One from the vaults: I love riding on my lonesome

I realise that I now rarely write about my cycling which is what originally anchored this blog. Admittedly the various lockdowns took a toll of my kilometrage, I’m back to riding around the area on my lonesome – weather permitting. So I thought I’d revisit this post from 2016 which is still very pertinent.

Cycling Weekly had an article this week entitled “Eight reasons why riding alone is better than riding in a group.” This resonated with me because, I much prefer riding alone. I agreed with their reasoning but have put my own spin on it.

I can go when I want

The cycle clubs all have set-in-stone times throughout the year for the start of club rides which pay little heed to the weather or traffic. For most of the year I like to head out around 10:30, when the mercury has risen and the traffic has calmed down. The exception is high summer when I leave at around 07:00 to avoid the heat of the day. There’s no hanging about as I don’t have to wait for anyone, or meet anyone en route. Nor is there any problem if I leave earlier or later for my ride.

I can go where I want

I generally ride with a route in mind but, depending on how I feel – and the weather – I can extend or foreshorten it. I typically like to warm up on the flat before heading for any climbs. I also have routes that I only ride at certain times of the year. In winter the chill keeps me off the climbs and I hug the coast.

I confess that there are certain routes I’ll only do at the week-end when I know there will be other cyclists around, just in case I have a problem. These are areas where the mobile phone coverage is non-existent, the roads are very quiet during the week and there’s little or no habitation.

It’s easier to stick to my training plan

I like to ride to a training plan, even though I’m not training for anything in particular. It’s unlikely I’ll find anyone, should I even be so inclined, who’s following a similar plan. It’s hard to do interval or climbing training with anyone else, although it is handy to have someone else look at the stopwatch and shout encouragement. That’s where a trainer comes in handy but not a riding companion.

I can ride for as long (or as little) as I want

The length of my rides tend to be determined by the training plan but occasionally I’ll want to ride further and sometimes I’ll want to ride less. I can just head for home wherever and whenever I want.

I can ride at my pace

I found when I rode with the club, I wanted to ride faster on the flat and downhill but was slower than most going uphill. I tended to ping off the front and drop off the back of the group. I wasn’t really riding with anyone and once I had to keep stopping for them to catch up, well………. Of course, it also means I can’t get dropped and others don’t have to wait for me.

I don’t have to keep stopping

When your riding companions are largely elderly (male) retirees, you have to stop a lot for comfort breaks. And, if it’s a particularly long ride, lunch. I don’t like to stop at all on long rides, particularly not for any length of time because it makes me feel far less inclined to get back on. I find it all a bit of a waste of time. I don’t mind stopping for a quick drink, or to fill up my bidons, or to use the facilities but that’s about it. I’m not one to hang about.

Though I can stop as many times as I want

Conversely, when I’m on my own I can stop to take pictures, answer my phone, or blow my nose without anyone minding. Sadly, I’ve never mastered the art of blowing my snot into the wind; it usually ends up on my face and jersey – not a good look! Nor can I do anything, such as answering my mobile, while riding hands free.

It gives me time to think

This is by far and away the best reason to ride on my own. I can enjoy the peace and quiet, clear my head and drink in my spectacular surroundings. I don’t have to make polite conversation or listen to inane chatter. If I’ve got a bit of a challenge, I can chew over the options for resolving it while I’m riding. I also find the kilometres seem to go by much faster. I know it’s an illusion, but it’s a good one.

I can fix my own punctures

Touch wood, it’s rare for me to get a puncture. But, if I do, I know how to change my inner tube. I should add that I’ve never once had to do so myself on the road. Usually, before I’ve even stopped, some gallant Frenchman (or men) will come to my rescue and within a matter of minutes, I’m back pedaling once more.

I should add that on the off-chance I lose my chain – rookie error – I keep a pair of disposable plastic gloves in my teeny, tiny saddle bag to put it back on without getting oily hands.

I’m never really alone on the road

Cyclists are a friendly bunch and I’m constantly waiving at riders I know, and don’t know, on the other side of the road and exchanging quick pleasantries with those I overtake or who overtake me. The latter group is much larger than the former. I know many of the local riders and they love shouting “Salut Cherie.” You’d have thought by now that the novelty would have worn off!

I can see the road ahead

In a bunch, you’re reliant on others to identify hazards. Some are better at doing this than others. I like to see the road ahead so I either ride at the head of the bunch or on my tod.

No one is sucking my wheel

Okay, so I’m not sheltered from the wind either but frankly you need to know how to ride in a cross or head wind and I’m pretty nifty in both.

No one is going to cross my front wheel

Hands up, how many times have you been taken out by a club-mate who hasn’t maintained his line and crossed your front wheel? Yeah, everyone! Not a problem if you’re riding on your own.

No one is training on my mountain

With so many professional riders and great amateurs training around here, the chances of getting a QOM are practically zilch. However, I have my own mountain, I’m training to be its Queen and no one else knows about it.

31 Comments on “One from the vaults: I love riding on my lonesome

  1. I’m pretty sure He-Man would agree with all your reasons b/c he too rides alone and rarely has ridden with anyone. Once in awhile he comes home with a story about catching up with a rider along his ride or a rider catching up with him and they chat while riding for a bit then one breaks away and he’s alone again just the way he likes it. Be safe out there!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I visit Austin at least once a year visiting my son. He gave up biking two years ago. He had told me about how racers who have the need for speed and KOMs like him, eventually learn to hate their bikes. It happened to him. When I visit now, I rent a bike from Mellow Johnny’s. and rider with adudeabikes. It’s always casual rides.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. I’ve never been taken down for touching a wheel, knock wood. In fact, just last week, my buddy Chuck and I were out and he moved left, sweeping my wheel but I stayed up. 😉 Great post, Sheree. Loved this one.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Glad you are back riding. In my Bretagne bikers are everywhere and at all levels. The team/ pros are ok but the leisure riders block and slow down everything, and we have narrow roads!

    Liked by 2 people

  5. This is how I felt when I used to run. So many running clubs in town which I preferred not to get involved with for the very same reasons you give for cycling.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Sounds perfect to me! Running, cycling, walking, I don’t like any of this in large groups. In Denmark they like to do basically everything in groups, it is their idea of “hygge” (cosiness).

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Wonderful post. I prefer riding alone also but recently got connected with a group that is pretty laid back and rides occasionally and on bike paths. My dad showed me how to change a tire when I was younger but haven’t had to try it yet. That was in the days before bikes had gears.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. 💜 Cool Control Freak; a Wise Man 👨, The Explorer Shackleton, was quoted by his son as saying “There is never the wrong type of weather; only the wrong type of clothes.”

    …💛💚💙…

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Well made points, Sheree. Glad you’re able to get back to outside riding.

    I think a mix of solo rides and occasionally with others is good. Especially for pacing; I’ve slowed down since quitting gnarly morning shop rides.

    But I am lacking riding partners these days. I don’t bike to social rides either for many of the reasons you mention.

    Whatever works for you!

    Liked by 2 people

  10. Those are all great points! I know how dangerous riding in groups can be, and I also love the alone time to think and clear my mind. I don’t ride, but I used to go for runs and like to walk by myself a lot.

    Liked by 2 people

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