Posted By: Tony Blakey | Jul. 30 2013
With a growing number of companies offering bike tours targeted at single & solo travelers I thought I would ask the question, “who chooses these trips and what alternatives are there for riders who are travelling on their own.”
The vendors of these cycling tours universally paint a picture of kindred spirits travelling together and forming life-long bonds. Most companies allude to guests meeting the future love of their lives. While this certainly can happen – it can happen anywhere – it is by no means guaranteed. Alternatively, you may find yourselves sharing a room with [fill in your own worst nightmare here in terms of politics, interests, beliefs, etc.] and surrounded by people with whom you share nothing in common outside of the fact you share nothing in common.
The company brand and price point are a good guide as to your “new best friends” for the week. If you want to travel with vegan basket weavers you’re unlikely to find them on a $6000pp Butterfield and Robinson trip. Similarly, if you want to swap stories about premium wine collections you might want to avoid the budget-and-youth-oriented TrekAmerica.
Other things to consider when looking at specialist solo bike trips are:
– Do you want to share a room or should you pay a premium for your own bolt hole?
– Would you be happier in a group that was a mix of couples and singles?
– Would you be happy travelling a little more independently?
Specialist singles bike tours are great but I don’t think solo travelers need to be boxed into a singles bike trip. My own experience is that traveling solo can be more rewarding outside of this genre. Alternatives include:
– Join a Regular Group Bike Tour
– Arrange a Solo Self-guided Bike Trip
– Take a Do it Yourself (by yourself) Bike Tour
These trips typically have a mix of single people (travelling alone or with a friend) as well as couples. For some, this is a more natural grouping and can be more relaxed. And, single travelers will often get a little extra attention from the guides to “compensate” for their lack of a partner. Companies like Exodus tend to have a large number of single/solo travelers on all their departures.
You’ll likely to be riding on your own during the day but you will still have the backup of a support vehicle and guide on call. Traveling outside of a group means not arriving with a herd of other people. Locals will be more inclined to engage with you and you’ll find yourself immersed in the area not in the group.
I’d suggest staying at B&Bs where there is a communal breakfast and a wine and cheese event hosted in the evenings. Take the guidebook along to dinner as a backup companion – but more than likely you’ll strike up a conversation with someone.
Finally, when riding alone, it’s very easy just to keep riding and not stop as much as you would with a co-rider. Plan your stops ahead of time.
Packing up your panniers and heading off alone may seem like a lonely thing to do but as a lone rider people are far more likely to chat to you and help you out. And, the freedom you have is exhilarating; each day you can decide where you ride and when you stop without the constraints of a group or needing to seconds guess the wants of a co-rider. Again, the guidebook is perfect companion at dinner – or eat at a restaurant with a bar for casual conversation; you’ll be seated quicker too!
Whatever style of trip you decide on, more than anything I’d encourage you to just go – you won’t regret it. You might not meet the partner of your dreams but you’ll come back more tan, fitter and with numerous stories of unpredicted encounters.