Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Doubt, Foreboding and the Solitary Adventurer

Yesterday evening I took a little ride around the valley inspecting the landscape after a thunderstorm had rolled through.  Hardly an adventure compared to those souls who venture forth on long journeys lasting days and weeks through unknown places.

A recent post on Shreve Stockton's (author of The Daily Coyote and Honeyrock Dawn) Vespa Vagabond blog discussed the challenges for riders who announce plans for adventures to friends and family and the ensuing resistance, doubt and anxiety it can arouse.  Her post titled An Interview of Sorts answers questions from a woman planning a trip across the United States on her Vespa.  It's worth reading, especially for riders who've not ridden alone or gone on longer trips.

Stockton writes of her own solo cross country journey on her Vespa ET4, details, route planning, Vespa performance and such.  The most interesting part for me was when she described how those plans were received by the people you hope will support you in life.  She touches on fear of the unknown and the perceived danger that lies over the next hill.  Stockton responds to real concerns about personal safety and disaster in the following manner: "As for the true, valid, compassionate concern ~ my answer to this (to others and to myself) is that "the bad things" could happen anywhere."

I think there is some freedom in those words for everyone worried about what might happen if they venture beyond their own backyard.

It's an I wish I could speak from a place of vast experience crisscrossing the country on my Vespa about how I put aside misgivings and apprehensions about venturing forth alone on the road.  Unfortunately such is not the case.  My solitary adventuring has all taken place within a 200 mile radius of home and within a 24 hour period.

Perhaps someday time and circumstance will allow me my own big adventure.


Bryce said...

Someday my prints will come?

Same sort of waiting. You have family a caring wife, a loving dog
who figures you are his all the time companion and you have a fairly responsible position in the
univeristy world.
Suspect perhaps you best wander further on your Vespa journies; Pennsylvania ia large state in
context of small radius rubber tyres, many revolution cover
many miles. Maybe do an overnight trip with someody else also on a Vespa, say over a weekend. Conversely perhaps your wife would like to ride, something or is she not so inclined? It's easy to get oneself on an easy path, more difficult to change to a different path those times when you have the wanderlust.

In any event take a compass, draw a circle of scale in excess
of 250 miles beyond your home. on a printed map preferably of small scale. Then see what develops.

Charlie6 said...


The longer journeys will come but responsibilities in the here and now require attention as well....for the both of us.

I now have a sidecar rig that can handle a ride to the Arctic Circle but no time to do it in....

As to the doubts, and foreboding imposed by others when they hear of some future long ride....what they really are doing is trying to keep you from doing something they wish they had the "wherewithal" to accomplish themselves. If they talk you out of it, then it's ok for them to not try it as well.


Redleg's Rides

Colorado Motorcycle Travel Examiner

Orin said...

Just got back from the Victoria Day rally in Victoria, B.C. My buddy Safety Ed and I mostly rode on freeways getting to the ferry to Vancouver Island, and we both do a lot of riding on roads with 50+ mph speed limits. The GT/GTS was designed with North America in mind, freeways and all. It's a very comfortable touring bike, and quite relaxed at freeway speeds. And 200 miles/day, give or take, is a comfortable pace for a road trip. Here's hoping an opportunity presents itself soon...

Scootin' Old Skool

RichardM said...

That was an interesting interview and I must agree with Dom about those predicting doom and gloom. If you listened to them, you wouldn't be riding at all.

SonjaM said...

I guess we get all befallen from wanderlust, and then our daily adventures don't look so adventurous any more.
I love to go on road trips, but I also like my little outings, since neither time nor budget nor responsibility allows a great escape.
But hey, on a Vespa, a weekend trip can be so much of an adventure. I got my better half into scooter riding, and heck, I will get him interested in longer trips... eventually.
So maybe like Bryce suggested... get the lady interested in scootering.

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Scooter In The Sticks (Steve):

There is something about a road trip that is like stepping through a trap door, as far as I'm concerned. Yet it is no different than going to the post office or to the hardware store, provide those mundane desinations were 1,000 miles away.

I would think that some of the guess work is eliminated when you plan a long-distance trip by scooter, as it would be my thought to go from one small town to the next on back roads... Some days you might make 280 miles, and on other days you might make 50.

For the exception of this past season, I have made a multi-state run every year since acquiring my K75. I usually pick a destination, and go like a bat out of hell until I get there. That's when I commence the tour.

I wouldn't presume to suggest anything, Steve... But it occurs to me your rides are designed to lead you back to that perfect destination every day: home.

Wife, dog, darkroom, desk and sanity.

If I had had a better season, I'd be on the road to some place in West Virginia, or the real deep south, right now.

Fondest regards,
Jack / reep
Twisted Roads

bobskoot said...


we are all constrained with time and resources. We have responsibilities to others and cannot selfishly use all our time to satisfy our personal yearnings.

I only plan a handful of weekends and perhaps one multi day adventure each year where I am able to go where I please, but only when my chores are done

Riding the Wet Coast

Conchscooter said...

You will be a better partner husband colleague and junior walker when your deepest yearning is fulfilled and your worst fear overcome.
Everyone except me will tell you to fulfill your responsibilities. I who have run like a hare from the dour responsibilities of good stewardship tell you that to go and come back relieved of the burden will bring happiness to all who are dear to you.
We'll talk more in mid august at the saint's with riepe.

irondad said...

It's not the distance, rather the state of mind.

Doom and gloom proclamations are often self justification in disguise.

Brady said...

This reminds me of a conversation I had with a friend. He was asking about my motorcycles being stored outside.

"Do people f#$k with them?"
"People will f$(k with anything."
"I suppose that's true. People WILL f*%k with anything."

It's the same for all of life - bad things can happen here or there. There's not too much reason to fret over it.

Behind Bars - Motorcycles and Life

Steve Williams said...

Bryce: The only thing standing between me and a long trip is time and opportunity. I don't believe I would have any problem at all rolling out of the driveway and heading in a direction with little planning save for money in my pocket.

For new riders like the one described by Stockton I think it's a different story on a whole lot of levels.

I do like the idea of drawing a circle on a map. Think I'll do that and see what emerges. Thanks!

Steve Williams said...

Dom: I think there definitely are people who don't want others to enjoy themselves. But probably more common are the people who are just plain fearful. There is a robber, terrorist, rapist, swindler, kidnapper on every corner. Believing that it would be hard to leave the safety of home.

Steve Williams said...

Orin: Your assessment of the GTS echo mine closely. It is a capable machine and I wouldn't think twice about a long trip.

I too hope the opportunity presents itself.

Steve Williams said...

RichardM: I spent decades listening to people tell me how dangerous motorcycles are. Being a coward I had to wait for them to die before making the move. Wish I had stood up earlier and said, "You know what? I want a motorcycle and I'm going to get one."

Steve Williams said...

SonjaM: Hundred mile trips on the Vespa are more like adventures.

Wanderlust. My mother had it. Took her all over the world. Suppose it makes sense that I have it too.

Steve Williams said...

Dear Mr. Riepe: Of late you have been sounding wiser than normal. What gives? Your thoughtful insights into riding, life and the tribulations of the world makes me think you had some sort of vital spiritual awakening.

Regardless, I appreciate your comments and stopping by to post a comment. Sort of enhances the reputation of Scooter in the Sticks.

If you do ride to West Virginia or the deep south remember, if you hear banjo music, ride faster!

Steve Williams said...

bobskoot: If I have a fear related to riding it's that I will never find the time to ride across the country. Or to Alaska. Or where ever. I really believe I would regret that.

But fear isn't playing into it. Just circumstance. But you never know what a new day will bring.

Steve Williams said...

Conchscooter: You and Riepe in the same place at the same time is almost too much to contemplate. Like two holy men arriving from afar bearing wisdom and hope.....

Steve Williams said...

irondad: You may be right. I hope the young woman in Santa Cruz follows through with her plans and learns how much she is capable of. It's certainly easier to entertain those kinds of trips when you are young and unfettered. But the ghosts of inexperience can haunt you.

When you are older and wiser it's the tethers that take more time to chew through.

Steve Williams said...

Brady: Fretting is a tough thing to let go of. Everyone has something I guess that their expectations get the best of them.

Sitting here right now and thinking about what would concern me most about a cross country trip on the Vespa---- would have to be a breakdown. Not so many Vespa mechanics around and parts would be a matter of having them shipped in.

Ride a Kawasaki,Harley or Honda and the odds are much better that you will be delayed far less.

That said, I still want to go someday!

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Steve:

Life has come to a desperate crossroads, when anyone thinks my opinion adds to the credibility of a column.

I strongly urge you to drink a whole lot more.

To answer your conclusion, I am working at least 6 hours a day on moto writing. I am now focusing o two books, and plan to have 60 chapters, 30 in each, done by the year's end.. I have discovered something liberating in all this... But not yet profitable.

Fondest regards,
Jack / Reep

Steve Williams said...

Dear Jack Riepe: Recent health events preclude any ingestion of alcohol. I suppose I should post something about that miserable story. But I digress; this comment is about you.

Best wishes on your literary endeavors. As with riding my writing takes the form of short little pieces. I admire the writers (and riders) who can embrace the longer, more demanding journey. Don't let rum or whiskey lead you away from the keyboard.

I still think this blog benefits greatly from your appearance here. Celebrities commenting is a rare occurrence.

bobskoot said...


sorry to hear about your malady.

I don't drink by choice, and now I find that you don't drink by statute.

one less bottle to carry on your journey. I can't believe it, rIEPE and Mr Conch in one place. Too bad PA is too far away for me

Riding the Wet Coast

Bryce said...

OK, the 3G iPhone works just about anywhere, including the ER of the hospital. Ya know as we age, our physical body changes, and often not for the better internally.
Am missing a kidney and my spleen thanks to cancer and today am still alive though not riding on two wheels. Doctors can be wrong, why diet and exercise, for you? Granted some of those Sunday morning breakfast rides seem to have too much of the fatty foods; ever figured out how much?

So get your butt off the too short guerny, and go walk Junior who appears to be so wistful not having you near him. Cut down cut out, and keep walking. And get well soon.

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Steve:

In the summer, I have a love affair with gin and rum. Two years ago, pharmaceutical chemistry guaranteed I'd have a raging headache after three drinks. I just couldn't justify the loss of a day ot two due to pain in my head.

Except tonight. I want to gert on my bike and rage to the horizon. I want to make a dozen questionable decisions based on testosterone, and the chance to spread it around. It is 9:04pm... It is the first night of a holiday weekend... It is the first night of the summer... And I have already had 5 gin and tonics.

I will ride that bike at dawn.

Thank God I can still write like I'm 20... I understand that jack-hammer sex at my age can be fatal... What the hell... She'll just have to take her chances lke everyone else.

Fondest regards,

Steve Williams said...

Bobskoot: Life serves up endless pitfalls and magic. Just need to go with the flow I guess and enjoy the ride.

Steve Williams said...

Bryce: Sudden, super high blood pressure. So diet and exercise changes were suggested along with temporary medication until I see my doctor.

Junior has already received some extra miles of walking.

ara & spirit said...

Whatever you are going to do, do it now. Do it now when logistically and mentally and can I say "spiritualy"? possible. Cross country today is a breeze and yet, one needs to almost be reborn with a sense of prepardness mainly never loosing sight of Plan B... sometimes even Plan C.
I don't know if all this makes sense... I don't drink either by choice, yet, after 5 years full time on the road I just went through 14 snips and more snips yesterday... what are snips? Prostate Biopsy... at 63 the numbers are bad... Will beat this too... so, still, whatever you dream of, do it now...
Be well... Ara & Spirit

Steve Williams said...

Ara: Best wishes to you in your prostate battle. And thank you for your thoughts on doing things today. I have a hard head but things are getting through!

Give Spirit a pat on the head for me!