To bike alone or with a partner or a bunch of people. Depends on the person you are. If you are an introvert like me who has pretty much always been alone then that is simply how you do things and experience life. That being said there are lots of people that do these kind of trips with friends or strangers. I see lots of posts on Facebook groups looking to see if other cyclists are cycling the same routes at the same time.
When I did my 2011 bike ride in northern and western Canada I did it alone and really liked it that way. It would never occurred for me to do it any other way at the time. But I did run into a few people on two occasions and intentionally rode with them for the experience of riding with others. And both times they reinforced my expectations that riding solo was the best way for me.
It seems based on my observation that a lot of people can get really lonely real quick and that loneliness can be an unbearable torture for them. While I understand the loneliness felt when you are all alone in the whole world but I have never experienced the loneliness of not interacting with “people.” Even though I am alone always.
There are two main reasons when cycling with someone else doesn’t really work for me. First is speed and second is freedom. Based on my two experiences of cycling with others on two separate occasions which I did enjoy at the time. I noticed two things. Firstly, when you pedal with others you tend to pedal a lot quicker (all day). There is a moment that is built that for me takes away the enjoyment of the moment. I really want to enjoy my ride and if my focus turns to momentum then the joy is no longer there.
Speaking of speed I am not a fast cyclist by any means. I can pedal 12 hours a day, but 12 hours a day at my speed. I think I averaged about 10 km’s an hour on my ride. The one day I pedalled with a group I think we were averaging 20 km’s an hour. Great for the afternoon but not sustainable for me.
Secondly, I like the freedom to stop to take photos when I want to take photos. If there are a million photos to take that day then I want to take all one million of those photos. And I definitely don’t want the pressure of the momentum to prevent me from taking those photos.
I think one of the main advantages to pedalling by yourself is that you are far more approachable when you are solo. What I mean is that strangers and locals are for more likely to engage you, offer you local information or even a place to sleep if you are solo verses a group.
Potentially the main advantage I see pedalling with others is security. At this point I have never cycled anywhere where security was an issue. So that part will be a new experience for me upon leaving the US into Mexico. That being said security is not really my biggest concern. Many cyclist travel through Mexico, Central and South America alone just fine. I do have personal experience of travelling alone in Belize and Mexico (just not on a bike). And I feel that it won’t take long for me to get real comfortable real quick.
I think there is only one area that makes me a little nervous (at this time) about my route and that is Venezuela. Venezuela has making the news quite a bit in the last few years. At this time I have few options. First, hopefully by the time I get there things have settled down, Secondly take back roads through and avoid the coast and big cities. Or third find another cyclist in Columbia as crazy as me to join me to ride through Venezuela. I need to pedal through Venezuela as it is the most direct route to Guyana, Suriname and French Guiana.
Cycling solo isn’t for everyone, but it is defiantly for me.