Question: I’ve been mountain biking for years and recently purchased my first road bike. I love riding in groups but can’t stand training rides by myself. About an hour is all I can take. What’s the trick to longer solo rides? — Taylor O.
RBR Replies: Some people can ride all day by themselves — and prefer it. Others won’t even get on their bikes for an hour unless at least one person goes with them. It depends on motivation as well as personal psychology.
I fall into the loner category. When I started riding in the 1970s there weren’t any other cyclists in my small Colorado town, so I trained for years primarily by myself. Now we have a good Sunday group ride, but once a week with others is about my limit.
Here are some ideas to help you enjoy solo rides:
- Opt for scenic routes, if possible. I have varied terrain and enjoy looking at the mountain scenery, checking out the deer, elk and eagles, planning my strategy for the numerous climbs and generally having fun just riding the bike. The time flies.
- Vary your courses. I ride flats, hills and rolling stuff on my road bike, do some mountain biking on singletrack and also ride a cyclocross bike on routes that mix pavement, dirt roads and canal bank roads. Even if you have only one decent loop, you can add variety by riding it clockwise one day and in the opposite direction the next. This really does make a difference.
- Cogitate! Steady riding often stimulates creativity, so it’s a good time to work out problems or challenges you face. Sometimes ride-induced brainstorms are hard to remember, so consider stopping to record them on your phone.
Some riders use earbuds to listen to music or even audiobooks. This can be dangerous, however, because it’s hard to hear traffic and you might get too distracted. In fact, wearing earbuds is illegal in many states.
Coach John Hughes earned coaching certifications from USA Cycling and the National Strength and Conditioning Association. John’s cycling career includes course records in the Boston-Montreal-Boston 1200-km randonnée and the Furnace Creek 508, a Race Across AMerica (RAAM) qualifier. He has ridden solo RAAM twice and is a 5-time finisher of the 1200-km Paris-Brest-Paris. He has written over 40 eBooks and eArticles on cycling training and nutrition, available in RBR’s eBookstore at Coach John Hughes. Click to read John’s full bio.