The Pros and Cons of Adventuring Solo
I have always loved the challenge of camping and riding my bike alone. While it can be difficult at times, I find that it usually opens up opportunities that might not have appeared if I was riding with a friend or in a group. I get asked so often about what it’s like to bike tour alone that I decided to examine the pros and cons in this handy list!
The Not So Good:
- Camping alone as a woman, I can’t lie…sometimes I wonder what would happen if someone with bad intentions came into my campsite. On the handful of bike tours I’ve done with one of my guy friends, I’ll admit that when someone stumbles into the campsite in the middle of the night and shines a light on my tent (this happened when I rode from Melbourne to Adelaide last year) it’s pretty reassuring to have a friend camping next to you!
- Decision-making is done alone, so you only have yourself to blame if you make a not so good one.
- You can’t split gear between multiple people to share weight, so everything you need you have to be able to fit in your own bags…which usually means a much smaller tent!
- It’s hard to get cool pictures or video of yourself being a solo bike touring superstar! Most of my photos are taken on a timer or by friendly hikers.
The Good Stuff:
- Flying solo means never arguing over route! You can go where you want any way you want. Route change in the middle of a big ride to check out something cool? No problem. Hear about a sketchy shortcut or a secret swim hole from a local? Definitely!
- Food. One of the worst things ever is being stuck in a grocery shop with someone who doesn’t know what they want and doesn’t want to eat anything you suggest. I’ve never had this problem riding alone! I have enjoyed some questionable meals on bike tours (sometimes after a few hundred or thousand kilometers strange things start to sound delicious…well, anything pretty much sounds good!). One of my favourites has to be wraps with Every. Single. Thing. Here I am after some hikers at the end of their journey gifted me with smoked salmon and ONE KILO of cheese! (Luckily in this instance I had a riding buddy for once!)
- People are a lot more likely to offer you help if you’re alone. On a bike tour, these people are called Trail Angels. They might pull their car over to pass you a cold beer, or offer a couch for the night.
- You can listen to any music or podcast or even nothing but the wind and your own thoughts without another person jabbering in your ear.
- Bike touring solo means only having to worry about gear for one person! That means you can bring smaller pots and other gear.
The last great thing about completing any big (or small) adventure alone is definitely the sense of accomplishment at the end. One of the biggest battles I’ve faced on all of my tours is the fight with my own brain! Adventuring into the wild alone means you have extra time and less distractions while thinking. This can be good or bad. Being alone while exploring is a mental game as much as it is a physical challenge. On rainy or cold days when your gear isn’t working and you’re out of reception and haven’t been able to touch base with friends or family, your own thoughts can run on repeat if you can’t find a way to break the cycle and stay positive!
But I’ve always found that even on the toughest tour, when I look back I still feel stoked that I overcame every obstacle using my own two legs and brain, and knowing that brings a smile to my face on every ride!
Written by our Ambassador Pepper Cook