Photo by Ryan Creary. Story by Rob Story
Yes, riding by yourself invites humiliation and shame—not unlike the scene in ‘The Lonely Guy’ when Steve Martin requests a table for one, horrifying the maître d’ and triggering a spotlight to follow his forlorn march through a hushed, staring crowd. But if you’re secure and confident—if you have
friends but don’t necessarily want to pedal with them 24/7—you’ll enjoy it.
How you exercise any particular day doesn’t define you forever. It’s not like striking out alone one week is monumentally stupid and life-wrecking, like David Lee Roth’s decision to go solo.
Henry David Thoreau was right when he wrote, “I never found the companion that was so companionable as solitude.”
A solo ride doesn’t make you a misanthropic creep. It might make you someone who has only 45 minutes for a quick weekday spin between finishing Project X and cruising through In-N-Out’s drive-thru on the way back from the trail. When you adhere to no one’s schedule but your own,
great lunch rides happen.
You’re an asshole if you listen to an iPod during a group ride. Same if you text or tweet or talk on any device. When you plan a ride with others, you tacitly agree to hear their boring narratives and overheated breathing.
But solo? Earbuds are perfectly fine.
Do you really need the company of another carbon-based life form to validate the ride? Naah. Turns out, you need fellow carbon-based life forms to loan you some lube.
Last fall, I was riding, alone, up a technical trail when my overinflated front tire bounced funny above the most exposed section. In a nanosecond, I was cartwheeling through sharp boulders, on a slope so steep I Absolutely Could Not Stop. I wound up—contused badly on butt and legs, screaming in pain
over a torn thumb ligament—40 feet downhill from the trail. My bike was 20 feet lower, suffering a broken spoke and flattened rear tire from the impact. Or impacts. I became dimly aware that no one was available to help. Though bleeding from seven new body holes, I would need to fix things. But that’s the great thing about going solo: It crystallizes experience. Riding alone makes you a true mountain biker.