Before I left on my trip people would ask me: Why would I take a six-week solo motorcycle trip to such a far away place? Would I be alone? Would I be afraid? Well, after some reflection I came up with my Top 10 Reasons for making the trip. Here they are, and here is how I feel I came out on each one…
Top 10 Reasons for Riding Solo from Cleveland to Alaska
- For the adventure. It was indeed a great adventure, but I must admit not quite as adventurous as I thought it would be. The road was not as remote as I had imagined, and services were readily available all along the way. Never did I feel alone.
- To relive the adventure with my family in 1958 when we drove our ’57 Chevy up the Alcan, camping all the way. The roads were much more developed this time, but still I was able to recall some of the excitement I felt when we traveled this way 49 years ago.
- For a change of pace, and to rejuvenate after spending 6 years in academic administration. No doubt about it the trip was a change of pace for me – and a welcome one. I was able to leave work completely behind for six weeks, and I am sure it will result in new energy and perspective on what I want to accomplish in my academic life in the next few years.
- To make James Michener’s Alaska (1988) come to life. Michener’s novel provided the images for me at many points along the way, particularly when I came across places associated with the Gold Rush. It would have been hard for me to appreciate what those folks endured without reading Alaska.
- To see the glaciers before they melt. I saw lots of glaciers and icebergs, and learned that while many are shrinking some are actually growing. Many will be gone in another 100 years if present trends continue, however.
- Meet my friends Paul and Linda Wilson, and Beth Sirles in Anchorage. This was one of the bonuses of the trip. Paul and I had long envisioned a trip such as this. Beth gave me an insider’s perspective on Alaska and gave some great suggestions for things to see and do.
- To get north of the Arctic Circle to see 24 hours of daylight. Accomplished! This was perhaps the most surreal experience of the entire trip – to realize that I was so near the top of the globe that I could see the sun the entire 24-hour day. It made the world seem small.
- To ride the westernmost road in North America (Anchor Point, Alaska). Elaine and I rode the easternmost road in North America last summer (Cape Spear, Newfoundland), so I was interested to seek out the westernmost road, which I did. The unexpected bonus was stopping at the geographic center of North America on the way back.
- I’ve always liked the mountains and the north. And I still do! I love the mountains, the northern forests and tundra, and the western plains. Especially in the summer it is refreshing to be in the cool mountain air, and smell the forests.
- It’s a great destination for a 10,000 mile ride – it’s as much about the ride as it is the destination. It was all of that and more – nearly 12,000 miles! I took special pleasure in riding that distance. My body got tired, certainly, but the next day I always wanted to ride more. There is something about long solo rides that brings a sense of freedom and satisfaction.
- Now that the ride is over, I would add an 11th reason – to be alone and free to do as I wished, when I wished, and how I wished. It was revealing to find that often I did things just the same way I usually do, but I found my days to be less cluttered and complicated. It was a very worthwhile experience, and I hope to take shorter solo trips each summer hereafter.
Would I do it over again? You bet! The experience was so enjoyable and beneficial in so many ways. I hope these pages give you a sense of what the trip was like for me, and maybe allow you to experience just a little of the fun and excitement, and sense of accomplishment.