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Any reason to be nervous?

Old 09-02-14, 02:27 PM
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Any reason to be nervous?

Hey Guys and Gals,

I'm taking a trip from Oregon to North Dakota starting at the end of this month. I have everything all set to go as far as gear goes and whatnot. I just have a couple of questions... I have been pestered a bit by family and friends as far as trusting people on the roads and safety issues. I have no worries as far as being prepared, but do you guys have any words of wisdom as far as trusting people? Any issues with camping or people bothering you while you are pedalling down the road?

I plan to mostly camp, whether it is stealth camping or paying for a spot, as well as getting a hotel every once in a while.

Thank you for your time and advice!
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Old 09-02-14, 02:53 PM
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Practicing situational awareness at all times can save you a ton of grief if the wrong person comes along. It's been said that 10% of the population will NEVER steal under any circumstances, 10% are COMPULSIVE thieves and the rest will steal only if they think they've got a good chance of not getting caught!! As for violent criminals.................uh golly, I carry pepper spray and a roscoe!

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Old 09-02-14, 02:56 PM
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no problems on a nine month tour ('95), similar to the one you plan. i was solo. i always made it a point when stealth camping to maximize the "stealthy" part of it.
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Old 09-02-14, 03:12 PM
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I have crossed the country a couple times and done some other long tours. In my younger days I hitch hiked across the country. I met a lot of nice people and was shown a great deal of hospitality. I figure that touring is safer than riding around home. I show warmth, openness, and a smile to 99% of the folks along the way and they almost always return the same. For the other 1%...I just avoid contact with those that set off my radar.
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Old 09-02-14, 03:22 PM
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I've never had a problem and I've bicycled in all but 7 or the states. Hell, just getting someone to talk to you is more of a problem than having anyone hassling me. You are the crazy person on the bicycle after all
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Old 09-02-14, 04:31 PM
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Your route goes through small town America. That's a lot safer than more "developed" areas, where some random paranoid nutjob can stab you because you're using your phone: Farmington Man Stabbed to Death in Florida | NBC Connecticut
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Old 09-02-14, 05:50 PM
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My guess is you will likely be at greater risk from traffic than untrustworthy people.

Would they be equally concerned if you were biking/camping in your home locale?

Life is uncertain, but doesn't hurt to practice some situational awareness, and for traffic avoid doing stupid things (e.g. biking at night w/o any lights). However, my own experiences like others have mentioned here wouldn't cause particular alarm. I've biked in all 50 US States including Oregon to Maine once by way of North Dakota.

As far as people pestering goes, that is pretty far down the list, but can only think of a few situations:
- Cycling through Homestead FL (not on your way from OR to ND unless you were to get lost ), folks did cycle along with questions about "how much does that bike cost" type questions. Not by itself alarming, though wasn't necessarily where I'd start conversations, so mostly brushed them off and left
- Cycling across Russia, there seem to be a few more "town drunks" that found us fascinating, and having only basic language skills, didn't always know their intent, so brushed them off.
- Camping in US, no real issues, though animals can make interesting noises at night...

I am large and male, so that likely also helps with unwanted attention, but the sorts of risks you mention above hasn't been an issue for me - and again think the risk of traffic is probably higher.
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Old 09-02-14, 06:14 PM
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I have had a similar reaction for going on a solo bike trip, I'm leaving late September as well so similar feelings. I think that people are alarmed because it does seem very intense! It's an ambitious idea and it takes an ambitious person, kudos.
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Old 09-02-14, 06:21 PM
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Originally Posted by mev
Would they be equally concerned if you were biking/camping in your home locale?

This is it exactly.

Each of us, wherever we live in various parts of the world, go out and ride here, there and everywhere in the evenings and on weekends. We aren't overly concerned about it. Friends and family aren't overly concerned about it.

So I figure if I go to another part of the world, where other cyclists (like all of you, for example) ride quite happily, why should I be nervous, concerned, worried. You ride there and you're all right.

When it dawned on me, many years ago, that the "foreign" places I was visiting were someone's home, that they weren't foreign at all to the people who lived there, that people lived there quite contentedly and carried out their day-to-day business just like I did in the place I lived ... my fear factor almost disappeared.


That said, it is good to be aware. Pay attention to traffic, pay attention to shady situations.

As a female who has cycled solo a fair amount, I am also very reserved with the information I hand out. I wouldn't, for example, tell anyone I was cycling solo to North Dakota. If asked, I might say I was cycling to ... whatever the next town on the map happened to be. If asked whether or not I was alone (and I have been asked that), I indicate that I am not alone. I hint that I'm meeting people there, or that my father will be driving by shortly to check on me, or something. If I feel at all uncomfortable with an area or a situation, I leave.

Communication with family and friends is also helpful. When I've travelled, I've sent emails home almost every day. My parents (not the whole world ... I don't broadcast it on facebook, for example) know my plans for the next few days, and I check in with them regularly. If you've got friends or family along the route, that's really helpful too. You might be able to stay a night with them, or stop in for coffee or something. It can be reassuring for those concerned when you've made personal contact with someone along the way, and it can also be comforting for you too ... to see a familiar face, to talk to someone you know.

Under the communication category, many towns have bicycle shops and cycling clubs. If you get feeling uncomfortable riding alone all the time, look up the clubs along the way and see if they've got events on. Maybe you could take a Saturday and ride with a particular club ... you'll see the area and meet some people. I've done something like this a couple times with the CTC in the UK ... gone on a mid-tour club ride. Really enjoyed it!

Flexibility with the plans is helpful as well. If something happens along the way (let's say for example, a heavy rain floods the road you're riding and you have to take a long detour), if you've built flexibility and days off into your plan, you won't be tempted to do silly things like taking dangerous shortcuts or riding much longer hours than originally planned etc. to make up for it.
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Old 09-02-14, 06:31 PM
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Thank you guys for the info! Definitely relieves some of the slight anxeity the family and friends have been creating. I'm pretty excited for this trip, just needed a bit of reassurance!
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Old 09-02-14, 08:32 PM
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gun talk is strictly limited to the politics and religion forum. Sorry for the inconvenience.
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Old 09-02-14, 09:09 PM
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I've toured for over 40 years in 9 countries, as well as extensively in North America. My attitude is similar to some of the other posters on this thread: 99% of the folks I ran into were good people. A very large percentage of them were great people and exceptionally nice to me.

I've cycled through many large cities, including Detroit, Chicago, Cleveland, LA, Boston, Oakland, San Diego, and San Francisco; without any major issues. A smile and a friendly "hello" go a long way even in sketchy neighborhoods. As a previous poster said, "situational awareness is the key". .

We carry these on our tours, and use them a lot.



Make up some of these for your tour; it is a nice way to say thank you.

Last edited by Doug64; 09-02-14 at 09:54 PM.
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Old 09-02-14, 09:40 PM
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Originally Posted by unterhausen
gun talk is strictly limited to the politics and religion forum. Sorry for the inconvenience.
You missed one. See post 2. 45 ACP isn't referring to 45 members of the Association of Contingency Planners or 45 doctors from the American College of Physicians Hence my comment that has now disappeared.
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Old 09-02-14, 09:42 PM
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Originally Posted by Doug64
It must be tough going through life thinking this way.
Yeah, you can't believe how tormented I am knowing that in the admittedly slim chance I have to deal with a vicious felon I'll at least have a fighting chance. However, this is a very subjective and personal topic and I don't criticize people who choose to go through life unprotected, that's their choice not mine.

EDIT: Another aspect of this topic is that I'm 5'7" tall (average height for an American male is 5'9") and I weigh about 175 pounds. Additionally, I'm 71 years old. Having always been small for my age I've suffered through more than my fair share of bullying. There's a guy at work who is 6'6" and weighs in at about 240 and I'm guess'n he's never in his entire life had to deal with aggressive criminal types. If a criminal has his druthers he chooses the smaller and older man to victimize than the larger and younger one, criminals being what they are (cowards). So, my thinking about this topic has pretty much always been that I'd best be prepared to take care of myself or be prepared to suffer the consequences. YMMV

Last edited by Louis Le Tour; 09-03-14 at 07:08 PM.
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Old 09-02-14, 09:53 PM
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Originally Posted by Louis Le Tour
Yeah, you can't believe how tormented I am knowing that in the admittedly slim chance I have to deal with a vicious felon I'll at least have a fighting chance. However, this is a very subjective and personal topic and I don't criticize people who choose to go through life unprotected, that's their choice not mine.
You are correct. I apologize for sounding so critical. It was uncalled for. My previous post has been edited.

I don't go through life unprotected; I use SPF 70

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Old 09-02-14, 09:59 PM
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Originally Posted by budfan08
I'm taking a trip from Oregon to North Dakota starting at the end of this month.
I suspect a bigger concern for you than the occasionally annoying person you might meet along the way will be weather.

You're cycling from Oregon to North Dakota starting at the end of September? Depending on where you're starting and ending, that's approx. 2200 km. How long are you planning to take to do that? And are you planning on cycling through the mountains? Do you have experience cycling in snow?
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Old 09-02-14, 10:20 PM
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Originally Posted by Machka
I suspect a bigger concern for you than the occasionally annoying person you might meet along the way will be weather.

You're cycling from Oregon to North Dakota starting at the end of September? Depending on where you're starting and ending, that's approx. 2200 km. How long are you planning to take to do that? And are you planning on cycling through the mountains? Do you have experience cycling in snow?
Good point!

This is a good site to find historical weather stats. It might give you an idea of whet you might encounter.
https://weatherspark.com/averages/28...olumbia-Canada
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Old 09-02-14, 10:30 PM
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Originally Posted by Machka
I suspect a bigger concern for you than the occasionally annoying person you might meet along the way will be weather.

You're cycling from Oregon to North Dakota starting at the end of September? Depending on where you're starting and ending, that's approx. 2200 km. How long are you planning to take to do that? And are you planning on cycling through the mountains? Do you have experience cycling in snow?
I live in Nodak so I am pretty familiar with winter conditions. I am actually starting on sept 25th so I hope to get through the mountains before the conditions start to deteriorate. I hope to be finished around October 13th-15th. Should be doable I think. Mid October is when the snow tends to stick in Montana from what I read so hopefully I am long gone before that occurs. I am bringing some winter gear to be prepared
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Old 09-03-14, 03:36 AM
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A big aspect of this is that how you are treated is your own attitude and behavior. Most of the folks I met on tour reported meeting mostly warm, friendly, kind, and generous folks. One guy we leap frogged a good bit of the way on the Trans America had problems many places he went. The difference I saw was that he thought of the locals as hicks and hay seeds, the truckers as murderous thugs, and generally expected the worst from people. With that attitude and those expectations he managed to bring out the worst in folks. Still, even with his poor attitude he was met with hospitality a lot of the time.

Smile and treat folks well and they will generally return the favor. Oh and one other thing that I found made a big difference... Take off your sunglasses when talking to people. That last is a bigger deal than folks realize. Rural folks will accept the funny clothes, shoes, and odd means of transport if they can see your eyes when you talk to them.
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Old 09-03-14, 05:50 AM
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Originally Posted by stevepusser
Your route goes through small town America. That's a lot safer than more "developed" areas, where some random paranoid nutjob can stab you because you're using your phone: Farmington Man Stabbed to Death in Florida | NBC Connecticut
While it's rarer, that can happen in small town America. Take, for example, the teacher who was murdered in eastern MT (Shelby), near the ND border, during her morning jog.

OP: I hope you know to steer clear of the Williston, ND area. Crime, drinking, and drugs are now serious problems as is truck traffic. Both are the result of oil extraction. ACA actually changed its main Northern Tier route to avoid the area.
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Old 09-03-14, 06:14 AM
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Originally Posted by indyfabz
While it's rarer, that can happen in small town America. Take, for example, the teacher who was murdered in eastern MT (Shelby), near the ND border, during her morning jog.
True, however, especially if you live in or near a major city you are probably less likely to be the victim of foul play when on tour than in your normal daily life.
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Old 09-03-14, 06:15 AM
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Originally Posted by indyfabz
While it's rarer, that can happen in small town America. Take, for example, the teacher who was murdered in eastern MT (Shelby), near the ND border, during her morning jog.

OP: I hope you know to steer clear of the Williston, ND area. Crime, drinking, and drugs are now serious problems as is truck traffic. Both are the result of oil extraction. ACA actually changed its main Northern Tier route to avoid the area.
I'm told sheep in that area are pretty nervous too.

ON a more serious note. My daughters bike was stolen off of the GAP last month after she was lulled into a false sense of security by business owners constantly telling them bikes never get stolen off of the trail. Of course she listened to them and not DAD! Who handed her a bike lock and mace before sending her and her friends on their way. BTW, it was the same mace canister that I carry with me when I ride. Having had a couple of incidents with intoxicated fellows on my morning ride to work, both times were after big sporting events, I considered carrying something heavier but felt I would likely end up regretting it so I decided mace would be a somewhat comforting compromise.

If I were traveling across country alone I would definitely carry pepper spray.
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Old 09-03-14, 06:29 AM
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Be nervous about ranch dogs. Ranch dogs suck. I dream of killing one some day.
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Old 09-03-14, 07:15 AM
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end of September _ you wont have Late June's long days so starting and ending riding in the dark ?,

or having short ones so will take longer... & it will be colder overnight. you are gaining altitude ..
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Old 09-03-14, 07:56 AM
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Originally Posted by edthesped
ON a more serious note. My daughters bike was stolen off of the GAP last month after she was lulled into a false sense of security by business owners constantly telling them bikes never get stolen off of the trail. Of course she listened to them and not DAD! Who handed her a bike lock and mace before sending her and her friends on their way. BTW, it was the same mace canister that I carry with me when I ride. Having had a couple of incidents with intoxicated fellows on my morning ride to work, both times were after big sporting events, I considered carrying something heavier but felt I would likely end up regretting it so I decided mace would be a somewhat comforting compromise.

If I were traveling across country alone I would definitely carry pepper spray.
Out of curiousity, where was the bike stolen? I rode the GAP last year as part of a cross-PA tour and did not bring a lock with me. The only time I felt I would have used a lock was while gorcery shopping in Connellsville. Instead, I asked for permission to bring my bike inside the store and was allowed. While sleeping in one of the Adirondack shelters there, I positioned myself between the entrance and the bike. You would have had to step on me to steal it. The only other stops I made where I left my bike unattended were in Boston for a takeout sandwich at a bar, Confluence for BBQ and two places in Rockwood. The Boston stop was the only time I could not keep a general eye on the bike so I went inside, ordered, paid and went back outside until the sandwich was ready. I saw no appreciable threat camping in Rockwood.

I will be riding across PA again starting Saturday. I will be taking a small combo lock and cable for the times I have to shop in mid-sized towns like Clearfield abd Bellefonte. Most of my trips have been solo ones. Have never felt the need to cary anything like mace.
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