Tuesday, November 7, 2017
Riding Solo Or With A Group
Riding solo allows me to cycle when and where I want without having to modify my plans to fit the schedules of others. Solo cycling also means I can ride as fast or slow as I want without adjusting my speed so as not to pull ahead or lag behind another cyclist or group of riders. Almost all my rides when I first started cycling a few years ago were solo because, new the area where I was living, I did not know any other cyclists nor was aware of any cycling groups in the area. Early last year, however, I learned about a nearby cycling group that rode together one Saturday a month and I started joining in on their rides.
I participated in my first group ride with a bit of apprehension because I did not know if I would fit in and be able to keep up. The first few times I felt like an outsider but soon learned that I was one of the stronger riders in the group. I eventually came to know other cyclists in the group and the social aspects of group rides, from talking with others while riding next to them, to enjoying mid-ride or after ride meals together, became as much of the cycling experience as the actual riding. By the end of last year I felt so much a part of the group that I attended a pot-luck meal hosted by a couple of the organizers following the last group ride of the season and felt like I fit right in.
At the beginning of this year, I began riding with another but smaller cycling group that rides every Wednesday. While a few in the weekly cycling group are also part of the monthly group, there is not a lot of overlap and the two groups have very different feels while offering many of the same benefits.
On two separate occasions I have had to rely on others in one group or the other for help and support. Once when I flirted with heat exhaustion during a very warm and humid ride, a fellow rider stayed with me and watched over me until we arrived back at our cars. Another time, when my rear derailleur was ripped off my bike, rendering it inoperable, a couple fellow riders picked me up in their car and drove me and my bike several miles back to my car.
I still do not hesitate to cycle solo, and I appreciate the quiet solitude of solo cycling but have also come to appreciate and enjoy the comradery offered by both my cycling groups. They have become part of my larger social fabric and a sort of cycling support group. My life has been enriched by riding with these other cyclists and I would miss them and their fellowship if I were to no longer ride with them.
You might also be interested in a series of posts about my cycling trip from DC to Pittsburgh along the C & O Canal and Great Allegheny Passage.