Yearning for a Solo Road Trip

Reader Contribution by Richard Backus

As much as I appreciate winter’s forced downtime, embracing it as an opportunity to commit to motorcycle maintenance projects I put off during the riding season, I’ll admit that the single biggest problem with winter is, well, you can’t ride.

My daily 60-mile round trip commute is a lot more fun on a bike than in a car, and lately I’ve found myself droning along with the horde of metal boxes thinking wistfully about getting out on the road and putting on some serious miles.

I didn’t get in a lot of road time in 2012. In fact, I didn’t get in a single good solo road trip. It’s not that I didn’t get in any riding. I did, for instance, make the excellent RetroTours Redneck Giro, a three-day, almost 800-mile romp through West Virginia with a sextet of vintage Italian bikes. I got in a few other great day rides, but I never got out alone, which for me represents the essence of riding. Since my first solo motorcycle tour in college I’ve loved the solitude of the road, just me, myself and I, discovering new routes, new towns and new faces. Today, more than ever, it’s unique to be alone, cell phone off, no e-mail, no radio, no TV, just you, your bike, and the road.

So I want to get in a good tour this year, but that brings up the question of where to? Recently, I’ve been finding myself oddly drawn to the notion of riding in South America. I say oddly because in the past I’ve been dismissive of riders heading below the equator, an army of middle-aged white guys on huge BMW GS’s trying desperately to get in that last “big adventure” before middle age turns north and the body suddenly becomes unwilling to suffer the ravages of long-distance travel.

But reality won’t let me tickle that emerging fancy just yet, so I’m left pondering the when, what and where, with the where decidedly limited to someplace in North America. I could head south to Mexico, I suppose, but if I’m not going to go all the way to South America, I’m thinking points north.

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