A homage to solo riding

Tuesday 31 March 2020 by Frank Jansen

Many cyclists around me are complaining about the social distancing rules that have been imposed. #Ridesolo seems to be a huge safrice. During my last few rides I stumbled into lots of duo's and one or two trio's. I didn't see any larger groups. Apparently, cycling seems to be a social sport. Not for me. I prefer riding solo, and I'll explain why.

Photo: Frank Jansen

Of course I enjoy riding in a small group. Of course I like a good conversation on the road. I really like a beer and a chat after a training. Still, the majority of the kilometers I deliberately ride solo. In my opinion this has many advantages and very little cons. Obviously, your average speed will be lower and you'll to have to fight the wind 50% of the time. But opposed to that, there are many benefits. 

  • When riding solo, I determine my own route. I'm quite snobby when it comes to routes. Routes built by one my cycling buddies usually aggravate me my like hell. Cobblestones, bad tarmac, villages/cities, cycling lanes next to crowded roads: I don't like all of it.
  • I decide which at which pace I want to ride. I do a sprint when I fancy. Go all out on a hill when I want Or not. Hands on the handlebars and easy riding to the max. A heavy interval training? Much easier riding solo than doing that in a group. 
  • I stop only when I want to, and where I want. Usually that's not very often. I take a picture, fill my water bottles and that's it. Extensive apple pie stops are not for me. If I've been away from home for 3h11, my cycling time was something like 3h05. I don't have to ride towards a meeting point, wait for a poorly trained cycling buddy who has badly maintained gear, the wrong clothing and no food. I don't have to take anything into account whatsoever.
  • When riding solo, differences in performance levels are non-existent. You don't have to push yourself over your limit to keep up with a group that's too fast. You don't have to be afraid you're going too fast for the other group members. 
  • Riding solo is much safer than group riding. Your view on the road is always perfect, and getting entangled in one another's wheel is impossible. Playing pro cyclist is also out of the question. Alone, you're not bothering other people either.
  • You don't have to commit to riding on a set time. I ride when I want to and when the weather's good. In the event of rain on a Sunday morning, I don't mind riding on Saturday afternoon. Riding solo creates a lot of freedom. 

But the single largest advantage is the sheer silence it creates. 2-3 hours of total quietness. No social media, no news, no music. Simply riding and enjoying the surroundings. Clear your head. I've experienced my brightest moments while riding. Sometimes I even stop alongside the road to make a note about something I just made up. Most of the idea for articles on this website are created while riding. 

The moral of the story: #ride solo is something you should definitely try, even without corona. 

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