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 Sportsteras 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 Amblers 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!

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15 thoughts on Solo Road Trip on a Motorcycle: Alone But Never Lonely

  1. 26-year-old male here. Just bought a 2006 Harley-Davidson Sportster as my first bike. It was an 883 and had a 1200 conversion kit installed. I have been to Sturgis, South Dakota once before and I want to ride there now that I have a bike. 2017 will be my year to gather all my acorns. I feel squirrely at 18 feet.

  2. My first solo was 1988 Mothers Day. Thinking this would be my only big ride before selling the bike. Headed to Michigan to see friends. On a 440 Kawasaki. Skirted weather, dropped bike in rain, guy behind me jumped out and got the bike up. Found out later that storm went on to wreak havoc in Illinois. Rode two-lane and some four. Crossed my first ever steel deck bridge in Indiana. Saw beauty everywhere. Visited the tulips in Holland, Michigan. Replaced tire at a shop. Only open at night because he was a single dad and put his children first.Got home two weeks later and realized I would ride more. Went on to a Kawasaki Vulcan, then BMWs. R 65, R 1100 R that I won in Montana at a national Rally. Rode Pony Express cross country helping raise funds for the Susan Komen Foundation. Then a R 1200 R. Now have a Honda 1300C VTX trike my hubby got me as a wedding present.

  3. I have also toured alone, although my job doesn’t allow me that much time to do that many miles in one trip! I could only wish. Since I lost my husband and riding partner several years ago, I’ve done two solo trips, one to Arkansas and one to Vermont and New Hampshire. Summer 2016 I plan on running both coasts of Michigan and into the UP. I am trying to go to the few places the two of us didn’t make together. Riding solo allows you alot of freedom and flexibility that you may not otherwise enjoy. Good for you!

  4. I loved this story. It is my dream and I plan to complete it very soon.

  5. Pretty cool, adventurous and daring of you. Your inner strength is awesome and an inspiration.

  6. Fantastic story. Very inspiring. A solo journey is on my to-do list in the next four years. I am a new rider and have just started taking short trips out by myself.

  7. This is a great story! I think a lot of us women riders feel the need to venture off on our own at one point in our lives. I will be taking a 16-day road trip either by myself or with my daughter in May of this year, riding up the Pacific Coast Highway from Santa Barbara to San Francisco, and then coming back through Yosemite and Mammoth Lakes. We’ll take our time and visit all the beaches we can. I’m so looking forward to this trip and my husband is very supportive. I’ve wanted to do something like this for a long time, and once I retire, I’ll be riding all over the U.S. and Canada with him. Thanks for the pictures and the inspiration!

  8. Even though I travel with my hubs on two bikes everywhere, I know that one day I’ll take a journey like this on my own. I have a strong feeling that it’s something I must do.Thank you for sharing Mette’s story! She’s an inspiration!

  9. Mette, you are just one awesome woman and I am so glad to read your story here! Keep on riding sister. There is just so much to see and appreciate in this beautiful world of ours and as women who ride, never give up the opportunity. We stay younger this way! You go girl!

  10. One thing I love about my Honda VTX 1800 is the seat! I’m on my fourth bike but it is by far the most comfortable seat. I tried a Corbin seat but it just wasn’t comfortable. You can get a gel pad for a wheelchair at a fraction of the cost for a bike gel pad; cut it to fit and put it in a zip lock gallon bag and tape double closed. Use an electric knife to cut out the seat foam and re-staple the leather seat. Trust me it is way easier than it sounds! I can easily ride all day without getting my full size rear pinched!

  11. Thank you, thank you, thank you!This is just the inspiration I need. You show us younger gals (wink, wink – I’m 53) not to be afraid to take that leap of faith. You are AWESOME.

  12. How brave, wow! I have the same bike and yearn to ride on the road, but I’m just not sure my rear end could take it. I want a larger bike, but my Sporty is set up perfectly for my 5-foot 3-inch frame (thanks to my wonderful hubby), I just can’t part with it. I guess I will just have to go for it. Thanks for the inspiration.

  13. I love reading the stories about adventuresome women who take off alone to ride to places unknown while putting fear in the back seat! This was a great story and I really appreciated reading it. Sounds like a centered and powerful type of woman. You go girl!

  14. Right on, sister! I love your attitude! Gals like you give me inspiration to do more longer trips. I rode 3,200 miles solo and was thinking of driving from Missouri to Arkansas. After reading your article, I know I can do it! Thanks.

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