Author Topic: How safe is a solo female doing the Northern Tier??  (Read 5039 times)

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Offline effdtheapproach

How safe is a solo female doing the Northern Tier??
« on: April 29, 2014, 10:14:53 am »
I'm sure this is a common theme and probably  been discussed already but thank you for hearing me out.

Ladies and gents, has anyone done this and is personal safety something I should be concerned about? Is the risk factor significant enough that I should find a partner? I'm conscious of the importance of trusting my instincts and expecting the unexpected. More so, I am wondering if anyone has had a personal experience/run-in with any yahoos??

Of those with whom I have discussed my idea of cycling across country, they don't think it's the safest thing for me to be doing. Would like to hear from people who have first hand experience.

Thank you!!

Offline John Nelson

Re: How safe is a solo female doing the Northern Tier??
« Reply #1 on: April 29, 2014, 10:26:18 am »
Yes, it is often discussed.

Yes, you should be concerned about personal safety. But this concern should be reasonable, and it should not prevent you from going. All you really need is common sense and situational awareness.

Take a partner if it will enhance the enjoyment of your trip. But a partner will do very little if anything to increase your safety.

Run-ins with yahoos does happen (more often to women of course), but such experiences are very rare and can almost always be handled with a calm attitude, a bit of humor if necessary, and firm assertiveness. If you do have such an experience, it will likely only be annoying and not dangerous. Staying out of sketchy situations as much as possible will reduce your risk greatly. On the Northern Tier route, there are no sketchy situations.

Your friends and family, along with my friends and family, and in fact everybody's friends and family, never think this is safe and never will think this is safe. It's just the way things are. Thank them for their concern, and then go anyway. Their fears are a million times overblown. They'll get over it. Honestly, it's no more dangerous than moving around your home town.

P.S. If this is your first long tour, and if you want the comfort of a lot more touring cyclists on the road with you, consider the TransAm rather than the Northern Tier. I've done both.
« Last Edit: April 29, 2014, 10:30:28 am by John Nelson »

Offline effdtheapproach

Re: How safe is a solo female doing the Northern Tier??
« Reply #2 on: April 29, 2014, 11:01:36 am »
Thank you John for your reply!

indyfabz

  • Guest
Re: How safe is a solo female doing the Northern Tier??
« Reply #3 on: April 29, 2014, 01:14:32 pm »
I have encountered at least a half dozen women touring alone, including one on the Northern Tier who made it to the eastern terminus just fine.

What John says, especially about the number of people on the TA vs. the NT. Did the entire NT once, the western portion to Glacier a second time, and some western portions of the TA twice. Encountered far more people on the TA. In '11, in just 2 1/2 days on the TA south/east of Missoula, I encountered at least 9 people. They had all started in the east in May. In all honesty, I don't remember encountering that many people during all my time on the NT other than the one year when I started out one day ahead of ACA's NT group tour and spent two different nights in the same towns with that group.

Offline zzzz

Re: How safe is a solo female doing the Northern Tier??
« Reply #4 on: April 30, 2014, 12:50:54 pm »
Hi:

Obviously no one can guarantee anyone's safety even if you never leave your house. That said, the one universal take away from anyone who I have talked to, or read a interview with, or what I found for myself, was that their trip confirmed or restored their faith in humanity. You will find, time and again, that people will go out of their way to show you a generosity and kindness that's quite remarkable.

As for going solo, it's the way I travel and from what I've seen on the road of people traveling w/ a partner, they always seem to be barely tolerating each other after some time together. But if you go by yourself you need to be okay spending a lot of time in your own head. On the plus side, no constant negotiations on how far, or how fast, or where and what to eat, or where to stay.

I'm a guy so I can't comment on the female part of the question, but I believe you will be fine. And if my daughter asked me my opinion I would tell her the same thing (and as her dad I would still worry about her).

Pete


indyfabz

  • Guest
Re: How safe is a solo female doing the Northern Tier??
« Reply #5 on: April 30, 2014, 02:16:22 pm »
But if you go by yourself you need to be okay spending a lot of time in your own head. On the plus side, no constant negotiations on how far, or how fast, or where and what to eat, or where to stay.

+1. I have done most of my touring alone and have been on the road alone for as long as nearly two months. You really do need to be comfortable with your own company to spend a long time solo. And being able to make your own decisions is a real plus.

I will also bet that solo travellers receive more "acts of kindness." My very first tour started out with ACA's group tour across the Northern Tier. When that part of the trip ended, I rode home solo in about three weeks. As a group of a dozen, we seemed more self-sufficient when together in camp and thus were rarely offered assistance. During my solo trip home, I was offered things several times, including a half a pie that a woman had baked in her RV. During the group portion of the trip, it would not be odd to find yourself riding alone. It was then that people were more likely to experience acts of kindness. One woman in the group who was riding solo one day was invited into the home of a woman in rural ND and served tea.

Offline DaveB

Re: How safe is a solo female doing the Northern Tier??
« Reply #6 on: April 30, 2014, 03:11:14 pm »
I will also bet that solo travellers receive more "acts of kindness."
About the only type of bike tourists that might receive more "acts of kindness" are a couple (man and woman) traveling together, particularly if middle age or above.   

Offline staehpj1

Re: How safe is a solo female doing the Northern Tier??
« Reply #7 on: April 30, 2014, 03:26:02 pm »
I will also bet that solo travellers receive more "acts of kindness."
About the only type of bike tourists that might receive more "acts of kindness" are a couple (man and woman) traveling together, particularly if middle age or above.
In my experience I got the most offers of hospitality or other kindness when travelling with my daughter and her college room mate.  Everyone assumed that we were a dad and his two daughters.  I think they felt that a family was less threatening.  I also think that folks tend to be kinder toward attractive young women.  I do get quite a few offers of hospitality when alone, but not nearly as many as when I was with Erica and Lauren.  We were often offered housing, food, water, and meals.  The same happens to me when alone, but much less frequently.

Additionally I think it helps a lot if folks think it is an epic tour, going coast to coast helps in that regard.  I am sure that I get less offers of kindness when on a 2 week tour than when going coast to coast.

Offline PeteJack

Re: How safe is a solo female doing the Northern Tier??
« Reply #8 on: May 01, 2014, 12:29:32 am »
I'm short 5'6" and I think that makes me less of a threat to anybody. It also means I can fit comfortably into a one man tent. Riding partners are a dodgy business: being with someone who is the most reasonable and likeable individual before you set off can end up like a bad marriage. Enjoy your own company and your own schedule or absence thereof.

Offline JDFlood

Re: How safe is a solo female doing the Northern Tier??
« Reply #9 on: May 11, 2014, 03:11:18 pm »
I did the Northern Tier with side trip up to Banff. I got yelled at once by some teenagers in a pickup truck in Montana. They sounded drunk and didn't slow down. Otherwise I was treated with respect and curiosity. I would give your chances of having a problem at less than 1%. To make yourself feel a little more comfortable carry a spray can of pepper spray in your handlebar bag or jersey. Also read, "Where the Pavement Ends", a really pretty young woman rides alone from Russia through Mongolia, China, and Vietnam." It is truly amazing, inspiring and it should allay any fears you may have. Have a great trip. One thing I am sorry to recommend, get into and settled in reservation towns before sunset.
« Last Edit: May 11, 2014, 03:13:25 pm by JDFlood »

Offline BikePacker

Re: How safe is a solo female doing the Northern Tier??
« Reply #10 on: May 11, 2014, 09:52:47 pm »
Would like to hear from people who have first hand experience.
Have done the N.T. solo/self-contained.
Am a guy.
Didn't knowingly have any close calls.
However,  please permit me to add that when I was in locales that I thought, sensed, or had been out right told could be trouble I always wore my REI Bear Spray on my belt.