The Mountain Bike Life

Group rides and riding with one or two of your best riding buddies is fun and is often what riding is all about. Your friends can push you and make you pedal that little bit harder. Rides like those are social and a lot of fun. As with most aspects of riding your bike there is a flip side. When you ride with the same group all of the time, you can lose sight of your own personal goals and ambitions on a bike. Or sometimes you might simply just not want to be on a quad busting, hootin-and-hollering kind of a ride. Even if you do decide to ride alone very often your favorite trails can be overrun with joggers, hikers, or other riders. Sometimes you even  show up to a trail head only to realize there is not even a parking spot in the entire area. Thinking of everything that comes along with a bike ride makes the idea of riding seem mentally exhausting. I know that sometimes I just need to hit my own personal reset button and march to the beat of my own drum in a secluded place.

Miles of switchbacks and single track all to myself.

Just going riding alone and taking a break from everyone and everything can really remind us of why we love riding our bikes so much. Sometimes you just need to get out there alone and clear your head. The hardest part is simply trying to find a trail that you can have all to your self. Often times our favorite trails and the most fun ones are constantly packed with people. It can make it hard to really feel as if you are in your own space. It is totally worth it to take some time every once and a while to ride a trail that’s less popular, or just a little inconvenient to get to. Often times there are reasons a lot of people do not ride certain trails; they might not be that exciting, well maintained, or may just be a bit further out of the city, however, a lot of the time its easier to guarantee you are the only one out there.

The unusual beauty of an empty trailhead.

Riding completely alone gives you time to reflect upon your riding and you can take the time to improve your skills. How often do we find ourselves riding along eyeing up that one scary rock garden short cut, that one drop we always wish we could hit, or a log ride or skinny off the side of the trail that just looks so far beyond our skill level at a passing glance. When riding with a group of people is is so easy to justify not attempting something new. You may not want to embarrass your self if you crash, or maybe you use the excuse of not wanting to hold up the ride attempted something new. So often our own trail inadequacies are all mental, and taking the opportunity to size up any feature on your own time and terms can put a lot of obstacles into perspective. Plus riding alone you can hike back up the trail twenty times just to find the perfect run in or line through an obstacle with no fear of impatient riding buddies.

Even “small” drops can be intimidating to a lot of riders. Especially when to going gets steep right afterwards. 

You can also focus on other aspects of riding or fitness that you want to improve. Maybe you have found your climbing skills to be lacking on the steep short climbs. Or maybe you want to get faster on your favorite Strava segment and get your first “KOM”. You can turn your pedals up that one steep climb that your riding buddies always avoid. You could even do it several times, as painful and idiotic as that sounds. You can take the time to practice small segments of trails that you want to improve on. Maybe it is some misguided racer boy inside of me, but I can get rather addicted to hitting the same one mile loop of trail again and again always looking for a faster line.

Blind corners can be particularly scary when riding alone.

You do not have to necessarily focus on pushing your self when you ride solo. Sometimes the best part about riding alone is the fact that you can just ride at your own pace. Maybe you are tired after a long week and just want to relax. You do not need to get all red in the face huffing and puffing away. Just relax and do what feels good. The ride that I set out on to take these photos was just that, a super mellow go at my own pace ride. Sometimes when you have been working long hours, you just want to relax. While some people will read a book or flip on the TV, nothing seems to relax me anything near as much as spending time outside moving my legs.

Not caring about whoever is behind me and not worrying about slowing anyone down.

One of my favorite parts of riding alone is taking the road less traveled. Sometimes that involves following deer tracks into the woods, maybe it means an all day back country epic to nowhere. Sometimes taking a trail you would not normally take can turn into the trail you always want to take. You never know what you might find.

Whosoever is delighted in solitude is either a wild beast, or a god. – Aristotle
It's The Only Hardtail I Got
All Trails Are Good