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Riding alone

Old 07-15-15, 11:26 AM
  #1  
essiemyra
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Riding alone

Hi, I am going on my first solo tryout of touring. I have ordered the tent and air pad. Now I am getting the urge to go out and try them this weekend. My issue is I am going alone. I do not feel safe at state campgrounds and I was thinking of riding to where my sister is camping and staying at a site there. That way I would know people.

I have done a supported tour last year and loved it. I also commute to work daily, so i am not new to riding or the miles I will do.

Any suggestions on how to get more comfortable with being alone? I am a fifty six year old woman if that makes any difference.
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Old 07-15-15, 12:21 PM
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I think it stinks, but, yes, it probably does make a difference that you are a woman. It is the unfortunate truth of the world that your gender more often than not makes you a target. This has not been as true in recent western history as it has been for most of world history, but it is still true.

So .. ideas to make you more comfortable being alone ... I think that the only real way to get comfortable being alone is to spend time alone.

It probably makes sense to stick to places that are moderately public. Nefarious activity LOVES it's privacy. A public place also gets you help quicker in the simple instance of an accident.

It probably also makes sense not to draw attention to one's self. Unfortunately, rolling a loaded touring bike down the road does draw attention. Might it be possible to make yourself appear as a local commuter, or some tree hugging green wacko utility rider, rather that someone far away from home and alone? This is, I think, one advantage to credit card touring, but it does skip the fun of camping out.

I might also be useful to obscure your gender if that is possible - perhaps with a short hair style and baggier MTB styled clothing, rather than tighter spandex roadie styles.

There are also technical solutions, such as SPOT SATELLITE MESSENGER :: HOME PAGE ,that can be used to track your location from afar. Perhaps one of those, along with a regular call-in schedule with a trusted friend, might help both to guard against both human evil and simple accident. You miss a call-in by half an hour, they call you. If you don't answer, they send help to your location as reported by the tracking device.

I think though, that the biggest help is probably just to not look lost. If you appear confident and in charge of your situation, if you look like you know where you are and where you are going, and like you have every right to be where you are standing, you are a lot less likely to be hassled.

Hope all goes well for you.
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Old 07-15-15, 12:37 PM
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I have a can of pepper spray mounted on my fork tube. Good for dogs, four legged and two legged.
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Old 07-15-15, 01:27 PM
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Toured out of the country solo several times .. now I live on what is a very popular tour route on the Pacific Coast.

I do see Women touring solo, but often its with a BF..
being a Popular route and all traveling the same direction and about the same speed , impromptu groups form.


adding its election season again .. Fear is a lever people Push to get Votes .. every 2 years

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Old 07-15-15, 01:34 PM
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Originally Posted by essiemyra View Post
Hi, I am going on my first solo tryout of touring. I have ordered the tent and air pad. Now I am getting the urge to go out and try them this weekend. My issue is I am going alone. I do not feel safe at state campgrounds and I was thinking of riding to where my sister is camping and staying at a site there. That way I would know people.

I have done a supported tour last year and loved it. I also commute to work daily, so i am not new to riding or the miles I will do.

Any suggestions on how to get more comfortable with being alone? I am a fifty six year old woman if that makes any difference.
Why don't you skip taking the bike out and find a friend to go camping with for a couple nights in the state park first?

Out of all the places I have camped (backpacking in the wilderness, developed national forest campgrounds, etc.) I feel safest at the state parks. I think they are also policed better. At least the states I have been to. Missouri state parks are top notch where I live.

Work your way into touring. It's not good for you or your health to not get a goods night rest and have to hop on the bike and roll l the next day.

Pepper spray is good. Check your state and local laws.

Jon

Last edited by jonc123; 07-15-15 at 01:34 PM. Reason: Can't spel.
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Old 07-15-15, 01:34 PM
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While I understand your concerns, and as a dude I have a different perspective: I for one don't think you have much to worry about.

The overwhelming number of victims of crime are male. About 75% of homicide victims are male. Most female victims of crime are, sadly, victims of domestic abuse.

Most state campgrounds should be fairly safe. In general, rural areas in the US have low crime rates. At the risk of not sounding soothing accidents (e.g. falling off your bike and getting injured, in an area with low traffic or poor access to hospitals) is a bigger risk. There's a small chance someone might try to steal your stuff in the middle of the night, but that's not a gender-specific risk.

Violent crime rates have been cut in half since the 1990s. In most parts of the US, it's as safe now as it was in the 1950s and 1960s.

Of course, it's all up to you and your comfort level. But I think you'd be fine.
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Old 07-15-15, 01:41 PM
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Bacciagalupe brings up a good point. Theft can be a problem anywhere. It would be a good idea to keep your gear in the tent with you.

It's rare, but can happen.
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Old 07-15-15, 04:01 PM
  #8  
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Does your fear come from direct experience or from the constant media drumroll of violent events around the world as though they happen everywhere to everyone? Family and friends will often (with the best of intentions) try to frighten you out of doing what they do not understand. My aging mother once called me worried about "home Invasions". She stopped worrying needlessly after I got her to turn off the TV news shows for two weeks.

You have survived commuting where the odds of an accident are greater than on tour on rural roads. You have successfully taken risks to even commute. Touring is just a small step beyond what you have already accomplished.

I have encountered lone female bicycle tourists from teenage to great grandmother age in North America, South America and in Europe bike touring safely without incident. Some researched camping options through their churches, service clubs, bicycle clubs, alumni groups, warm showers and others. Others asked at local police or fire stations for a safe place to camp with great success.

I hope you can reduce your anxiety enough to enjoy the benefits of bike touring regularly.
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Old 07-15-15, 05:07 PM
  #9  
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As a guy I can't really provide any direct advice, other than I think that state parks are some of the safest places you could camp.

I met a gal last summer (in a state park), she started her tour 100,000 km and seven years before I met her. Started in Africa, then Europe, then Asia and Japan, Australia, back to Asia for a while, then I met her on the Pacific Coast in Oregon. She had been traveling all this time alone. The first photo was of her packing up her bike in the morning to get going. Her bike frame was covered with the stickers of the various countries and cities she had visited. I saw her again later that day, took another photo of her.



If you need a little more experience bike touring to feel comfortable traveling alone, take some self supported trips with Adventure Cycling to get used to traveling by bike. On those trips it is common for people to travel alone during the day or in small groups because everybody has their own pace that they are most comfortable with.

Someone above mentioned a can of pepper spray. If you have something like that, just having it may make you feel safer. Or a bigger size like used for bears, but that would not be very convenient to carry around with you in a park.
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Old 07-15-15, 06:23 PM
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Originally Posted by Tourist in MSN View Post
I met a gal last summer (in a state park), she started her tour 100,000 km and seven years before I met her. Started in Africa, then Europe, then Asia and Japan, Australia, back to Asia for a while, then I met her on the Pacific Coast in Oregon. She had been traveling all this time alone. The first photo was of her packing up her bike in the morning to get going. Her bike frame was covered with the stickers of the various countries and cities she had visited. I saw her again later that day, took another photo of her.


Does she have a blog or website?
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Old 07-15-15, 06:44 PM
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I went to a presentation by this young lady last year. It is worth looking at.

the loong way home

During the past 2 decades of touring my wife and I have met many women touring solo. My wife is just a few years older than you, and one of her comments when we first encountered a solo woman was, " When I was in school, most young women would not have considered touring solo on a bike"; inferring it was a generational thing. Today women touring alone are pretty common.

Being comfortable while riding solo is an individual trait. I don't believe gender or age are factors. There are both young and older males on this forum that believe carrying a firearm for protection is a necessity. There are also folks of both genders that believe taking your gear, including bicycles, into their tent is the only way to make sure it is there in the morning. There are also the majority of riders who take reasonable precautions, trust people and are not fearful to the extreme.

I'd suggest looking at some of the tour journals on the "crazy guy on a bike" website for examples of how other bike tourers handle riding solo. https://www.crazyguyonabike.com/doc/...octype=journal

Good luck with your venture, and remember there are still a lot of great people out there.

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Old 07-15-15, 07:17 PM
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Originally Posted by jargo432 View Post
Does she have a blog or website?
She had a laptop but I did not ask if she was keeping a blog or not. I think she was a citizen of South Africa, so if she did it would likely be hosted there.
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Old 07-15-15, 07:30 PM
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I say gender aside, do it. I know your a female, but you want to go on your bike. That way when you go have fun and nothing strange happens like in the movie's you can relax and have a stroy to tell other folks in a few years.

I travel alone as a male, and I think many down play the dangers. I think it comes down to just being more mindful of actions and allowing cation to help make choices.
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Old 07-15-15, 08:24 PM
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I toured last summer solo from New York to California. Well started off solo and met a lifetime friend who road from Connecticut who rode with me from Colorado for the rest of the trip. I listened to lots of audio books one being "The Art of War." It kept me on my pedals if you will. I was also determined to set goals throughout my trip. I met a young lady from the UK in Colorado who was traveling solo. She started in Astoria Oregon if I can recall. I traveled the Atlantic Coast, Trans AM and Western Express routes. Not that it matters but I'm an African American male if that makes a difference to you at all.

I never had issues besides a few prick motorist who got a bit too close to me while riding. Otherwise people were friendly throughout many of the states I passed through and got accommodated very often in places like Virginia, Kentucky and Kansas. I wouldn't worry to much about it, just be vigilant and stick to your plan. You'll have a great time.

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Old 07-15-15, 08:59 PM
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Originally Posted by essiemyra View Post
Hi, I am going on my first solo tryout of touring. I have ordered the tent and air pad. Now I am getting the urge to go out and try them this weekend. My issue is I am going alone. I do not feel safe at state campgrounds and I was thinking of riding to where my sister is camping and staying at a site there. That way I would know people.

I have done a supported tour last year and loved it. I also commute to work daily, so i am not new to riding or the miles I will do.

Any suggestions on how to get more comfortable with being alone? I am a fifty six year old woman if that makes any difference.
Absolutely nothing wrong with the idea of camping with/near your sister. In fact, that's a great idea.


Also ...

-- if you're in a country other than the US, you might plan to stay at hostels. The hostels I've stayed in in Australia, Europe, Japan, and most of the ones in Canada have been pretty good.

-- or hotels if your budget will manage it.

-- you could plan trips to friends or family, and stay with them. Even one night with a friend ... one night on your own ... one night with a family member ... one night on your own, and repeat your way around for a couple weeks.

-- you could look up cycletouring groups within your destination location to see if they've got rides on. I've considered doing something like that across western Canada ... get a list of the tours cycletouring clubs in Victoria, Vancouver, Edmonton, Calgary, Regina, Saskatoon, and Winnipeg are doing, and plan a trip where I could go from one to the next to the next. There might be some solo stuff in between, but half the trip would be in a group environment.

-- hub-and-spoke tours might be an option for you. Find a location you like (maybe a nice hostel, for example) and then cycle out in different directions every day. Really explore the area.
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Old 07-16-15, 05:10 AM
  #16  
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Originally Posted by essiemyra View Post
I do not feel safe at state campgrounds and I was thinking of riding to where my sister is camping and staying at a site there.

Any suggestions on how to get more comfortable with being alone? I am a fifty six year old woman if that makes any difference.
Unless you are going to a state campground that is not frequently visited, do you think there will not be anyone there who who would come your aid in the highly unlikely event that someone messes with you?
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Old 07-16-15, 06:19 AM
  #17  
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This is not gender specific, but one of the key rules of touring alone is to trust your gut feeling. If a situation or location doesn't feel right to you, keep riding or avoid it by taking an alternative route.

One of the tricks Machka uses when necessary is to be nebulous in stating your plans for that day/weekend/week. In some cases, if the situation doesn't feel right, it might be appropriate to indicate you are going in the opposite direction to the one you really intend to take. And it doesn't hurt to take note of possible "escape routes" as you ride along.

I can't speak to camping in state parks in the US. Machka and I have stayed in a few of them, of varying standards, but generally we have felt secure; we've had more problems with masked bandits of the raccoon variety than anything else.

In all the riding I have done, I have felt uneasy only a handful of times when assessing a place to stay, a town to stop at, or people stopping their cars in my vicinity on a country road; it's pretty well as in normal social interactions away from cycling. And those less-than-savoury experiences are in stark contrast to the huge number of people with whom I have had great interactions.

As I inferred at the start, a lot of this is not gender specific, and really much of it comes down using your own judgment.
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Old 07-16-15, 09:18 AM
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Use your intuition and use discernment. Be aware of your surroundings at all times. Have fun & be safe.
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Old 07-16-15, 10:14 AM
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I did a shortened solo tour last year and loved it. Actually, the one thing that was never an issue was being female and older (57). People were amazingly courteous. In fact, at one rest stop, I was talking to a road worker and he was so worried for me that he was trying to find other bikers for me to ride with! It took some time for me to convince him that I was happy on my own. What works for me is music-sometimes I play it, sometimes it just runs in my mind. I find I'm able to solve a lot of niggling problems, too. What's really nice about being solo is that you can stop and start when you want, be as happy or as grumpy as you feel, etc, etc. I'm not very fast (a 3 legged Chihuahua would beat me), I have issues with heat (thyroid), and really like starting super-early--in other words, probably a nightmare for most other riders. Riding solo means I don't feel like I'm dragging everyone else down or be the reason why they're not getting in all of those centuries. It works for me and that's all that matters.

Two very important recommendations: 1) have some sort of ID on you at times (Road ID is fantastic) with all the important info and 2) have instant access to a cell phone. This happened to me...a "weirdo" was watching me at a very remote park and it gave me a really hinky feeling. I grabbed my cell and pretended to be having a conversation (using my hands very broadly) as though describing the car, weirdo, and area. It worked. After that, I did my best to stop in semi-populated areas.
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Old 07-16-15, 11:17 AM
  #20  
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I have met a fair number of women riding solo on long tours, mostly on the TA and the Pacific Coast. Some of them said that they maintained situational awareness but generally didn't find touring especially dangerous. That said, almost all of them were young women in their 20s. I don't think being older would make it any riskier though.
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Old 07-16-15, 12:37 PM
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I've toured thousands of miles alone. Situational awareness, trust your gut, etc. is what I do, as well as lying if someone asks me where I'm staying and I think they are creepy. On an extended tour, I've also changed plans from camping to staying in a motel in towns that felt creepy (which mostly means - poverty, broken bottles and winos in the campsites, being panhandled, that kind of thing).

Baby steps are fine, like camping near your sister. At some point if you want to tour and alone you are going to have to camp alone. It gets less uncomfortable. One of the things that is cool about touring (and many other sport-related activities) is that you get pushed out of your comfort zone and find out you can do a heck of a lot more than you thought you could. Don't let fear stop you from doing something you want to do.
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Old 07-16-15, 12:56 PM
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Originally Posted by valygrl View Post
...you get pushed out of your comfort zone and find out you can do a heck of a lot more than you thought you could. Don't let fear stop you from doing something you want to do.
This is one of the best things I've heard in a long time since joining here. Well said.

And it applies to more than just riding.
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Old 07-16-15, 06:04 PM
  #23  
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I want to thank everyone for all the advice. I will read and reread your answers so as to help me. You all have been very helpful with your advice and words of encouragement.

I was originally supposed to go away this weekend and then changed the plans so I could go camp where my sister is staying but if my camping equipment does not come in before Saturday I will not be able to go this weekend. But if it does come in, I am off and either in a state campground or at my sister's.
If this weekend does not work out it will be before the summer is over that I go on a solo tour.
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Old 07-16-15, 06:38 PM
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Feeling comfortable out on your own and alone takes a little getting used to. The best thing you can do, and lots of others have already said it, is trust your gut. I spent a lot of time all over the world, most of it alone and had very few problems. Pepper spray or a stun gun (if it is allowed in your state) are good alternatives and a good back up...but can never replace the common sense answer of just getting the heck out of there. I wonder if there is anyplace a person can go to hook up with other riders. I am also very new at this and a 68 year old male...God, I got old fast...LOL and have no idea where to go or even how to get started. But I will figure it out. Right now it is getting 105 in the daytime here and I will either try my hand at this further up North or wait until September/October when things cool down. Good luck and tell us how it goes.
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Old 07-16-15, 06:45 PM
  #25  
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Originally Posted by essiemyra View Post
I want to thank everyone for all the advice. I will read and reread your answers so as to help me. You all have been very helpful with your advice and words of encouragement.

I was originally supposed to go away this weekend and then changed the plans so I could go camp where my sister is staying but if my camping equipment does not come in before Saturday I will not be able to go this weekend. But if it does come in, I am off and either in a state campground or at my sister's.
If this weekend does not work out it will be before the summer is over that I go on a solo tour.
If it comes just before deadline to leave home, check the equipment at home first. The last thing you need is to find at a campground that there is something wrong with a new tent or sleeping bag. Set up the tent, if you have an air mattress blow it up, climb in the sleeping bag, etc. I even set up tents at home that I have used dozens of times to make sure nothing has gone wrong before I leave home.

Have a great time, think positive, hopefully it will not rain and hopefully your tires stay inflated.
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