One of my closest friends got married when he was 22 to his high school sweetheart. It came as a surprise to everyone, as we were only coming out of college and just trying to jump-start our respective careers. Fast-forward to today, and he has four little ones running about. A self-made man, he has always appeared to be extremely happy with his family and the trajectory of his career. But in our 15 years of friendship, it was only last week that he confessed to me something he thought to be so aberrant. He admitted that while he loved his wife and his children, he felt like he needed a break. A break to be alone.
I consoled him and felt sorry because I literally had no idea. No one knew that he was mentally struggling—it never showed. I eagerly told him that for the sake of his emotional well-being, it was not wicked to think that he needed a break, even from the people he loves dearly. Even the strongest people need a breather to be alone with their thoughts.
After a lot of convincing, I zealously encouraged him to indulge in a hobby that I have been also trying out in my own time. This is a hobby that serves as my own mental break from everything else. I told him to go biking alone to the mountains. The plain truth is that there are only benefits to biking solo.
A Mental Breather
Biking is a welcome change of pace. Indeed, there is just something exhilarating about experiencing nature and the elements first-hand away from the comfort of your own home. According to Jill Suttie, Psy.D., experiencing nature can elicit better moods, make you generally happier, decrease mental fatigue, and restore focus. It is believed that as a species, we evolved to be attuned with natural spaces.
How you handle your own ride is entirely up to you. There won’t be any pressure for you to perform or be at par with other people while you are biking. There won’t be no nagging feeling that you need to keep up with others to enjoy the ride. The entire journey is on you, and you alone. As opposed to group rides, you can experience the freedom of traveling alone and at your own pace. There is no scheduled time to arrive at a specific location, as all of your decisions will always be right. You can stop and metaphorically smell the flowers.
The benefits of biking to your health cannot be understated. Aside from being mentally refreshing, studies have shown that regular biking is a low-impact workout that greatly contributes to increased cardiovascular fitness, increased muscle strength and flexibility, and improved joint mobility and coordination. Additionally, it also causes reduction in anxiety and depression. It is a low-cost but high-yield source of happiness and wellness. Biking can be your own personal and private weight loss clinic.
Having only yourself as a benchmark, there is absolutely no pressure on your part to outperform anybody but yourself. With modern technology, anybody can easily track their progress using a cheap GPS cycling computer that stores data such as top speed, heart rate, cycling route, and calories burned. It would be an absolute thrill to find yourself improving as you further go on subsequent rides.
Being Lost and Disconnected
While biking can also be gadget-led, as many enthusiasts opt to use GPS equipment to track their own development, riding solo is also the perfect excuse to disconnect. With biking, you give yourself the chance to refuse to view emails, respond to messages, or check social media. Moreover, you can daydream of the craziest things and be distracted without stalling anyone else. You can entirely focus on your own personal journey to discover your own made-up routes.
In a word, life passes by so fast that one can get tangled up in the mess of schedules, meetings, and reports. Riding alone to distant and unknown places can feel liberating and exciting at the same time. Tap in your inner child and feel the wind as you journey through the relative unknown. Treat the ride as a great opportunity to rediscover yourself through uncovering new places to explore and see. Biking solo is a great way to have your mental fortitude tested and honed while greatly benefiting your physical health and well-being as well.
Contemplate the trip as your own personal meditation. It can even serve as the necessary break a person needs. It is an expedition where you worry only about your own efforts and pace. Riding alone helps keep yourself in check so that you can focus on just yourself.