Sunday, September 2, 2012

Road Stories - You ride _alone_?

I talk about riding and holidays. And inevitably, I get asked who I ride with

"So you're going with a group?"

"Nope, just me."

This often gets a double-take. It seems that there is an assumption that there is safety in numbers.

And, certainly, in some instances it's great to have someone else around. I have 2 friends I ride with and we have no problem spending days on the road together. Our riding and traveling styles are compatible and that's not nearly as simple as it sounds.

You have to want to rest when someone else does, stop when the first person gets to the point of not wanting to ride anymore and want to ride at similar speeds. You need to ensure you don't lose each other in traffic, when there is some, that you coordinate gas stops, food stops, bio-breaks.

You get the point. None of those things are really concerns when you are on your own.

I remember in 2007 when I split from Mike at the southern end of Crater Lake. He was heading south to California and I was heading back north. I felt odd riding by myself. No back up. Or so I thought.

Of course, I was wrong.

First of, you are your own backup. That means that you adjust your riding and the amount of risk you're willing to take. Not in terms of speed, but in being away from help if you need any. It also means learning about your bike, how it works, some basic fixes for common things that may go wrong on the roads and some basic spares, like spare tubes in case you have a flat.

Second, you have a cell phone and a BCAA (AAA). That goes a long way.

Finally, major highways, minor highways, secondary roads and even plenty of gravel roads are fairly well traveled. And people are nicer than you think. Not that I want to have to rely on the kindness of strangers, but most of the people I've met along my travels are actually very nice.

So, the 'danger' is mostly in peoples minds.

And the freedom of being the only one you have to consider, of being able to ride hard and push when you want, of resting when you feel like it and staying where you want for how long you want, well on some level that's one of the great joys of being on the open road.

There is one major issue to overcome though. Taking your own photo :)

But as you can see, even that can be overcome ;)

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