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jm01 08-10-06 09:29 AM

Solo MTB at our age?...any precautions we should take?
Enjoyed my 56'th birthday a few weeks ago, and have continued to ride my home trails the last few weeks (70km of back country singletrack) solo...always pack my cell, spare tube, pump, water, and tools...wear a helmet, and ride my age (read "as a mature more hucks, drops, bunny hops over 18").

Anyway...I was thinking last week of a couple of things that happened and wonder if anyone takes other precautions when riding solo

A few years ago I stumbled upon a hiker who had broken her leg (the bone had poked through) about 10km into the bush...she had been there for 4 hours before i found her, peddled to our OPP station who came back with a 4x4 and got her out. The police later told me that if I hadn't found her, she would not have survived the night (coyotes)

The second example was a friend who went into the bush deer hunting last year, and when he didn't return to camp, his group went looking for him,,,found him with the deer he shot and was dragging back to camp...he died alone of a heart attack only 4 months after his 60'th birthday

So...I usually ride our maze of trails on impulse, rarely repeat the same route, and mix the tight technical sections with the wider climbs and descents...if something serious were to happen, it would be difficult to give my location on the cell, let alone direct anyone looking for me.

I used to carry a GPS...perhaps i should start to use it again...any other suggestions?

sch 08-10-06 09:39 AM

If no GPS, a loud whistle might come in handy for directing searchers attention your way. Not much you can do about sudden cardiac death, but among ways to die it is near the top of my list as a pleasant way to go. About 20-60 seconds max before the lights are out, could even be faster. Could be some chest pain, but not necessarily. Coyotes are extremely unlikely to attack even an injured adult, child maybe but not an adult.

leob1 08-10-06 09:45 AM

My cell phone has a feature where it can be located via GPS, if you can turn it on, make a call, and you local service provider has the technology installed.
Other than that, enjoy the ride.

jm01 08-10-06 09:56 AM

the whistle is a great idea...never thought of it but it makes sense

The Fox 40 goes in the pouch this weekend!

The coyotes are quite active here...we recently had a deer hit by a car and she ran into the trails...we found her in the morning torn to pieces...made quite the mess for about 100 yards

Thanks for the whistle idea...I'm also making sure that I have ID and medialert (diabetes) in the bag...unfortunately, my cell is old and has no GPS

jisaak 08-10-06 12:24 PM

I carry my cell on off road rides but there is an area where cell coverage is minimal at best. So depending on the area you ride a cell phone could be useless - unless you throw it at the coyotes.
Too bad the satellite phones have not become more reasonably priced. Many snowmobilers carry a sat phone since remote areas are have no cell coverage.

Coyote! 08-10-06 01:08 PM

We're over 50, not suddenly struck feeble. The same rules of prudence apply as they did at 18. In fact, something very like wisdom influences our decisions making us safer in the end. Get out there.

>>> The police later told me that if I hadn't found her, she would not have survived the night (coyotes)

Oh, brother. Some of my kin would love to know just where a pack of us are regarded with such abject fear. Looks like I'll tell 'em about Ontario. :)

stapfam 08-10-06 01:34 PM

I mainly ride offroad but always in a group- or at least the co-rider on the Tandem and that is one reason why I got the road bike. At least if I fall off on the road or have a problem- there is always a chance of a passing vehicle for assistance.
However I do the occasional offroad jaunt "Solo" but I take certain precautions. First of all I plan the route and let the wife know it. I always take a cell phone- but keep in contact with home every couple of hours or so and the ansaphone is on to leave a message if no-one in. My riding gets modified aswell. No objections to taking a tough route but keep an eye on the weather- just in case it is going to make the ride awkward. Downhills I do not go for though. That is the dangerous part and I don't mind flatout down a hill when I am in a group, but then there are others to get me to the hospital if it ever goes wrong.

I know that heart problems can hit a seemingly fit person at any time, and this is a risk that all of us take just walking down the road, but you have to be prepared to take this risk. If not- I would be sitting at home, worried about doing anything. Just like afriend of mine that had a bypass 2 years ago and other than trips to the hospital- he never leaves the house. I'll give it about 2 years before we will be burying him.

John E 08-10-06 02:17 PM


Originally Posted by Coyote!
We're over 50, not suddenly struck feeble. The same rules of prudence apply as they did at 18. In fact, something very like wisdom influences our decisions making us safer in the end. Get out there. ...

My sentiments precisely.

jm01 08-10-06 02:37 PM


Originally Posted by John E
My sentiments precisely.


at 18 i wasn't worried about diabetes, high BP, cholesterol...and had yet to bury any friends

Yet, i can still outride kids half my age on trails that make them pause:)

milt 08-10-06 03:23 PM

If you're really concerned with being able to communicate with someone in case of emergency, another option is VHF Amateur radio (HAM Radio.) These are available as very small 2-way radios that can transmit to repeater towers that often times offer better coverage than cell phones.

Yes, you do need a license to operate one. But, the FCC has greatly relaxed the testing requirements over the past few years and most any intelligent person can learn enough to pass the test.

For more information, find a HAM Radio Club in/near your area.


Monoborracho 08-10-06 11:56 PM

Last winter I went to one of the more remote state parks, camped out one night, and went mountain biking the next day. I did the two easy trails, then somewhat stupidly let a park ranger challenge me to a newer single track route. Big mistake.

I flipped the bike, did an "endo" with the bike still clipped to my feet, and slid right to the edge of a 30' drop. I know I was heading down a twisting path at better than 10 mph, but I'm still not sure what happened. It was like one of those nightmares where you are hanging on the edge, a loose rock separating you from the cliff, and when you push the rock moves instead of you. Legs hung up in the bike and every movement causes you to move closer to the edge. This really happened. I was able to extricate myself, and get back with a torn rotator cuff, a little bit of rash, and two big bruises on my legs and thighs that turned all shades of the rainbow during the following week.

Sometimes I still see that 30' drop, wonder how I didn't hit my head in the first place, and know I was lucky to have only hurt the shoulder. I'm sort of sure that a ranger would have eventually have found me, but it would have been hours after the fact.

Call me a weenie, I could care less. I still love to ride on well established trails and double track, but you can have the remote spots. I prefer rail trails. I've changed out the knobbies for 1.6" smoother tires. I keep a cell phone and someone knows where I am. I like the idea of a whistle. The surgery has been ugly, painful, and is going to be a long rehab. I'm finished with the technical challenges. They are no longer worth the risk.

Precautions ---- don't do stupid stuff, take a cell phone, wear a helmet, think about wearing some pads if you're really doing technical stuff, take a whistle, tell someone where you are.

A homing pigeon in your rack bag might be a good idea.

DnvrFox 08-11-06 05:38 AM

You could leave bread crumbs along the way!

We had 3 folks killed in a traffic accident just a couple of miles away last week. I haven't stopped driving my car.

I have buried all but one of my close high school male friends/buddies. But, life is to live.

Take common-sense precautions. Get a new cell phone with the GPS feature - they track you even if you don't make a call, just as long as they are turned on. Even when you aren't making calls, the cell phone is in continuous communication with the nearest antenna. That is how someone can call you, no matter where you are in the world. I called once to a friend that I didn't know was traveling and he answered in Italy. And, even better, when you do make that 911 call, they can triangulate you if there is more than one tower receiving you.

Get a couple of those cheaper walkie talkies. Give one to your wife. They have a range of from 2-5 miles. If you can't be found, as long as they can get moderately close to you, you can tell them where you are.

But, most of all, have fun.


Originally Posted by coyote!
Oh, brother. Some of my kin would love to know just where a pack of us are regarded with such abject fear. Looks like I'll tell 'em about Ontario.

Coyotes may go in packs, but foxes are the sly ones!


Solo MTB at our age?...
Naw, Solo MTB at any age...

jm01 08-11-06 07:10 AM

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good points...i guess we may as well enjoy the ride and hope the wife sends out a search party if I'm late for dinner...I flipped last year, dislocated my shoulder...worst thing was that the kid called me "flipper" until i could use my arm again!

anyway...this is me on a solo a couple of weeks ago

jisaak 08-11-06 08:07 AM

Hey jm01 - where do you ride? By the looks of your pics you might be on the escarpment. I live in the St. Kitts area and use a lot of the trails on the escarpment/valleys around here. Coming down for the Squeezer race?


jm01 08-11-06 08:50 AM

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hey jisaak

yep...we're at Wasaga Beach...these trails are part of the Ganaraska Hiking Trail on the east side of the bay, but we also ride Kolapore and 3 Stage on the mountain

Also do a lot of road along the escarpment...that's Mrs. M catching up to me on our run to Creemore-Glen Huron-Duntroon last week

It's Friday, we'll be on the trails in 4 hours!

Woo Hoo Squeezer for me...I hate crowds (and saw the mud LY)

bagster 08-11-06 05:06 PM

I always carry a cigarette lighter in my fanny pack. Mt. biking is often done in cold weather and that lighter cold come in handy if you were forced to spend the night on a lonely trail. Use it to light a signal fire, or to make a fire to stay warm.

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