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Tips for rural unsupported solo ride

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Road Cycling ďIt is by riding a bicycle that you learn the contours of a country best, since you have to sweat up the hills and coast down them. Thus you remember them as they actually are, while in a motor car only a high hill impresses you, and you have no such accurate remembrance of country you have driven through as you gain by riding a bicycle.Ē -- Ernest Hemingway

Tips for rural unsupported solo ride

Old 01-23-21, 09:29 PM
  #26  
pcunite
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Welcome to the forum. You have an exciting ride lined up! A friend of mine is getting into cycling too and its exciting to help others out. Things you need to buy before an extended solo ride:

* Daylight style lights. Something like the Bontrager Flare or equivalent.
* Road side repair kit. Mount to the down-tube underside if possible.
* Rear seat post bag, front handlebar, or on-person backpack.

Repair kit includes:
  1. bike pump
  2. two tire levers
  3. presta adapter
  4. set of allen keys
  5. pre-glued patch kit
  6. latex gloves
  7. extra tube
  8. chain break tool

Bike bag includes:
  1. protein bars
  2. two extra bike tubes
  3. one fold-able tire (smallest and lightest for your application)
  4. battery powercell (mount to handlebar if desired)
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Old 01-23-21, 09:51 PM
  #27  
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Great advice so far. I’d pack a dog whistle and an airhorn.
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Old 01-23-21, 11:23 PM
  #28  
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Originally Posted by CoolBreeze777 View Post
Great advice so far. Iíd pack a dog whistle and an airhorn.
And also, don't panic and always carry a towel.
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Old 01-24-21, 06:06 AM
  #29  
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I think there has been some great advice here. I’d suggest you use a blinking rear red light on rides. Since it’s a casual ride, I’d probably take along a small battery pack to charge phone, gps, lights, if needed.

On my rides, besides water, energy bars, lights, gps and phone, I bring folding money, debit card, 2 tubes and levers. My phone has AAA in my contacts list....
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Old 01-24-21, 08:59 AM
  #30  
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Carry your DL/ID and medical benefits card as well as emergency contact info with any health conditions and medications you currently take.
Trust me, this could be vital if you are in an accident.

Happy trails!
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Old 01-24-21, 09:58 AM
  #31  
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Originally Posted by CAT7RDR View Post
Carry your DL/ID and medical benefits card as well as emergency contact info with any health conditions and medications you currently take.
Trust me, this could be vital if you are in an accident.

Happy trails!
A friend turned me on to RoadID. Small bracelet has name and emergency contact info on it. On the back is a website where first responders can access personal medical information, doctors, and other information that may be helpful in an emergency. I wear it most rides, and every solo ride.
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Old 01-24-21, 10:17 AM
  #32  
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In my brevet days, the first thing I did was to make sure my bike, and the sum of its parts, were in the best shape possible. Of course, things happen, but having a bike in fine mechanical shape, will carry you far. 200k and below, a couple tubes, CO2 to handle those issues, and enough food to get me through. Of course, money, ID and a phone. 300K and above, an extra tube and CO2 cartridge. Riding out in the farmland at 3 am is plenty goofy enough. Had I thought of what could have happened out there, and considered every possible negative event, I wouldn't have gone. So I don't, and didn't.

Be prepared, and enjoy the ride.
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It is as if in the past everyone was, potentially at least, a timtak.
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Old 01-24-21, 10:42 AM
  #33  
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Originally Posted by LAJ View Post
Had I thought of what could have happened out there, and considered every possible negative event, I wouldn't have gone. So I don't, and didn't.

Be prepared, and enjoy the ride.
+100.

In addition to road rides, I do unsupported tours. Sometimes they are in places where I donít come near a bike shop for a week or more, and in areas where there are relatively few people, no cabs and no Uber. Make sure your bike is in good condition and carry appropriate supplies. Many things could go wrong, but if you heed LAJís advice what are the odds that you will experience an incident that will stop you in your tracks?
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Old 01-24-21, 04:37 PM
  #34  
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Broken spokes are also a possibility. Though not as much as they used to be. Also more likely if you are heavy or on bad roads.
Does the frame have sufficient clearance for the wheel to rotate with a missing spoke?
Just another thing to consider.
But as has been said, don't overthink it, and if your bike is well maintained it is likely to be reliable.
I also always carry a pump and patches as a back up to spare tube and Co2s.
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Old 01-24-21, 06:10 PM
  #35  
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One thing you might consider is doing a series of shorter rides that allow you to map out potential snack stops on the century. That way you can plan a route where you're never more than 10 miles from snacks and water. I build my long rides with loops so I can refill bottles at the one place I know with a free tap.

Make sure you have
  • pump and 2 tubes. Don't depend on CO2, because once it's gone, it's gone. Ask me how I know......
  • Levers if you need them - you may not, and I don't carry them anymore.
  • Multi tool, chainbreaker.
  • Quick link.
  • Patch kit
  • Drivers license, insurance ID, and a $10 bill. Maybe a debit or credit card.
  • Fully charged cell phone.
  • 2 bottles.
  • 2 bars
Beyond that, don't overthink it too much. You could load yourself up with enough to survive the Zombie Apocalypse, but if you can't sprint away from the zombies, you might as well not have bothered!

Originally Posted by WhyFi View Post
Got it. Well, lesson learned - if you're going to go out on a ride through national forests in the wide open west, plan ahead. If you're going to be going on a more typical ride through rural areas, as mentioned in the OP, I stand by "it shouldn't be too hard to find food and water - you'll be okay."
Flying over the US at night, I was astonished just how much it differs, East and West of the Mississippi. East, there are always lights, and clusters of lights everywhere West, there are huge black spaces with maybe a single light, or maybe not even that.One thing you might consider is doing a series of shorter rides that allow you to map out potential snack stops on the century. That way you can plan a route where you're never more than 10 miles from snacks and water.

I grew up in rural PA, and you were never more than a couple miles from at least a gas station with snacks. But out here, in a densely populated county I could find lots of places where I'd be >10 miles from any gas station or other food source. The West has a LOT of empty spaces, even RIGHT NEXT TO densely populated areas. Even on my Sunday rides, starting from my house, it's 16 miles till I get to any stores. That obviously means no more than 8 miles from food, of course.

(Not ragging on you! Just adding my own observations!)
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Old 01-24-21, 06:27 PM
  #36  
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Originally Posted by genejockey View Post
One thing you might consider is doing a series of shorter rides that allow you to map out potential snack stops on the century. That way you can plan a route where you're never more than 10 miles from snacks and water. I build my long rides with loops so I can refill bottles at the one place I know with a free tap.

Make sure you have
  • pump and 2 tubes. Don't depend on CO2, because once it's gone, it's gone. Ask me how I know......
  • Levers if you need them - you may not, and I don't carry them anymore.
  • Multi tool, chainbreaker.
  • Quick link.
  • Patch kit
  • Drivers license, insurance ID, and a $10 bill. Maybe a debit or credit card.
  • Fully charged cell phone.
  • 2 bottles.
  • 2 bars
Beyond that, don't overthink it too much. You could load yourself up with enough to survive the Zombie Apocalypse, but if you can't sprint away from the zombies, you might as well not have bothered!



Flying over the US at night, I was astonished just how much it differs, East and West of the Mississippi. East, there are always lights, and clusters of lights everywhere West, there are huge black spaces with maybe a single light, or maybe not even that.One thing you might consider is doing a series of shorter rides that allow you to map out potential snack stops on the century. That way you can plan a route where you're never more than 10 miles from snacks and water.

I grew up in rural PA, and you were never more than a couple miles from at least a gas station with snacks. But out here, in a densely populated county I could find lots of places where I'd be >10 miles from any gas station or other food source. The West has a LOT of empty spaces, even RIGHT NEXT TO densely populated areas. Even on my Sunday rides, starting from my house, it's 16 miles till I get to any stores. That obviously means no more than 8 miles from food, of course.

(Not ragging on you! Just adding my own observations!)
I ride east of the Mississippi and west of the Mississippi, often during the same ride. I have no issues with either.

Still though, even with a 20 mile range between convenience stores, it's not difficult to see to yourself. If you get an inkling that you'll be running low on provisions, ride conservatively until you can resupply. If you're the rare person that lives on the edge of a desert or huge, remote nature preserve, well, you should know better and not have to ask.
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Old 01-24-21, 06:32 PM
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Originally Posted by WhyFi View Post
I ride east of the Mississippi and west of the Mississippi, often during the same ride. I have no issues with either.
My brother lived in Bemidji. He had a house on the banks of the Mississippi, which is not nearly as impressive as it gets a couple hundred miles South. At that point, I could have skipped a stone all the way across it. If I'd had a good skipping stone, that is.
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Old 01-24-21, 08:46 PM
  #38  
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I have been doing these unsupported long solo rides (road) in the Northeast all the time and never needed to carry a chain breaker and quick link with me. I ride on the road all the time. Why should I? I mean I have never had any issue with my chain ever. I'm sincerely curious.

But others already said it but in case you missed it TWO tubes and CO2 cartridges and/or pump.

Chris Horner has some good tips here

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Old 01-24-21, 10:57 PM
  #39  
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Originally Posted by CoolBreeze777 View Post
Great advice so far. Iíd pack a dog whistle and an airhorn.
Whats a dog whistle in this context? Does it attract or repel dogs?
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Old 01-25-21, 01:03 AM
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Originally Posted by 10 Wheels View Post
What would you do with THIS?
Shout at it at the top of your lungs

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Old 01-25-21, 01:52 AM
  #41  
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Originally Posted by Litespud View Post
Whats a dog whistle in this context? Does it attract or repel dogs?
A dog whistle is a training aid; it doesnít attract or repel, but it undoubtedly gets their attention. In this context, I want them distracted by a three-second blast which should slow them down, coupled with the standard Ďget awayí arm waves, a negative reinforcement. Youíll likely encounter more outdoor-only dogs down that way, rurally, hence my suggestion.
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Old 01-25-21, 02:55 AM
  #42  
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Originally Posted by bblevens View Post
Thanks for the advice. Im
hoping to find a route with some gas stations or stores along the way. But canít count on them
being open. I did a 100K charity ride supported so there were no concerns in that one.
My problem here is kind of a lack of friends or family I feel comfortable asking to drive 2+ hours to come get me. I may just have to get over that.
Around seven hours on the road and you canít plan it around gas stations/stores being open?
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Old 01-25-21, 05:42 AM
  #43  
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RideWithGPS is a good free source of routes other people have posted and you might find some where you want to ride - and many people mention rest stops. MapMyRide is another one but I've found RideWithGPS has more coverage.

If you signup for the pay version of Strava, it has a cool feature: you can have it plan a route for two points and it will choose the roads most often use by all those other Strava riders who upload every ride they do. Not perfect - many of those Strava riders are trying to be the "King of the Mountain" and have the fastest time up local hills. But, I used it to plan a 3 day ride in Florida and it worked pretty well.

On the support side, if it is a major worry you can pay for a years worth of AAA, the auto emergency service - that covers you when cycling, too.

Personally, most of my rides are local and I have my wife and friends for emergency backup but I've done many without backup and just chanced it - as long as you are prepared to deal with one or more flats, rarely an issue. Broken spokes aren't that bad, you can release the brake (if you have rim brakes) and soldier on. I've only had one issue in many, many years - the seat clamp bolt broke on my then 20 year old Trek 520 when I was 10 miles from my car - had to bike back standing up!
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Old 01-25-21, 10:33 AM
  #44  
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Pretty much all of the above, within reason for what you know and do. Also, make certain someone knows where you are, where you are going and when you'll finish.... approximately. If you have a device that does live tracking, use it.

But once you have done a few 100 mile rides, you'll find there really isn't much to them. I think I've only flatted once on any long trip I ever have done. And if you end pretty much where you started, then you won't be far from anyone you know that has a vehicle to come get you.

For any route I've never been, I try to drive it first if in an area I'm unfamiliar. And note where convenience stores and water and maybe rest rooms are. If I can't drive it first, then I have looked at the satelite map layers of google maps and others to see what might be a convenience store, and if the pics zoom in close enough what the road surface looks like. Or use the street view to see even better when it's available.

Last edited by Iride01; 01-25-21 at 10:40 AM.
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Old 01-25-21, 10:44 AM
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Originally Posted by Iride01 View Post
For any route I've never been, I try to drive it first if in an area I'm unfamiliar. And note where convenience stores and water and maybe rest rooms are. If I can't drive it first, then I have looked at the satelite map layers of google maps and others to see what might be a convenience store, and if the pics zoom in close enough what the road surface looks like. Or use the street view to see even better when it's available.
Yup, I have scouted (and later rode) a number of routes like this in the last couple years - convenience stores are an afterthought compared to the road surface and shoulder, to me.
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Old 01-25-21, 10:45 AM
  #46  
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Originally Posted by Iride01 View Post
And if you end pretty much where you started, then you won't be far from anyone you know that has a vehicle to come get you.
Thanks again for all the great advice.

I do think I missed a couple of items in my OP.

My planned rides will be taking place a couple of hundred miles from home in rural areas of Indiana and Kentucky. Having someone I know come get me isnít a good option. Although I do think Iím concerned over nothing.

I have located some good ride maps touring covered bridges in Indiana. Iíll give that a go this spring. 50-100 miles and good photo ops.
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Old 01-25-21, 10:52 AM
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You can also look at RWGPS, Strava and other sites to see where people are riding. If a route in an area is frequently rode by others multiple times by the same people, then I'd at least feel I'm not blazing new territory and can assume local motor vehicle traffic is somewhat used to cyclists being there.
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Old 01-25-21, 12:28 PM
  #48  
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I'd bring some dog spray, too many rural areas I ridden through had too many dogs running about loose. Everyone else covered everything else. And if you hear banjos, pedal faster.
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Old 01-25-21, 12:43 PM
  #49  
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Especially on summer rides, I browse google maps for country gas stations or stores, and call them to make sure they are open. Two or three water bottles isn't enough, I need refills. Some churches have outdoor water taps, but it's getting kind of rare. If I ride past a church, I'll check it out for future rides.

A front and rear blinky is much safer. Even in bright noon sunlight, my Hotshot 150 flash is visible.

It's quite common to intermittently have no cell service on our country rides. Valleys that are just 30 miles from Cincinnati can have no service.

On the few occasions where someone in our small group has a flat, it's quite likely that a driver will stop to see if we are okay.

Punctures or broken shift cables are by far the most common mechanical failures.
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Old 01-25-21, 01:00 PM
  #50  
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I like to carry some wet wipes, a small amount of toilet paper and a tiny thing of hand sanitizer on anything over 60 miles.

I also carry a chain breaker, quick link, spoke wrench, tube and a pump. If your bike is well maintained those tools should cover any of the common nasty surprises.
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