I got so used to riding with people that I truly didn’t look forward to riding solo. I asked people if they would ride the 64-mile Old Man Winter course with me and I was met with “no.”
So it was either don’t ride at all or buck up and ride by myself. I looked to see how far of a drive it was to the course start – 64 minutes. I realized this would be a day, like, an all-day thing. I want into that.
So then I was like, “Well, what gravel is around here that I don’t have to drive to?” I needed a few hours and solid practice on gravel, dirt, ice, climbs, and all the things I’ve heard about this course.
First, I scheduled social media posts for clients, then for myself, then practiced Adobe Illustrator. I checked the weather. I started my laundry.
After several hours of procrastinating, I finally got outside.
The plan was to be a bit adventurous: go to Chatfield and find the path that encircles the reservoir. I went an extra mile down a dirt path trampled by horses. A mixture of deep pits, choppy gravel, and loose sand had me questioning my decision to explore.
I took myself off the path, thinking it’d connect me to where I wanted to go, and instead, I found myself in a thicket of trees and grass and no path.
I doubled back.
Back through the curdled gravel and mud, past a few relaxed horses, until I found a different path. I followed this for a while and ended up near a marine. I missed the trail again.
I saw a couple heading the opposite direction so I followed them. I was searching for the high line canal that would connect me to a neighborhood near Santa Fe. Never found it.
Once I hit the dirt road on top of the dam, I was done exploring.
I saw several people I knew riding alone as well. We used to be on the same team. Here I was, riding in my unbranded kit as they rode by in their new team kits. A pang of FOMO hit me as they pedaled by.
Did I make the right choice to leave the team?
Yes (story for another time).
As weird as it feels watching them post their team rides together, I see just as many of them riding alone.
Riding by yourself doesn’t mean you’re alone. It doesn’t mean you don’t have friends. It means you’re schedule didn’t work with anyone else’s at the time. It means you chose a course ain’t nobody else was interested in riding.
As someone who strives to do her own thing, it’s ironic how nervous I was to actually go ride alone.
What if I get lost?
What if I fall and hurt myself pretty bad and can’t walk or move?
What if I have to be alone with my thoughts?
I realized I worried over nothing. I was actually unprepared, completely forgetting to grab a spare tube in case I flatted.
I think a lot of us are nervous to go alone. It’s our fault if things go awry. Our fault if we get lost or hurt or bored or talk to ourselves and hear our thoughts. I usually think riding by myself is boring. But any time I’ve ridden alone, I’ve always found a way to entertain myself.
I know I’m not a boring person. I can tell stories all day long.
So what’s up with riding alone?
I think it’s because there isn’t a screen or book or piece of paper to distract me. It’s just me and an open path. Some people really get their kicks by riding with no direction in sight. They seek to get lost. They like unknown destinations.
I like adventures that are planned. I don’t like getting lost. I don’t like not knowing where I’m going or what I’m doing.
Give me the 5 W’s and How.
That’s probably why I prefer to ride with others who have a plan.
The bike is my destressor, my stress relief, my outlet. I don’t like having to figure out where to ride, for how long, how hard, blah blah blah. Especially when I’m training for a monster of a race. I like outlines, plans, analytics, times.
The trainer is safe. It’s a controlled environment.
Riding outside alone is uncontrolled. So much shit can happen and I don’t know if I’m prepared for it. I guess that’s what happens when I second-guess myself all the time. I have to listen to myself think the whole time.
There isn’t anything to distract me from myself and maybe that’s the whole point.
Being alone with myself means I have to face my incessant thoughts. My brain doesn’t turn off. I can’t drown out my brain vomit.
I went out and rode anyway because fuck it. Facing your shit is the only way to conquer it. You can’t avoid yourself. I chose to ride alone, risk getting lost in search for the unbeaten path, and I was totally fine and just a little muddy.