I’ve been riding now for more than three weeks and every day I meet someone new. In addition to the amazing women I meet on purpose, I talk to many people by chance. Bike touring, unlike car travel, invites a million curious questions. The first of these questions is always:

1. Where are you going?

Depending on my mood, I say where I’m stopping for the night, where I’m headed in the more short term (e.g. Seattle), or where I’ll eventually end up (Maine). In general, all the answers evoke some form of incredulity and more questions. A common follow up is:

2. Are you really all alone? Don’t you get lonely?

On the spot, I have never answered this question particularly well. But I’m intrigued by people’s concern for my loneliness, and so have been thinking about the idea. Here are my current thoughts:

For me, being on a solo adventure is good. It gives me time and space to reflect on the companionship that I have had and decisions that I’ve made. Good memories bring a smile to my riding and reenergize my spirit. I can ride along for hours laughing, singing, and reveling in long-lost happy memories.

Just as important as these joyous recollections, though, are the memories of times of difficulty. Dredging through past doubts, times of disappointment, and broken relationships reminds me who I have been, who I am, and who I strive to become.

To me, then, being alone is not lonely. Where loneliness would be pining for human connection, my being alone is active introspection, it’s finding strength in unknown capability, and it’s becoming okay with myself.

Even that part of myself that’s yelling at the rain because it’s cold and wet and annoying. She’s me and I am her and we are one. There’s no escaping her, she’s my companion for life.