Anyone out there remember that great George Thorogood song “I Drink Alone!” Google it if you haven’t heard it! I love it.
Now I do not make a habit of going to bars and drinking alone (though do NOT get me wrong, in my younger days….). I’ve already said on the trip along the OR coast I stopped for a beer (or two) and a burger at Rogue Ales. However, I DO ride alone. (da dadada da, all by myself, da dadada da…. sorry told you it was a great song!)
This, like most other things with biking, is up to each person’s personal preference. Solo rider vs. Group rider. Neither way is better or worse, it’s up to you.
So why do i ride alone?
Well first off, my friends think I am nuts. They see me posting about 100+ mile rides, or riding in 30 degree weather, riding to the top of a mountain pass, or getting snowed on in the Chilly Hilly, and they see no sane reason anyone would think about, let alone actually DO these things. My buddy Dave has offered to tag along on his motorcycle, but other than that….
I am also not wanting to be the cause of ruining someone’s ride or having mine ruined by someone else. If I crash and burn, get a flat, or had too much Squirrel Tooth Alice (one of my favorite Dusted Valley wines) the night before, it only messes with my ride. I would either have to leave a group (and there is always that nice person who says, “Oh I will hang with you, no biggie.” ) Or make everyone wait for me to change the tire.
conversely, if I am on a ride I have been looking forward to, or its the big ride of the year I don’t want anyone else’s bike issues to mess up my ride. Selfish? Maybe, but it’s how I feel. Now to redeem myself a bit, I am the first person to ask anyone on the side of the road if they need anything, I have helped change flats for beginners, and helped moms when their kids have gotten the pants caught in the chain. We riders help each other out.
Also I can stop and start any darn time I want to! I remember my first STP. I was coming up to the Vader food stop. I was low on water and REALLY wanted a cookie (well 5). So I stopped. As I got there, I could hear a large group behind me. “Food Stop! Anyone want to stop” “I will if you want to” “Well only if you want to” “We could go on to the next one” …. and this went on and on…. I became a devoted solo biker at that point!
Let’s not forget picture-taking! I like to stop at a moments notice to snap a few, one person takes up a WHOLE lot less space on a shoulder. PLus, this could become annoying after a while. SERIOUSLY, how many pictures of eagles do you need??? (Well lots, actually 🙂 )
Finally there is speed and endurance differences. I know my pace, I know that I can average 13+ MPH for hours! I get there when I get there. I am GREAT on hills and let gravity take me like the wind on the other side! Not everyone is like that. On the other hand, people pass me like the wind on the flats. I would slow them down. I could probably find someone who rides like I do, but that just seems like a WHOLE lotta work.
Plus it would be RUDE to wear ear buds and ignore your group.
I also ride in large support rides. 10000 of my best friends and I did the STP last year. In these rides you are always with people. Quick conversations or thumbs up, a “GO COUGS!” when I wear my favorite jersey. Its fun!
But to be fair, I know there are advantages to riding with people.
- Misery loves company, so it could make hard rides easier
- Sharing gear and repair tools, meaning you carry less
- Being challenged by the other person, you both improve
- Someone to take your picture
- Someone to stop the bleeding in case of a crash
- Someone to point and laugh at the crash (oh wait this may not be a good thing!)
So bottom line, pick what works best for you! Or do both, depending on the ride or the day. I love my solo adventures. When I succeed, I did it on my own, and I have the additional perk of a gorgeous wife who is either at the finish line on big rides, or at home on training rides, with whatever I need to recover from the day.
The key, as always, is just get your butt in the saddle and get out there!