Solo

I love riding with my brothers and friends. I love heading up Lookout Mountain late at night, navigating the extreme twisties in the dark, tire to tire with the bike ahead and the one behind. I love blasting off from the traffic light, side by side, exhausts screaming, letting everyone know we’re having fun. But when it comes to a ride that spans a few days, a couple of a weeks, or a month, I’d rather go solo.

People think I’m anti-social when I do that, but the truth is, I’m in my social butterfly element when I’m on the road by myself. Since you can’t talk to your buddies when you’re riding anyway, what’s the difference? When I stop for gas or water or a bathroom break, I make new friends. There’s always something to talk about and a chance to exchange business cards.

A few weeks ago I rode home from Sturgis by myself. It was a hot and windy day in Wyoming, and I decided to take a break at the rest area where I knew members of the Christian Motorcycle Association were handing out free bottles of water. I got some water  and sat down at a shaded picnic bench with my tunafish “Lunch to Go” kit for a quick meal. When I was done, I walked back to my bike and saw a man on a black Road Glide parked next to me, speaking on the phone. He hung up, and we started chatting.

He was on the road from Maryland. He was taking a solo trip around the country. He’d just been at Sturgis and was heading down to Colorado Springs to see his oldest son at the Air Force Academy. He had also gone to the Academy and was recently retired from the Air Force. We talked about our amazing country and how riding solo gave us the opportunity to meet people we’d never have spoken with if we’d been riding with a friend. He felt that if more Americans would get out of their houses and home towns and get to know this great country of ours, we’d all be in better shape. I totally agree, having taken a life-changing ride myself. I told him that I’d written a book about my first cross-country trip and gave him a business card with Shovelhead Redemption scribbled on the back. I then assured him there was gas up ahead in Lusk, which was about 50 miles away, and jumped on my bike and headed south.

The man had told me his name, but I quickly forgot it. I tried to find the page on Facebook he was updating about his trip, but had no luck. This morning I received an e-mail from him saying that he’d ordered my book from Amazon. While he didn’t give a lot of details about his service, I got the feeling from one of his comments that he was high up on the food chain in the Air Force. I Googled his name and discovered he is a retired Brigadier General. Wow! You may meet the nicest people on a Honda, but if you’re looking for guts and glory, stick with Harley-Davidson.

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