Subscribe to receive:

Email Updates: Subscribe to Highway 12 Ventures RSS Feed via email
RSS Feed:        Subscribe to Highway 12 Ventures RSS Feed


Jul 02

Alone Time

Posted by: Mark Solon        

It’s very early in the morning the day before the July 4th weekend and I’m heading out on my road bike for some “Alone Time”. I’m going to pedal up to the top of the Boise foothills to Bogus Basin, our local ski hill. It’s a fairly brutal climb: 16 miles of nothing but uphill switchbacks with over 3000 vertical feet gained from Boise’s 2950 to the resort’s parking lot shortly after you pass the Elevation 6000 sign. Starting in April when the ski resort closes and the cars are gone, it’s tough for me to even make it to the top after a winter of hibernating at the gym. My first couple of rides usually take about 2 hours. By the end of the season, I’m under 90 minutes. (For perspective, it takes Olympic gold medalist (and Boise’s favorite daugther) Kristen Armstrong under an hour to do it).

A small stretch of Bogus Basin Road

A small stretch of Bogus Basin Road

Since falling in love with cycling a few years back, riding up Bogus Basin Road has become my favorite way to be “alone.” Because there’s nothing at the other end of the road besides the ski resort, there’s virtually no cars on the road from April-November and the climb is so tough that the only folks I see out there are the handful of knuckleheads like myself bent of proving something to themselves. Essentially, you own the road. It’s one of the most remarkable stretches of asphalt you’ll find anywhere. I believe that the Boise foothills are largely what differentiates us as a city. In the spring, they’re bursting green with sage brush, the sweet smell of sage overwhelming you as you climb. They’re also teeming with wildlife. I’ve seen countless deer, foxes, birds of prey, snakes (even rattlers, yikes!) and other varmints on my rides.

But what I love about riding Bogus the most, is being alone, and I mean really ALONE. The workout is the bonus. It’s one of the few times in my week that I get to participate in creative thought. “What the hell does a VC need to have creative thought for Mark?” I’m glad you asked. I think about a ton of things. I think about our portfolio companies and what more we can be doing to help them. I think about Highway 12 Ventures and how George, Phil, Glenn and I can build it into the very special firm that we envision, while the rest of the world seems to think that our industry is doomed. I don’t think just about work though. I think “creatively” about my family and what new things I can introduce into our lives to make them more fulfilling. For 90+ minutes up (believe me, the ONLY thing you want to be thinking about on the 20 minutes down is the bike and the road!), my mind seems more fertile than at any other time during the week. I know that my partner Phil (a lifelong pilot) has a similar experience as he glides over Idaho’s remarkable landscape.

Phil Reed in front of the Glasair he built

Phil Reed in front of the Glasair he built and spends "alone time" in

It’s not lost on me how incredibly privileged I am to have both the time and the geographical pluck to be able to do this. As a matter of fact, I never ride that hill without drinking in the beauty around me and thanking my personal higher spirit for what he’s given me. (I happen to be cursed/blessed with an internal 4:45am daily alarm clock that allows me to accomplish this, usually before my family is stirring).

However, I do think that everyone can find time to be alone, away from all of the noise in our lives. Away from the computer, away from our families, away from twitter and facebook and all the other input in our lives. The July 4th weekend is a great chance for you to start this routine. Sometime during the next three days, find 30 minutes to be completely alone. Take your dog for a long walk. Go run a couple of miles away from your usual route. Go to an art museum by yourself and reflect. It takes 30 days to form a habit. I promise that if you commit to creating “alone time for yourself” you’ll start coming up with more ideas than ever before about how to make the rest of your work and personal life richer. Have a safe and happy 4th of July!


10 Responses to “Alone Time”

  1. avatar Jason D Barr says:

    Great read, Mark. A few months ago, I realized that I hadn't really spent any significant time by myself for close to seven years! As an introvert, I'd become more and more cranky and upset with life, and couldn't figure out the reason why. Now I'm taking purposeful steps to ensure that I get that little amount of alone time every day for my own health, and for those around me. I'm a much nicer person this way. :)

  2. was just reading about this ride in the latest issue of Wired. Sounds like a blast and agree that alone time is key to getting a clear head and thinking longer term than the end of your nose.

    • avatar Mark Solon says:


      I was stoked to see your “early” Christmas present and have been following your recent exploits in Wyoming on the new Scott. Welcome to the world or road biking, it’s a blast! Looking forward to when we get get a few rides in together. - Best, Mark

  3. avatar Alicia Ritter says:

    Mark, I relate to this post more than you know. Many years ago when I lived in a very large state to the west, I used to sit in my tall, stuffy, boring, "oh so super important" corporate glass office and dream of driving along the large stretches of open highway between Winnemucca and Caldwell, where my grandma lived. I would tell people of the peace that came from doing 90 while staring out the window at the big fluffy white clouds plastered against the blue sky. This is where I did my best "no thinking." It is an amazing state to be able to go for miles — hours at a time — and not have anything distracting you. I know many people drive to think; I drove to not think. And, I am convinced that this mental sweep was what led to better more clear thinking when I did want to engage my brain cells. Our minds get so full of stuff, that we forget the power of turning off. Silence is a path to freedom. I'd prefer to drive the path in a car, but if you want to kill yourself hoofing it up a mountain by bike, be my guest. Bottom line…..same delightful end result. :)

    • avatar Mark Solon says:


      What a beautiful anecdote, you should blog! I love the picture you paint. Driving through the wide open spaces of this region is a real treat, and doing it alone is a wonderful way to just “be”. thanks for the thoughtful addition to our blog…

  4. Great post Mark! I strongly agree, some alone time is key for well-being. Last weekend we took a trip to the family cabin near Cascade (first overnight trip w/ the twins), and I had time to do a long, strenuous walk all by myself. I came back feeling relaxed, refreshed, and happy!

    • avatar Mark Solon says:

      Good for you Brian! i think too many people feel just getting away from work is enough. Being around your family is certainly the best in life, but there a certain perspective that can only be achieved by being very alone…

  5. avatar Kevin Learned says:

    Mark, you obviously hit a nerve with many people. I have been blessed with the same early morning clock (I delivered the morning paper my senior year in college for something productive to do). My favorite along thing to do in the summer is to hike up Table Rock and be on top as the summer sun is breaking the horizon. It's beautiful, peaceful, graceful. Sometimes I am rewarded with the serenade of coyotes calling; other times with a glimpse of the local deer herd. But always I am rewarded with the benefits of allowing my mind to wander while engaged in rigorous exercise.

Post a new comment