Loneliness of the long distance rider


This sentiment was also picked up by JD Salinger in “Catcher in the Rye” (1951), featuring a protagonist consumed with defeating the regimentation and “phoniness” of contemporary society. Holden Caulfield’s rejection of traditional middle-class values signaled the first widely recognized public stand against conformism in post-war 50s culture.

The road as catharsis for motorcyclists holds some variations from what would be a typical voyage in the early 50s. Few if any contemporary bikers have much interest in bucking all that much societal conformity. The number one reason for long distance riding is to see as much as possible in the time allotted. The danger of course is the increasing distance the rider is willing to negotiate in order to get all desired visitation in.

The chance of a rider biting off more than he or she can chew is omnipresent. In Leo Tolstoy’s short story “How much land does a man need”, the protagonist was given as much land as he could circumvent on foot provided he return to the same spot he departed from in one day. Of course, the walker continued to find more land he wanted as he walked, ultimately running out of sustenance and dying of exhaustion out in the hinterlands nowhere near the point of origin.

That said, some species of riders comfortably evolve to long distance roadwork naturally. Author Joel Rappoport discovered early that he liked riding for the sake of riding and the distance didn’t matter. Riding 650 miles to visit a relative and 650 miles back the following day wasn’t an issue. He simply became part of the road; it engulfed him and he became one with it. Rider Rappoport explains the phenomena of the yearly “Iron Butt Rally” in his book “Hopeless Class”. “11 Days, 11,000 Miles”. Finishers are dubbed “The World’s Toughest Motorcycle Riders”, a claim few would doubt.


Long distance riders usually customize their machines to facilitate comfort during a long haul, including wind-diverting fairings, GPS, radar detection, satellite location gear, computerized suspension adjustment for road conditions and even CB radio rigged to blue tooth and helmet earphones. The preferred ride for the majority of long distance riders is the venerable BMW R1200GS, considered by most to the Rock of Gibraltar on wheels. Most other similar models are thinly failed copies.

Accordingly, my trip to the Balkans last week was a tour de force of long distance riding to accommodate as many sites as possible in the time allotted, which turned out to be about 1500 miles in ten riding days. I did manage to get it all in and recorded most of it on (digital) film that I have made into a high-resolution movie. The movie is definitely in high definition and if you click on the wide screen at the bottom right of your screen, you can fill your computer screen with high-resolution photos.

Here it is: http://youtu.be/XTTZkE9X3Qg


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