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Since 1999, the #1 Motorcycling Magazine for Women and the Men Who Ride with Them

Solo Road Trip on a Motorcycle: Alone But Never Lonely

One rider’s 8,000 mile journey on a Sportster!

By Mette Helena Elfving, Reno, Nevada

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Two years ago, I purchased a 2006 Harley-Davidson 1200 Sportster as my first ever motorcycle. I passed the Rider’s Edge course, even though my instructor knew I hated it. (I have performance anxiety. Phew!) I took 10 private lessons on my own bike with the same instructor until he told me I was good to go. By the end of that summer, I had ridden to Crater Lake, Oregon, and had zigzagged through most of the Eastern Sierra mountain passes. Ten days and 2,200 wondrous, wonderful miles alone.

Solo Road Trip on a Motorcycle Alone But Never Lonely Mette Helena Elfving
Mette takes a break to pose in front of the stunningly colorful Crater Lake, Oregon.

Solo Road Trip on a Motorcycle Alone But Never Lonely Granite Peak
At 12,807 feet, Granite Peak is the highest point in Montana and can make a lone rider feel like
she is the only woman on Earth.

Since I was about to turn 66 years old that summer, I studied Route 66 much of the winter and was ready to go by the end of April. An inner voice worriedly asked, “How are you going to do this?” So I looked at the map and had this inner dialogue: “Reno to Carson City? Easy! I’ve done that a hundred times. Next is Minden? No sweat. Been there lots too. And guess what? The rest of the way is just the same! A piece of road, one mile at a time. I can do this!”  That last sentence comes to mind frequently. It works!
I can do this!

I did it alone, but was never lonely. Ah, you know: all the hand greetings, the kind words, the practical exchanges, the sharing of maps and scenic routes, the hugs and the smiles. It was riding bliss!

Take a moment to be inspired. Share or Pin this inspirational quote.

Solo Road Trip on a Motorcycle Alone But Never Lonely Inspiration
Mette inspires us to push through, push on and make our dreams happen. Click here to see more motorcycle inspired quotes.

Solo Road Trip on a Motorcycle Alone But Never Lonely Ambler's Texaco
Ambler’s Texaco Gas Station in Dwight, Illinois, is now the village’s visitor center. It’s exactly the kind of historic scenery that you’ll find along Route 66.

Solo Road Trip on a Motorcycle Alone But Never Lonely Lolo Pass
Finding new rider friends along the way is one of the joys of taking a solo journey. Larry Hewitt from Seattle joined
Mette for five days of riding near the Northwest Passage. Here Mette poses with her new friend’s Harley at Lolo Pass.

Due to tornados, I detoured north in Kansas and loved every flat, green, waving mile of it. I went from Chicago to “the cradle,” Milwaukee, home of Harley-Davidson, where I was literally high from being where the adventure started 110 years ago. I had not even looked at the map to go home. I figured I would just turn around a little further north and go to Sturgis to get a t-shirt.

Visiting dealerships was like seeing family. Besides, I needed to get advice, service the bike and buy new tires. My only map was the Harley Owners Touring Handbook, which probably wasn’t accurate or detailed for serious planning. But I didn’t get “lost,” since my agenda was to be right here, right now. Which I was!

Thanks to many good suggestions for scenic loops and byways, I got to enjoy places I would have never found otherwise.
The Black Hills particularly spoke to me. I stayed an extra day.

Solo Road Trip on a Motorcycle Alone But Never Lonely Colorado Pass
Mette describes riding through Durango, Silverton, Ridgeway, Telluride, Dolores, and Cortez, Colorado, as challenging and fun. With this kind of amazing scenery, one challenge is keeping your eyes on the road in front of you!

Solo Road Trip on a Motorcycle Alone But Never Lonely Chief Joseph Scenic Highway
Mette on her Sportster 1200, all packed up, at the top of Chief Joseph Scenic Highway in Wyoming, one of the most beautiful roads in the state.

Highway 50 through Nevada was my last leg. I was worried about that part. It is called “The Loneliest Road in America.” I did not like the word lonely. Sometimes reality exceeds expectations. Highway 50 was a blast, even though it was chilly and had few places to stop for gas or hot tea.

I ultimately put the kickstand down in Reno—8,000 miles in eight weeks. (Big smile, chest out.) Afterwards, I wondered if I needed a hip replacement, but my doctor said I had inflammation from all the sitting. My buddies were right—this was not a trip for a Sportster. But I did it anyway! It took me three weeks to heal and to buy a 2004 Harley-Davidson Heritage Softail. I put 12,000 miles on her before the season was over.

These rides were unbelievably comfortable and my visits to Olympic Forrest, Glacier Park, Yellowstone, California coast and Sequoia National Park left me with awe and gratitude.

Solo Road Trip on a Motorcycle Alone But Never Lonely Sportster Sheepskin Seat Cover
This sheepskin seat cover Mette bought in Custer, South Dakota, was easy to carry on the Sportster since it could be "installed" on-site. Extra t-shirts and souvenirs, however, had to be shipped home, as the Sportster’s cargo space is very limited. Shipping things home serves several purposes: packing up the bike each day of your journey is easier when there’s less to haul, it allows you to shop more, and it extends your “vacation high.” When you finally arrive home to your packages, it feels like your birthday!

Do you have a story to share? Please send it to us, but read these submission guidelines first.

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