The Inner Sanctum Of A Solo Motorcycle Ride


I’ve always been a fan of the James Bond 007 franchise, at least up until the latest installment but that’s another conversation for another day. The other day while out on the Harley a significant scene from the “Skyfall” movie came to mind. Hopefully you’ve seen the movie but if not, I don’t want to spoil it for you so please skip to the next paragraph. Following the typically intense opening scenes with Bond chasing the bad guy for the elusive hard drive, our hero ends up taking a bullet from a colleague and subsequently goes off the radar for some time. As it often happens, a massive crisis pulls him back to London, and in a scene after breaking into “M”s flat he makes the statement that she should “back away from it all, it really helps gain perspective.” I felt this attitude is quite fitting for us as two-wheeled provocateurs that enjoy the wind in our face and the ability to straddle a steel horse whenever we take the notion.

During the recent Labor Day weekend here in the States, the weather finally cooled down South, providing nice crisp morning air which, for me, always leads to a fresh urgency to get out on the bike. On Sunday after reaching out to Rob and a few others, I determined my best option was to go solo, and was not disappointed. I’m fortunate to live relatively close to a very rural farming area here outside of Atlanta and can be carving curves and rolling through beautiful countryside with very little traffic in a matter of minutes. 

I’m not sure if it was the feeling of autumn air or the fact that this has been a very busy year for me, but I was able to really enjoy the ride and reflect on so many things other than the tasks normally at hand. Riding seems to help me find new directions on various issues going on in my current season. The thought of just being able to ride and reframe some of these events and topics in a new way really did help create a fresh, healthy perspective and a refreshing of my soul.

Come the Monday holiday I was yet again determined to get some riding time in so I reached out to my riding brothers Greg and Nathan who I’ve spoken of here on Road Dirt before. It turns out that they had been out on their dual sport bikes with Nathan’s son Adam all morning and had stopped for lunch and were thus unavailable. It was great to hear their energy, talking about their last-minute decision on Sunday night to get together Monday and just take off blasting down some fire roads, local trails and beautiful country east of town. One call and one decision totally changed their perspectives on the long weekend. Since I am not yet in the dual sport community I was again blessed to get some solo seat time. 

I was again drawn to much reflection while out on the Hawg, and moved into a deep state of creativity simply by twisting my throttle. I recall as a youngster, riding was pure joy and excitement due to the machine, speed and experiences related to the day with friends all doing the same. As I’ve grown older I find it less of a gravitational pull to the actual machine but more of a love of the event of riding itself. 

Up on the Tail of the Dragon with the old Street Glide. Photo by

When solo I tend to get more introspective but since I’m at speeds on the street occasionally around cagers the constant need to ride defensively never lets me drop my guard, like when I was riding in my younger years. There seems to be this simultaneous Yin-Yang of deep thought and focused attention to survival while enjoying the riding at hand.  For me there is also a deeply spiritual aspect of the ride, enjoying all that God has provided and created around me in this big, beautiful blue and green world. 

When I ride in a group, the spirit and feeling seems more about the camaraderie and observing various points or places of interest together. How we all handle certain roads or obstacles and, depending on who’s leading the ride, the high expectations and hope that a new, more exciting route will be taken. This invariably helps enrich everyone’s ride next time I get the chance to lead and need to surprise someone not yet taking that similar route. Even where you stop for fuel and food is part of the experience all left to scrutinize and discuss – on the road to making memories.

My “mechanical mistress”, a 2017 Harley-Davidson Road Glide. My vehicle to perspective.

Yet out on a solo, I tend to live more in the moment of the ride and only stop when a creative (or bio) urge hits. My love of visual arts invariably begins to churn and I start thinking about projects, locations for shoots or mediums not yet delivered on. I will ultimately stop and take some pics of the scenery and/or the bike when the mood strikes. 

There also seems to be more external energy as a solo rider, waving to other bikers, most of whom wave back (save for some on Gold Wingers or BMW’s – you know I’m right, lol). Folks mowing lawns or checking mailboxes typically elicit a wave from me, and they nearly always wave back. Other external forces stir the senses and also play a part. Sunny blue skies and some great tunes always raise the energy and enrich my soul, delivering on the desired expectations of a ride. Sometimes the Mute button helps to refocus as well.

She’s calling me down some long, winding country road, to let the speed and freedom untangle the knots.

Perhaps it’s just my advancing years telling me life isn’t so much a contest of longevity but more a recognition of moments to be enjoyed while riding this spinning rock. Regardless of how you look at riding, solo or with companions, on a beautiful relaxing weekend or commuting to work, in the heat of summer or the cool days of spring and fall, the chances of the ride changing your perspective on life and all things good is the experience we live for.  #RideLife.  

Phil G.

*Does a solo day in the saddle refresh your soul, and broaden/deepen your perspective? Let us know in the comments below!


Cycle World Athens

1 Comment

  1. Tim Casey

    Great perspective. I’ve ridden alone to all of the lower 48 and two Canadian provinces. Something about riding alone is peaceful and uplifting. I too enjoy the waves. Could be a farmer on a tractor or children playing in the yard. Ride on!


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