In solitude you’ll find answers
Venturing into the woods, I lose sight of civilization and settle into the peaceful sounds of nature. I am in charge of my ride plan, my rhythm and my pace.
I absolutely love riding my bike alone (well, usually with my sidekick Kula!). When on a solo ride, I notice my stress decrease and I shift into a peaceful state of consciousness. When you’re silent you begin to see your thoughts for what they really are—just thoughts. I can ponder life’s meaning, connect with the sensations in my body, and be in total flow with the trail.
The solo ride
Have you ever wanted to go biking, but didn’t have anyone to go with? Do you let your fear of being alone keep you indoors?
Who am I? Where am I going? Am I doing this right? What’s the meaning of life? Do I matter? What’s my heart telling me? ...This is why you’re afraid. When you set off alone, ditch your phone, lose the earbuds; all you’re left with is yourself, and these daunting, existential questions. And it’s much more comfortable to not face those.
When you ride alone, you have to depend on yourself. There’s no one there to help you if you crash or encourage you when the climb gets punchy. You may be thinkin, “Yeah, that sounds like a dumb idea Rachelle!” Actually, it’s a invaluable way to cultivate mental toughness, grit, self-confidence, and hone your intuition. You learn to trust yourself, and you become increasingly aware of your preferences and thought patterns.
“In order to understand the world, one has to turn away from it on occasion.” —Albert Camus
Ride more, talk less. Riding solo means you can soak up the peace and quiet, stop wherever and whenever you want, take photos, untangle the struggles on your mind, and session features on your own timeline. The lack of extra stimuli allows for a deeper focus and connection with yourself, and it teaches healthy independence.
Tricks to riding solo if you’re a newbie:
- Pick a time of day when the trails will likely have other riders out
- Stick to popular easy trails that you’re comfortable on already
- Always tell a friend when and where you’re going
- Avoid high-consequence moves without a buddy
- Always carry some tools and your phone, or a SPOT device
Career cabin fever
For those of us who work from home, we understand it’s not all kicking back and answering emails in your underwear. The solitude we face can really take a toll on your mental health.
Working from home has its perks, your schedule is flexible, and you can squeak in a bike ride pretty easily. Other times it’s long hours at the computer, so engrossed in a project that 3 o’clock rolls around and you haven’t spoken to or seen a single soul since yesterday—you glance up from your screen and wonder if the apocalypse has hit. Even if you enjoy long stretches of uninterrupted alone time, cabin fever still creeps in…
The emotional isolation that comes with working solo is an often unspoken, but constant battle. It can leave you feeling really alone and lost in your head. Rest assured, even the most successful folks get stressed, anxious, and insecure much of the time. There are a few tricks to surviving cabin fever, but the biggest one is to get out of the house—take your laptop to the cafe’, make dates with friends, jump on the bike for some therapy laps, take a lunchtime Pilates class, walk the dog, go check out what’s new at the bike shop, call some friends, etc. You’re allowed to take a break. Think about all the poor saps stuck in an office who are wasting time jibber jabbering around the water cooler. You’ve probably already got twice as much work done as they have.
Tricks to working solo:
- Get up early and knock off your to-do list so you can get outside ASAP
- Create a rough plan for the week so you’re not sitting around wondering what needs doing
- Become aware of your daily energy levels and take advantage of the highs, practice self-care during the lows
- Become aware of your anxiety triggers so you can implement coping tools
- Kick ass when you feel great, take a breather when you’re feeling stuck
- Don’t be so hard on yourself
The lone wolf
We live in a world where we hurriedly pair up, shack up and marry up. Where we can’t fathom the idea of not being part of an ooey-gooey-eyed couple, and we certainly can’t bare to live alone.
The trouble is, as fast as we pair up, we lose ourselves. Choosing to spend time solo allows us time to focus on ourselves, develop our introspective abilities; and it gives us space to breathe, explore our passions, and do things that feed our soul.
Whether it is heartache, fear or loneliness, if you can make an effort to curious about it instead of run from it, you’ll start to see these feelings as sensations that come and go. It’s important not to look outside of yourself for happiness, because often the discomfort of being alone causes you to jump into situations that aren’t congruent with your soul, and this desperation can lead to a whole lot of unhealthy complications.
Tricks to living solo and single:
- Understand a relationship isn’t the be all end all
- Realize independence is sexy
- Explore your thoughts and your feelings
- Make dates with friends
- Stop worrying if you’ll be alone at 70
- Call a friend when you’re feeling lonely
- Explore things that interest you, develop passions
- Stick to your guns. Don’t settle.
- Know that there is absolutely nothing wrong with you
Gain strength by leaning on yourself
Doing everything with others constricts your thoughts, your spiritual growth and your behaviours. Being alone feels much like a problem that needs to be solved, but you cannot experience the peace that comes from being perfectly at one with yourself unless you have the courage to be alone.
“If we possess inward solitude we do not fear being alone, for we know that we are not alone. Neither do we fear being with others, for they do not control us. In the midst of noise and confusion we are settled into a deep inner silence. Whether alone or among people, we always carry with us a portable sanctuary of the heart.” —Richard Foster