when you are traveling around on your own there is no shortage of chit-chat to be had. The bike does make you more approachable for conversation. It’s like an instant icebreaker.

  5. @OG:
    I agree – I think we are all of those things at different times. The rabbit, the anchor, the person in the middle.

    Your comment leads me on to another question:
    Do you think the more you ride alone, the less apt you are to enjoy riding with other people? Like, you get set in your ways and become intolerant (might be too strong a word) of others?

  6. Most of the time I would say I ride alone. Of all of my friends, only one rides. I have in an effort to meet more people gone on some ride with the locals hoping to meet more people that do ride. Problem was, once out on Sunrise highway, it turned into a triple digit club (without letting off)

  7. @Fuzz – I think there is a good case to be made for that. Riding is a selfish activity on a lot of levels. I don’t make that statement in a purely pejorative manner, it’s a fact with good and bad implications. There are times when I am “peopled out” for a lot of reasons and it’s those times when I am worst at the group ride. I want to ride to relax and keeping others happy in the process can get in the way of that. In trying to keep myself “in check” and not be overbearing, sometimes I push myself back too far in the group and try to take a more passive role in ride planning and direction. I get plenty of time as Charles in Charge on a daily basis so I have no need to be the man on a group ride. Naturally, that can be frustrating if things go poorly but I have no right to complain from the rear. If I get stuck in a spot I’m not happy with, surely I have the right to pass but find myself trying to keep back anyway. Again, that’s me, not them. Maybe I should try to be more selfish in a group too 😀
    If I am the one planning a ride, I feel compelled to ensure everyone has a good ride, the roads don’t suck, the places we stop at are cool….in other words, there isn’t much room to explore.
    By myself, I have no one but me to please and decision making doesn’t involve a vote. If I see a road that looks like it has possibility, I just go down it. I’ve spider-webbed my way around the tri-state area that way and have ridden many roads I’d have missed otherwise. I always feel less burdened when riding by myself and that is appealing.
    Still, I can’t shake the notion that I’ve pushed myself in good ways when riding with others and it can be a lot of fun to have others around at the end of the ride. As you said, sharing the events of the day with others that experienced them, goofing around over dinner, etc. are great reasons to ride with others.

  8. Motomasturbation? Sure!

    For me, it’s ALL riding, whether solo or within a group. I started out riding solo, then I eventually started leading group rides which I loved and still do. However, whenever I need a break from the group ride thing, or, to be more specific, whenever I need a break from leading rides (cause nobody else seems to want to), I go for solo rides.

    When I’m out solo, I find I enjoy myself in a different way. Everything’s calm, I feel relaxed, and I get a chance to take in my surroundings. When I’m a group, I’m always looking for my sweeping rider, I’m always thinking about appropriate pace, and it can be a lot of work.

    For the most part this year, I’ve found that I haven’t enjoyed riding within a group as much as my solo rides. Better still, the solo trips I’ve done this year have been a blast and I can’t wait to get out on my own again!

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