Stay safe, and enjoy riding solo with these six tips.
Whether you love riding solo or prefer group rides, you will no doubt ride by yourself every once in a while. Solo rides can be freeing, more relaxed, and more focused. You can take the route you want, stop as often — or as little — as you’d like, and you don’t have any wheels to worry about bumping.
Despite this, many people struggle to put in those solo miles. They get bored easily, don’t have the motivation to go out and ride, or don’t know the best way to prepare for a long day in the saddle by themselves.
This blog post will highlight six tips for solo cycling, helping you have fun while staying safe and focused on your ride when it matters most!
1. Carry the essentials in your saddle bag
As you’re the only one riding, it’s even more important to check you have the essentials on your ride. Pack these in your saddle bag — a frame or bar bag also works — and avoid getting caught out.
But what should you pack?
We recommend the following:
- Spare tubes (at least 2)
- A compact pump or CO2
- Tyre levers
- A multi tool (ideally with a chain breaker)
- A spare chain link
- Energy gels, bars, and other food items
These items should be plenty to get you through most rides and mechanical issues on the bike.
And if you’re riding in a remote area, you should also bring a small first aid kit, just in case. It’s better to be safe than sorry!
2. Learn basic bike mechanics
You don’t need to be the best bike mechanic in the world, but if you’re going lone wolf, you should learn the very basics. For example, how to change a flat tyre, adjust your gears, put your chain back on if it slips off one of the rings, and how to break your chain and put it back together again using a simple chain link.
When riding alone, there’s nobody else to rely on. You are the group leader, and you’re responsible for making it back home in one piece.
Practise basic bike mechanics at home before heading out solo. You can easily practise changing inner tubes and fixing punctures, removing chain links, and familiarising yourself with your gears and how to index them.
3. Always carry a smartphone
You likely already do it, but if not, always carry your cell phone when cycling solo. If you get a puncture or a mechanical failure and can’t fix it, get lost, fall off your bike, or anything else, then you need to be able to call for help.
Store your cell phone in your cycling jersey pocket, or purchase a direct mount to secure your device to the bars or stem of your bike.
4. Tell someone where you’re going
When riding solo, tell someone where you’re going. It could be as simple as a quick text to a buddy or a loved one — tell them where you’re heading and what time you expect to return. And if you want to take it a step further, you can use location sharing on either Strava or Google Maps.
Strava beacon mode allows you to add contacts to get notified when you set off on a ride. This means no texting beforehand, but the same peace of mind during your ride. Your shared contacts can see where you are and what direction you’re headed.
That way, if you’re late because of a puncture, a mechanical, or even traffic, then they know not to worry, and when help might be required.
If you don’t use Strava, you can also use Google Maps location sharing with your contacts. Similar to Beacon mode, you can share your maps with a friend or family member, and they can see where you are, where you’re heading, and if, for whatever reason, you’ve stopped along the way.
Live tracking is also available on head units, including Garmin and Wahoo devices.
5. Plan your route carefully
If you normally ride in a group, someone else might be in charge of picking the route. So, when riding solo, you have more opportunities to explore off-the-beaten-track, visit new coffee shops, maybe try out some gravel, or take on that course record you’ve been eyeing up for some time.
But please note, when cycling by yourself, pay extra attention to your route. You might want to choose a more populated area with more cyclists in the event of a mechanical, or somewhere not too far from home if it’s your first time going long, just in case you bonk and hit a wall.
Remember to upload your route to Strava or your head unit beforehand, too. This means less getting lost and more riding!
And if route planning isn’t your strong suit, you can always check out apps such as Komoot for route ideas in your area.
6. Get your nutrition & hydration right
While your nutrition and hydration are important on group rides, it’s even more important on solo rides.
Get it wrong, and you’ll bonk, hit a wall, and run out of energy. It means that the ride home is going to be extra long, and there are no friends to fall back on, and no wheels to sit behind. But your nutrition and hydration don’t need to be complicated — it just requires additional attention!
Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water (and electrolytes on longer rides and hot days), and consume easy-to-digest carbohydrates, and eat every 20 to 30 minutes to avoid bonking.
If you want to be more precise with your nutrition and hydration, you can use the Styrkr fuel tool to calculate a fuel strategy tailored to you.
Riding solo can be exhilarating — it’s a time to explore on two wheels, take in the sights, and appreciate being outside and riding your bike.
Although, when riding solo, it’s even more important to consider your safety. Follow the advice in this blog post to stay safe while having fun.
Is it better to cycle alone or in a group?
Cycling in a group is usually safer and preferred by most riders. But there are benefits to riding solo as well! We recommend a mix of both.
Is it okay to cycle alone?
Yes! It’s normal to cycle alone, but proper planning is necessary. Bring all the essentials with you, and plan a route that you feel comfortable riding.
Is 15 mph average good for solo cycling?
Yes, this is a good average speed for solo cycling. However, average speed is not the best indicator of effort. Instead, we recommend relying on power or HR data.