This is a topic which is very quick to split opinions. Some love group rides and some hate them. I’m the latter. Don’t get me wrong, a small numbered group ride, say two of three friends is fine. More than fine, it’s highly enjoyable. I personally find when numbers grow, and your pal invites his pal, and they invite their pals, and so on it, all gets a little out of hand.
Fun in numbers?
Whilst the company that comes with riding in a group is often welcome and in some situations can be a bonus. If you break down having some pals around who might have tools, or provisions can make a massive difference to sitting at the side of the road on your own.
Much needed alone time?
In contrast, riding alone can be equally enjoyable, allowing the rider to enjoy the peace and quiet and the me-time that so many people often crave. Another big plus point to riding alone is you can go wherever you want, whenever you want. Cater the route to your favourite roads, stop for your favourite food and drink, and don’t worry about the slowpokes or gas guzzlers. Fancy a quick 20 min blast, or a 10-hour cruise, it doesn’t matter as it’s just you, and nobody else will moan (maybe).
You can go when you want
We all know what group rides are like. You wake up, and already have one text message with a person cancelling. You get to the meeting point nice and early, in preparation, and another rings saying he will be half an hour late. Then once he arrives, people need to fill up with fuel. By the time all that is done, if you were on your own, you could be well up the road and making significant progress. Plus one point to riding alone?
You can stop when you want
Breathtaking scenery for that ideal gram pic, need a wee stop or short on fuel or are you just lost? If you are alone there will be no moaning if you want to stop and take five. Go at your own pace and enjoy your day out. You won’t be holding anybody else up, and if you want to stop every mile for a photo, it won’t annoy anybody. Imagine doing that in a group ride, people will get frustrated quickly, even if you are with Instagram queens!
Want to focus on a particular area of your riding?
We are all guilty of struggling with one aspect of riding. Does a particular corner catch you out, can’t get the right line through roundabouts, or are you testing a suspension tweak? That’s fine if you are just looping the same route for practice. If you are on your own nobody else following will get déjà vu with directions!
That said riding with others can be a great confidence booster, especially when following others. The one issue comes when riding with unknown other riders. When you frequently ride with the same group, things become second nature, and familiar. You’ll learn different riders styles, traits and even predict what and when they are going to do.
Enter the unknown
When riding with unknowns, this isn’t established and what could be predictable with your mates can become irregular and unpredictable. This unfamiliarity can cause pauses and stutters, which can put you in situations less desired.
Sometimes the competitive nature can get the best of us when in a group ride, as everybody tries to keep up with each other. Naturally, a faster average speed can cause issues with speed limits, so always remember it’s not a race, and to ride at a pace you are happy with.