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Touring Have a dream to ride a bike across your state, across the country, or around the world? Self-contained or fully supported? Trade ideas, adventures, and more in our bicycle touring forum.

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Old 05-15-05, 06:38 AM   #1
themegabides
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Women touring solo

i've only ever toured with my dad, and this summer i'll be with a male friend during my europe tour. i really want to tour australia next spring break during my senior year of college, but i can't imagine i'll find someone to come with me. i'm a twenty-year-old woman. is it conceivable that i could tour by myself, or would i be seriously risking my safety? by touring, i'm talking self-supported camping.

are there any other women here who frequently tour on their own? if so, where did you tour, and do you have any tips or anecdotes that might aid me in making this decision?
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Old 05-15-05, 07:32 AM   #2
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Do you ride in your own city of Dublin without being molested? Are there women, including you, who ride in other parts of Ireland without being troubled?

If I suggested that I was a woman (which I'm not) intending to tour in your country and city and I felt it might be unsafe to do so, what would your reaction be, as a resident? Would it be reasonable for me to suggest that riding in Ireland is totally unsafe because of the political violence that I perceive exists there?

I think that you can ride with the same safety as anyone in Australia. I say that as an Australian.

If you want any references to women touring alone look up www.crazyguyonabike.com, and in particular people such as Heidi Domiesen. Others here will suggest other women who have successfully toured alone across the world.

Frankly, your desired adventures are no different from those followed by myriad solo female backpackers, except you'll get much greater pleasure and experiences because you will be riding by bike.

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Old 05-15-05, 08:59 AM   #3
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Hi Megan, I am a female solo tourist. I had some concerns about it before I did it, too, but I would recommend it, you just have to be smart about it.

So far, my solo tours have been New Zealand (2 months), California (1 1/2 weeks) and cross country USA (6 weeks solo, 4 with various companions). I am a self-supported camper.

I love touring solo. I found that in both the USA and NZ, people were highly friendly and helpful. The smaller the town, the nicer the people, for the most part. I think you have to keep your radar on - pay attention to your surroundings, and if you have a bad feeling about a place or a person, act on it. For example, I rolled into one small town, and was planning to camp in the park, but then I got panhandled a couple of times outside the grocery store. There were a lot of very poor people there, and a weird unwelcome vibe, so I ended up renting a cheap hotel room so I would feel safe.

On the other hand, if you have a good feeling, act on that too! I got invited into peoples homes, shared camp sites, camp fires, etc.

For camping the strategies I used were:
1) I often camped in pay campgrounds, with other folks around
2) I introduced myself to the camp host, and made sure s/he knew I was alone
3) If there was a party crowd, I went elsewhere if possible
4) For city park camping, I checked with the police first, and made sure it was ok to camp in the park, and let them know I would be there, so maybe they could check on me
5) When people asked where I was going to stay that night I was vague or lied, or said I didn't know yet
6) If I had to be alone, I made sure I was really alone - no one knew I was there

Most of all, I acted confident and competent, and put out an "I can take care of myself and I'm not scared" vibe. It makes a difference.

I hope you decide to go for it, it's an amazing experience.

Feel free to PM me if you want to chat more... (but I'll be gone on a climbing trip in a couple of days).

Anna
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Old 05-15-05, 12:09 PM   #4
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Lot of cycling info on OZ here...

http://users.chariot.net.au/~gloria/
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Old 05-15-05, 12:22 PM   #5
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I've done some solo touring in Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia as well have met some women who were also doing solo tours. It's not an impossibility. One of my favourite authors, Josie Dew, is a long time tourer on her own and is actually working on another book (her 6th I believe) on her travels through New Zealand (visit http://www.josiedew.co.uk). I'm not going to re-hash what valygrl said since she said it well. Just be aware is the most powerful thing. Other than that.. it's a great way to travel and you travel at your own pace (I tend to be fast when I do my tours -- others like slower). Personally, it's all about the exploration.
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Old 05-15-05, 12:26 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by valygrl
5) When people asked where I was going to stay that night I was vague or lied, or said I didn't know yet
I haven't done a whole tour solo, but I have done some very long solo rides, and have done parts of a tour solo, and I've done exactly what you said above. I've even gone a step further when I felt I was being questioned a little too much and told them that I was meeting friends in a town 30 kms up the road (or wherever). In fact, when I am out there alone, I ride with my map in front of me so that I can specifically name that town 30 kms up the road, so it sounds like I know what I'm talking about. Once I even came up with a whole story that a group of coworkers and I had decided to go camping at this place, and they were too lazy to ride their bicycles there, but they were all heading out that way in cars, and would be by to check on how I was doing ... and then we were going to meet up at the campground ... blah, blah, blah ...


Also, don't be afraid to take alternate transportation through areas where you think you would feel uncomfortable travelling - for example, if I can take a train through a city, rather than cycling through, I do. I've also opted for coaches (busses) to get me through some difficulties. One of the first things I do when I arrive in a new area to start touring is to find the local tourist information place, and pick up coach and train schedules. Then I plan my route using coaches and trains (rather than the bicycle) so that I know I've got a bail-out option if I need it.

And speaking of tourist information centers, I highly recommend them ... especially in Australia! Every little town had one and they were great, very helpful and almost like a travel agency. You can pick up all sorts of information about the area you are travelling through. You can get hostelling information if you want to take a break from camping - they will even call ahead for you and book you into a hostel up the road. You can find out about the campgrounds in the area, and sometimes they will even tell you that this one is a family type of campground, while that one is more for the partiers, etc.

About hostels, if you are looking for a travelling companion over there, I would suggest staying at a few hostels and taking a look around for others who might be cycling. Perhaps you can ride with someone for a day or two. Plus hostels get you into a group of other travelling people which can be a nice break from the solitariness of cycling. Even if you only use them a few times, I'd recommend getting your Hostelling International membership ... you can get into the better hostels with it, and you can get all sorts of discounts for other things with it.

I just got back from a three-month cycling tour of Australia, so if you've got more specific questions, take a look at my website (in the signature line) or PM me.
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Old 05-15-05, 11:17 PM   #7
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Australia is harmless. Don't go riding around buck nekked and you'll be ok.

Seriously, though... I've toured all the time solo with no problems yet. I've done bike tours and backpacked for years. Absolutely no problems.

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Old 05-16-05, 02:24 PM   #8
themegabides
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Originally Posted by Rowan
If I suggested that I was a woman (which I'm not) intending to tour in your country and city and I felt it might be unsafe to do so, what would your reaction be, as a resident? Would it be reasonable for me to suggest that riding in Ireland is totally unsafe because of the political violence that I perceive exists there?
whoops, i meant no offense to australia! i was talking about touring solo in general. i suppose the wording of my question could have been clearer; i was just trying to provide an example of what kind of touring i'm thinking about doing in the future, but i in no way meant to imply that i think i'd be in danger in australia. on the contrary, i'm actually considering australia as a first choice because i've heard it's one of the safest places for bike touring.

i'm actually american, not irish, but i caught your drift. sorry about any offense you may have taken.
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Old 05-16-05, 05:41 PM   #9
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Two women that I've interviewed toured solo for significant distances:

- Moni Neville - Cross USA

http://www.bicycletouring101.com/Int...oniNeville.htm

- Heidi Domeisen - All over the place from NC to Alaska and back

http://www.bicycletouring101.com/Int...diDomeisen.htm

Both interviews had questions related to women touring solo.

~Jamie N
www.bicycletouring101.com
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Old 05-16-05, 07:52 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by themegabides
whoops, i meant no offense to australia! i was talking about touring solo in general. i suppose the wording of my question could have been clearer; i was just trying to provide an example of what kind of touring i'm thinking about doing in the future, but i in no way meant to imply that i think i'd be in danger in australia. on the contrary, i'm actually considering australia as a first choice because i've heard it's one of the safest places for bike touring.

i'm actually american, not irish, but i caught your drift. sorry about any offense you may have taken.
It's OK. No offence really taken.
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Old 05-17-05, 05:38 AM   #11
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Have you heard of Dervla Murphy, the Irish woman who travels around the world on non-conventional means of transport? She wrote "Full Tilt" (published by Penguin), a book from her diary on her trip From Dublin to New Delhi, and is a really enjoyable, unputdownable one, apart from the many tips and suggestions you can find in it (she even carried a gun, but remember that she crossed all Europe (during one of the worst winters in history) and Asia on her own--never had to use it apart from having to scare off a pack of wolves that attacked her in a Yugoslavian? forest). Mind also, that the book dates back to the 1960's, when touring bikes really didn't exist, and that the mechanical/technical side of the book surely is outdated.

Bon courage.

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Old 05-17-05, 08:43 PM   #12
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hey! i JUST had a fight with my mom about touring with my sister. I've just discovered biking and am about to enter college. perhaps I could go with you next year to Australia? I planned to do something along the lines of biking in Europe or Australia anyway.
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Old 05-21-05, 03:15 PM   #13
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A friend of mine travelled cross-country (US) last summer alone. Some people thought she was being foolhardy, but I thought it was fine. The only thing I worried about was if she were to find herself in some kind of medical emergency in the middle of Montana. I think anyone, man or woman, can tour alone safely with preparation.
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