“Motorcycle adventures are the perfect antidote to middle age.”
― Alex Morritt, Impromptu Scribe
I have no photos to prove I rode the Loneliest Road in America. Forgetting to take photos for a two-week ride on my motorcycle has not been my finest moment as an amateur blogger. Over the same two-week trip, I also forgot to put on pants at a family re-union dinner. Oh yes, this is a true story. I walked into the room with a short sleeve shirt, shoes, hat and boxer underwear. I totally forgot my pants but luckily was wearing white boxer briefs which could almost count as shorts but are definitely classified as underwear. The whole family noticed my fashion blunder and I will go down in the family history as the dude that forgot his pants at the Family Reunion. Luckily shortly after that incident, I got back on my cycle to ride one of the most majestic roads in North America. The Loneliest Highway through Nevada is not just a clever name to increase tourism, it is legitimately desolate beyond compare. Think of the Desert Planet Tatooine in Star Wars and you will have an accurate representation of the isolated motorway. The Loneliest Highway is part of U.S. Route 50 which starts in Ocean City, Maryland and runs all the way to West Sacramento, California. Highway 50 has been named the Backbone of America which defines its rural spirit. The Loneliest Highway is a subsection of this interstate which is located in Nevada. This stretch of payment is a philosophical bikers dream. It’s not filled with wondrous curves or insane pathway cliffs but its barren landscape breeds independent free thought. In the desert, the lines of communication between our consciousness and soul become more linked and primed. Back in 2003, I lived in the desert in South East Asia for a year. During this time, I wrote without abandon with more conviction and feeling then I have ever felt. This could be explained by many reasons but I always thought that the desert environment served as a muse which affected my soul directly leading to my literary expressions. It could be the open skies, the vivid sunsets, mesmerizing dawns, murderous sun or extreme deadly heat but for some reason, the desert enhances ones own own self perspective.
For me the Loneliest Highway started near Carson City, Nevada along U.S. Route 50 and ended in Delta, Utah. If you’re going to ride this isolated route, then be prepared for nothingness. For the first time in my life, I did my homework. My research found a limited amount of Gas Stations along the way. I packed an external gas reservoir, to supplement my small gas tank. This was absolutely needed and was used on multiple occasions. Sun block is needed and a lot of it. With every stop, I applied sun block. I found that the scent of the lotion much better than my natural odor (showers were limited on my trek). There are plenty of places to camp for free in National Forest and Bureau of Land Management Property. Watch out for small desert creatures that can ruin your evening if you choose to sleep under the stars. I traveled with a foam bed roll, sleeping bag and fully enclosed bivi shelter. I am a huge wimp; the thought of waking up with a rattlesnake in my sleeping bag or scorpion on my forehead makes the bivi shelter and absolute essential for desert camping. Don’t be fooled, it may be scorching hot during the day but at night the temperature drops and a sleeping bag is mission critical. Sitting under the night sky while camping on the Loneliest Highway is one of the most peaceful environments I have ever witnessed. The sounds of the desert, vast star infested atmosphere and the loneliness of the place, transfixed my emotions and brought me into a dream while still conscious. It’s a great place to be with one’s self and ponder life’s many conundrums.
I rode from Denver, Colorado to Lincoln City, Oregon a few weeks ago. I spent about 10 days on the road. I have only one photo of the whole trip. The picture is of my cycle gazing upon the Pacific Ocean and is attached above. It’s rather strange that I did not take more photos of this trip. Think about it, how many people take multiple photos a day of things like their meal or random snaps of grass growing. I travel half the country and only take one lame picture. I did not even notice until I got back home that I was basically photo less. Take more photos is on the need improvement list for future trips.
My Honda Interstate was so comfortable on this sojourn. I set it up for a long journey by adding an engine guard and additional foot pegs. I used to get major aches while riding on long treks on my old cycle (FJR). I was pain free this go around; the only reason why I had to stop was to get gas. Another added comfort was using one of my bags as a back rest. The back rest is a must have. One last tip, a cool way to store a tent and sleeping bag is to use a water proof bag and hook it on a luggage rack with zip ties. The concept worked great and your sleeping provisions will be guaranteed dried when it’s time to pull over and set up camp. Remember your essentials on a long trip which are zip ties, duct tape, multi-tool, sun block and flip flops. Nothing like putting on flip flops after a 500-mile ride. Leave your schedule and sense of punctuality at home.
I so much miss the speed and excitement of riding my old sports tourer but absolutely adored the cruising comfort of my new ride during the trip. What is more important, handling/speed or comfort? Let’s be honest, my Honda Interstate has absolutely nothing on my old Yamaha FJR when comparing corning, speed and agility. With that said, my Honda Interstate provides total comfort on long rides and gives me the ability to peacefully ponder the journey without nagging pain and discomfort. The answer is that it’s an individual decision. One may choose comfort over speed/agility or vice versa and there is no wrong answer. I used to think that my FJR gave me both comfort and speed but as I grew older and rounder, I found those ugly pains coming more frequently. I think the real answer should be that everyone gets issued 4 motorcycles that they can choose to fit their individual mood. This should be a tax payer expense and every citizen is able to participate in this program. Along with this program, once a month there should be a No Traffic Law Day where individuals can ride as fast as they want. Yes it will be an expensive endeavor but think of the benefits. I have listed a few below:
- Riding Increases Overall Happiness. We Finally Live In a Happy Society
- Increased Motorcycle Awareness. With Everyone Owning Multiple Motorcycles, Cagers Will Be More Mindful of Motorbikes
- Lane Splitting Would Surely Be Made Legal in Every State
- Less Crime Due to the Fact That All the Hoodlums Are Doing Motorcycle Stunts Via Massive Flash Mobs on our Local Highways
- Everyone Knows That Driving Fast on a Motorcycle Cures Hiccups
- More Women Riders
- Crack Addicts on Motorcycles, What Can Be More Entertaining
- Less Road Rage
- Moms Could Not Say, “Not When Your Living Under My Roof” When a 16-Year-Old Kid Asks For a Motorcycle
- A Decreased Dear Population From So Many Motorcycles Taking Out Annoying Suicidal Deer
- Less Use of Alcohol and Anti-Depressants As Everyone Will Cure Their Gloomy Dreary Lives With Super Cool Motorcycles Of Their Choosing
What 4 Motorcycles Would You Choose?
Here are my choices below:
- 2016 Triumph Scrambler (There is a Hipster in all of Us Wanting to Ride a Scrambler Down a Dirt Road)
- 2016 Indian Chieftain Dark Horse (A Dark Cruiser Needing an Attitude Adjustment and Caring a Big Bat)
- 2014 Ducati Panigale R (Speedy Gonzalez has Nothing on this Red Beast)
- 2012 KTM 990 Adventure Dakar Edition (Sometimes One Must Get Off the Grid)
A short ride on a cycle can be so much more than a trip to the market or post office. It can a soulful jaunt of epic proportions. The trick is to just let your mind grasp the reality that you’re on your motorcycle and let the world disappear. Release the burden you carry when you get on you bike and become one with the experience. It’s like extreme meditation for two wheeled junkies.
Have you ever been unhappy on a motorcycle? You could kick me square in the giblets and I would still be happy while on my bike. I never really understood the whole “Road Rage” thing but it seems unimaginable while I am riding. Someone cuts me off, I don’t get mad, I just drive to a safe place. I have no time for negative vibes while on two wheels.
We ride for so many reasons. When I first started to ride, it was for the adrenaline rush and for the adventure. To this day my adrenaline still flows on every ride and each journey I take on two wheels is still an adventure. My passion of riding has become more than a physical reaction to speed and new scenery. It has become a real mental escape for my soul. Our bikes take ourselves away from the world and we have the opportunity to ponder thoughts and dreams which may be out of reach without the help of our motorcycle explorations. It does not happen much but every so often when riding, I will think of a worldly issue such as bills, personal problems and work. During such interruptions, I will quickly squash the thought. There is no room in my head for such negatively while riding on my motorcycle. When I first started riding, I would always contemplate my life’s concerns while riding which took away from the experience. It took me years of training my mind to reserve the use of my brain to focus on road safety while riding instead of thinking of everyday problems which were vexing me. This focus on road awareness eventually lead to a change of what I observed while riding on my motorcycle. The external environment I viewed while riding became more vibrant and real. The color of the trees and flowers I passed jumped out at me, the smells of the road were more pronounced and the sounds I heard became clearer. I also found that putting my worries aside while riding opened up my imagination to original thoughts and perspectives which I would have never experienced when caught up in life’s mundane apprehensions. I am so grateful for riding b/c it’s the only place where I can truly take myself away from reality and dwell on items of philosophical importance to me.
It is truly ironic because my mental focus on road safety eventually lead me to have more free form contemplations then I have ever had previously. There is an issue with daydreaming to deeply; sometimes my mind begins to focus more on my free thoughts then keeping safe on the road. So for me it’s a delicate balance of keeping safe and being able to day dream of thoughts that I can rarely ponder anywhere else. Many people would state that we must only dwell on looking for escape routes, dangerous situations, and other perils while riding. That is a priority but if done safely, day dreaming is a priority as well.
Can an individual focus on safety while riding a motorcycle as well as ponder life’s mysteries? I believe this is possible and would argue that the riders focus on self-preservation actually opens one’s mind to deeper emotional thought. When off of my motorcycle my mind seems to dwell mostly on items of immediate importance such as work, keeping up with my daily schedule and thinking of immediate needs like what’s for dinner. When on the motorcycle my brain just goes to a deeper place. It transcends the now and motors off to a different universe where I am free to dream and not be burdened by life’s problems. Maybe this is due to the fact that if I hit an oil slick and slide of the road, none of those every day concerns will be of any consequence. My mind is still hyper-focused on the dangers of the road but it’s also more open to thoughts and ideas that are not normally a priority in my everyday life. This is what I love most about riding; it gives me the ability to escape my own head.
Today I was stuck in traffic on a southern California highway. When traffic slows, that’s where my jealously rises. The 4 lane highway slowed into a parking lot and I found myself trapped in my 4-wheel cage. Then in the rear view mirror I saw one single headlight weaving through the traffic. Like a jaguar darting through trees, the motorcycle snaked its way between the ensnared autos. As the cycle split the lanes of the slow moving traffic, I wished that I could have the opportunity to ride that traffic gauntlet of death. From conversations I have had with locals in California, splitting lanes is not as dangerous as it appears. If done in a safe manner, the action can protect the motorcyclist from being in harm’s way. Think of it as being a proactive defensive rider who is guarding against being rear ended by a distracted 4 wheel texter. When you are between the cars, constantly moving forward, then you are sheltered from the rear by the cars surrounding you. So in actuality one can look at it as an action that reduces risk by taking risk.
In California, splitting lanes is a normal part of doing business in terms of riding motorcycles. In Colorado, splitting lanes means a reckless driving ticket. I figure the smaller the cycle, the better it could be used to weave in between cars in traffic. With that said, I did witness a big old Harley Road King doing a good job of it the other day near Oceanside, CA. I don’t like the feeling of being jealous but I really wish I had my motorcycle here so I could attempt this majestic endeavor. The weather has been foul here over the last few weeks, so I have not had the opportunity to rent a cycle, plus my work schedule keeps me busy till dark. I think would be a bad idea to attempt my first time lane splitting at night during a rain shower. That scenario would lead to certain ugliness.