Community, group riding and the obligatory cake (or pint) after a ride will always be a huge part of cycling and it will hopefully stay that way in future because it is one of our favourite parts of the sport. However, with the current international situation and the fact we are all under instruction to isolate and exercise independently, it is inevitable that we will all be doing more solo riding.
As much as we will all miss crushing routes with friends (or sitting on a strong rider’s back wheel), we must recognise the benefits of solo riding and how we can make it a motivational and enjoyable experience.
This blog aims to highlight the practical and phycological considerations when riding solo, plus a few tips to make riding alone awesome!
Training vs Cruising
In cycling, training and recreation rides normally sit in two different camps. We are either going flat out, chasing that KOM, average speed or FTP, or taking it easy, on the hunt for the best coffee shop in a 30-mile radius of our home.
With COVID-19 still firmly on the table we have to make the most of our one allocated slot of exercise a day, fitting both training and outdoor recreation into one ride. Why not try a session like the below to get the best of both worlds in an hour?
Warm Up: 10 minutes @ 50% of maximal effort
Session (26 mins) – Repeat x 4
3 minutes @ 70% of maximal effort
1 minute @ 85% of maximal effort
1 minute @ 100% of maximal effort
1 minute 30 seconds @ 50% of maximal effort
Chill (24 mins): Chill out and cruise the quietest roads you have ever ridden, stop a couple of times and appreciate the scenery, sun and smells associated with being outside. Make the most out of some ‘you’ time, it’s not very rock and rock but we all need to do it from time to time.
If you don’t want something as structured as the above, just set yourself some goals. It can be as simple as riding out to a spot you like at a healthy pace, relaxing for a few minutes and then a gentle roll back home.
We are creatures of habit, either planning a route before we ride using roads we know or just riding a route we have done a hundred times. During isolation it’s important we keep our mind active and curious, when you next head out on a ride try and take as many turns you have never made or roads you have never ridden before. I’m not saying take the slip road at junction 32 onto the M62, but make the right turn onto a small track you have always wanted to explore and see where it takes you. What is the worst that is going to happen?
But at the same time, remember to stay close to home and take care. Ask yourself, if you have an accident or bad mechanical could you quite easily make it home without relying on the emergency services.
Not a huge amount has to change here, you have a bike so you are pretty much ready to go! However, there are a few considerations in the kit department to make when riding alone. The first, ensure you have everything you need to repair a puncture, and more importantly reinflation. Cyclists are renound for relying on ‘someone’ in the group to have a pump or C02, sadly this isn’t the case when you are hitting the tarmac alone.
Make sure you can be seen on the roads, some good reflective clothing and a day bright light on the back could make all the difference.
Take your new found time to give your bike that deep clean and wash ahead of summer it has always wanted.
Riding solo is only monotonous if we let it become repetitive and unexciting. Make the changes to your route, shift your attention from training to relaxing back and forth and ensure you are kitted out to ride safely alone.
And remember one of the main positives of all of this, you can’t get dropped when you are riding alone!
From all at the Fred Whitton Challenge.