Does solo = lonely?

Discussion in 'Trip Planning' started by Speeder54, Mar 29, 2011.

  1. viajero

    viajero Too old to be a nOOb

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    Most of my travels have been solo. If one isn't comfortable with one's self then maybe Motorcycle solo traveling isn't for you.
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  2. OldFakir

    OldFakir Adventurer

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    For many trips over decades i traveled solo. Then one trip i took along a lady. One month into the trip, in Lallibella, Ethiopia, out of nowhere one night i suffered a massive episode of anaphylaxis. I lost consciousness and went into convulsions. It was really bad. I was in a bad way for a week or so, she really helped me get going again. A couple months later, near Lira, Uganda, while camping outside a small village, Kony rebels attacked a nearby leper colony. All hell broke loose. She climbed a tall tree and hid up there while the fighting raged. A local village elder handed me a spear and together we went towards all the fighting, trying to keep Kony from heading into the village. Kony rebels are notorious for doing some horrible things. Anyway, the lady i was traveling with kinda freaked out after that, and flew home. Curiously, after sharing all these experiences we only talked once.
    My point is that traveling with someone can be really helpful (like if ya fall ill from a bug bite one night), but the outcome of the shared experience is really an unknown. Different people react differently. I try now to travel with someone, but yeah i grit my teeth much of the time. But i now do that with everything in life. Travel long enough and ya end up very alone.
  3. ADV Wanderer

    ADV Wanderer Been here awhile

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    I'm a big solo tripper but would think hard about doing it in Africa. Not because of rebels but because of potential injury or illness that leaves me debilitated.
    Would definitely have my inReach with me and be subscribed to something like Global Rescue or Ripcord.
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  4. chupa88

    chupa88 Been here awhile

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    I'm curious why you guys didn't keep in touch? Events like that usually bond people together for life.
  5. OldFakir

    OldFakir Adventurer

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    I wonder about that also. She isnt the only one.

    This is something to consider when traveling with someone: We all compartmentalize our personalty. Talk to a cop along a roadside, it will be a different part you reveal than to say a lady in a bar. The person you travel with knows you in a particular setting-your life in Australia or the USA or whatever. You share beers, share politics-or not, share common interests. And in doing so, the other person feels they know you, and know you well. But they dont. You dont reveal your traveler superpowers while sipping an IPA tightening spokes or throwing a shrimp on the barbie in your comfortable life in the Western World.

    If the trip is your 8th time traveling thru multiple countries, well you will know what you are doing. If its the first time for the new traveling buddy, then there is going to be an element of power exchange between the friendship. Most folks are fine with that, but some are not. Also, the giving up of co leadership (at least for awhile) role might be a rocky road when it gets time to retain complete equality. But it gets trickier. If you are a VERY compartmentalized person (i am) then it is going to be very odd for the fellow traveler when they realize they dont really know you at all. Wait, WHAT? you speak Swahili? Huh? You arent the person you pretend to be. Something like that, i have heard it more than a few times. I suspect many a seasoned ADVer knows exactly what i am talking about.

    In my case with Kami - a friend i met while working as a truck driver in California - she knew me as a competent trucker, who lived in an old Airstream trailer. She knew me as a guy who strummed some guitar and sometimes wore a cowboy hat. She knew i had gone to university, but never saw me that way: i was playing the blue collar role of Central Valley Ag Hauler just a bit too well. As she put it to me "you had us all fooled". That was how she saw it. To me it was very different. The Kamis of the world just didnt have the life experience yet to interact with me about, say, ummm, the political economy of the Horn of Africa. My first trip to the Nile region was a 7 month trip the length of the Nile, in 1983. It is a passion. But i dont talk about it with truck drivers. I talk to them about slack adjusters, king pins, and super singles.

    I really think it is that uneven power relation, no matter how much one tries to minimize it, that ultimately causes the newer traveler to feel permanently disconnected from the more experienced traveler. Kinda like dating someone 15 years age different. Or trying to hang out with a college professor. Or hanging out with someone with WAY more money. No matter how hard each tries, there is often a distance that makes things awkward.

    Kami was a GREAT person to travel with. We never argued or anything. She was fun and cool and brave. Back when we drove trucks together i had a crush on her, and told her so. She apologized and said she didnt feel that way. We moved on as friends, shared incredible experiences in East Africa, but we did not remain friends after the trip. She went on with her life, got married and works as a realtor in Mammoth last i heard.

    While i am rambling...let me add something. Another lady, who is a very accomplished moto person, shared with me a couple short but intense experiences starting years ago. And we have ended up buddies, and will probably be that way for life. Even if years go by, we instantly recognize each other and our friendship is on. She is also a very accomplished adventurer. So there is no power exchange. We give and take and share in our interactions.

    Both ladies are very cool. Very fun. Great chemistry and connection. But one had never been to the third world. The other has ridden bikes on 6 continents.

    All things (personality, riding ability, personal habits, comfort/cheapness levels, food needs, bike prep) can affect travel buddy zen. But for me it is previous travel experience that matters most. I can ride a weekend with a newbie, and prefer that to 'an intermediate' (they will be roosting all day, gets old) but i cant do a long trip with a newbie. They will end up insecure and pulling away.
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  6. ADV Wanderer

    ADV Wanderer Been here awhile

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    If I hadn't moved up from Orange County to Ventura County I'd have met up for a coffee. Then I could have checked you out before we head off to Siberia! :dllama:
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  7. chupa88

    chupa88 Been here awhile

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    I don't mean any disrespect with my reply since I don't know you. But from your post, it seems that you view life with a lot of "pretending," "playing a role," and relationships with people and friends with a lot of "compartmentalizing," "power dynamics" and an adversarial lens.

    People can only know you as much as you let them. So if someone thinks they know you but you know they don't, that's only because you've kept them at a distance and not let them in. What you speak of is not some universal truth of human interactions but it is the truth of how you've set it up for your life.

    I've done 10,000 miles solo and I've done 5000 miles with a good friend. I've gone cross country already and he was a new long distance rider but there was never an imbalance of power with our friendship on the road. There were moments where I asked his opinions on what we should do and there were times where I gave mine. There were moments where he took my advice and vice versa. Even though he's never ridden more than 500 miles away from home, that doesn't mean every thought he had was useless.

    I have good friends of all ages, from 70s to 20s. I'm smacked in the middle. And I'm good friends with them is I let them in. There are times when life is hard and I don't pretend it's not. I share my thoughts with truthfulness, kindness and sincerity. And I'm willing to hear theirs without judgement and with empathy. That's how I've been able to stay friends with people for decades and make new friends within the four years of moving to a new city solo. And trust me, I'm not one of those people without any filters babbling to the world about all my sins and tragedies. But when I find good sincere people in my life, I let them in and they return the gesture.

    Again, don't mean any disrespect but your post really bummed me out with regards of how you think that people don't really know anyone else. And I also didn't mean to turn this into a psychology post.
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  8. OldFakir

    OldFakir Adventurer

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    No offense taken. I appreciate your taking the time to thoughtfully offer your truth. Didnt mean to bum anyone out.
    Let me clarify a bit. We seem to have run into the shortcomings of message board communication, and that is my fault for getting too 'heavy' with my post. But we are here, so allow me to try to further communicate.
    I absolutely think people can know each other. Ive been married for awhile now, have teenagers. I still ride with a guy ive known since 1971. Raced baja with him last fall, maybe our 50th or so baja trip? Read again where i talk about the second lady, with whom i feel a deep and lifelong connection. I offered up that example to demonstrate i have had deep and meaningful connections with fellow riders. Of course we humans can know each other, and long rides are a great way to share peak experiences and build trust. Ive experienced that, and continue to do so. I too have friends from different age groups, political backgrounds, etc.
    In my post i just wanted to share that riding with someone else can have unexpected outcomes, and show one reason why that might happen. Namely-the insecurity that can develop in the other rider if there is a wide gap in travel experience level. I also named the more obvious problems that arise (bike prep, riding ability, cheapness/comfort, food needs, personality).
    Maybe your personality works better with newer riders? I dont know. Much of my ADV type stuff has been in difficult places like the ME, Africa, India, etc. Those environments perhaps emphasis the differences? Not sure. I grew up riding in Baja, have done hundreds of long group rides there. The older i get the harder it is to feel connected with new-to-baja riders. Perhaps as many as 25% of the new-to-baja guys i ride with (i have ridden baja with hundreds of new-to-baja guys and ladies) end up kinda weird and distant with me. It just feels like they are used to being their own person in their daly life, and dont like relying on me (or anyone) while on a ride. I have learned to NOT be out front on the rides, even if i am the faster rider, even if it means there is danger (new riders arent able to be as aware, they arent looking for signs of cattle, looking for signs of oncoming trucks, or scanning for new gates or barbed wire-i saw a guy hit a new fence at speed and flip over it, his bike included!) I have to fight that instinct to keep the guys safe all the time. I have to let them make mistakes. Even if that means a collapsed lung or broken bike now and then. Yeah this is next level group ride think.
    I compartmentalize more than most, for sure. I have talked to a therapist about this. I have chronic PTSD. But guess what, we all have issues, we all are f'ed up! The more experiences we have in life, the more we humans develop different sides. Add in the occasional trauma or two that comes with a life well lived, and that my friends is why we end up compartmentalized, to some degree or another.
    I think we have turned this into a psychology post. jaja. Sorry to all reading this.

    Respectfully i would offer that the more one rides ADV, the more experienced one gets, the harder it is going to be to ride with a newbie. Maybe we are talking apples and oranges. If ADV is a week long trip around the SouthWest, something i first did in 1979, then sure differences between riding partners wont be such an issue. But if ADV is a trip thru the dunes of the Sahara, then yes while crossing from Egypt to Sudan or out in eastern Mauritania or even just taking the ferry from France to Tunisia, the differences between travel experience are going to be an issue from day one, and it may well compound to the point were fellow riders end up pulling away from each other rather than growing closer to each other.

    Deepest apologies to ADVers for taking up your reading time with my psychobabble. Maybe i am just a grumpy old man? LOL.
  9. chupa88

    chupa88 Been here awhile

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    Hey, thanks for taking the time to reply thoughtfully as well. I think these weird quarantine times has me thinking about human connection and how it's more important than ever and most people are so disconnected to each other and probably lack the social skills to effective build friendships and relationships. So I probably got a bit hackled by your first post. And I do think you're right that a lot of nuanced is left out of online communications. I don't ride any hardcore ADV so I can't make any insights into what you've written. But perhaps since the skill level can be so huge in that type of riding that what you've experience is completely rational. I just know for long distance touring, I am happy to go with a newb as long as we're good enough friends that we can spend 24/7 together for days or weeks. But you do see all facets of your traveling partner and vice versa. You will get annoyed, angry, and tired of your traveling buddy but hopefully, you'll also laugh a lot, have good conversations, share amazing roads and sights and build a deeper friendship as well. All those things can happen on one trip. One of the best things that I've learned over the years is to understand and accept what each person is good at and not good at. Once you can accept their strengths and flaws then you can tailor your expectations of them and that will make your friendship a whole lot easier and better. Took me decades to learn this and it has certainly helped me with dealing with friends and other people.

    We need a new psychology/self help forum here! Lol!
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  10. ineptizoid

    ineptizoid I'm scared hold me

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    @OldFakir and @chupa88, I’ve really enjoyed the exchange of ideas between you two. Compartmentalization is something everybody practices to an extent...for instance I don’t discuss motorcycle-related topics of any kind with my wife, she’s just not interested in that aspect of my life and I’m cool with it, and I don’t think it keeps her from truly knowing me as a person.

    I’ve been turning this paragraph over in my mind, and thinking about how I’ve seen this applied personally:
    I’ve only done short trips with riding buddies, all my “long” (as in a week or more) trips have been solo—but I was always glad to have the company of a more experienced rider on those short trips. And I used to ride with a college professor when I was into sportbikes, and hanging out with him was always interesting (for me at least), probably because I could ask him questions about history, sociology, economics etc. for hours. Never any awkwardness, although he might’ve gotten tired of my questions. And I’ve known one independently wealthy guy in my whole life, he inherited millions—but was so down-to-earth and such a history buff (common interest) that his much higher socioeconomic position never caused any awkwardness. Perhaps my limited experiences are exceptions to the rule though, it’s certainly a possibility.
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  11. ADV Wanderer

    ADV Wanderer Been here awhile

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    I suspect the issue is how less experienced / more experienced guys approach the partnership.

    If you're the more experienced / skilled guy taking a trip with a less experienced guy / noob then you should know going in that you'll need to dial things back. If its a technical ride you go at the other guys pace. And only offer advice / suggestions if they are open to it. If you're touring then slow it down when the other guy wants to absorb an experience. See things again for the first time through their eyes. If that would impact your own enjoyment too much, then don't travel with a noob.

    If you're the noob, then like Ineptizoid, treat the the other guy with respect. Ask for advice, be respectful, and show gratitude. Recognize that he's doing you a favor. And don't be overly dependent or full of non-stop questions like a pesky 4 year old lol
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  12. chupa88

    chupa88 Been here awhile

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    That seems pretty snobby. I'm not a professional tour guide giving out a free tour. I'm not doing anybody a favor. I'm traveling with a friend: someone that I've happy to share the adventure with and grateful to have the extended time to hang out. They don't owe me anything. I suppose some of you will travel with a complete stranger or someone you don't know very well, even then, that's a terrible attitude to have: expecting people to be grateful to you.
  13. ADV Wanderer

    ADV Wanderer Been here awhile

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    I didn't mean it that way. I was writing from the perspective of the noob who's riding with a much more experienced guy they might not know very well. Long distance, multi-day and/or technical trips.
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  14. chupa88

    chupa88 Been here awhile

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    Gotcha. I need another cup of coffee. Or some better weed.
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  15. Nataraj85

    Nataraj85 Adventurer

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    In "Corona Times" we will have to get used to solo rides...
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  16. dmgiff

    dmgiff Been here awhile

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    Wow. You just summarized a significant number of my recent experiences. I have had the "you aren't the person we thought you were" thing happen several times. Nothing earth-shattering at all. In fact, quite insignificant, but people seem very surprised by what I would consider to be simple abilities that remain unknown until some strange set of circumstances brings them to the surface. I recently jumped into a relationship way too fast only to find out much of what you just got through saying. There was a significant age difference. She is 14 years younger. I can relate to the uneven power relation. It just happens. And to bring this thread sort of back on topic (although I thoroughly enjoyed yours and Chupa's dialogue) I'm leaving Sunday morning on a group ride with about 15 people or so. I only know one of the riders. All friends of friends type of thing. I am going to really make it a point to watch for some of these dynamics through the ride. It's only a couple thousand miles, or just under that... definitely not to the Horn of Africa... but anyway, thank you for sharing the wisdom.
  17. jackattack13

    jackattack13 Adventurer

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    I actually felt exactly what you are saying to the T, and fully grasp the idea of compartmentalizing experiences based on the group you are with. My life experiences within the Military, working as a Contractor in remote regions of the world, and personal addiction to travel and adventure have given me the opportunity to experience and see things that many people outside of say the ADV or Overlanding communities could never imagine. It is the company with that you choose to share said experiences for a good reason. First, I do not like to "flaunt" my stories as some chest pounders do, and I find those personalities pretty obnoxious and choose to not be that person. Second, I have found that the intimidation is a real thing as stated above, and almost puts pressure on those around you "live up" to any perceived standards someone might think you have.

    The "I really don't know you" thing is REAL! And because of my not flaunting stories and experiences I have earned a nickname "The Onion" with my Co-Workers as they find little bits and pieces of stories and experiences and find out I have many different layers. Maybe I need to open up more and share these stories, but I prefer to listen rather then talk and that might be my problem.

    Thanks for sharing those thoughts, it hit home for me.
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  18. OldFakir

    OldFakir Adventurer

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    You and me both brother. I am in San Clemente. If you ever want to go ride Dez or poundpavemnt HMU. We can ride along and not talk and have a good time. :)
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  19. Purelifesurfer

    Purelifesurfer Adventurer

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    Bro thanks for that insight. I'm going on a spur of the moment road trip with my bike and my dogs...With recent previous road trips, I have felt restricted by having other people with me.
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  20. 71Crummy

    71Crummy Adventurer

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    I hear you there! interesting topic. I spent 20 years in the military and then another 15 as a cop, so I tend not to tell just anybody or even folks that I'm comfortable with everything that I've done or been, some folks just dont appreciate it . Its quite interesting I think to find "just out of nowhere" facts or capabilities of folks that I thought I knew fairly well ie. plays guitar, engineering degree, invented something that I use etc etc.. it makes the relationship more interesting/surprising. I've been married for 37 years I think? and I find out new or forgotten things about the bride all the time. She dont like riding on the back of the bike that much but thats ok. The one thing that I've learned in my professional life, is to take everybody on the whole strengths/weaknesses warts and all and try your best to make it work. I've really enjoyed this thread thanks