To Two-Up Or Not To Two-Up...

Exhaust Notes

I'm a solo rider. Not a militant "lone wolf" kinda guy, just someone who prefers the simplicity and tranquility of riding by myself. I can't imagine why I would need music in my helmet and the only thing in the seat behind me is generally covered in zippers and pockets. So why was I swapping saddles, adding luggage and installing the first sissy bar in my 35-year riding career? A fine question and one that initially I found difficult to answer.

Within days, I'd be on an 800-plus mile journey across four states, and for the first time, I'd have a passenger. Not just any passenger, but my beloved wife and mother of my children. I was elated to finally share my passion for big rides, terrified the love of my life may be subjected to even the slightest danger... and just a little put off that I would not be riding alone. The mixed bag of emotions also included a new level of obsessive-compulsive bike prep. Red (super-strong, takes special tools to remove it) Loctite was probably not necessary for the passenger backrest, and I'm pretty sure that two flat repair kits is overkill. The prospect of riding two up had not only introduced some seriously conflicted sentiments, but had now added a new level of stress to a task that I had once truly enjoyed. This had all seemed like such a good idea in the beginning and now I found myself measuring suspension sag with a micrometer.

The day of reckoning came all too quickly and, rising before the sun, stomach in knots, we aimed due East across the California desert. My trepidation was for naught, as somewhere around Palm Springs the emotional weight of riding two up began to lift. I took a deep breath, relaxed and relished the sensation of arms around my waist and the warm body leaning into mine. The pink helmet filling my left mirror framed eyes that showed a little of the wild streak I remembered from our youth. I couldn't help but reach back and pull her closer. The next few hundred miles changed my outlook on riding as a pair. We abstained from electronic communications, even the on-board radio lay dormant, yet we were more than content and seemed to always know what the other was thinking. The beauty of the open desert was plenty entertaining.

The miles passed as did the available light and our day ended with a spectacular dinner that included close friends and more than a few tales from the road. For a while I watched quietly as my very animated wife described the sheer freedom and joy riding can bring, hard to argue that point, and more than cool to hear it coming from someone other than myself. The next morning we got up early, and fought the Phoenix traffic before crossing New Mexico and breaking into Texas. A newfound appreciation for shared riding and open roads permeated most of our conversations and it was pretty clear I was no longer a solo rider.