Facing Fear and Finding Redemption on a Harley
by Carolyn Fox
Skyhorse Publishing, $11.55, 263pp.
Available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and independent booksellers
In the course of every life, few dodge the ups, downs and points between. It can be a wild ride, regardless of conveyance. The difference between the baggage author Carolyn Fox packed for the road and what readers might is that Fox lets us look inside, pulling back the cover revealing fear, vanity, a raw regret, bouts of self-doubt, and a contemplative process made possible, she believes, by the time spent alone on a Harley-Davidson. For those tagging along in print, the accomplished professional who seems to have it all together welcomes readers to turn the page and get beyond the glossy cover. As Carolyn Fox navigates back roads, warms the vinyl seats of America’s diners, turns heads and has hers turned while crossing the country alone, she figures these things out for herself.
The first step began with a leap; a long ride taken two decades ago.
Approaching her 50th birthday, with naïve bravado and impulsiveness, Fox determined the woman in the mirror up to the challenge of riding 50 states, roughly 14,000 miles solo. She packed a tent and pitched a partnership with KOA Campgrounds who’d use her journey to draw attention to their sites nationwide. The deal struck, what she’d find on the road would be both exhilarating, humbling and fraught with second, third and fourth guesses of her decision.
Fox admits to some missteps on the road, a couple that might have cost her her life. But if readers who ride are willing to admit it, we’ve made similar mistakes, at least in shades.
She describes how her load was made lighter by self-acceptance, forgiveness and humility. And lightened less fortunately by some warm gear she thought she’d ship home while still in balmy Florida. Oh, then there’s the tent that blew off somewhere in Virginia.
The trip found her getting real with being on her own, something she wanted to dial in before her adult sons left the nest. On the journey she experiences loss, injury, danger, a West Virginia breakdown and she’d break down what would be needed to make it home whole.
Late in the book, Fox is introspective about the how she might come to define her ride’s success or failure. She wrote, “Sometimes I’m like a mini-tornado that blows into town, whirls around, stirs things up and leaves. My hope is to encourage people to take a chance on life and do what makes them happy. If this whirlwind of activity makes a positive impact on people and my input makes them feel better about themselves, then this trip was a success.”
Could her epiphanies have come of spending time alone without a Harley-Davidson? Sure. But it doesn’t matter. Her generous and well-written journal of what happened on the highways and within herself makes a satisfying enough read.
Having published in July 2017, it’s easy to come away impressed by the now-73-year-old writer, mother, grandmother, pilot and retired attorney for putting herself out there for us all. The writing style is a tad wordier than necessary, but a patient reader will find inspiration here.
I see Soul Rider being circulated like a re-used greeting card volleyed between friends, each recipient putting a note in the jacket before sending it off for someone else to do the same. I predict lumpy Christmas stockings that include an apple, orange, Brazil nuts (great source of selenium), wrapped taffy, and a 6” x 9” 263-page look into what a determined woman did at age 50.
And if it never finds its way back to your library, the $12 purchase won’t disappoint.