How do you cope with loneliness?

Discussion in 'The Perfect Line and Other Riding Myths' started by cbennett5199, Jul 31, 2018.

  1. cbennett5199

    cbennett5199 Adventurer

    Feb 2, 2008
    OK, I'll stick my neck out here, so don't give me too much crap, but this is something I've noticed I've been dealing with increasingly on my solo rides. First, I've always been a solo rider, pretty much wherever I go, no matter how long or remote. From 1K - 8K rides, I'll go solo. When riding alone, I get to go at my own pace (usually pretty fast and hard), stop when I want, explore spontaneously when I want, eat when and what I want, etc. etc. I've usually always enjoyed it, found the solitude a nice reprieve from family, work, and all else. After getting divorced, things started to change. I went on more rides with my girlfriend. That definitely hampered the really aggressive riding, but I started to enjoy it. We haven't gone on a long ride in a long time, and not sure if it's even in the cards anymore given the uncertain state of our relationship. Fast forward to my recent trips. When I head out alone now, I still love the riding, especially when it's technical and challenging. And I love searching for the most beautiful views and scenery I can find. That's food for my soul. But I find myself struggling more and more with feelings of loneliness as the hours, days and miles go by. Camping at night alone, shacking up in a shitty motel alone, eating alone. I don't want to ride in a big pack. That just doesn't look fun. But it does strike me that most everyone else is riding with company. The guys I know from work and other things don't ride, so that's not an option. They do the typical vacation stuff, golf, family trips, whatever. Those don't sound anywhere near as adventurous, fun and rewarding as exploring on a bike. Most people think I'm crazy for riding - too dangerous, I have too many injuries already, it's too hard, whatever. However, if I keep wrestling with the loneliness factor every time I strike out into the mountains or hinterland, it's going to make me wonder whether my motorcycle journeys are worth it. I'm assuming that some of you must deal with this too? If so, how do you make it work for you? Suggestions are absolutely welcome.
  2. BetterLateThanNever

    BetterLateThanNever Long timer

    Dec 31, 2014
    Ontario, Canada
    This might not be entirely about riding. People have a way of projecting their feelings about one thing on to another, if it keeps them from facing difficult questions. Worth meditating on.
    steve3b3, KTee, enduro16 and 10 others like this.
  3. JGT

    JGT Been here awhile Supporter

    Oct 20, 2013
    Nashville, TN
    I don't have a solution, but I sympathize. On multi-day trips the riding part is fun but I can only do that for so many hours. Then there are many more hours that sometimes do seem like just time to fill alone. Some people here seem good at striking up conversations with strangers where ever. That has never been my strength. A good book is the best solution I have found so far.
    DKCJ, DoctorMaddix, 2talltom and 6 others like this.
  4. Roadracer_Al

    Roadracer_Al louder, louder, louder!

    Aug 5, 2007
    Oakland, CA
    You may think this is an on-bike problem, whereas it's most likely an overall problem which you notice more acutely when you're on the bike. IMHO, you need to give yourself an honest appraisal of how you feel on a day to day basis, and act on that, not on how you feel riding. Maybe the riding is the canary in the coal mine indicating there is a bigger problem. And, again, IMHO, everyone could benefit from 8~12 visits with a therapist (i.e. not a life sentence, not a tourist visit, but enough time to do real work), it's worth exploring if you're feeling shitty.
  5. BetterLateThanNever

    BetterLateThanNever Long timer

    Dec 31, 2014
    Ontario, Canada
    I realize that we may be crossing some lines, here, but this is a good post. Losing interest in things that have always given you pleasure can be a concerning sign.
    E-luke, jasonmc, Chillis and 10 others like this.
  6. TheProphet

    TheProphet Retired; Living the Dream

    Mar 7, 2014
    NW Illinois, Driftless Zone
    Nothing terribly wrong with a solo style IMO. Riding with groups - small or large - has it's pro's and con's. Nowhere is it stated that a person MUST ride with a group.

    Some activities encourage group participation, some are strictly solo, some fall somewhere in between.

    Baseball for example would be difficult to play solo. Football as well. Other sports/activities like Bowling, Billiards, Archery, bicycling, skiing, etc. are easily performed solo.

    Make your choice. Again, there is no hard fast rule about motorcycling. I'd guess I do 95% solo rides, and 5% with groups of 2-3. NEVER do I ride with large groups, say 10 bikes and up. Did it a few times, never again. Think of it this way: Your ride will depend entirely upon the person with the weakest Bladder, the person with the worst (or none) maintenance on the bike, the least prepared person, and many other factors around selfishness, and awareness/caring about others. If you have a TON of patience... go for it. Plan though to achieve roughly 1/3 of the miles you normally do solo... at 1/10th the fun.

    As to your statement about everyone else riding in groups - that's not true. Read some of the trip reports here on ADVRider, and you'll see that many, many riders go solo.

    Try this: Next trip you make, spend a lot of time beforehand preparing a specific route, and highlighting landmarks, museums, scenic points, things that interest you enough to make a stop. Google search the "best" restaurants and pubs in the area's where you'll be at dinnertimes. IMO, stay away from any Pubs advertised as "Biker" pubs. You'll be saddened. Stick to the ones noted for the best food. You'll likely find a much higher caliber of riders at "non-biker" great restaurants and Pubs as opposed to biker joints.

    Choose older Motels that are former Car Courts - you know, the type that are all in a row, single story, and you park your bike right outside your room window. You will always find seasoned riders at these motels. Read up to make sure they have a swimming pool and a communal campfire area. Grab a beer, sit down by the folks around the fire, and I guarantee some conversation. Personally, I'd stay away from any "Biker" type motels, but maybe that's just me. IMO, a bunch of loudmouths who act how they "Think" bikers are supposed to act... whatever that is. Take a pass.

    When you eat lunch and dinner at the specially chosen Pubs, even if you don't drink, sit at the Bar. Surrounding you are likely folks and fellow riders just like yourself, traveling solo. Strike up a conversation, or likely join one.

    I bet if you do this you can't help but run into like-minded people at the points of interest you chose, and at night join the folks around the communal Campfire. All along the ride, you'll have plenty to do, plenty to watch for, and plenty to organize. This will stave off any boredom or loneliness for certain.

    Trade email #'s or FaceBook info and stuff with the folks you meet, and stay in touch.

    Lastly - Pack your laptop, and at the various motels each night, send us a detailed report of the days events and musings. The responses you get will have you laughing..., crying... or more likely puzzled(?).

    Good Luck.
    E-luke, BobcatSig, FJ Fun and 36 others like this.
  7. VX Rider

    VX Rider Long timer

    Dec 11, 2015
    The above is pretty good.
    I used to travel a lot for work solo, I ride mostly solo.
    But if you seek company it can be found.
    Being alone doesn't have to equal loneliness.
    bugzilla, sparkingdogg and Paul466 like this.
  8. rd400racer

    rd400racer Long timer

    May 14, 2013
    Louisville, Ky
    The Prophet lives up to his name:D I was going to pass along very similar advice. I realize it's hard for someone that is not a social person (which I glean from your original post) to act in a gregarious fashion but seriously, what do you have to loose? I ride similar to you but I never feel lonely because I talk to everybody everywhere. And it's not even about the talking...listening is a lost art. I had a teacher once that told me you never learn anything while you're talking. Bottom line, project yourself!
    FJ Fun, DoctorMaddix, Paul466 and 4 others like this.
  9. allowishish

    allowishish Boof Master

    Dec 7, 2014
    Denver...ish, CO
    Smile all the time
    Shine your teeth to meaningless
    and sharpen them with lies

    and whatever is going down
    will follow you around
    that's how you fight loneliness

    you laugh at every joke
    Drag your blanket blindly
    Fill your heart with smoke

    and the first thing that you want
    will be the last thing you'll ever need
    that's how you fight it

    Just smile all the time...
    Undocumented, Paul466 and TheProphet like this.
  10. Hi-De-Ho

    Hi-De-Ho Mad Scientist Super Supporter

    Feb 6, 2016
    @cbennett5199 , I would like to make a few observations here, and possibly a some degree.

    First, seeing that you have been a member of these forums since February 2008....and in that time have only posted (shared with us) a total of 67 posts, may I suggest that you reach out to the forum here a LOT more often, seek out like minded trains of thought, or...converse trains of thought, and share. That may help with part of the loneliness issue.

    Next, the words of wisdom laid upon us by @Roadracer_Al , and @TheProphet , are excellent views on this issue.

    Finally, I am finishing up the final writing of my book, "Loneliness of the Long Distance Rider", a tale of Two Million Miles.

    It will be edited later this year, and go into print/publication by next Spring. I am hoping it will be a good read for riders like yourself.
    Send me a PM, and I will send you a personal copy of the book for free.

    It is my account of 48 years of riding, 34 years as a member of the IronButt Association, having ridden motorcycles on all 7 continents, having documented, had verified, and certified the crossing of Two Million Miles on motorcycles, of which more than 90 % of that was done alone.....solo riding.

    I wish for you the best in your search of accompaniment during your rides, whether internally, or by finding someone else.
  11. 9Realms

    9Realms Drawn in by the complex plot

    Jul 23, 2010
    Central Mn
    If a person is sitting, eating in public, or taking a break and your head is face down in a smart phone, you are almost assured to be less-approachable.
    Go in some place for a meal or some pie, leave the phone on the bike, smile, show some manners, and typically someone will ask where your from or to where you are headed, or ask about the bike you ride.
    It's easy to morph the conversation into "where's a good place to stay, clean but affordable", or nearby laundry mat, a place they think might be interesting to stop and see, etc...


    Often it's the small things that gets a conversation started. Learn to slow down and LISTEN, and find the common ground with whom you are speaking to.
    I traveled a lot for work in my day and had to get good at this.
    It's not hard to learn, and costs nothing to practice. Ride safe!
  12. High Country Herb

    High Country Herb Adventure Connoiseur

    Apr 5, 2011
    Western Sierras
    I think The Prophet is on to something. It doesn't sound like you're lonely while on the bike, and in fact may prefer riding solo. It is the time off the bike when it hits.

    For introverted people like myself, it is easy to just take the corner booth and keep my mouth shut. Instead, eat at the bar, and talk to the other patrons. Talk to the waitress as she walks back and forth (while not annoying her). Talk to other campers. Talk to your neighbors at the motels. Heck, I even talk to homeless people.

    When you stop for gas, talk to other riders and ask them what roads they are riding (you might even get some tips on great rides). Talk to groups of people dressed in camo and ask them what they're hunting.

    These may sound like the actions of an extrovert. They are. I forced myself to act like that, and now it doesn't seem so strange to me.
    FJ Fun, eap, DKCJ and 12 others like this.
  13. RedShark

    RedShark Long timer

    May 10, 2005
    "deal with loneliness" ?? easy, I hate most people.

    Actually, I just try to remember the words of Shakespeare:
    "For there is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so."
    Hamlet A2 S2

    Which is easy to remember if waiting around for someone else is your pet peeve.

    But, to be sure - when you travel solo you are more approachable than if you are in a gaggle of like-minded fellow travelers, so....MINGLE !
    Bors, ACR, curtis6870 and 5 others like this.
  14. juno

    juno Long timer

    Oct 22, 2014
    I ride solo on most of my long distance adv type rides. Like the TAT and subsets of similar rides. Yeah, it would be nice to have company on the technical parts. My issue is when I do stay at a town or go out to eat my appearance probably keeps people away. Shaved head, goatee and wearing road clothes. I have never been accused of being pretty and I am very outgoing when on a solo trip but I am sure my appearance does not solicit interactions.

    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
    Bors, GiddyThump and Snowbird like this.
  15. Newportcycle

    Newportcycle Adventurer

    Jan 12, 2013
    Some sage advice offered here, I think the traits I've witnessed in others that impressed me most is a person who is inquisitive, listens and is truly interested in other's.

    I do not suffer real loneliness, spent to many years alone in motel rooms far from home for work, and have gotten used to and partial to my own company. I don't have any close friends, no mates, my wife is the only person in my life, no complaints with that, friendships to me have always come down to economy. I can be difficult, don't let it become overwhelming.
    docm26 likes this.
  16. Pantah

    Pantah Jiggy Dog Fan from Scottsdale Supporter

    Oct 25, 2004
    Scottsdale Arizona
    Motorcycling with a 'special other' is certainly enjoyable in most cases. But it isn't the whole enchilada so to speak. You have other issues that you should get over rather than post them here. This is a adventure riding forum.
  17. c1skout

    c1skout Long timer

    Sep 29, 2009
    Western PA
    I've noticed loneliness myself while doing solitary things, hunting, fishing, biking, etc. when I notice those feelings I just pack it up and go find someone to talk to. Either in real life or on a forum like this. They both work for me.
    BillyBreathes, ACR, fishslapr and 4 others like this.
  18. cbennett5199

    cbennett5199 Adventurer

    Feb 2, 2008
    Thanks for the thoughtful, considerate and practical responses. No doubt I'll keep them in mind when I head out again. Juno - funny comment. Often felt the same way, walking around pretty grunged out. Most folks out where I ride though don't seem to mind.
    FJ Fun, juno and SmittyBlackstone like this.
  19. cbennett5199

    cbennett5199 Adventurer

    Feb 2, 2008
    The way I see it, "adventure riding" includes what I'm thinking some of us deal with on long solo rides - mechanical, pain, loneliness, whatever. If others with more experience than me can offer advice on how to do it better and enjoy it more fully (they have), I'm all ears and appreciate it. If I were riding a scooter to the grocery store, not only would the topic be irrelevant to me, I wouldn't bother the good folks here by talking about it.
  20. Paul466

    Paul466 Adventurer

    May 28, 2013
    Wow! Proud of you for having balls to start this topic! I ride solo most of the time, adv riding solo allows my mind to focus in a way few things do, the focus creates a “tunnel vision “where I feel disconnected from my anxiety that I fight on daily bases, my mindset goes magically positive,like when I was a kid and around every corner was an exiting new adventure. It makes me feel “grounded”. There is very few people that I rode with that did not throw off this feeling, riding with groups completely shifts the energy to anxiety ,weather all riders are safe,enjoying themselves, too fast ,too slow, good place to stop for break?I know I’m trying to control things that I can’t. The plus to riding with select few ,allows me to go further into wilderness knowing there is someone there just in case. The loneliness kickes in usually 5 days into the camping rides:)
    Motogvmx, juno, Hi-De-Ho and 2 others like this.