I have been biking for a few years now and the majority of the time I am on my own. If I put a rule down that I would never ride alone, then I would have probably sacked biking off a while back or be going stir crazy stuck on a turbo trainer. I love the escapism of biking and getting away from it all and everyone. If you can’t tell I am very content in my own company! Don’t get me wrong I enjoy group rides, but there are times when I just want to go at my pace or I don’t have the same days off as others so head out on my todd. It doesn’t bother me, but am I going to get caught out at some point?
Know one knows
It has occurred to me that on all my solo rides absolutely no one knows where I am going! Half of the time I don’t know where I will end up, so how can I share that with someone and who is the other one. I live alone and don’t have a go to person if I am in trouble close to me…hmm, this isn’t looking great for me just now (sensing my mum will be getting a bit worried just now!). There is now handy technology in phones such as ‘Find Friends’ on the iPhone, so people who you have let follow you can check where you are. There is also Strava, which I do have on for the majority of my rides where on Premium you can share your location with a couple of people, so they can keep tabs on you. In both of these cases I have not used these features, but maybe I should.
Day time, Night time
I don’t know about you, but going out during the day on your own seems less of an issue than going out for a solo night ride. Yeah there may be more people about in the day, but night riding is so fun! I know there are even fewer people who I would go out with in the night, so that would mean I would hardly get out in the night if I didn’t go out alone.
There is a heightened sense of danger I guess when riding at night, but this coincides with an increase sense of cautiousness in my riding. Arguably there is no greater danger if you are riding places you know well with lights that light up the night (you know which ones I’m talking about…Exposure Lights).
There is however the thought that typically fewer people ride at night, so there is the thought that if the unfortunate happens and you crash, it may be a while until someone comes to find you. This is however quite a pessimistic view, which would send me out in full body armour, full face and only ride up and down my street. I should get a good work out then, I think not. To ride where you always do is probably the best way to reduce these factors as well sticking to a known trail centre where there is more often more people out and about!
I think I’m a bit of an outside, a recluse or just an anti-social worst, but I like a group ride now and then with the right people! Am I being too picky, most definitely. Am I creating my own problem, umm, looks like it. Should I change this and shut up, yes indeed. The issue is I’ve not found a group that head out when I’m free, ride at a pace I like or the trails that I can actually ride. This has all led to me just going out on my todd, still having a good time, but no social aspect whatsoever.
I have nothing against the local clubs around me, they are great for the guys that ride (yes, all bloke groups). The ladies groups such as Dame cycling at Forest of Dean and MTB Divas over Afan way are superb, when I can get there. I am in the middle and because (my own views here) that because Cwmcarn only offers 2 red graded trails that there is not the choice and variety suitable for group rides of mixed abilities (I know, I’ve tried getting a group together and it’s tough). This again leaves me just going out on my own because it’s simply easier, my pace, my time and nothing to organise, simple!
Is it me?
I do get the feeling that after I have ridden with a few people, especially the ladies that I come off as I need to go quick and don’t want to stop and therefore feel that they shouldn’t ride with me (not that they would say it). I know I like to climb and go out for long distance rides, but I can go slower and chill the beans too. The thing is that people don’t forget the time when you went off just to stay warm whilst the rest trundled up the climb and you are forever known as the fast one (it’s all relative to who you ride with). This then makes others feel that they would be slowing you down or making me wait. The thing is if I don’t want to ride with others, I won’t let people know, if I do then I am there to ride at whatever pace is going on. Yes I may play about a bit or sprint off and come back, but that is literally to keep myself warm or not feel like I’m lingering or waiting too much! The impression has been set and because I am not great at the whole conversation thing that if I can just plough on and ride then I’m happy, but I think I need to work on that. (not to self, be more sociable and learn how to talk more, hmm).
Times are a changing
There is now seemingly a massive push, boost of support and just raised profiles for womens riding, which is fab. It seems that there are many women in the same boat who go out alone because they don’t know where to look to find fellow riders or too intimidated to ride with a local group because they don’t think they are good enough or just can’t make the times they ride (that’s me included then!).
Hope Technology have started a ‘HopeTechWomen’ website, which was set up because one of the staff wanted to get out and ride with more like minded riders and just get more women out riding, so all built on the passion of the sport. Through the platform of Hope Technology they have the social media backing and profile to get these rides promoted really easily and the support of these rides are immense. As they are based up north the rides are understandable up there, but they did do a bit of a tour and came to the Forest of Dean and there was over 60 women there (where did they all come from!). It just shows that the women are willing, but need events to get out more often. I hope the success of it continues and myself and may others can tag along too!
Here’s there ethos of what it’s all about:
The idea behind Hopetech Women is to create a community whereby women can develop their knowledge of bikes, components and also their riding. We hope to inspire women to try something new, push their own personal boundaries and meet more women who ride.
There just need to be more of this stuff happening all around the country so that fewer women can get out and ride, feeling part of something and not always on there own.
I’m not going to Stop
There is a lot going for mountain biking in general, which is fantastic. This doesn’t change however how my life works out day to day though. Yes I need to ‘get out more’ as a few people may have mentioned to me (staying in and writing about it probably doesn’t help my case!). I need to say yes to going out on rides with people and not creating my own plans, but I will still head out solo to get the mileage in. I do find that I also love to get out alone to clear my head and shake off the day or start fresh. Through the winter Swift has come into play, so again solo riding , but in the comfort of my house (still anti-social though!). All I will say is that I will make more of a conscious effort to actually ride with other folk, but it won’t stop me going out alone too, case closed!
If anyone is close to me or fancies a meet up and ride then I’m all ears. I love checking out new places and meeting new people (I’m working on the people one, ha ha!). Whatever riding you do, just have fun that’s all it should be.