Riding Solo – Safely

Is it safe to go out on a ride alone? In this day and age it’s a good question to be asking. Wherever Di Carolin goes to ride trails in SA she asks herself that question and, believe it or not, generally it is safe.

But increasingly I’ve been hearing stories of people being attacked in the Cape Town area, in JHB and now even at organised races. So what can we do to make sure we have a safe ride and stay out of harms’ way?

The obvious answer is to ride with a bunch of other people, but that isn’t always possible. So if you are like me and ride at times when others aren’t available to ride, your training programme doesn’t make it easy to ride with others, or you can’t find someone that has the same fitness level as you do – then you ride alone. But let this be a last resort!

I do ride alone a lot. My adventurous spirit takes me exploring in all sorts of places.  There is something so liberating about blazing the trails on your own, totally at one with nature and your bike…

Recently I rode the Karkloof Trails in KZN, but not before I asked a local if it was safe. He assured me it was, so I had two amazing rides on some of the best trails I have ever ridden, and I felt perfectly safe all the time. The trails were well marked and I took care to ride responsibly. Then, up in Dundee further north I stayed with a friend and rode the trails and surrounding areas also on my own, well almost, I took Guess the farm dog with me and he was great company. The champ ran 29kms with me! If you can take your dog with you then do so, as they are an added deterrent to any would-be attacker. I had a safe ride and never saw another person, just a few Impala.

At all times, stay alert to your surroundings and trust your gut instinct. Ladies, we are gifted with a strong sense of perception so use it, be sensible and keep safe. For added safety I always wear a SweatSafe (www.sweatsafe.co.za) wrist band in case something happens. This is insurance that in case I have a fall or accident I am covered for R100 000 and ER24 will transport me to a hospital ASAP. CSA (Cycling SA www.cyclingsa.com) offers members road accident insurance as a part of their membership which is a wonderful initiative on their part. This is what the CSA website says:

“Effectively, if whilst riding your bike, you are involved in an accident on the road, any claim with the Road Accident Fund will be handled by Road Cover, whilst your medical expenses up to R20 000 will be covered by Hollard Insurance Company.”

If you really don’t want to ride alone there are normally group rides with clubs like Club 100 in CT, CycleLab have cycling groups all over the country and most bike shops have group rides. Have a look on Facebook for MTB Group Rides Cape Town, Johannesburg Social MTB Group, Pretoria East MTB, JBay MTBing and many more.

Stay safe out there, but don’t stop having fun!

Sus Di’s Safety Tips

Here are some other things to remember that will keep you safer on your rides:

  1. Tell someone where you are going, your route and roughly how long you will be.
  2. Take a phone with you, preferably with GPS in case you get lost. Make sure the battery is fully charged! If you have an iPhone make sure a partner/parent/friend has the tracker app to keep an eye on you.
  3. Have the correct emergency numbers in your phone                                                                       i.e. ER24 084 124/ CT Emergency Control Room (021) 480 7700 / JHB Central Emergency Connect (011) 375 5911/ KZN Emergency Services 10177
  4. There are various self defence tools you can carry like pepper spray or a stun gun. Make sure you have practiced with them and know how they work.
  5. If you see anyone suspicious looking give them a wide berth and keep moving with purpose.
  6. Avoid crime HOT SPOTS! Areas where there have been numerous attacks.
  7. Remember to have a tool kit with you containing the following: multi-tool with chain breaker, chain link that’s correct for your chain, pump, plugs and plugging tool for tyres, spare tube and tyre leavers, a CO2 bomb and adapter.
  8. Get some lessons on fixing punctures, putting in tubes and mending chains from your friendly mechanic or a friend who knows how.
  9. Make sure to take enough liquid to last the duration of your ride (± a bottle an hour), take some snack bars with you to keep your energy up (1 per hour of riding) and a gel for just in case.

10. Make sure you have suitable clothing for the ride. We discussed this in the August issue.

11. Most importantly don’t think about things that could go wrong. What you fear, you attract! Keep a positive attitude, be sensible, believe you will be safe and the chances are you will be just fine.

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