There is something very special about riding with your life partner. I enjoy riding with other people as well but riding with him is extra special. We work well as a team in our day to day life and those skills are heavily used and strengthened every time we go on the road together. The fact that we are on rather compatible bikes now makes it even sweeter. In fact, my big bike has done wonders for my road confidence so our riding ability is that much closer also. OK I’m on a sidecar and he isn’t and that always brings the spiked punch to the church social but we are used to working around that. There is also all that time we get to spend together. Right now with my work and his work and my lymphedema and, and, and…that time together is even more precious to us. Beyond all that though (well maybe not beyond the glory of uninterrupted time together but close) is the reassurance that comes from being with someone who absolutely has my back and absolutely having his. It makes me willing to ride farther and harder because he will be there for me. I don’t even have to ask, it’s just a reality of my life. If I push myself past my endurance he will be there at the end of the day to help carry my stuff into the hotel room and help me off with my gear when I don’t have spoons left to even untie my boots. If a sudden storm causes us to change routes I will be there to get things packed up and loaded while he consults the radar and the maps. He doesn’t have to worry about it. If he’s with me, I’ll go anywhere. If I ever go around the world, I want to do it with him.
Having said that, there is something equally special about riding solo. The freedom is absolute and I do mean absolute. You make plans for six months. You route, you research roads and hotels and gas stops. You highlight maps. You get three days in and find out that there is a folk music festival in town. No one else you know has much tolerance for lap dulcimer music but you love it. Guess what? You can change your mind and stay in town for three days for the festival if you want. The only person you have to consult is your own self and no one is there to judge you no matter how many banjo CDs you buy. Are you riding down the road and see a turn off that leads to a much more exciting road? You can take that road at the last minute, no one cares. Beyond the freedom there is also the thrill of accomplishing something on your own. The confidence I’ve gained from solo travel is pretty amazing. It also helps me understand my traveling style so I can express my needs when traveling with others. Sometimes it’s nice to ride with no competition or comparison. Even when I’m riding with Mr. Man who I know supports me and everything I do, when I’m tired sometimes I feel inadequate. I feel like less, not good enough to ride with him. It’s not true but that’s hard to see when you’re exhausted. When I’m alone, I don’t get that as much. It’s easier to concentrate on what I did accomplish rather than what I didn’t. One of the neatest things about solo travel is the excitement I get when I think about coming back with Mr. Man or with our riding group. I get this “I saw something awesome and I can’t wait to show it to you!” mentality that is exciting.
And having said both of those things, there is something really special about riding with a close group of friends that you trust absolutely. You see each other’s beauty and each other’s ugliness and you still like them. It helps you realize that you also are lovable when you are at your most unlovable. Riding in groups creates energy unlike anything else and that shared energy can be intoxicating. The shared memories and laughter you have around a dinner table after a great day of riding is just about the perfect way to finish a day. I love seeing someone in my group succeed at something they’ve been working on like tackling a difficult road or increasing their mileage or understanding how their bike is geared. There is also an awful lot of security in riding with a larger group of people. The very first big group trip I ever took was with Mr Man and Zippo and Spyderman. My transmission blew up on day four outside of Roswell, New Mexico. We turned and were limping the bike back towards Ft Worth where my mechanic was at the time when it really gave up the ghost in Anton, TX just outside of Lubbock. As I sat at an abandoned gas station waiting for AAA to come, I remember thinking that should the need arise; we had the collective credit to just buy me a new bike if we had to. Of course, we would never do that but it was nice to know that I wasn’t alone trying to deal with a dead transmission and no working toilets. Everyone brings a different strength to the group. Everyone contributes. Spyderman is one of my favorite folks to beta a plan with. That man will find holes and problems you didn’t know existed. The Billy Goat Gruff is my first choice to help manage a scene should an accident occur. As a former Mr. Man has at work prevented that from happening. OK, I thought, I’ll just take a solo trip instead. I started working on that project when one night we had an idea. What if, we said, the weekend before Labor Day we went out into the Hill Country together with me on my bike and Mr. Man in his truck with my off-road tires? What if we spent some time on dirt roads? We love riding like that together and we don’t get the chance to do it often. He has to go back to work so he would head home to Austin and I would head out to get some solo riding done. I decided to head to Alpine, TX for a few days. I won’t do any dirt riding since I won’t have Mr. Man with me but I’ll do some road riding and spend some time exploring the small town of Alpine on my own. Then I’ll head back to the Hill Country where Mr Man and my riding group will meet me for two days of group riding around Labor Day. We should have everyone: Sidecar Adventures (me), Mr. Man, Zippo, Spyderman, Union Jack, The Billy Goat Gruff, and our two new riders who at this moment are called Valkyrie, and the Curvy Bavarian (names subject to change). That’s going to be a lot of bikes on twisty Hill Country Roads. Hijinks will ensue!
So stay tuned readers. Road Reports from that trip should start happening soon. Oh and 2016 looks to be a Big Group Ride year. Apparently, I’ve finally forgotten how stressful Colorado is. We are looking at touring parts of the Deep South in what we are calling The Hotter, Deeper, Stupider Tour. Highlights might include the Barber Motorcycle Museum, The Blue Ridge Parkway, the Cherohala Skyway, and Dollywood.