Back in January, I joined a cycling club, writes Craig Willis. I've never been a member of a cycling club before so I was very excited by the prospect of meeting new people, having interesting conversations about the two-wheeled life, and perhaps the most important thing: club rides.

Now, joining a cycling club in the middle of winter probably wasn't the best idea. Cycling in winter can be a bit hit and miss, especially with the weather. While I'm no stranger to putting a few miles under the wheels, I was not quite accustomed to the kind of distances a club ride entails (20 miles +). So I decided to give the first couple of meet-ups a miss, at least until I was up to speed. Literally!

Then of course, the global pandemic began, which effectively cancelled all group rides (and quite rightly so). However, at time of writing, any amount of outdoor exercise is allowed under the current lockdown rules, as long as you maintain a physical distance of 2 metres. Unfortunately, no meet-ups with the club just yet, so in the meantime, I'll be riding on my lonesome but this does have a few benefits.

One aspect of cycling that I really enjoy is the exploration. Riding into a town, or village, you've never seen before and spotting a random point of interest can be very exciting. You really never know what's around the next corner. Having the ability to stop whenever you like on your journey and take a moment to drink in your surroundings, is something that is very enjoyable when cycling on your own and – if you're anything like me – you might even want to take a photograph or two. The idea of asking the group to wait for a minute while I grab some snaps doesn't seem like much fun.

Not only that, when you’re on your own, you can stop and catch your breath after a particularly difficult hill, which brings me to another benefit of riding by yourself: you can go your own way. If you're faced with an immense incline that you're sure you won't make it up, you can always just turn around, find another route or, if your ego can handle it, get off and walk it! All without holding up the rest of the group.

Obviously, there are some negatives to riding on your own. The downside of cycling exploration is the tendency to get lost. You would hope that in a group, at least two of you would know where they are going, and the route would be planned out. If you're in a group and you had a mechanical emergency, or perish the thought, you took a tumble, at least there would be someone else there to assist you.

Don't get me wrong, I really am looking forward to a time when I'll be able to meet up with my new club, talk about bikes and actually do some riding, but while we wait to see what the future will hold for club rides, I'll be content riding solo.