Author Topic: Female solo ride along Underground Railroad  (Read 830 times)

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Offline louizawise

Female solo ride along Underground Railroad
« on: March 27, 2021, 05:00:15 am »
Hi all,

I am looking to complete my first bike touring ride along the Underground Railroad route. I am a 23-year old female and have two major concerns: trucks in the south and solo biking as a female. What are your recommendations on these issues?

thanks!

Offline HobbesOnTour

Re: Female solo ride along Underground Railroad
« Reply #1 on: March 27, 2021, 04:43:56 pm »
I'm not familiar with the route, but for trucks (and any other traffic) I have found a mirror to be extremely helpful. Depending on preference it can be on a helmet, on the bike or even on your wrist.

It also helps to not be in a rush and be willing to pull in/off the road for a little while if it all gets a bit too much.

When I found the ACA routes too uncomfortable, I used https://cycle.travel/ to find alternatives. Mind you, I wasn't concerned about surfaces.

As for the "solo female" all I can suggest is that you look for inspiration (if you don't already have any). There is no shortage of solo female travellers!
CrazyGuyOnABike has an entire section: https://www.crazyguyonabike.com/doc/categories/?o=1mr&doctype=journal&category_id=384
There are books by Dervla Murphy, Ann Mustoe (icons both) and more recently Kate Harris.
Youtube will also help.
I cycled from Virginia to Texas, met 6 other touring cyclists, all solo and two were female.
My experience of solo bike touring is that people are invariably friendlier and more helpful than we might expect. There's something non-threatening about a person on a bike.
I've seen suggestions that women should "cover" up, not make it obvious that they are women. I'm not sure about that. But, then again, I'm not a woman!

In any case, you won't be the first, nor the last. Bike touring is a fantastic way to see and feel a place. It's definitely something you don't want to miss out on!

Best of luck!

Offline louizawise

Re: Female solo ride along Underground Railroad
« Reply #2 on: March 27, 2021, 05:57:37 pm »
Immensely helpful, thank you so much!

Offline HikeBikeCook

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  • Have been bike touring for over 50 years
Re: Female solo ride along Underground Railroad
« Reply #3 on: March 28, 2021, 11:18:16 am »
When it comes to stealth camping there is a whole series of YouTube videos I have watched in the past by a guy who tours around the world solo. Darren - https://www.youtube.com/user/bicycletouringpro

Here are some of his tips:

  • Camp back from the road and back from an active forest road.

    Camp above the road not below the road so reflectors on your bike and tent lines to not get picked up in car head lights. The same for flashlights, stove light, etc.

    Setup just before dark and pack up at dawn. Wash up cook dinner, get water, etc. while it is light and before you pitch your tent.
When it comes to traveling alone, just don't admit your alone if you feel someone is sketchy. Just mention touring with a group, waiting for the SAG Wagon, or waiting for you boy friend who went off into the bushes 1/2 mile back for a bio break.

Also, if you are looking at stealth camping finding the right spot is much easier in daylight and finding the perfect spot may mean stopping early than planned, but you will also get an early start in the morning.
« Last Edit: March 28, 2021, 11:27:25 am by HikeBikeCook »
Long Distance Hiker - AT Thru-hike 2007
Long distance cyclist - multi day tours - TDF tour Alpes 2005
Surly Disc Trucker, Lightspeed Classic, Scott Scale, Klein Mantra Comp. First touring bike Peugeot U08 - 1966

Offline HobbesOnTour

Re: Female solo ride along Underground Railroad
« Reply #4 on: March 30, 2021, 11:24:08 am »
I'm going to come back to this because I think it's a real shame that more haven't popped in with some advice.

Maybe, since this is under the "routes" category, ask a moderator to move it to "general" - it may attract more attention as I think your question is more general in nature.

Female safety is a big issue at the moment, and is getting a lot of publicity. As a man, I can be scared of "stranger danger" too but my experience has told me that most people are beyond helpful and friendly. And safe.

The truth is the greatest risks I faced in your part of the world were traffic and dogs.
A mirror for the traffic and a "squirty" water bottle for the dogs.

The greatest "tool" I had in my bag for dealing with fear was experience, so I'd suggest to anyone to practise as many things as possible as much as possible before they leave.

The thing with fear is that it is mainly irrational and once active can be hard to settle. A long, solo day on a bike is a great environment for fear to thrive. I try to give fear a sterile environment so that it can't develop.

Camping? Practise setting up that tent in the dark and wind.
Wild camping? Learn to look for likely spots, even  close to home. Better still, try them out!
Hotels? Be familiar with the apps and how they work.
Navigation? Test and stress test whatever your system is (maps, gps etc.)
Repairs? Can you carry out all the basics that you may need to do? Practise!
Even just knowing what 10, 20 50 miles feels like on a loaded bike really boosts confidence when it comes to the "Am I going to make it to X before Y o'clock.

Rule of thumb: If it makes you anxious, practise it! :)

Less fear, less anxiety invariably means more enjoyment! :)

I carry a kindle and always back up whatever notes, i.d., contact info etc. I may need for a trip.
Photograph maps etc. and email tbem to yourself! (Even if you lose your phone you can access them on another device).

Google Maps is rubbish for navigating, but it does allow the saving of maps to a phone or tablet. At home, mark off all the services you'll need - stores, bike shops, campgrounds etc. When you save the map it will store that basic info and you won't need a phone signal to access it.

Warmshowers or Couchsurfing can be a great way to get local knowledge and a place to stay. It's a real person expecting you at X time. A hotel will just charge your card if you're a no-show.

Many touring cyclists will not discuss on an open forum the specific things they do to minimise danger. However, there is no shortage of solo female bike tourists (and a few male ones!) that, I imagine, will be happy to help in private conversations - although you may need to build up a history.

Finally, you may have to manage the fears of others! Family, friends may start to panic after an hour/day/week of no contact. You may find yourself spending lots of time assuring other people you're ok. Well intentioned, but a PITA if you're racing a raincloud or need to sleep.
Things like Strava/Facebook/Instagram updates can help to alleviate that, but may also be used by people with bad intentions. For this reason it's generally advised not to update social media "live".
A good chat, clear groundrules and a smart head can remove a lot of stress - for everyone!

If all that makes a bike tour sound complicated and stressful I do apologise, that's not the intention.
It's riding a bike from one place to the next - it's only as complicated as we make it!

Good luck!






Offline HikeBikeCook

  • World Traveler
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  • Have been bike touring for over 50 years
Re: Female solo ride along Underground Railroad
« Reply #5 on: March 30, 2021, 12:22:04 pm »
you might also want to explore the Garmin inReach Mini GPS Satellite Communicator. https://buy.garmin.com/en-US/US/p/592606
Long Distance Hiker - AT Thru-hike 2007
Long distance cyclist - multi day tours - TDF tour Alpes 2005
Surly Disc Trucker, Lightspeed Classic, Scott Scale, Klein Mantra Comp. First touring bike Peugeot U08 - 1966

Offline Inge

Re: Female solo ride along Underground Railroad
« Reply #6 on: March 31, 2021, 02:35:17 am »
As a female cyclist I have not come across any dangerous situations, yet - main cycling done in the US and UK, Holland. I usually stay in campsites - it is illegal to wild camp here and to avoid hassle I simply stay at a campsite. Always nice to have hot shower at the end of a day  :D. In towns I never leave my bike out of sight and when shopping I ask if I can take the bike inside which is hardly ever refused. In major towns I spend the night in a hostel or hotel and when looking around town the bike stays there locked up safely.

As mentioned before use your common sense if you do not feel safe move on or leave the people you are with as soon as possible.

Offline HikeBikeCook

  • World Traveler
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  • Posts: 191
  • Have been bike touring for over 50 years
Re: Female solo ride along Underground Railroad
« Reply #7 on: March 31, 2021, 12:14:25 pm »
It is legal to camp in most federal forest and many state forests as long as you adhere to the no-trace policy and camp the designated distance from roads and water ways.
Long Distance Hiker - AT Thru-hike 2007
Long distance cyclist - multi day tours - TDF tour Alpes 2005
Surly Disc Trucker, Lightspeed Classic, Scott Scale, Klein Mantra Comp. First touring bike Peugeot U08 - 1966

Offline lindagould

Re: Female solo ride along Underground Railroad
« Reply #8 on: April 12, 2021, 02:00:24 pm »
When it comes to traveling alone, just don't admit your alone if you feel someone is sketchy. Just mention touring with a group, waiting for the SAG Wagon, or waiting for you boy friend who went off into the bushes 1/2 mile back for a bio break.

I copied this above from another person- Linda

I have biked solo in Europe and the US,  southern tier, underground RR and others and I have had no problem. Don't look the person in the eyes if they pull up along side of you.  I suggest being willing to spend a few extra dollars to stay in a hotel when it is necessary because of bad weather or no good place to stay. I am thinking right now of going from richmond, va to St. Augustine on the Atlantic route by myself and I  am 80 .  Wish me luck. I am a member of AAA and did use that for  ride once.
Linda gould