Over a Beer: Riding Solo to Refresh the Soul

Kootenay National Park, BC

Editor’s Note: “Over a Beer” is a regular column written by Greg Heil. While Greg is the Editor in Chief for Singletracks.com, any opinions expressed in this column are his alone and do not necessarily represent the opinions of Singletracks.com.

Group rides are grand. The camaraderie that develops amongst like-minded mountain bikers is unparalleled, and can lead to lifelong friendships. But for the introverts among us *raises hand*, turning the pedals in complete solitude is a mandatory weekly exercise.

While any and every ride is a good ride (better than sitting behind a desk!), sometimes a ride filled with conversation, banter about the latest components, and constant starting and stopping can feel even more draining and tiring than it is reinvigorating and stress-relieving. Especially as the size of the group grows, the dynamic continues to change and evolve into a monster that the introvert fears evermore.

Banter about component choices turns into heated debate, and actual mountain biking seems all but forgotten. Disagreements about which trail to take overtake the actual riding of trails.

If the group has gathered from many different parts of the nation or the world, or if an outsider has joined, inevitably debate will arise about whose trails are better, analyzing the various pros and cons of one trail system–or an entire state–versus another. Outlandish claims like “Georgia is flat” or “Colorado is the best” or “this trail system is the best in the entire [insert area of the nation here]” ring false, despite the ardor employed in their defense.

Maybe it’s just me, but when it’s time to put tires to dirt, I have zero interest in these debates. Sure, I can debate with the best of them–I’ve spent more than a decade gathering enough experience to support well-informed opinions on all sorts of meaningless mountain biking minutia. Perhaps my distaste for these discussions is linked to having similar discussions in writing, on the internet, all day long (not to mention the podcast), and I’m just ready for a break from the endless analysis. All I want to hear is the simple whirring of chains through the gears and the crunching of tires on gravelly dirt.

Heading out into the mountains on your own preempts any such debates, any such controversy, any such stress-inducing companionship. Introverts: go take a solo ride, and find your soul refreshed.