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  1. #1
    Ceiclwr Hapus Gerryattrick's Avatar
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    Solo riding far from home - What do you do?

    90% of my cycling is solo rides as I'm never organised enough to fit in with group rides, plus I enjoy my own company and the freedom to change the route or smell the roses. I have a bunch of friends that I do ride with occasionally but that is mostly on local rides or trips to trail centres.

    I find myself preferring ad-hoc rides, depending on the weather forecast the previous night, on more distant locations up in the Brecon Beacons or along the West Wales coast where the traffic is light and there's a mix of road and light XC. Not necessarily long rides, just 30 - 40 miles, and I'm hoping for a couple of 50 miles, but it does mean packing the bike in the car and a couple of hours drive.

    I sometimes worry though about the potential problems e.g. injury or bike damage - I have had some falls that caused serious knee and shoulder injuries, but luckily I was with friends.

    Some of the areas I ride have no mobile phone coverage. It's not going to stop me, not yet anyway, but I am more aware as I've got older, I'm now 67, of the risks involved and my own fallibility.

    I know that the definition of remote is subjective, but what do other older riders do about solo rides, especially in the parts of the US where you can be out in really remote areas? How much stuff do you carry?

  2. #2
    Senior Member irwin7638's Avatar
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    I just keep riding. I do solo overnights on a regular basis, usually because people would "like to go, but.....(pick an excuse)." I take normal precautions, cell phone etc., but hell if I worry about my safety, I will just sit inside in front of the TV. You can't prevent everything, or worry about it, or just pick an excuse not to.

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  3. #3
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    You need to be able to fix your bike. Carry a first aid kit. Broken chain repair is critical......get those easy to replace links. You can fix a flat an boot a tire? If not, get reading and searching. If you live in a hot and dry area, always have water.

    When I get to be 67 years old and if I have the coin then, I would buy a Satellite phone (pretty pricey) and a rescue insurance policy (failry cheap) if truely going remote.

    It is pretty hard to be more than 10 miles from help where most of us ride.

    I had a wheel collapse about 20 miles from civilization and I flagged down a pickup truck. He gave me a ride home. I also got a ride down the mountain when I unwisely provoked a touch of pulmonary edema.

  4. #4
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    Only things I can offer is to be sure you have some type of ID, such as RoadID, that has your contact information readily available. Not sure if Road ID in particular is available in the UK or Europe, however, I use it here because it has the option for active contact through their system for a paramedic, nurse or doctor to get your medical information. Even their regular can have important medical information items laser engraved on the tag. I have all my medical data on their secure site and the tag has the toll free phone number and on back the PIN number for my account. I seem to recall a similar product for the UK in an advertisement in Cycling Plus magazine.

    The other thing is if many areas you ride in don't have cellular coverage some of the GPS devices have access to the emergency signal system that can send out a distress call if you activate it, not sure which have this, surely someone here knows a lot about this kind of thing.

    I always have my wallet with my ID and a little cash just in case and flat repair items as well as a multi-tool in my seat wedge bag. If the worse case scenario is bothering you, look in to the helmets with the sensor for falls of sufficient force that sends out a distress signal/call to a chosen phone number. Hope any of this is of some help, Gerry.

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    I don't carry anything extra when I ride a long, solo effort where there is no phone coverage. I'm on paved roads, and I assume that I will be able to flag someone down for assistance if I need it.

  6. #6
    Senior Member Garfield Cat's Avatar
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    A wish list: local bike shops or even bike clubs that offer for a price, some kind of bike escort service. Its not solo but you get several riders who go on a ride with you. And maybe even some kind of support car.

  7. #7
    Senior Member MRT2's Avatar
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    You could leave information with a family member or friend of your general route with the understanding that if you don't check in with them at the end of they day, to assume you ran into problems and call for help.

    It is hard to imagine that in the 1st world there are places with no cell phone coverage, but I am sure they exist.

  8. #8
    Senior Member OldsCOOL's Avatar
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    My wife knows where I'm riding for the 50+mi rides. I take food and plan any water stops. IPhone is always with me. Spoke tool, tire repair and tube stuff, chain tool and quick link, excedrin and motrin. That isnt really any extra weight than short trips. Any ride where I push for a personal TT I'll leave the seatbag, water bottle and tire pump home. I always ride solo.
    Having a flat tire as part of the total cycling experience is highly overrated. Knowing how to fix one quickly is not.

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  9. #9
    Senior Member OldsCOOL's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MRT2 View Post
    You could leave information with a family member or friend of your general route with the understanding that if you don't check in with them at the end of they day, to assume you ran into problems and call for help.

    It is hard to imagine that in the 1st world there are places with no cell phone coverage, but I am sure they exist.
    How far are you from the U.P. eh?
    Having a flat tire as part of the total cycling experience is highly overrated. Knowing how to fix one quickly is not.

    '85 Trek 460 road racer

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  10. #10
    Senior Member blacknbluebikes's Avatar
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    for your consideration:
    PLBs and Satellite Messengers: How to Choose
    Results for "first aid" at REI
    Results for "survival kits" at REI

    I'm not suggesting that all these fit you or your region, but if you're solo in "out of the way" places, you need to be able to respond, independently.

    Hikers have figured out a lot of this. Study them.
    Be able to deal with injury and environment.
    Ensure that people know, roughly, where you've gone and when you should re-appear.
    Be able to deal with being lost, without electronics.
    Be able to deal with basic mechanicals when you can, be ready to walk when you can't.

  11. #11
    Galveston County Texas 10 Wheels's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gerryattrick View Post
    90% of my cycling is solo rides as I'm never organised enough to fit in with group rides, plus I enjoy my own company and the freedom to change the route or smell the roses. I have a bunch of friends that I do ride with occasionally but that is mostly on local rides or trips to trail centres.

    I find myself preferring ad-hoc rides, depending on the weather forecast the previous night, on more distant locations up in the Brecon Beacons or along the West Wales coast where the traffic is light and there's a mix of road and light XC. Not necessarily long rides, just 30 - 40 miles, and I'm hoping for a couple of 50 miles, but it does mean packing the bike in the car and a couple of hours drive.

    I sometimes worry though about the potential problems e.g. injury or bike damage - I have had some falls that caused serious knee and shoulder injuries, but luckily I was with friends.

    Some of the areas I ride have no mobile phone coverage. It's not going to stop me, not yet anyway, but I am more aware as I've got older, I'm now 67, of the risks involved and my own fallibility.

    I know that the definition of remote is subjective, but what do other older riders do about solo rides, especially in the parts of the US where you can be out in really remote areas? How much stuff do you carry?
    When we age our brains tend to shrink. 72 y/o here

    Crashed Jan 11 ,2014. landed on my head, on the dirt.
    Car driver called 911.

    I was knocked out....Three days in the ER. Don't remember that
    4 weeks later brain showed blood inside from the right side bruise.
    Emergency surgery fix that.

    Getting better now.
    [SIZE=1][B]What I like about Texas[/B]
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  12. #12
    feros ferio John E's Avatar
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    I generally ride solo, although usually -- not always -- where I have mobile phone coverage. As a habit acquired in the late 1960s, when no one had a cell phone, I have always carried tools, innertubes, patch kits and boots, cables, spokes, spare change, water, snacks, bandaids, etc.
    "Early to bed, early to rise. Work like hell, and advertise." -- George Stahlman
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  13. #13
    Senior Member MRT2's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by OldsCOOL View Post
    How far are you from the U.P. eh?
    Pretty far. It isn't one of my regular routes.

  14. #14
    Lover of Old Chrome Moly Myosmith's Avatar
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    Let someone know where you are going, at least in general, and check in from time to time. Ride with GPS and Road ID both have apps that allow real time or near real time tracking where friends or family members can check on your last recorded location should you ever be missing. There are probably other apps out there as well. The more remote the area, the more detailed the travel plans I leave behind and the more gear I take with me. If I'm going into an area with spotty or no phone coverage, I try to send a text to a few family and friends when I enter the dead zone that notes my location.

    Some degree of advanced planning makes a big difference too. Always check the expected hour by hour weather for at least 24 hours ahead in case you get stuck out overnight and carry the appropriate supplies. When heading into the boonies carry more food and water than you think you will need in case you get lost or have a break down.

    A few well chosen items can fit in a pack the size of a soda can and can make a big difference. Even tossing one of those mylar survival blankets into a jersey pocket is better than nothing.
    Lead, follow or get out of the way

  15. #15
    Senior Member OldsCOOL's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MRT2 View Post
    Pretty far. It isn't one of my regular routes.
    I couldnt help mentioning that since you have Wisc listed as your location. Cell phones are useless in many areas depending on carrier.
    Having a flat tire as part of the total cycling experience is highly overrated. Knowing how to fix one quickly is not.

    '85 Trek 460 road racer

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  16. #16
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    We are the same age, and I enjoy solo riding as well, for mostly the same reasons that you do. I looked up the Brecon Beacons ...nice... The area I ride in is not as remote and I'm never more the a half mile from a farm house.

    Weight is of little consideration for me, so when I start out I feel I'm prepared for the common mechanical issues, potential changes in weather, photo ops. I carry a few snacks, and plenty of liquid, ID, a phone and cash. All my stuff fits into a medium size front rack bag.


    I like the self supported riding style and as I gain more strength and experience, I would like to try more brevet type events along with the modest solo tours I now do.Turning to someone for help would be a last resort in an emergency.

  17. #17
    Seat Sniffer Biker395's Avatar
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    I'm a social rat, and much prefer riding with company. But I've had to ride long distance solo for training rides. Good advice up there. Mine (sorry for any duplication):

    1. Tell your SO where you are going, what route you plan to take, and when you're expected to arrive or return. For that matter, know your route well enough to know where help may be available if you need it (e.g. an off-route telephone, gas station, or restaurant).

    2. Know how to do emergency repairs and carry the necessary tools. There are a lot of cool tricks ... here are samples:

    Temporary Emergency Fixes: Bicycle Repair | Bicycling Magazine
    Emergency Bicycle Repairs

    Come to think of it, we should probably have a thread with some of those tricks on the 50+ forums. I once saw a guy pound his chain back together with a couple of rocks. I was shocked he was able to pull it off, but he did!

    3. Choose your equipment for failure resistance and the ability to keep going despite a component failure (e.g. 3x wheels)

    4. Carry a cellphone, but don't rely on it.

    5. With regard to clothes, when in doubt, bring it.
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  18. #18
    don't try this at home. rm -rf's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MRT2 View Post
    You could leave information with a family member or friend of your general route with the understanding that if you don't check in with them at the end of they day, to assume you ran into problems and call for help.

    It is hard to imagine that in the 1st world there are places with no cell phone coverage, but I am sure they exist.
    I get "no signal" pretty often. Even in places that are supposed to have coverage. But at least there are cars passing occasionally.


  19. #19
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    Always alone, me. People seem very friendly to me when I'm on the road. I was riding in eastern Colorado, no one visible for miles, and pulled to the side take a leak. In a matter of a few minutes a truck pulled over to inquire if I was alright, if I needed a ride to a town, etc. I declined the ride and ,dang, another car stopped a few moments later.

    I think I will sometimes put my faith in the kindness of others (and carry a chain tool).
    "ready to navigate"

  20. #20
    Senior Member mrodgers's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rm -rf View Post
    I get "no signal" pretty often. Even in places that are supposed to have coverage. But at least there are cars passing occasionally.

    Notice where the Rocky Mountains and the Appalachian Mountains are.

    Around me, Verizon is very spotty and AT&T is very good. Those at work who have camps up further north in the Allegheny National Forest though all switched from AT&T to Verizon because they had no cell coverage at camp.

    And then there's T-Mobile, which coverage is more like the uncovered areas of the above map in the quote.
    Ride no faster than your Guardian Angel can fly!

  21. #21
    Ceiclwr Hapus Gerryattrick's Avatar
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    Reading the responses I'm pretty happy that I'm already doing most of the right things. Until I lost my rucksack last week I had a pretty good selection of tools/spares that were always with me on rides. I'm temporarily using a small saddle bag to carry stuff but I'm looking for a new rucksack as I feel they're more versatile and, as I ride straight bars, they're no bother at all.

    There comes a time though where you realise you can't cover every eventuality, and just have to go for it.

  22. #22
    Seat Sniffer Biker395's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gerryattrick View Post
    There comes a time though where you realise you can't cover every eventuality, and just have to go for it.
    +1

    Plan for the worst ... hope for the best.
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  23. #23
    dbg
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    I do a ~30 mi workout ride several times a week, but I adopt a "clover leaf" approach where I do a western loop, a southern loop, and an eastern loop --so I'm rarely more than 5 or 6 miles from home. I carry only a tube and CO2 pump, but I can always walk back home. (and I'm thinking about adding a northern loop). My only risk is having a big problem at the peak of the last loop when darkness is setting in. That has happened only once.

    My destination rides (motel to motel, etc) are always with other riders.
    David Green, Naperville, IL USA "The older I get, the better I used to be" --Lee Trevino

  24. #24
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    That's a good idea dbg.

    Years ago when I was into long-distance MTBing, I finally realized that I had to cut back a bit due to the fact that I found my self riding alone and in the dark a few times while still in the hills (I was foolishly surprised on how easy it is to get lost when the sun goes down). So, I figured it'd be better to stay somewhat closer to "civilization" (this was before everyone had cell ph.s btw). Besides, it upset my wife when I didn' make it home shortly after sunset...

    Anyway, I quickly discovered miles and miles of shorter interconnecting trails that laced the very areas I often peddled right past on my way to the "horizon" so to speak. Not sure if this pertains to the OP's travels tho...

  25. #25
    Senior Member Wildwood's Avatar
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    GerryAttrick- all good suggestions above. I say take a camera and gets lots of photos, because the 2 hour drive over to your new riding area will likely prevent you getting there with any regularity. One of my favorite rides is about 1.5 hr drive away and then into territory with no mobile phone service, I only get there once or twice a year. I avoid descending at high speed when I'm on my own alone, and a few other things.
    '81 Austro Daimler Olympian, '87 DeRosa Professional, '91 Gary Fisher SuperCaliber, 1999 Calfee TetraPro, '03(?) Macalu Cirrus, '04 Tallerico, '97 Co-Motion Tandem

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