Throwing a leg over the seat of my motorcycle on the first day of my trip was a defining moment — a moment of courage. I was riding off to search for adventure, trading the comfort of friends and family for a six-week solo journey.

I’ve accepted the fact that I may face loneliness over the course of my trip. But the first few days on the road have been anything but lonely. Whenever I stop to eat or get gas, folks approach me to ask where I’m from and where I’m heading.

Driving the Interstate highways may be a quick way to get where you’re going, but they’re flat and uninspiring. Adventure is found along the back roads where you get up close and personal with the countryside. The chance of getting lost escalates, but the rewards are worth the risk.

And so I?found myself at the Blue Ridge Parkway in North Carolina, a motorcyling mecca with spectacular roads and views to match.

The countryside is dominated by the Appalachian Mountains; the ride through them turns out to be the most beautiful one I’ve ever been on. Lush, deciduous forests carpet the slopes from the valley floors up to the peaks. The light green of spring leaves softens the dark brown of towering trees; lilac and rhododendron blooms scent the air.

But the trip isn’t all about riding. One night, I was sitting in a bar in a small town called Maggie Valley, N.C., watching sports with the locals — the bartender was kind enough to turn one of the 22 TVs to the hockey game for me. The guy sitting next to me was a movie star whom I? recognized but couldn’t place; I?wasn’t about to ask who he was. Another table had eight state troopers, looking polished but dangerous what with the big guns on their belts.

I’m heading west tomorrow in search of sunshine. The California coast beckons.

Road trip
Metro columnist Michael Jackson has embarked on the trip of a lifetime. On May 1, he headed out for a six-week solo motorcycle trip across the U.S. and Canada — but to make things even more interesting, he plans to have something of a mobile office, managing his small business, a printing company, remotely while he’s on the road. But will Michael really be able to put work aside at those times when he’s trying to enjoy his trip??Will his bike break down, wreaking havoc on his itinerary and budget? And will he go stir crazy travelling by himself for so long? Follow his adventures every Wednesday in Metro to find out.

– Michael Jackson is embarking on a six-week motorcycle trip around North America. Track his progress at www.adventuremotorcycleroutes.ca.

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