Biking touring by yourself or with a partner or a bunch of people largely depends on the type of 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. Of course there are lots of people that do these kind of trips with friends or strangers. I see lots of posts on Facebook groups where cyclists are looking for bike touring partners.
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 I intentionally rode with them for the experience of riding with others. And both times they reinforced my expectations that bike touring by yourself was the best way for me. On my current tour I have so far cycled 16,850 km’s without riding with a single person. But thanks to Covid-19 I almost never run into other people cycle touring..
It seems based on my observation that a lot of people are worried about getting lonely but I don’t read to often that someone ever bails on a tour because of loveliness? While I understand the loneliness felt when you are all alone in the whole world. I never experienced the loneliness of not interacting with people on tour. It seems everywhere I stopped people wanted to talk.
Camping all alone
There are two main reasons when bike touring 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 and the ride. 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 average about 10 km’s an hour on my rides. 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 another advantages to bike touring 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 bike touring 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 and south. 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 current route and that is Venezuela. Venezuela has been making the news quite a bit in the last few years. At this time I have a few options. First, hopefully by the time I get down there things have settled down (but not likely), Secondly I could take back roads to avoid the coast and big cities. Or third find another cyclist in Columbia as crazy as me to join me to bike tour through Venezuela. I need to pedal through Venezuela as it is the most direct route to Guyana, Suriname and French Guiana.
Somethings to consider when bike touring with a partner
If you are afraid to be alone. Then maybe it’s time to move beyond your comfort zone and push through that loneliness. It will actually make you stronger.
Generally there are people everywhere. In my experience depending where you are cycle touring it’s actually difficult to get lonely. You are generally more approachable as a single person.
If you are worried about safety. Statistically speaking there is not a single reason why you shouldn’t make it back home safely. Thousands of cycle tourist make it home every year.
There is a lot of compromise involved with a partner or partners.
- Start times and finish times or daily distances,
- The desire to stop a certain destinations or leave the planned route to visit places.
- Time for photo and video taking.
- Stealth camping becomes more of a challenge with multiple tents.
- Taking down days or if you are feeling a bit under the weather.
- Other than possibly during the day for a few hours there is no escaping the other person for the duration of the trip.
- And your partner also has to work through all these same compromises.
I have met people that have made bike touring together work. I don’t think I will ever understand how. If I am not married to the person there is no way I could compromise my day to day touring to make someone else happy for an extended time.
Bike touring by yourself isn’t for everyone, but it is defiantly for me.