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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jun 2012
    Posts
    251

    Riding Solo - staying safe

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    Since I started riding again back in mid June, I've ridden a fair bit. All of the miles but 40 have been by myself. I do all I can think of to stay safe being a solo female on the road... beyond just general cycling safety on the road.

    Still, I had something happen this past week that made me a think more about my personal safety.

    I ride 90% on rural roads. While traffic is a concern, being isolated is actually potentially more worrisome. I have my routes mapped out on ride with gps and let dh know which route I'm riding and estimated duration. I email him when I'm leaving and email him when I get home if he's at work and not at home. I carry a cell phone. I have a better world club membership. I have a road id. I never ride listening to music and I stay very aware of my surroundings. I'm equipped to handle minor repairs on the road. What else could one do?

    I LOVE riding alone. And it has never worried me to be a solo female rider. Even now, with this thing that happened, it doesn't dampen my joy of riding and riding solo one bit. When I started riding, there weren't cell phones, road id, internet, gps, or anything else. I wasn't even in a relationship much of the time, so nobody to call if something happened. There is so much more one can do now. But I would want to do everything in my power to ensure my safety.

    So, if anyone has thoughts on riding solo, safety, etc... please discuss.
    The bicycle has done more for the emancipation of women than anything else in the world. ~ Susan B. Anthony

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    Location
    Louisville, KY
    Posts
    23
    I have some pepper spray on my bike. It hangs from my handle bar with a keychain connection that has a latch to remove it quickly. Other than that, I don't think there's a whole lot one can do.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Location
    Western Canada-prairies, mountain & ocean
    Posts
    6,984
    Pepper spray in pocket in rural areas, sounds like an excellent thing.

    It does help to know one's own personal cycling speed/stamina..if you have cycle far /out of danger. If you suspect a wierdo human being along a route might show up again, might be worthwhile cycling with DH same route/area at random times. Just to send a little message also, that there are other people in your life.

    Would it be worth reporting to the police if it happens again?
    My Personal blog on cycling & other favourite passions.
    遙知馬力日久見人心 Over a long distance, you learn about the strength of your horse; over a long period of time, you get to know whatís in a personís heart.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Aug 2008
    Location
    So Cal.
    Posts
    501
    The main points, you have already covered. Carrying tools and a cell phone, leaving your ride info with others, road id, staying aware. Good points. There is only so much one can do, short of riding around in a suit of armor with a gaggle of bodyguards behind you.

    The two things that become most important in an emergency where you may have to take action are TIME and DISTANCE. Each provides the other. Time to react- put on the brakes, call 911, reverse direction, head for a neighbors house. Distance-removal from threat or danger provides the time to think through what you need to do. Being aware is probably the most important thing at any time you are in public. This will provide distance and time. When I was aware I was being followed in my car, it gave me the time to react, the time to think. It gave me distance, as I was not hemmed in my driveway- I was a few miles from home on a public street and still in my car driving. That distance gave me some time and I was able to use that time to formulate a plan that kept myself, and my family at home, safe. I reversed direction and they turned around and followed me all the way to the parking lot of the Highway patrol.

    So it may seem simplistic. But being aware is probably the best thing we can all do. Those YouTube videos of people falling down stairs and onto train tracks as they are obliviously texting may be funny, but they underscore my point. Without awareness nothing else matters.

    Pepper spray may be better than nothing if you know how to use it and YES go out to an empty field, setup a target at the recommended distance and USE it. SEE how it sprays out, can you point it well? Did you just spray some attacker in the neck or chest and piss him off (not a good idea) or did you hit him in the face with it. Can you do that under stress with your heart pounding as you are running? Pepperspray is a REACTION. You are already in trouble. Best not to be in that situation if possible. Awareness first. If the place you are in is making the hairs on the back of your neck stand up- listen to yourself and get out of there. I thought I was being silly at first when I was being followed home by a car with 4 young men playing rap music. But my gut told me to watch them, and I began to zig zag through main streets and they followed. No more silly- react now before trouble starts.

    Sorry for the long post, but you can see I have spent some time dwelling on this myself. Not just for cycling, but for my daily life. I don't listen to music or text as I walk about, cycle or drive. I try to be aware. I look in the back seat before opening the car door, I close and lock the door immediately when I get in, and remain aware of who else is around me. I cycle on roads that are well traveled, and that I am familiar with. When on vacation I have gone over the maps before leaving and have a GPS and always know where I am. When MTBing alone, I skip the more fun less traveled trails and stick to the trails that have equestrian and hiking traffic along with other cycle traffic.

    It can be tough to remain alert and all too easy to just zone out with Twitter or other such nonsense.
    Tzvia- rollin' slow...
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  5. #5
    Join Date
    Aug 2011
    Location
    Portland, OR
    Posts
    36
    I have Google Lattitude on my phone. When I'm riding, my partner keeps an eye on my dot on the map. It's not perfect, but it helps her to feel better when she can see that my dot is still moving. Not helpful in the event of a weirdo confrontation, but possibly helpful in the event of illness, injury, mechanical issue, etc.

    Gillian
    Surly LHT
    Surly Big Dummy!

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jun 2012
    Location
    MI
    Posts
    63
    I've been trying to figure out a way to pack a pistol on me while riding and not have it get in the way. No joke. I ride solo alot as well and when it's time to tack on the miles that take me further and further I start to worry. I do like the idea of hanging pepper spray with a quick release.
    Felt F65
    Specialized Crux Expert Force (My baby)

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    Location
    The Great White North
    Posts
    662
    I carry pepper spray in my tool bag. Guess it might be more useful to make it more easily accessible.

    2001 Trek 7500 FX, converted to a hauler - Serfas
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  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jul 2012
    Location
    Sunny CA
    Posts
    49
    Quote Originally Posted by kamikazejane View Post
    I've been trying to figure out a way to pack a pistol on me while riding and not have it get in the way. No joke. I ride solo alot as well and when it's time to tack on the miles that take me further and further I start to worry. I do like the idea of hanging pepper spray with a quick release.

    There are a zillion great holsters for women these days, and I am certain you can find one that would work to take with you on the bike. Just make sure you can legally carry a firearm on your person first. Www.corneredcat.com and www.thewellarmedwoman.com are both excellent resources. Pepper spray is good if you can't have a firearm, but your attacker will have to be fairly close for you to use it, and if your attacker happens to be high on illicit drugs, even a direct shot of pepper spray to the face may be totally ineffective. A firearm is truly the great equalizer. Good luck!
    Wherever I go, there I am!

    2012 Rivendell Betty Foy

  9. #9
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Southeast Nebraska
    Posts
    459
    Never heard of Google Latitude and looked it up. Neat idea, however DH doesn't have a smart phone and neither do my kids. Is there a way they could follow me online via my home computer? That would make me feel TONS safer knowing I was being followed by my kids.

    Probably not since I'm guessing it needs a GPS unit to track. Still would be awesome if someone could figure that out for a home computer.

    I have a love/hate relationship with riding alone. I love the freedom but there's always the "what if" factor even on well traveled roads. Like the OP, I ride rural roads. While they are traveled, something could happen and no one would see it. It's not so much as being assaulted but having an accident that ends with me in a ditch and not being seen.

    The bike trail I use occasionally has no side roads so if you are stuck, it's a long walk back to the car. I had two deer jump out just in front of me that gave me a scare as I could have fallen into the river 10 feet below if they'd come much closer. There is a railing of sorts, but it's not that sturdy.

    As for being safe, letting the people in your life know where you are is key. Staying aware of your surroundings and having plans for the possible things that could happen while out is another. A road trip is different than a trail trip.

    If I'm out on the bike trail, I have food/water in my pack. I added a lightweight cycling jacket the other day. I wear loud visible clothing every time I ride. I need to buy a whistle and plan to throw in a small flashlight. I don't ride the trail in the evenings, but it's a just in case thing. I'm now used to the deer and get amazed at their grace.

    Road trip is knowing where the rough parts are so I don't skid out. I don't bomb down the hills and I don't let the semis scare me when they go blowing past. I've actually learned to draft when they come by. Gravel roads means staying out of the center as that's where the cars are.

    I don't ride at the same time every day either or have a set schedule of what days I ride the roads or trail.

    Not sure where'd you put a gun and my worry would be that it would accidentally go off while on the bike. You'd need a holster of some kind. Maybe a hunting store would have more options.

    And like someone else posted, if something seems off..it is. Go home. Call someone to get picked up. Go to a lighted area with lots of people. Know where the police station is. I keep track of where houses are on the roads so if something seems off I can go to a house and ask for help.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jun 2012
    Location
    MI
    Posts
    63
    Quote Originally Posted by LovelyGirl View Post
    There are a zillion great holsters for women these days, and I am certain you can find one that would work to take with you on the bike. Just make sure you can legally carry a firearm on your person first. Www.corneredcat.com and www.thewellarmedwoman.com are both excellent resources. Pepper spray is good if you can't have a firearm, but your attacker will have to be fairly close for you to use it, and if your attacker happens to be high on illicit drugs, even a direct shot of pepper spray to the face may be totally ineffective. A firearm is truly the great equalizer. Good luck!
    Michigan is a friendly gun toting state ....for the time being until our rights as Americans continue to be striped away, but that's a topic for another thread lol

    Thanks for the links. I will have to check them out. I could probably clip it into my back jersey pocket. I would have to practice drawing it from there. I could probably get a bag to carry towards the front on my top tube and slip it in there leaving an opening for easy access and draw. But then if I am knocked off my bike I don't have access to it so it's pointless to carry at that point. Then I worry about it being up against my skin when Iam sweating salty sweat all over it.
    Last edited by kamikazejane; 08-17-2012 at 10:50 AM.
    Felt F65
    Specialized Crux Expert Force (My baby)

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Nov 2005
    Location
    Between the Blue Ridge and the Chesapeake Bay
    Posts
    5,203
    Hey, let's tone down the political rhetoric here. Not everyone agrees, and it's a very touchy subject. Thanks.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Sep 2006
    Location
    Central Indiana
    Posts
    6,043
    Quote Originally Posted by tulip View Post
    Hey, let's tone down the political rhetoric here. Not everyone agrees, and it's a very touchy subject. Thanks.
    Thanks for saying that, Tulip. I very much agree.
    Live with intention. Walk to the edge. Listen hard. Practice wellness. Play with abandon. Laugh. Choose with no regret. Continue to learn. Appreciate your friends. Do what you love. Live as if this is all there is.

    --Mary Anne Radmacher

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Jul 2012
    Location
    Sunny CA
    Posts
    49
    Quote Originally Posted by kamikazejane View Post
    Michigan is a friendly gun toting state ....for the time being until our rights as Americans continue to be striped away, but that's a topic for another thread lol

    Thanks for the links. I will have to check them out. I could probably clip it into my back jersey pocket. I would have to practice drawing it from there. I could probably get a bag to carry towards the front on my top tube and slip it in there leaving an opening for easy access and draw. But then if I am knocked off my bike I don't have access to it so it's pointless to carry at that point. Then I worry about it being up against my skin when Iam sweating salty sweat all over it.
    I wish I lived in a gun-friendly state. Best thing I did was take firearm classes - fun and it may just save my life one day. I hope you find the perfect holster soon, and trust me, they're out there. There are many women who pack heat even at the gym, so they must have a sweat-proof holster.
    Wherever I go, there I am!

    2012 Rivendell Betty Foy

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Sep 2010
    Location
    Whitmore Lake, Michigan
    Posts
    920
    Quote Originally Posted by kamikazejane View Post
    Michigan is a friendly gun toting state ....for the time being until our rights as Americans continue to be striped away, but that's a topic for another thread lol

    Thanks for the links. I will have to check them out. I could probably clip it into my back jersey pocket. I would have to practice drawing it from there. I could probably get a bag to carry towards the front on my top tube and slip it in there leaving an opening for easy access and draw. But then if I am knocked off my bike I don't have access to it so it's pointless to carry at that point. Then I worry about it being up against my skin when Iam sweating salty sweat all over it.
    kamikazejane,

    I'm ok with your comment, it was brief enough and as you said not suitable topic for this discussion so you didn't elaborate. I give ya a pass on that.

    I wondered if anyone was going to get to the subject of a firearm for protection. Late last year I considered it briefly for a day or so. I believe I live and travel in a safe area, however, what is really safe anymore? You read about random crazies out there.

    I ride alone frequently, I enjoy picking up and going at any time without making prearrangements with someone and I do like to ride with friends at times too. Most of the time I feel just fine, it's when it gets late into the season when people start thining out that it can get spooky. There is a remote park with a trail in it around a lake that is so beautiful in the fall and late fall. In the summer the park has enough people in it to feel pretty secure if you hurt yourself someone would find you. In the fall it gets pretty quiet out there except for some disc golfers and lone walkers. I have felt creepy out there at that time of year. I carry pepper spray for times like that and for wandering dogs in the rural areas that aren't fenced. But a firearm affords more protection. I have the same worries as you, if it were kept close enough to be useful I'm afraid I'd shoot myself accidently and what about falls and crashes???

    So far, no good answers. I feel less secure in the Ann Arbor area because it's a college town and there have been incidents and rashes of men preying on runners and single females. The last such time a few months ago when there was a series of rapes I steered clear of my Ann Arbor rides until they caught up with the guy and apprehended him.

    I take precautions, remain alert and aware and ensure that my demeanor suggests that I'm not an easy target. Beyond that, there's not much else you can do.
    Bike Writer

    http://pedaltohealth.blogspot.com/

    Schwinn Gateway unknown year
    Specalized Expedition Sport Low-Entry 2011

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Jun 2012
    Location
    MI
    Posts
    63
    Quote Originally Posted by tulip View Post
    Hey, let's tone down the political rhetoric here. Not everyone agrees, and it's a very touchy subject. Thanks.
    geeez, I hardly said anything at all. My apologies.
    Felt F65
    Specialized Crux Expert Force (My baby)

 

 

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