While many women LOVE going on group rides, there are many others (myself included) who actually prefer to ride by themselves.
And even if group rides are totally your jam, there might be days where riding solo makes more sense. Solo cycling allows you to fit in a ride on your own schedule, accomplish your training objectives, and get a little “me time.”
That said, there are many women who feel intimidated by heading out for a ride by themselves. They may be worried about their safety or be concerned about fixing their bike if it breaks down while they are out on their own.
In this article, I share 7 tips on how to bike by yourself–safely and confidently. These are all strategies I personally employ, and have gotten me through thousands and thousands of solo miles.
Have A Well-Stocked Saddle Bag or Hydration Pack
One thing I’ve seen over and over again is women going on group rides or pedaling with their significant other, and relying on others to have all the essentials. (I’ve been guilty of this myself when biking with my husband).
When riding by yourself, however, it’s critical that you have everything that you might need. Be self-reliant!
Make sure, at a minimum, to have the following in your saddle bag, hip pack, or hydration pack:
- A pump and/or CO2 cartridges
- A spare tube and/or tube patches
- Tire levers
- A bike-specific multi-tool
- A spare chain-link and chain breaker (if your multi-tool doesn’t include one)
- Spare calories–Clif Shot Blocks or a gel
For rides in more remote areas, you should also check out this list:
In terms of physical safety, you may also want to carry a whistle and/or pepper spray.
Carry Cash And A Fully Charged Cell Phone
This may seem like common sense, but common sense is not always common practice. Make sure your cell phone has a fully-charged battery before you leave the house. This will allow you to call for help, or navigate your way home if you get lost.
A bit of cash or a credit card is also a good idea. You never know when you might need to pay an entry fee, grab a snack from a convenience store, or buy a spare tube off of a fellow rider.
There are very few problems you can’t get out of with a cell phone and money.
Learn How To Fix Your Bike
Carrying a pump and tube isn’t going to help if you don’t know how to change a flat. Take time BEFORE you go ride by yourself to learn how to fix basic mechanical issues. This should include changing a flat tire, reattaching a slipped chain, repairing a broken chain, and using a multi-tool to tighten bolts or raise or lower your saddle.
You can learn any of these skills by watching YouTube videos, asking a friend to teach you, or by taking a local clinic for women. Many bike shops and women’s cycling clubs offer mechanical clinics for women periodically throughout the year.
Let Someone Know Where You’re Going….And Give Them A Way To Find You
Before you head out for a solo ride, let someone (your significant other, your best friend, your mom) know that you’re going and a general idea of what your route is going to be. It’s also a good idea to use modern technology to let them keep tabs on you.
If riding in a remote area without cell phone reception, a Spot tracker is a good idea. This little device requires a subscription fee but will allow your family to track you online, AND lets you send a request for help if you have an emergency.
If you’re staying in areas with reliable cell service, then you can share your location using one of the following:
- Location sharing feature in the Google Maps app
- Beacon via the safety pack ($2/mo) in the Strava app
- LiveTrack via your Garmin
- Real Time GPS Tracker app
- Road ID app
Carry Identification and Emergency Contact Information
God forbid something horrible happened to you, you want to make sure you have both identification (so first responders can figure out who you are) and emergency contract information (so they know who to call).
One really easy way to kill two birds with one stone is wearing a RoadID bracelet*. These customizable bracelets include information like your name, emergency contact numbers, and even medical info.
When Riding On The Road Make Sure You’re Visible
A big pack of cyclists is a lot more visible than a solo cyclist. (Although sadly, riding in a group doesn’t guarantee your safety either).
Still, you should make sure to focus on your visibility when riding alone on the road. I recommend focusing on 3 things:
- Make sure your bike is visible. Add reflective tape to your frame and/or add lights to your wheels.
- Make sure your body is visible. Choose shoes and a helmet that have reflective details. Pick out clothes that include high-vis fabric.
- Use lights. This is particularly important when riding in the dark or during hours just after sunrise and at dusk. For more tips, check out our post on riding in the dark.
Pick More Popular Trails
When riding off-road, you might want to consider how popular the trail is that you’re using. The more populated, the more likely you’ll be able to get help if needed.
While backcountry epics are awesome (and you may still choose to tackle these rides solo), it may make more sense to save them for days when you have a riding partner or two along.