I’m riding across a vast desert basin in Nevada. The road ahead looks exactly the same as the one in my mirror. Its straight, its flat and its hot. On either side of the highway the sagebrush grows with the occasional cactus standing up to breakup the monotony of the landscape. In this arid inferno I ride and I’m content.
My bike, a BMW GS1200 purrs beneath me. It doesn’t seem to matter whether I’m going 60 or 100 mph, it’s all the same to this bike and I cruise or accelerate as the mood takes me. There is no other traffic and I haven’t seen another car in a long time.
Deciding that I could do with a snack I gear down and stop. I don’t pull over. I swing out the side stand and get off the bike in the middle of the road. I can see miles down the road and there is no one coming in either direction. I take off my helmet and smile.
It is rare to find this kind of solitude and I absorb like a special vitamin going straight to my soul. The vastness of the land around me flows past me and through me. I take off my helmet and listen, there is no sound, no wind disturbs the air, no birds fly overhead; there is just my bike and me.
I enjoy some nuts and a drink of water, take some photos and put my helmet back on. The road is still all mine and I turn the key and start the big engine, clicking the gearshift down I am once again in motion.
In this space my thoughts float gently through my consciousness. I’m focused and aware of the bike, the speed, the feel of the asphalt passing below my feet but I’m also detached, open to memories and ideas, willing to examine whichever one comes to call. I love this mental freedom that comes with the long distance ride. It never happens right away, as the start of any road trip carries the extra concerns of the regular routine that has been left behind. But as the miles pass and the needs of the road become more important then a rhythm and calm envelops me. I get up in the morning, ride all day and do it again the next day, its wonderful. I feel very lucky that I can savour this quiet and personal time. I’m happy to make a journey on my own or to share the experience with a friend because even riding with another person I will still enjoy the solitude from inside my helmet.
There is so little time to think in a regular day. Obligations, distractions, demands on your attention are forever pulling you outward and there is very little pulling you back into yourself. I wish everyone could find something that gives the serenity that I find in the long distance ride. I know it is worth the effort.