"The solo side of the sport is what brings me the most joy", wrote Tom Couzens in our most-read story on the site this week.
I'm aware of the old saying, 'it takes all kinds' - but - has he lost his mind?
I, like Tom, spend the majority of my time on the bike solo. However, this is due to the fact that - at present - my body clock is most closely matched to that of a toddler (the root cause of the disruption). Riding at weird times gives me the best chance of riding, but there's nothing I miss more than heading out with a group.
As well as choosing when you set off, Tom also listed the ability to set your own route, dictate the pace, mentally switch off, challenge yourself, and safety as reasons for his preference.
With all due respect to one of our long-term contributors, I'll proceed to vehemently disagree.
Solo riding is a “needs must” solution to maintaining adequate fitness for the real joy; the rides where memories are made.
When I ransack my brain for the most memorable of rides, every one of them involves company. Playing cat-and-mouse with my favourite riding buddy up Gran Canria’s Valley of the Tears (she, suited to steep slopes, me the ‘tester’ gradients); the Swiss Alps with pretty much every cycling journalist in the industry at the time. Closer to home, jumping between the wheels of teammates through the Surrey Hills, smashing a paceline at Herne Hill Velodrome before cowering under the cover when the rain came, and calmer sundowners across the South Downs.
Club rides, team rides, group rides, rides with friends - whatever they are to you - are the lifeblood of our sport. Without them, how would we school beginners in the art of nonchalant half-wheeling? On a more serious note, how would we identify and develop new talent?
Perhaps I’m guilty of a little ‘grass is always greener’ thinking. I’ve not had the pleasure of quite so many group excursions in recent months, but a chance trip to the Cycling Weekly office last week served as a heady reminder how much fun it is spin the legs behind the comfort of a windbreaker, 'chat bike' actually on the bike, skip from wheel to wheel - and, of course - win the town sign sprint.
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