If you’re reading this, chances are you’ve felt a bit listless or uninspired while on a solo ride or perhaps haven’t yet found the drive to venture out on your own. Well, we have some good news for you! Solo rides can be hugely rewarding, and with a little preparation and imagination—they can add a whole other dimension to your love of the sport.
So, whether you’re looking for more stress relief, to stick to an ambitious training plan or just enjoy the freedom and enhanced mental fortitude that cycling on your own can bring—here are a few simple ways to get the most out of the experience!
Always set a goal for yourself
One of the most gratifying things about riding alone is that you will learn to challenge yourself simply for the sake of it. Even if you’re not working towards a specific training objective, being aware of something you’d like to improve can help make the whole experience a lot more enjoyable. For example, you can use the ride to work on your breathing, learn to calm yourself when the going gets tough on a big climb or practice spinning the pedals more efficiently. These are all little details that can be more difficult to focus on during a group ride but can really improve how you feel on a bike. You’ll also discover just how much inner discipline you really have and might end up being encouraged to pursue more ambitious goals on future rides.
Maybe skip the road less travelled
Exploring new areas by bicycle can be a lot of fun but it is essential to be mindful and realistic when going at it alone. Especially if you’re newer to cycling or haven’t done a lot of solo riding, you’ll definitely want to know your surroundings well and stick to a fairly set route. You might be tempted to let your intuition guide you but remember that if you opt to venture off on a road you’ve never been on before, you could encounter wildlife or other hazards you might not necessarily be prepared to deal with. Getting lost is also a real possibility and, although it may seem hard to believe, there are still plenty of rural areas where your phone signal may be minimal or non-existent. When it’s just you and your bike, it’s a better plan to stick to routes you’re familiar with and save itching that explorer’s scratch for when you have a companion or two to help out if something unexpected happens.
Plan a route before departure
Speaking of which, you’ll be able to enjoy your ride a lot more if you’re not constantly stopping to check a map or making spontaneous decisions about which way to go. Sometimes, when we ride with a large group, we may leave the navigation duties to others and don’t end up with a lot of experience following a route while riding. You can make it easier on yourself by researching roads and thoroughfares, and taking advantage of the latest technology by utilising a cycling computer with GPS navigation. We’d also suggest that you always have a backup plan. You never know when a road you planned to take might be closed for construction or if the weather is going to cooperate. Finally, it’s a good idea to share your ride information with a friend or family member, so you have the peace of mind that someone will check in if things go amiss.
Lean into the freedom
Especially if you’re used to cycling in a big, boisterous group, riding alone might seem tedious at first. But really, you’re being given the opportunity to experience total freedom on your bike and feel empowered to try new things. Being on your own with just a set of wheels can be much more meditative and allows you to let your mind wander while you tap into the quiet, peaceful side of cycling. Make the most of this by permitting yourself to do whatever you want to do that day. If you want to go harder, do so or give yourself permission to take it easy if that’s what the body is craving. The freedom of doing whatever the heck you want when you want can be more fun than you might think.
Don’t skimp on the fuelling or pit stops
If half the reason you enjoy those weekend group rides are the cake stops that go along with them, there is no need to miss out on the fun just because you’re flying solo. Apply the same care and consideration to creating a pleasant experience for yourself as you would with any other ride—plan to visit a café you love or check out a new local hotspot. And if you’re doing something more remote, pack yourself a special snack or picnic to enjoy along the way. Sneak in a can of your favourite craft beer to enjoy at a lookout point and give yourself a pat on the back for indulging in a bit of multifaceted self-care.