For me there is almost no better feeling than getting out and enjoying a nice long ride on the bike. And I’m not just talking about a couple of hours on a Sunday afternoon. From mountain biking in the Alps, to cycling down the Western coast of the United States when I was younger (and could manage to get away for three months) to a casual ride along the Rhine in Germany to my best ever cycling holiday riding along Uruguay’s Atlantic coast, my holidays usually involve being a two-wheeled, pedal-powered machine.
Over the years, I’ve had a handful of mishaps and misadventures and probably another couple of mis-words that I’ve since forgotten about. And to the end of wishing to help people avoid needlessly putting themselves in dangerous situations, here are my top three tips (based on my own experiences) for staying safe when on the road for an extended period of time.
Always carry food, water and a tent. Even if you’re not planning on sleeping anywhere other than hotels you find along the way and getting your meals at restaurants, always have emergency food and shelter. Getting caught in a rainstorm, for example might prevent you from going just a few more kilometres to make it to your destination and an emergency camping kit can literally save your life.
Never go alone (or not tell people where you’re going). As with any sport involving being in nature or away from so-called civilisation it’s extremely advisable not to go alone. In just a fraction of a second any number of tragedies could strike and it’s crucial to have someone with you who can look after you. At the very least, you definitely need to tell your friends of family where you’re going in case something goes wrong and you don’t make it home. We’re social beings and we need social support.
Make sure you’re bike is at least as fit as you. When I was younger I couldn’t always afford the best—or sometimes even a good—bike. As a result I got myself into a handful of positions in which I had to spend days looking for and replacing parts, and on one occasion even the entire bike. For a casual, Sunday afternoon ride quality doesn’t matter too much for a longer adventure, especially going through nature, functioning equipment is absolutely vital and completely worth any investments required.
Everyone who has done cycling or other outdoor sports will have their own list of safety guidelines to follow. While there is no real right or wrong way of preparing safely for a cycling adventure it is absolutely and entirely imperative that one does so. Regardless of if you follow my rules or someone else’s, please be sure to always be prepared for the worst. As the old saying goes, prepare for the worst and hope for the best. True in nearly all aspects of life!