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Bike Touring as a First-Time Solo Rider

solo rider selfie

C&O Canal Towpath 5 Day

In July 2018 Claudia S. set out on a 5-day bike trip on the C&O Canal Towpath as a solo rider. Claudia, from Rockville, Md., had never done a solo trip so embarking on her first one brought some trepidation.

We love Claudia’s rider story and we think it can help others considering their first solo bike trip. Claudia not only faced any fears of being a solo (female) rider but also accomplished the physical challenge of riding 5 consecutive days in a row.

She’s a great example of how you’ll never be totally prepared for your first trip, but despite that, if you are enjoying the ride you’ll find a way to persevere. If going on a bike tour is something you’ve dreamed about, don’t let riding solo be a barrier!

In this rider spotlight, we’re featuring Claudia’s firsthand account of her ride. We hope you enjoy it as much as we did.

GETTING READY FOR FIRST SOLO TRIP

“Doing a solo bike trip for five days in a row through the U.S. has been the adventure of my life. It had been on my mind for some time, but the idea of doing a solo trip sounded a little scary. As a friend posted their experience in my women’s biking Facebook group, I got interested and decided to give it a go. This trip could not have been made possible without the support and guidance of Noble Invention that provided all the logistic support, the detailed routes, the planning and accommodation and all the required tips.”

BEST PRACTICE: PREPARE

bike on C&O trail“Even with that, I failed to study all the material in detail and did not watch all the videos just to realize on the start that I had packed way more than I needed and that my bike tyres were at the lower limit in grip and size for the C&O canal path. There has been an unusual, extreme rainy season in June, so the trail had very muddy portions. This, in combination with the extra loaded bike and the weak grip of the tires forced me to go very slow as the bike was very hard to manage. Over time, I learned to deal with the heavy bike and the terrain and could get up to speed, still going slowly. I managed to get everywhere at the right time and to enjoy the whole trip. And made a note to myself to be more judicious on reading the material and watching the videos for the next time.”

THE WEATHER, TRAIL, & WILDLIFE

shadows on C&O Towpath“It was also a record hitting heat wave on the week that I traveled, but the trail is shaded and while biking I did not feel the heat. Only when I stopped or when I had to leave the trail to get to a rest stop or a lodging the heat hit hard, but it was only for short moments.

“Everything about the trip was amazing. The experience on the trail, with nature, the trees, the river was peaceful yet exhilarating. And the wildlife. I saw a black bear on the second day in the paved portion of the trail after Little Orleans, he was walking across the trail and stopped to look at me, I hit my brakes hard and he got scared and run away. I also got scared so I rang my little bell when I started pedaling again hoping to scare him more. I also saw dozens of red cardinals, a giant turtle, two white ibises and several deer.”

THE AREA, LODGING & FOOD

Town HIll breakfast“I loved to get to know this part of the country in such an intimate way, and to end the day in a beautiful bed and breakfast where I was always well received, pampered and engaged in conversation. I cannot say which one was the best because each one of them had something unique and personal. Also, in each stop, the surrounding area had something to offer, from a quiet amazing view in the countryside to a small city feel. All the breakfasts were great and everybody I met had a gentle caring way to connect with me.”

“I’M ALREADY THINKING OF THE NEXT ONE”

C&O Towpath “The last day I was already feeling the effort of the previous four days, but I got home rested and energized from the experience. I am already thinking of the next one.”

*NOTE: Claudia completed her solo bike tour of the Great Allegheny Passage with us in August 2019!solo rider on GAP