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Exploring and riding alone

gt-arrowheadgt-arrowhead Posts: 2,507
edited June 2013 in MTB beginners
I usually ride in two different places. One is a forest where i have been to many times and i know my way around it like the back of my hand. And the forest isnt too "thick" so you can see quite alot of things around you to determine where you are. For example you can see a stream, a bridge, a field etc. And the trail is short and sort of basic. So no troubles going there alone. I know exactly where i am there at all times, and im confident about going there alone. It is very close to a town anyway, probably only about a 10 minute walk.

There is another forest that i ride in, but so far ive only been into a small section of the forest, which is essentially separated from the rest of the forest by a golf course. So again there is no worries about me getting lost in there, because its not really large, and there is a golf course that i can see and judge whereabouts i am according to that.

However, i tried to do a bit of discovering and exploring in the much larger part of the forest. Once i entered the forest, the main path was a wide dirt road and there was various paths that lead off into the thick of the forest, it looked like a really good ride and i was contemplating weather to go in to or not. In the end i didnt ride off into it. I saw loads of these sort of entries all along the path. I was looking for something more like the other two places to ride in. More open, and less dense forest. It was properly dark in there and it didnt seem like a bright idea attempting it. My bike is censored and rigid, which is essentially the same thing for MTB. My skills are still quite poor, and obviously i was alone. Not that i was scared of the dark, but i was scared of getting lost.

So when i didnt go in i cycled on and on on the dirt path, hoping it will end up on a road....it didnt :lol: I started going left, right, left, right and i was starting to feel a bit lost. If i turned around i would have made it back, i remember what way i came from, but the further i went, i thought it would have been longer to go back. There was almost no one there as well. Just the odd person walking a dog or cycling past. I didnt see a single person that looked like a MTB er either. Mostly people on hybrids.

I was crapping my pants about getting a puncture, because if i did i would have had a veeeery long walk. And if i did that walk in the wrong direction i would have been buggered. I stupidly didnt bring a repair kit with me, i wasnt actually planning on doing any sort of MTBing at all that day. I was just in the area so i thought why not.

50 minutes after i entered the forest, my sense of direction managed to lead me in a massive circle, and i ended up on a path near where i started, and i recognized it and head back the way i came.

Also, ive asked on the London Calling thing about people that MTB in Enfield and ive had no luck. And all of my mates ride Dunlop and Apollo bikes and have no interest in bikes so they never want to come out and ride the trails. So it sort of looks like ill be riding alone anyway. I hate London.

Does this sort of thing happen / happened to anyone else that tries to explore and ride alone? Does it usually go well for people when they ride alone?

Posts

  • cooldadcooldad Posts: 32,599
    I prefer riding with people (always nice to have a ride to hospital) but I do ride alone a bit. I try to take it pretty easy and just explore, unless it's a place I know well with a reasonable amount of people riding through.
    Take a phone, and let someone (I won't mention your mum) know where you are and what time to expect you back, so at least if something goes horribly wrong they can recover your body.
    Take some tools and a spare tube at least.
    Although lately I've been enjoying riding alone more as they've turned our local forest into a trail centreplace so it can get like the sodding M25 at times. I've tend to avoid those bits now and ride the older natural stuff - far more relaxing.
    Problem with London Calling is most people have cars or live outside London - none of them actually ride in London itself. If you ever manage to get the train out you're welcome to join the rides.
    I don't do smileys.

    There is no secret ingredient - Kung Fu Panda

    London Calling on Facebook

    Parktools
  • bennett_346bennett_346 Posts: 5,029
    Take an OS map if you think you're gonna get lost. By taking a map and exploring my riding group have managed to virtually memorise all the trails and routes mentally in a 25 mile radius. You could drop us anywhere in that radius now and we could pretty much find our way back. Repetition and matching what you see to how you got there is key really.
  • plasma_manplasma_man Posts: 129
    Have a look at the maps on bikeroutetoaster, click the cycle tab once on the map, they might be useful, you can always buy a GPS with mapping and plot a route to follow. Works well for me but not sure about the uk.
    - 2013 Cube LTD, SL 29, grey / black.
  • gt-arrowheadgt-arrowhead Posts: 2,507
    Thanks for the replies / help.

    I found this website, http://www.goskyride.com/ and it looks promising. I found a ride just now in the forest that i ride in but the organizer stated that it is 18+ only. I really would have liked to go, and im really confident that i wont get left behind as i consider myself to be a fit rider.

    Is there any more websites like this one that anyone knows of?

    I also had a look on a website that does activities strictly in the forest that i ride but you have to pay £45 for 2 hours to just go on a ride with people :shock:
  • bartimaeusbartimaeus Posts: 1,812
    Totally agree about carrying a phone and letting someone know where you are and when you'll be back... and definitely learn to be as self-sufficient as you can be as sooner or later you will have a flat or a mechanical. OS maps, paper and online are great (Bing is excellent as it has 1:25,000) and if you can afford some sort of GPS (on a phone, or like I have with a £40 logger) you can see where you went - and where you went wrong.

    Not to sure of the forests you ride in, but there are usually some 'landmarks' - unusual trees or features that you can get to know, and personally I'd take some paper and a pencil and make your own map... it might be fun. Maybe start riding a small section and get to know it before heading further - I have little trouble navigating pretty much everywhere I live, even in the dark, but I got completely lost in Lordswood near Southampton, and that is tiny.

    But best of all is to have a buddy. Here, social media is your friend... have you posted up for a riding buddy on BikeRadar or dare-I-say-it Singletrackworld? Any local riding groups? What about Facebook or Twitter (however that works!)?
    Vitus Sentier VR+ (2018) GT Grade AL 105 (2016)
    Giant Anthem X4 (2010) GT Avalanche 1.0 (2010)
    Kingley Vale and QECP Trail Collective - QECP Trail Building
  • cooldadcooldad Posts: 32,599
    Yep he has, but he's kind of stuck in London central. I'm not sure his mum will be happy for him to go into the woods with a bunch of strange men.
    I don't do smileys.

    There is no secret ingredient - Kung Fu Panda

    London Calling on Facebook

    Parktools
  • gt-arrowheadgt-arrowhead Posts: 2,507
    Seems like the phone is the best thing to have. Ive got a "maps" app on that and it pin points your location, accurate to 100m apparently. I do know what you mean by landmarks, there were a few but once you go past them, you wont see them again. There was an opening where loads of trees had been half chopped down, so if i pass it again it would tell me where i am.

    I reckon id be fine with any problems that occur with the bike. Since ive had it it hasnt missed a beat, but i would be able to sort anything out on the go. Like a snapped chain or puncture.

    Ive only gone once and i think i bit off more than i could chew by going through the whole thing. I shall go again but this time ill limit myself of where to go, bring a phone and carry some tubes+tools.

    It was actually quite enjoyable, despite the fact that i couldnt fully enjoy it as i had no clue where i was going, and was scared of ending up lost!

    Ill have a look at the singletrack world thing you mentioned, thanks. The one place i havent tried is the "MTB Rides" section on here. Chances are very slim but there is no harm in trying!

    Cheers.

    Yep, youre right cooldad. To my mum it would just seem that way, and in fairness to her she has a point for thinking like that.
  • bartimaeusbartimaeus Posts: 1,812
    True, I forget that not everywhere is as civilized as West Sussex. My neighbour's 14 year old lad is often up in our local woods with the very dodgy looking crew from Stoughton Downhill... :) It's the inevitable consequence of misspent youth hanging out in bike shops and building/maintaining bikes in the kitchen.
    Vitus Sentier VR+ (2018) GT Grade AL 105 (2016)
    Giant Anthem X4 (2010) GT Avalanche 1.0 (2010)
    Kingley Vale and QECP Trail Collective - QECP Trail Building
  • Bishbosh10Bishbosh10 Posts: 268
    Don't rely on your phone for location purposes - batteries go flat etc etc. Get some OS maps and learn how to read them if you don't know how already. Refer to your map frequently so you can be sure you know where you are. Don;t wait until you are lost and expect the map to tell you where you are!

    Pack a spare tube, tyre levers and a repair kit as said above.
    Pack a survival blanket (one of those silver foil jobbies)- weighs nothing and can make the difference if things do go pear shaped.

    Go out and enjoy the "wilderness". I love riding with friends but I also love being alone in the great outdoors - I find it very refreshing.
    2011 Giant Trance Ltd, 2016 Revs, XT bits etc.
  • cooldadcooldad Posts: 32,599
    Bartimaeus wrote:
    True, I forget that not everywhere is as civilized as West Sussex. My neighbour's 14 year old lad is often up in our local woods with the very dodgy looking crew from Stoughton Downhill... :) It's the inevitable consequence of misspent youth hanging out in bike shops and building/maintaining bikes in the kitchen.
    That's how I found BR - my son told me he'd arranged a ride in SH - I assumed he meant school friends - on the way he said it was with some men off the internet.
    I did suggest that he was insane - he said it's ok - they're into bikes.
    I don't do smileys.

    There is no secret ingredient - Kung Fu Panda

    London Calling on Facebook

    Parktools
  • Chunkers1980Chunkers1980 Posts: 8,035
    Never looked back eh?
  • gt-arrowheadgt-arrowhead Posts: 2,507
    Bishbosh10 wrote:
    Don't rely on your phone for location purposes - batteries go flat etc etc. Get some OS maps and learn how to read them if you don't know how already. Refer to your map frequently so you can be sure you know where you are. Don;t wait until you are lost and expect the map to tell you where you are!

    Pack a spare tube, tyre levers and a repair kit as said above.
    Pack a survival blanket (one of those silver foil jobbies)- weighs nothing and can make the difference if things do go pear shaped.

    Go out and enjoy the "wilderness". I love riding with friends but I also love being alone in the great outdoors - I find it very refreshing.

    I do know how to use an OS map, definitely would be a good idea getting one. Maps on phones is the slowest thing on the planet...by the time it finds my location, it will probably turn from summer to autumn. Then i can see where i am because all the leaves have fallen.
  • gt-arrowheadgt-arrowhead Posts: 2,507
    cooldad wrote:
    Bartimaeus wrote:
    True, I forget that not everywhere is as civilized as West Sussex. My neighbour's 14 year old lad is often up in our local woods with the very dodgy looking crew from Stoughton Downhill... :) It's the inevitable consequence of misspent youth hanging out in bike shops and building/maintaining bikes in the kitchen.
    That's how I found BR - my son told me he'd arranged a ride in SH - I assumed he meant school friends - on the way he said it was with some men off the internet.
    I did suggest that he was insane - he said it's ok - they're into bikes.


    Lucky! MTBing and DH etc is obviously not very common or popular in London. My parents would also call me insane if i said that id be going MTBing with "some men off the internet"
  • Kowalski675Kowalski675 Posts: 4,412
    cooldad wrote:
    Yep he has, but he's kind of stuck in London central. I'm not sure his mum will be happy for him to go into the woods with a bunch of strange men.

    She'd be jealous...
  • The RookieThe Rookie Posts: 27,756
    Good old fashioned advice here...
    Have a whistle, it can be heard 10 times as far away as yelling.
    Make sure you have the basic tools to fix a puncture/chain issue.
    Make sure you have at least a decent flease so if you're grounded you can keep warmer, even at this time of year it gets ruddy chilly at night!
    make sure someone at home knows (within that whistles range) where you will be and expected time to get home.
    cooldad wrote:
    they're into bikes.
    That old chestnut huh!
  • cooldadcooldad Posts: 32,599
    We did have someone ask on London Calling what we do. Someone replied that we were a bunch of guys who go into the forest and take pictures of each other.
    We never did hear from them again.
    I don't do smileys.

    There is no secret ingredient - Kung Fu Panda

    London Calling on Facebook

    Parktools
  • mostly alone which is kind of sad and sometimes with a m8 when were both not busy with work.
  • concordeconcorde Posts: 1,008
    Surely you'd whip your mobile out, open your recording Strava screen and happy days...
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