Although I do ride with friends occasionally, I often find myself doing my longest rides alone. I enjoy the solitude and the amount of time I have to process my thoughts, but riding alone also brings some challenges and safety concerns, especially when you live in rural New England, like I do.
Water- always bring more than you need. I have run out of water before with no houses or stores for miles, and it is an awful feeling. If you are riding with a group, you can usually grab a drink from a friend, but you obviously can’t do that if you are alone. The extra weight of the water is totally worth it.
Snacks- bring an emergency snack, even if you only plan on a short ride. What if you get lost or get a flat or feel great and want to go longer? I like to ride with a spare gel in my pocket- I don’t love gels, so I won’t eat it if I don’t have to, but it is there if I need it. Also, I’ve found that for longer rides, I prefer to have “real” food- pretzels, natural bars, and even baby food in pouches. Too many gels make me feel pretty sick- I save them for the very end when I just need a quick hit of sugar.
ID- It’s really important to have some identifying items with you if you are alone. One day lunch, a man returned our coworker’s damaged bike to the office, saying he had found him almost passed out by the side of the road and had taken him to the hospital. Our coworker was carrying a business card, which helped the man identify him and figure out who to contact. I like to carry a photocopy of my driver’s license and health card.
Repair Kit- I once came by my neighbor walking in biking shoes, pushing her bike, just because she had gotten a flat. It’s a pain if it happens, but if you have a spare tube, tire lever, and mini bike pump, it will only set you back a little time wise, instead of completely ruining your ride. It’s also nice to have a multi-tool so you can adjust your seat, etc out on the road.
The basics- a helmet that fits well, bike gloves, sunglasses, and a cellphone.
For trips 20mi and under, I really just bring one water bottle, ID, repair kit, and the basics. Anything over 20 miles and I like to have a snack handy. Anything over 35 and multiple snacks and water bottles become necessary for me.