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  1. #1
    Senior Member szewczykm's Avatar
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    Occasional rider, a little lonely

    Two years ago I bought a Giant defy bike. I had grand plans my first year and I only rode a half dozen times. I decided to sell the bike but luckily, no one bought it at the price I wanted. Maybe that was my subconscus saying not to sell it.

    Last year I decided to get serious. I had the bike fitted for me, got a brooks seat, and rode about a dozen times. I have lots of excuses but I think the real reason is I feel fat and lonely when I'm riding.

    These great looking guys go past me like I'm standing still. I can go for 15 miles at a time, but I need breaks and the hills kill me. I'm a fairly social person but joining a bike club when your just starting... I don't know, I don't want to embarrass myself or be 'that guy' holding up the group.

    I live in Woodstock, il.... I guess I'm asking where I should go to find people like myself. I know I'd ride more if it wasn't so solitary.

    I have to say, I've seen some challenges here, that would be great but I'm not sure where to find one right at the start.

    While my friends and family are very encouraging about my riding, none are interested in joining me.

    I really want to go on an organized ride, but 65 miles when I'm struggling to do 20 is daunting. I think the place to start is on some kind of weekend club ride. I don't know, I guess that's why I'm asking.

    Thanks!

    Mike

  2. #2
    Galveston County Texas 10 Wheels's Avatar
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    Hi Mike,

    Welcome to Bike Forums.

    I worked up to longer rides by doing 5 miles at a time, rest then another 5, rest then another 5.

    It takes seat time for you body to get stronger.
    The more you ride the stronger you will become.

    Finding others to ride with is most difficult.

    Available time, distance and the same speed make it very hard.

    Some bike shops have newbie rides, call around and ask them.
    Last edited by 10 Wheels; 06-01-12 at 09:38 PM.
    [SIZE=1][B]What I like about Texas[/B]
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PGukLuXzH1E

    Set F1re To The Ra1n ( NY Night Rain Ride)
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W7jfcWEkSrI

  3. #3
    SuperGimp TrojanHorse's Avatar
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    Find a more social bike group - ask your local bike shop for tips. The words you're looking for are "no drop" but you should be able to find a group of people of similar ability and interest to spice your rides up for you.

    Personally, I enjoy the solitude but I do enjoy riding in the company of others as well.

    Keep at it, you'll get there!

  4. #4
    Senior Member szewczykm's Avatar
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    I tried the 5 and rest thing tonight, it worked out well for me. Up to now its been, ride until I want to die. Stop.... Rest, then limp the rest of the way home

  5. #5
    Senior Member szewczykm's Avatar
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    Can you explain "no drop"? Is it basically that the group slows down so no one drops out?

  6. #6
    Galveston County Texas 10 Wheels's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by szewczykm View Post
    I tried the 5 and rest thing tonight, it worked out well for me. Up to now its been, ride until I want to die. Stop.... Rest, then limp the rest of the way home
    You have to build up to 50-60 miles with that method.
    It takes much effort on your part.

    I could do 10 @ 5 mile rides, then I met a group one day and was able to stay with them.
    [SIZE=1][B]What I like about Texas[/B]
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PGukLuXzH1E

    Set F1re To The Ra1n ( NY Night Rain Ride)
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W7jfcWEkSrI

  7. #7
    Watching and waiting. jethro56's Avatar
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    This whole riding thing doesn't need to be a sufferfest. Find that distance where it's fun. Ride that distance for the bulk of your rides. Once a week go for a longer ride, maybe 1.5 times that fun distance.

  8. #8
    blah blah blah milkbaby's Avatar
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    Keep looking for a group to ride with! Check the local bike shops and ask about cycling clubs. I joined a club and there are group rides for all types of riders at all speeds and skill levels. I know some members are so addicted to group rides that they never ride alone! They also ride more because they hate to miss out on all the fun that they know their riding buddies are having...

    Also my experience is that all the groups in my club are very welcoming to new riders. Good luck, and I hope you can meet some new cycling buddies!

  9. #9
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    I agree with doing five miles and then resting and then five more rinse and repeat. A group ride would probably be good for you once you gain your confidence riding in a group you may find you enjoy riding alone more too. One more thing, I think it is important to ride as far as you can without stopping too, just because its a different type of conditioning. So what I do is ride long, hard, fast rides when I am alone and when I ride with my wife we do 5-8 miles at a time and then break and then 5-8 miles more until she seems like she is ready to call it.

  10. #10
    Senior Member Seve's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by szewczykm View Post
    Can you explain "no drop"? Is it basically that the group slows down so no one drops out?
    Yes, the group doesn't leave anyone behind that for one reason or another can't maintain the groups pace.

    Remember, you are not in a race so enjoy your rides and follow what 10 Wheels suggested. Don't be afraid to stop and rest or even just stretch now and then.

    Enjoy.

  11. #11
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    How far is work from where you live? Is it possible to commute by bike or maybe drive half way to work and then commute? Commuting is a great way to get in shape, have fun, save gas, and get miles in.

    Another option is to set a goal. We often run a "100 miles club" each month. You set a miles goal and go for it and document (in a post) how many miles you did for that ride. When I started out, 100 miles a month was a big number but you just keeping plugging away and I could only do 5 miles each time I rode.

    Dont even think about what the other riders are doing. People blow past me all the time on bikes but I do not care. It is MY JOURNEY AND I RIDE FOR MYSELF, NO ONE ELSE. I ride because I need to lose weight, get healthy, have fun and because, well, I enjoy it. IF you can get the mindset changed about being lonely on rides, you got this. You need no one else but yourself!

  12. #12
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    +1 to everything said so far - especially bicycle commuting to work.

    Riding is supposed to be fun. I loved it as a kid. I love it as an adult.

    My situation is much like yours, Mike. I bought an expensive (to me) bike in 2008 and rode it for a while. At first I couldn't get too many miles in and I was Slllllllooooooowwwwwww. It didn't take long, though, and I was making noticeable gains in speed and distance.

    Then I met a woman, got married and got lazy. The bike resided in a forgotten corner of the house.

    I recently dusted it off and started riding again. I've only been back on it for about two months now, but I've lost some weight (12 pounds at last count), lowered my resting heart rate and my blood pressure, and I feel pretty darned good. My wife is jealous. She says "You're getting skinny!" That's a bit of an exaggeration - I'm a long way from skinny - but the body reshaping can be seen.

    Most of my riding is commuting to work. It's a 40 mile round trip. I had to build up to that. I started out riding to a bus stop @ the mid point and riding the bus the remainder of the distance. Once that became easy I found a route that I judged "safe" (traffic-wise) and started going the distance. Then I started challenging myself to do it more quickly. Last night I made 20 miles in 1 hr, 34 min - my personal best (without a tailwind).

    Another benefit of riding is No Road Rage! I'm saving tubs o' dough in fuel cost. I feel great!

    I guess I went through all of that to say this:

    Stick With It! It gets better. Don't worry about what you can't do right now. Just ride for the sheer pleasure of it. Set small goals for yourself - even if it's nothing more than "I think I'll see if I can go one block further today". Like most things, all it takes is time and practice.

    Very soon you'll find yourself saying "Wow! I can't believe I did that. I remember when I couldn't get .5 miles without getting out of breath!"

    No get in your bike and ride, hombre! We're all pulling for you!

  13. #13
    Cactus Hobbit GeoBigJon's Avatar
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    I live in Woodstock, il.... I guess I'm asking where I should go to find people like myself. I know I'd ride more if it wasn't so solitary.
    I think you have found folks like yourself. A little at a time and before long you will be burning through the miles. Remember riding is fun, honestly no one that matters is looking to judge you so be comfortable and ride because you enjoy the challenge.

  14. #14
    Senior Member Street Pedaler's Avatar
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    I can relate some to the lonely feeling of riding alone. I have recently started riding once or twice a month with a couple of buddies and I truly enjoy it. But 99% of my time on the road is time spent by myself. Over the years, though, I've really grown to enjoy that time. It's time when I can think about me and not feel guilty about it. It's time that I can get into my own head and sort things out but, even more important (for me, anyway), it's time that I can get completely out of head and just "Be". I probably don't speak for a majority, but I can say that some time alone isn't always such a bad thing.

  15. #15
    FOLRB
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    If you have a GPS device, like a smart phone, you can join one of the Clydesdale challenges. There is one that uses Endomondo http://www.endomondo.com/challenges/5176381 and one that uses Strava http://app.strava.com/clubs/clydesda...bikeforums-net . It's not the same as riding with someone else, but it is great motivation to keep riding, and it's fun to see your miles add up and compare them to everyone else.
    Stick around here, this group is composed of people of all sorts of abilities and experience. There is lot of inspiration on this board. I hope you stick with it.
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  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by Seve View Post
    Yes, the group doesn't leave anyone behind that for one reason or another can't maintain the groups pace.
    Different groups have different policies. Just because the ride says "no drop" doesn't mean that you'll always have someone riding with you. In my area, "no drop" often means "frequent re-groups": everybody rides at their own pace, but the group stops to reform at certain points. Usually, stops happen at major turns, at the top of a long climb, or anywhere the route isn't obvious. If you're the last guy to arrive, you may find that the group wants to take off again as soon as they can see you coming so there's no opportunity to rest. On this sort of ride you won't get lost, but you may feel like you're holding them up. Been there, done that (as they say)...

    The better clubs in my area have drop and no-drop rides, but they also have established group speeds (ex: A group rides averages 10mph, B group averages 12mph, etc) so you have a better idea of whether you'll be riding with the pack or just trying to hang-on at the end.

  17. #17
    Senior Member tony_merlino's Avatar
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    I might have a different perspective. I believe cycling is essentially a solitary activity, even if you do it with some other people, and if you don't like solitary activities, it may not be the hobby/passion/whatever for you.

    I'm drawn to activities that are essentially solitary, but that also give you an opportunity to talk about and occasionally practice them with other enthusiasts. Examples of activities like these are: woodworking, playing a musical instrument (if you're serious, you spend about 80 to 90% of your time practicing by yourself, and maybe 10 to 20% of your time playing with others), writing, ... and cycling. Even when you do these things with others, it's more about parallel play than about interacting steadily.

    Contrast that with something like ballroom dancing, or bowling, or other team sports where you have to cooperate interactively, or where you spend at least as much time socializing as doing whatever it is that you're all there to do.

    I love the solitude of cycling, love being pretty much out of touch (though I did start carrying a cell phone when I came back to cycling a year or so ago - I never would carry one when I used to ride back in the day...and of course, when I first started cycling they didn't exist). It's you, your body, the bicycle, the roads/terrain. I find cycling to be a lot like a moving meditation. I'm totally in the moment, totally aware in a way that I am for very few other activities.

    I used to ride with a group of people, and still occasionally ride with a companion. But I have to confess that I don't enjoy that as much as being out there by myself. I wonder how many other cyclists would agree with me ...
    L'asino di Buridano...

  18. #18
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    I remember that "don't want to hold anyone up" feeling. I've never quite gotten over it. Otoh, I also contend with hating to show "my suffering" to others - including via being semi-surly when I'm not feeling just so, for whatever reason. I found that riding alone for a while, while I built a base of fitness and gained confidence and some small dose of speed and endurance, actually worked to my benefit for group rides. Now, I can hang with the groups I want to ride with though I might be Tail End Charlie on some of those rides.

    It just takes desire, time and effort. Hang in there.

    To specifically deal with lonelienss on solo rides, I use a radio, mp3 player and that sort of thing.
    Last edited by drmweaver2; 06-02-12 at 01:07 PM.
    -----------------------------------------
    While others have labelled me antisocial at various times, it's actually not true. I just don't like people.

  19. #19
    Senior Member goldfinch's Avatar
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    There are riding events that have a number of distance choices. For example, the one I did today had 1200 riders who could chose a 35 mile route or a 68 mile route. I have seen other rides with even shorter routes. Poke around and you may find something that will work fine. I enjoy these kind of rides because there are cyclists of a wide range of abilities represented. And, I don't have to carry a pile of food and water because it is provided on the ride.

    I mostly ride alone on these rides because the riders I know go faster than me. But I visit with people at the rest stops and have the chance to chat with people from time to time on the road. It works for me.
    Every living thing is a GMO.

  20. #20
    Senior Member goldfinch's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jethro56 View Post
    This whole riding thing doesn't need to be a sufferfest. Find that distance where it's fun. Ride that distance for the bulk of your rides. Once a week go for a longer ride, maybe 1.5 times that fun distance.
    Great advice!
    Every living thing is a GMO.

  21. #21
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    I'm slow in all my sports - biking, running, and swimming. So I do them all, mostly, alone. I do have a fellow triathlete who lives on the other side of Houston, and we've been getting together for open water swim practices. But, pool swims - alone. Runs - alone. Biking - alone.

    I tend to use the time to not think about grad school or work or family.

  22. #22
    Starting over CraigB's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by fluffy runner View Post
    I tend to use the time to not think about grad school or work or family.
    I use it to not think at all. Or sometimes to solve the world's problems.
    Craig in Indy

  23. #23
    Senior Member BikinPotter's Avatar
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    Brother I feel your pain. I do lots of things alone. Just the way it is. BUT, if you try to reach out, you may find the other soul or two or five who would love to do some really easy bike rides without all the pain and intimidation which can happen on many "organized" rides. Feel free to use my moniker...The Cycle Spuds. Cycle Spuds are couch potatoes who wish to change our lazy ways. Our motto is: Off of Our Couches and Into the Streets! Put an ad on Craigslist, or Meetup. Or both. BROTHER AND SISTER COUCH POTATOES, LEND ME YOUR EYES! Then tell them who you are, and that you are looking for folks with whom to do very easy bike rides, the goal being to get into better shape. Promise that you will start out really slow and gradually build up your miles. I would be very surprised if you did not find SOMEone with whom to ride on a regular basis.

  24. #24
    Senior Member szewczykm's Avatar
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    Thanks so much for the advice and the really kind words. I fish and do other things where I enjoy my solitude. I do like the quiet of a ride very much. However, I also like to group up on occasion. Even if it's after the ride where people can commiserate, trade tips, check out each others bikes, and things like that.

    I'll be sending an email off to a local club I found and continue to hang out here. Thanks so much guys!

  25. #25
    Senior Member CJ C's Avatar
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    check this out. there are a few out your way. you will still have to drive to them

    http://www.meetup.com/chicagoland-bicycling/


    Also i have been planing to do a ride out in algonquin/cary, it was a solo ride (all mine are) but you are more than welcome to come. or we can set up a ride out by you.

    I would also like to ride with people, but the way my schedule is i ride when ever i can so doing a group ride never works out for me.

    Strava is awesome for breaking the monotony, it will have you finding new routes to a new segment so you can hammer through it. Strava is also a reality check as my fat slow butt is mostly at the bottom or middle of the rankings.

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