Certainly there are risks and situations when it would have been nice to have someone there with me, but in the main, I seem to be my own best company and so I don’t miss the companionship.
So I hear you ask, just what are the benefits, and what do I see as the risks or pitfalls of cycling on my own?
Having spent three weeks in the saddle recently, as I see it, they are:
I can be spontaneous and don’t have to form a committee and get consensus if plans change or an opportunity presents itself. On my own I am in control and I suspect that this is how I like it.
There is no timeframe, I can ride as fast or as slow as I like without inconveniencing anyone else.
Early starts for me are the norm. A typical day can see me up at 5am and can be fed, packed and on my bike soon after sunrise. With even one other person, getting away early would be much difficult.
My decisions are always right, even when it turns out that (perhaps) I should have taken the other turning, or stopped to get water at that last watering hole etc. etc. Riding on my own, I don’t have to quantify them to anyone else.
Looking vulnerable is an asset and riding alone sometimes gives this impression. On almost every ride when I am far from anywhere and riding down a dusty (or muddy) back road, a farmer will stop and check that I am alright. Do I need anything? Am I lost? Do I need water or just to chat. I like this unexpected interaction and have never had this when riding with a group.
Nature calls can be answered more easily without having to worry about offending others around me. I do need to be aware though of passing motorists who may not take kindly to my squat-spot. Not that this has been an issue so far!
Conversation does not interrupt my thoughts and I can retreat into that vast empty space in my head and just daydream about the most inconsequential things or about the road ahead. This really is one of my favourite places.
Self-confidence and personal growth is a direct result of cycling long distance unsupported. Those challenges are either solved or trip destroyers!
Promotes self-reliant on improves my problem solving skills in situations where I may otherwise have sought assistance.
There is more space in the tent for me and my stuff. No sharing required!
If I get sick, then I have to cure myself or stay where I am. There is no one to mop my fevered brow! You may want to add a minimalistic first aid kit.
Taking selfies is more difficult and time consuming, they often result in some bizarre angles.
There is a greater risk from human animal menace and I need to take precautions as much as possible to secure my safety
Evenings can be lonely, having set up camp and eaten by 6.30, what do I do now? N
There is no second opinion when on my own. As much as i will sometimes not want to admit it, there is a definite advantage in having someone to bounce ideas off when I am uncertain myself.
Equipment theft is always something that worries me. My “stuff” can be vulnerable at night amor when I am away from my bike, even for short periods.
Daily chores take longer. The task of setting up camp, cooking a meal, cleaning up etc. all take longer because I am responsible for everything. If I am tired or not feeling well, then this is even more of an issue.
Load sharing is not an option either. I have to carry all those shared items such as tent, food, cooking equipment etc. A travelling companion could carry some of these communal items, but on my own, I carry everything!
Travelling alone can be more expensive. The cost of camp fees, motel rooms or transport could have been shared. Buying food in larger quantities / packs can also save money and why is it so hard to find just one or two rolls of toilet paper? I know this tissue can be used for many things but I don’t need a six-pack!
Wow, once I started this list there were more things to each side of the discussion than I realised.
If you do travel alone, make sure you are well prepared, have considered all possibilities and above all, never put yourself at risk!
In the event of serious injury and you need to activate your Spot Emergency Beacon, you may not be lucid when help arrives and it is important that you have an emergency checklist on hand for the medics or police to reference.