We all have our preferences when it comes to cycling. Some of us like to hook-up with our cycling club for a gentle Sunday social. Others prefer to smash out a high-paced chain-gang ride – looking like a breakaway group in a one day race, with 5km to go. Sometimes its just nice to go for a solo ride. Just you, your bike and the road (or trail). But if you are just getting into cycling, or maybe you are more familiar with riding in a group, here are 6 basic tips for cycling solo.
If you are planning a Sunday solo ride (or any other day for that matter) it is more important than ever to make sure you are prepared for your ride. Make sure you carry out your pre-ride bike checks. This will help reduce the chances of getting a mechanical mid-ride. Make sure you have everything you need to take with you, ready in advance. Forgetting things like a bike pump, repair kit or spare inner tube(s) could leave you in an awkward spot if you get a puncture mid-ride. Likewise, depending on the length of the ride – remember to take an adequate amount of food, drink and some emergency cash. Running out of fluid 30 miles into a 50 mile ride is not pleasant.
Tell someone where you’re going
Some of you may be familiar with going for a ride before anyone else in the house is awake. But whatever time you go for a ride, if you’re heading out solo, it’s a good idea to let someone know where you are riding. You may have been cycling for years and know your planned route like the back of your hand – but riding alone can make you more vulnerable. Of course if you live on your own, you are probably unlikely to call your parents before your 6am outing. But make sure you carry a mobile phone that is well charged, in case of an emergency. Some cycling GPS computers have a ride tracker function. This sends a notification of your activity/location to your chosen party. Just make sure whoever it is knows they’re able to track you.
Ride your ride
Those of you who follow us on Twitter will have heard us say this often. Ride your ride means exactly that. If you are used to riding in a group or with a club, you will be familiar with things like – taking a turn on the front, or keeping the pace of the group (usually decided before setting off). But the nice thing about riding solo – is that you choose how you are going to ride. You may be on a mission to go (Strava) segment chasing, hunting down ‘PR’s or KOM’s’. Or you may be out for a ‘recovery ride’ and just taking the opportunity to spin the legs. Either way – riding solo means you can change your ride pace, distance or direction at any point.
It can be easy to just switch to auto pilot when you are cycling solo. This is especially true if you are familiar with the route. But when your riding on your own, it is even more important that you stay alert to what’s going on around you. Don’t forget – there isn’t other riders to call out potholes or obstacles in the road. It may also sound obvious but be ready for vehicles to pass you. Some cyclists like to ride listening to music and wearing earphones on solo rides. Whilst the jury is still out about whether this affects your overall awareness – it does make it even more important to be aware of vehicles behind you and passing you. Sadly, some drivers will overtake you closely – regardless of the available space, so stay switched on.
In case of emergencies
You don’t want to think about the bad things that could happen when you’re out for your ride. But the reality is that cycling can be dangerous and often through no fault of the rider – accidents can happen. If you’re riding at anytime, whether it be solo or a group ride, its a good idea to carry ID and any essential medical information. ID bracelets and tags are also a good investment as an alternative option. Wearing an ID bracelet (or tags) mean you don’t have to carry important documents like driving licenses as ID. Companies like OneLife ID allow you to put as much or as little information on a bracelet or ID tag, as you like. You can also include any medical information that could help first responders in the event of an accident.
Enjoy the ride
Cycling solo allows you some time to escape. Even if it is just a 20 minute ride. Its time away from the day to day. the to clear your head, brainstorm, plan or just focus on the ride itself. People will often think about the positive, physical health benefits of cycling, but it also has significant mental health benefits too. We have often been told by riders in our social media communities – that cycling has helped them with depression, anxiety and grief. There is a saying that often rings true – “you are only one ride away from a good mood”.
Whether you choose to ride solo or with a group or club – cycling is good for the mind, body and soul. It doesn’t matter weather you are cycling 5 miles a day or 200 miles a week – just enjoy the ride.