One is the Loneliest Number

Just me and my shadow on most rides anyway.

When the song opens I think it’s in C Minor and the repeating chords halt as the vocal comes in which is pleading, resigned and sort of begs for attention:

One is the loneliest number that you’ll ever do
Two can be as bad as one
It’s the loneliest number since the number one…
Three Dog Night,

Three Dog Night had a number 1 hit. That song pops into my head when I read #soloriding. It’s one of many trending hashtags and when I saw it I thought of music.

Is riding solo riding a cappella? Imagine if we used musical terms for bike riding. Instead of a peloton it would be an orchestra or ensemble or band of riders. Personally, I am most in harmony with the universe on a solo ride. I don’t need people to accompany me. I’m a sole rider. Sole and solo are similiar and yet sole and the homophone soul are more in tune. 

Other expessions I’ve heard in this quarantine period is “companionless” or “solitary riding.” Again, it sounds like a rider was given a timeout in a padded garage. Stag riding could work if it didn’t sound so raunchy.

Sole riding is the way I prefer to ride. I don’t like how I am in a group ride. It’s not as though I’m hyper competitive but I am competitive enough that I start to compare myself to everyone else and then I start to feel inferior. The “leader” of the ride is checking in with everyone every 2 seconds or they are the type of leader who is a virtuoso rider and you feel like you’re an appendage holding everyone back. 

Friendly ride with a family on a tour with Sarah.

The social dynamics of a group ride can preesnt challenges. Some people are really amazing group riders. I’m jealous that I am not one. Like watching a Rapha video and the group is synchronized like a Swiss watch and they’re all keeping a 22 mph pace with the wind on their handlebars. I’m the one that stays at the coffee shop.

Should you be trying out a group ride for the first time then be preparted to be the new kid in class and you have to show ’em what ya got. The group is trying not to watching you, but they see everything you do. “Hey, looks like your back tire is embracing the road too closely.” In group rides men talk way too much about technique as though they are professional racers and taking some time out to ride with the mortals. Unless you are Mark Cavendish, please just ride your bike and talk about something else. You’d think I could find a gal pal on a ride, but the women if there are any ignore me despite my repeated attempts at conversation. I’ve tried and tried and tried some more.

The only group rides that I have moderate success with are epic group rides, like the Seattle to Portland or charity rides. Those events have a vibe of something bigger. The steady stream of people in front and behind keep a sort of pulse to the affair so you are in awe of it all. The energy of the group and event supercedes the social awkwardness.

Tour with Sarah and a group, Spring 2019.

My favorite type of group ride is a tour. Either I pay or they pay or I’m shadowing a great tour leader. If I’m leading a tour I can point out features of my city which keeps me busy in a constructive way. “On the left there’s this 100 year old tree and on the right is the site of Fort Vancouver and Pearson Airport where the Chkalov flight landed.” Last summer I started shadowing tours by my friend Sarah Bott and it was amazing. My title (given by me) was TourRookie. The people on the tours paid for the tour and they seemed genuinely interested. “The city of Portland has 279 parks. There are distinct personalities to neighborhoods, sometime called quadrants…but it’s all Portland.” There was a ride to the Portland Rose Gardens that was a symphony of experiences that made me happy to be alive. The ideal group ride for me is a tour because they are there to learn and I’m there to help them explore and provide and experience.

Taking a break while the group checks out the Portland Rose Garden.

Quaratine for me while bike riding hasn’t been all that different from my usual sole riding. Since my rigorous commute is only about 10 feet into my study at the present time I miss seeing the butterscotch poodle, who always looks at me as though I’m her kin, walking with her human first thing in the morning. I miss the man speed walking in his Blazers puffy coat. I miss seeing snow capped Mount Hood and the baby pink and blue skies. I miss the weather ups and downs of the day to day bike commute. I miss stopping for groceries and lugging stuff to and from home. I pine for shopping stops at my local Trader Joe’s. Everytime I peddle past there’s a line from the entrance past The Party City and weaving around the side of Petco. Under normal circumstances, I would park my bike at Petco. Now, there’s really no way to keep a distance so I just keep moving. I’ve done that now about a half dozen times at diffent junctures of the day hoping for a lull. I have my mask and hand sanitizer ready just in case a opportunity presents itself. Still looks like an Apple iPhone release.

Petco, Party City and then Trader Joe’s. The line goes around Petco.

The miles are no longer commuting miles, but miles in front of me and behind me. It’s liberating and exciting to just go.

One might be the loneliest number for some but for me it’s the way I prefer to roll.

One is not the loneliest number. You know that kiddie joke about Why was 10 afraid of 7? Because 7 eight/ate 9. So that makes 7 the lonliest number. That doesn’t work with the song. Sole riding is what I have done for many years and will continue to embrace because I just ride. 

What about you? Do you like sole riding or are you missing your band? 

Thanks for reading and have a great week! Stay safe out there!
Be well everyone! Go listen to the song. You know you want to.

🚲 Bike Goddess

4 thoughts on “One is the Loneliest Number

  1. I’m not a big group kind of rider either. Commuting solo is the way that I have become used to. Excellent thinking time. I have only heard Joy to the World and Shambala so going to have 3 Dog Night streaming all day thanks that clip…after I have been for my sole/soul/(?)soulo ride

    • Hello and thanks for the feedback. Commuting is wonderful and my thinking time also. I’m wrangling some design and admin issues on WP right now so I apologise for the delayed response. Stay safe.

  2. I agree that riding pre-‘rona and now are similar. Exceyot for avoiding everyone like the, well, you know, plus wearing a mask at least around my neck til.i see I’m going to passive be passed. I used to do ray morning shop rides, but that faster bike had to be retired and early mornings aren’t for me. I’d like to ride with a friend or two more than I do, when it’s safe to do so. Nice blog and enjoy your riding, Goddess!

  3. Pingback: How Time Zwifts – Bike Goddess

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