Solo riding

by on August 5, 2013
in Commentary

kittendrakesvilleA few weekends ago, I had the opportunity to spend an entire day riding by myself. Call me a weenie if you must, but I am finding I am just not that into it.

Now make no mistake, I’ve done shorter solo rides and (usually) enjoy them when I do. A few times, I’ve simply wheeled the bike out into the driveway to give it a cleaning, and decided to take off for a putt without planning or fanfare. Those are usually short, sweet, and fun. (The very first time I did this, it was early in my second season of riding and was a bit of a revelation – it occurred to me that there was no reason on earth why I couldn’t just hop on and go for a blow-the-cobs-out test ride. So I did! And came back exhilirated!)

Sometimes, if I know I want to ride but it’s too late to invite anyone and hubby doesn’t want to go with me, I might even pick a nearby destination and ride that by myself. I think this is the type of thing my friend was referring to when she said recently that she admired me for taking off on the solo rides: feeling confident enough, when others don’t feel like going, to just do it anyway. What usually happens to me on a ride like this, is I start out really enjoying myself, but after a fashion start feeling guilty and thinking in terms of “shoulds” – I should cut this short, I should get some laundry done, I should spend some time at home.

janetsolo33My recent trip to Drakesville, with my family out of town and no “shoulds” on the horizon, morphed into a real solo riding opportunity and so became kind of a test. Originally, a couple of friends were going to go with me. But their schedule changed at the last minute, and I was just stubborn enough not to let that alter my plans. Instead, I decided to see if, given the opportunity to take a longer solo ride, I could become really comfortable with being alone on a bike trip.

But even with a full day to ride alone, I found that I could not get past the “what if something happens” mentality. It went beyond simply being aware of potential hazards and looking for escape routes. I won’t expound on this too much because I don’t want to get morbid, but I definitely feel there is comfort in knowing someone else will be around if something goes wrong.

Aside from the short solo rides which are enjoyable until I start to over-think them, I also know that there are people who yearn to take an epic solo journey such as a cross-country trip or even a continuous nomadic experience with no end in sight. They save for it, plan for it, dream about it. Some of them even take it. I would imagine it is life-changing. I am not sure why I don’t share this dream. Without making assumptions about other peoples’ motivations, I wonder if it’s because I don’t ride for “big” reasons like escape or self-discovery. I just ride to enjoy the landscape, the view, the towns and the oddities along the way.

Now maybe 227 miles just wasn’t enough time to put my negative thoughts aside. Maybe one has to ride alone for a week or a month or a year before catching “the bug” to take an epic solo journey.

Maybe I dream too small, think too much, and worry needlessly.

Maybe I’m just not there yet. Maybe it’s just not a place I’m headed.

What are your thoughts? Do you enjoy – or even prefer – riding alone? Do you always ride alone and yearn for a “merry band” to ride with instead? Are you planning or dreaming of an epic solo journey?




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5 Responses to “Solo riding”
  1. Pam says:

    I think I’m more like you. I have taken some rather short solo rides, but I like riding with someone. As a newbie I was out riding alone and ended up dropping the bike on a curve. I didn’t get hurt, but it never occurred to me that I couldn’t pick up the bike. A guy finally stopped and picked it up for me. I’ve since watched teaching videos of how to do it!

    And I don’t like to take the lead. I get lost getting out of a parking lot so don’t put me out front.

  2. Toby says:

    While I have a ton of admiration for women who ride alone the majority of the time, I much prefer company. I love to read stories about cross-country solo journeys, but at this point don’t have the desire to do one myself. I almost wish I did because I do like to challenge myself. And even though I’m in my 4th season of riding, I still worry sometimes about the “what ifs”. Overall though I much prefer the company of my husband or good friends. It makes the riding more fun (to me) to share it with others who have the same love of riding. Who knows…maybe when I’m 60 I’ll get the “bug” and set off on a solo journey.

  3. JO says:

    As much as I like the idea of a cross country trip – I love to ride with other people. I often ride my bike to work – solo – and am quite comfortable with this, but when I’m out and about it’s nice to have company. Especially if I stop for a bite to eat – I don’t like sitting there by myself. I don’t have the gift of gab and find it hard to talk to complete strangers. So for me – riding solo is not as much fun

  4. Michele says:

    150-200 miles is about as far as i would care to go solo. Just think, had I not been brave enough to go solo I would never have met you last summer at the rock :) I too like the company and the security of knowing someone else is there if one should get into trouble or get lost and need to talk through routes! I ride to enjoy scenery etc but also just because that is where I feel at peace and riding with no phone calls or people talking to you is just the place I like to be to reflect on whatever I want to. So maybe one day I will be more comfortable on a longer journey by myself, I need to learn alot about how to fix my bike before doing so though ha ha ha.

  5. KathyW says:

    I like riding solo, although I feel very conspicuous. There aren’t a lot of opportunities for long rides in my busy life, but I go every chance I get!

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