Know the area. People take for granted how much they know, or don't know for that matter, about the natural environment in which they live.
Tell someone of your whereabouts. Be sure to check in with a friend about where you’re going, and when you plan on getting home. (Don’t forget to call them when you get back – you don’t want to leave them worrying, do you?) In case something does happen (of course it won’t, but if it does) someone will know right away that you’re missing. Once you’ve told someone where you’re headed, stick to that plan! No changing your mind at the last minute and taking a different trail.You want everyone to have an accurate idea of where you are, so that help can find you if you need it.
Read the weather report. I live in Florida, where we have a saying: If you don’t like the weather, wait 5 minutes. I’ve literally seen a sky go from sunny and cloudless to dark and raining in about 15 minutes. Fortunately, I was inside at the time. But if you’re cycling and the weather turns foul, odds are you won’t have time to get yourself back to your vehicle or to cover without getting soaked first. Which in Florida is the least of your worries. As the lightning capitol of the US (literally) riding a metal bike out in the open is the last place you want to be durring a potential storm. So check the weather report before you leave, and pay attention to the sky – and your fellow cyclists. If everyone else is headed back, that’s a sign that you should, too.
Choose a busy trail. Trails that see lots of traffic are better-maintained and safer than more secluded ones. Plus you’re bound to run into a few other cyclists or others out enjoying the trail, so if you need it, help will just be a few shouts away.
Know your limitations. If you rarely work out and get winded walking to the mailbox and back, then maybe you shouldn’t commit to a fifty-mile ride. Err on the side of caution and remember that fatigue can creep up on you. Try a neighborhood ride first, to see what you’re able to do and how quick your pace is. This will better help you gauge your abilities (and your time) when you go out alone.
Stick to the path. It seems like most disastrous cycling stories begin when someone willingly takes a wrong turn. However tempting it might be, don’t wander off the trail and into the woods.
Bring supplies. Always bring the following with you: a replacement tube & a way to pump it up, a multi-tool, something to eat and both water bottles. When you’re alone, you won’t have anyone else to mooch off of. Be responsible: stay hydrated, keep your blood-sugar up, and take care not to get too too over-heated. Since you’re on your own, it’s up to you to take care of yourself.
And finally, Listen to that nagging voice in the back of your head. You know the one I’m talking about: it sounds exactly like your mother. LISTEN TO IT. Because if something seems like a bad idea, it almost always is. Does a path look too dangerous? Skip it. Are you starting to hit a wall? Do you keep thinking you should turn back and return to the car? THEN GO BACK TO THE CAR. The time to take risks is not when you’re out riding by yourself. The time to take risks is when you’re sitting on your couch, watching TV, and your spouse decides to try a new recipe for dinner. That’s a perfectly acceptable time to be adventurous.
I realize that this list looks daunting – but really, it only takes a few extra steps to ensure that you’ll have an enjoyable, stress-free ride. Plus, if anyone worries, you’ll be able to tell them exactly how responsible you are. And don’t forget to have fun (that’s the whole point, right?).
Be Safe, Have Fun & Keep Riding!!
P.S. If anyone has a good hint they'd like to share please leave a comment or email us! We'd love to include it in this guide!