Cycling is one of the few sports you can have just as much fun playing alone, as with others. You can shoot hoops or throw a ball against the wall, but it’s definitely better when you have others to join in.
Of course, riding with others means drafting. You can mix up abilities by having the strong ones pull more, and the weaker riders sit in. It can also result with the urge to compete, and turning a coffee ride into a hammer fest
The pros and cons of riding alone
When you ride alone, you’re the boss. You choose the route. You choose when you start. Want to stick to the flats? Go for it. Feel like today’s a day for climbing? Head on over to the hills.
More importantly, you get to figure out the pace and distance. If you want to get out there and do a tempo ride or intervals, then you can follow your plan to the letter. No one will slow you down or change your training schedule. Or, if your legs are saying they need a break, you can use the day as a recovery ride.
The drawbacks of riding alone are exactly the same reasons. You get to decide the pace and distance. What happens if your training plan says you’re supposed to do a hard ride or hill repeats and you don’t feel motivated? If there’s no one to push you, you may find yourself cutting corners.
The pros and cons of riding in a group
There’s nothing quite as exhilarating as riding in a fast paceline. Jumping into a local group ride can make you ride further and faster than anything you’d do on your own. It’s also a good way to practise pack riding techniques which can be invaluable when you do your next race.
When you ride in a group, you’ll often face a mixed level of abilities. It’s a smart way to learn which wheels to follow, and which not to. Spotting someone who may seem a bit sketchy, or who may not be as comfortable in a pack can help you grow your sixth sense for races.
Of course, there are some things you can’t avoid. If someone gets a flat, you should probably wait for them to change it. If you’re in the mood to hammer, you may find yourself feeling impatient.
Plus, if you feel a bit spicy and want to attack off the front, but the pace is mellow, you’re going to seem like a bit of a jerk. Conversely, if your body needs a break and the ride is too hard, you may wear…