Author Topic: lone female traveling through Utah to California - silly?  (Read 5757 times)

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Offline thom1881

lone female traveling through Utah to California - silly?
« on: February 19, 2011, 03:14:02 am »
Any suggestions (besides "find a partner") for a female hoping to travel alone through the Southwest in April?  Looking to hit the big National Parks and then head as due West as possible to LA.  This dream is growing, and I'd like to get advice on routes, gear, experiences others have had.   

Offline Westinghouse

Re: lone female traveling through Utah to California - silly?
« Reply #1 on: February 19, 2011, 05:42:25 am »
No guarantees, but you should be OK. I read a story about a woman who rode solo around the perimeter of the USA. She had a great time.

I am thinking about doing the ST again this winter 2011-12. I have been trying to find a companion to go too, but not much luck there. With my style of touring it probably would be too much for most people anyhow.

I don't know your route, but if that and gear info and tech info are what you are looking for, I'm sure people here can give you more than you can handle. I have done a lot of touring, so if you have anything specific about touring itself, I might be able to help. I'm not much on gear talk and technical stuff, but I am one hell of a long-distance cyclist---37,000 miles (59,000 kilometers) through 19 countries.

FredHiltz

  • Guest
Re: lone female traveling through Utah to California - silly?
« Reply #2 on: February 19, 2011, 07:07:22 am »
Not silly at all. You can find a lot about desert riding here. Try the search box at the top of whichever forum seems appropriate, or the one on the main page to search all the forums.

We have had some good discussions about solo female riding too, although less recently. "Female" and "safety" are good search terms. I tried them and found a couple of particularly good threads:

http://www.adventurecycling.org/forums/index.php?topic=3188.0
http://www.adventurecycling.org/forums/index.php?topic=3129.0

Fred

Offline valygrl

Re: lone female traveling through Utah to California - silly?
« Reply #3 on: February 19, 2011, 10:35:59 am »
Hey, I've posted before on the "lone female" type threads - I've done some solo riding in the USA - just keep your wits about you, you'll be fine.  Don't listen to the people who tell you you have to find a partner, solo touring is a totally different experience, and one worth having.  I tend to avoid the reservations, though, just as I would avoid areas of urban poverty.

April's a good time to balance too hot in the desert with too cold in the high country.  Might still be pretty cold in Zion & around St. George, but perfect for Moab/Arches/Canyonlands.  It can be super windy in spring.  Possibly a little early for the Grand Canyon.

Offline Tourista829

Re: lone female traveling through Utah to California - silly?
« Reply #4 on: February 19, 2011, 11:09:53 am »
I say go for it! There is something to be said about touring alone, going at your own pace, and acting on a whim. It will energize and bolster your confidence. Just make sure, you have some knowledge of maintaining your bicycle and include a tool kit and some parts. Your local bike shop can bring you up to speed. Make sure your bicycle has a low enough gear. Utah is hilly. If at night, you are concerned, stay at a motel, a trailer park, or see if a church or college, will let you stay there. I have even camped, with permission at a small local airport. When touring alone, I have never stayed alone for long.

Offline cotterg3

Re: lone female traveling through Utah to California - silly?
« Reply #5 on: February 19, 2011, 11:48:39 am »
As far as routes go:

The roads through utah connecting zion, bryce, escalante, glen canyon, and canyon lands are BEAUTIFUL, though a little desolate. Plan carefully with your packed provisions. West of zion starts to get "bad" (interstates, lack of towns, etc).

I also enjoyed the ACA grand canyon route was great too (I recommend including the down and back section to the north rim). If you take this, consider taking 89A though flagstaff, sedona, jerome, prescott,. Great towns and great scenery in between them. West of prescott wasn't super great (basically riding through small towns in the desert). Heading through the sand dunes was fun though in southern CA.

If you're concerned about safety bring along a set of ninja throwing stars. They pack very well and don't require a permit.  :P On a slightly more serious note, I doubt you will find anyone in this forum saying its silly or unsafe to bike tour alone, since most of us have a passion for exactly that.
« Last Edit: February 19, 2011, 11:51:16 am by cotterg3 »

Offline thom1881

Re: lone female traveling through Utah to California - silly?
« Reply #6 on: February 19, 2011, 11:59:03 am »
Thank you for all the encouragement!  City folks seem to think being alone in the country is extremely unsafe, and that's whom I've talked to mostly. 

I have a few more specific logistical questions:

Is google an appropriate source for route planning if there is no ACA map to get me west through southern NV and CA?
I'm planning on camping as often as possible, and I like the advice of camping at church, but what if I find myself in the middle of the desert as the sun is setting.  How will I know if it's ok to just pitch my tent?  Should I worry about making amends in the morning if it becomes a concern?
So far, I'll be bringing a two-person tent in order to appear part of a pair, and a tarp to drape over my bike to conceal the fact that it's, well, only one bike.  I like the idea of hanging men's underwear nearby, and I've definitely noted the U-Dap Bear Spray.  I'm trying to pack lightly and efficiently, and would prefer not to baggy-up myself with loose, dull clothing while riding, but would anyone definitely recommend it for camp at night?

Offline cotterg3

Re: lone female traveling through Utah to California - silly?
« Reply #7 on: February 19, 2011, 12:57:02 pm »
"Is google an appropriate source for route planning if there is no ACA map to get me west through southern NV and CA?"

Yes. Google is good for those tiny roads not appearing on state maps. Google street view is also a good way to see what the road is like. there actually aren't too many roads in southern nevada heading into california anyway.

"I'm planning on camping as often as possible, and I like the advice of camping at church, but what if I find myself in the middle of the desert as the sun is setting.  How will I know if it's ok to just pitch my tent?  Should I worry about making amends in the morning if it becomes a concern?"

Church's are good. Of course, you should always try to ask for permission first. The thing is, if you ask for permission, almost no one will turn you down from my experience as long as you are polite and they understand your situation. As for crashing somewhere off the road, I just stay out of sight as best as possible and avoid private property or anything with a no trespassing sign.

"So far, I'll be bringing a two-person tent in order to appear part of a pair, and a tarp to drape over my bike to conceal the fact that it's, well, only one bike.  I like the idea of hanging men's underwear nearby, and I've definitely noted the U-Dap Bear Spray.  I'm trying to pack lightly and efficiently, and would prefer not to baggy-up myself with loose, dull clothing while riding, but would anyone definitely recommend it for camp at night?"

Not exactly sure what you are asking, but I typically carry one set of comfy "off the bike" clothes and two riding outfits (plus a layer or two specifically for colder weather or rain). The mens underwear, tarp, etc. seem like more trouble than its worth and I have not met a solo female touring cyclist who has bothered with these types of precautions, but this is your decision.
« Last Edit: February 19, 2011, 07:45:51 pm by cotterg3 »

Offline Tourista829

Re: lone female traveling through Utah to California - silly?
« Reply #8 on: February 19, 2011, 07:12:16 pm »
I would take Google bicycle/regular maps with a grain of salt. Overall they are good but.....When heading out of my home, in New Tampa to St. Augustine, I followed Google Maps to get to the Withlacoochee Trail near Trilby. (Trying to save a few miles and stay off the main roads) I am taking a route and I hear a very angry man asking me what I was doing on his property. I told him I was taking this road to such and such road. He looked at the map and told me the road hadn't gone through in ten years. I lost ten miles back tracking.

There will be times, when you will be in places where you will have to set up camp and not know who's property you are on. The others gave good advise. Any cover away from the road and out of the direct view of head lights is preferable. Just leave the area the way you found it. Mens underwear?

Some kind of spray is ok but you are more likely to use it on a stray dogs along the route. Use common sense, a long time ago I learned if you have an encounter, which is very rare, do not act scared, be strong. A cell phone, many times will work, good for emergencies, to let someone know where you are and your proposed route.

Depending, on the time of year you travel, you may need more clothes and equipment. You definately want a matress pad and possibly a liner for your sleeping bag. A two person tent is more for comfort and stowing your gear inside. You should have layers for clothing. The main thing is you need to be comfortable and wear whatever gives you piece of mind. Worse comes to worse, you could send stuff home or to a friends house.

If you are not experienced or haven't camped in a while, a shake down trip, close to home, may help you.

If you are traveling for days, in isolated terrain, extra water and food is a must.

Go by your instincts and have a great time.

Offline John Nelson

Re: lone female traveling through Utah to California - silly?
« Reply #9 on: February 20, 2011, 12:39:37 pm »
Don't take bear spray. If you use it, you'll probably find yourself in jail for assault. Besides, it's illegal in many places. Valygrl is correct--the only equipment you need is your wits. Leave everything else (bear spray, tarp, men's underwear, ninja throwing stars, baggy clothes) at home.

Most assaults on women are by people they know. You'll be safer out on the road with people you don't know.  :)

Offline mucknort

Re: lone female traveling through Utah to California - silly?
« Reply #10 on: February 21, 2011, 11:47:23 am »
I would take Google bicycle/regular maps with a grain of salt. Overall they are good but.....
We were in Minnesota, intending to camp at a State Park. I'd called to make a reservation. Google Bicycle maps gave directions via a "North Entrance" to the park. At 5 p.m. with a horrific thunderstorm about to break on us, we stopped at the house at the end of the road to ask why we missed the park entrance. "Oh, they planned on putting in a North entrance a couple years back, but with budget cuts it never happened". Fortunatly, the retired couple invited us in for the night just as the storm busted wide open.

Grain of salt, take 2:
Google Bicycle maps sent us on several gravel roads on the other side of Minnesota, one of which had gravel so thick that my wife went down with a number of cuts and bruises.

Grain of salt, take 3:
In Wyoming, Google Bicycle maps showed a great shortcut that would save us many miles off the highway we intended to ride on. My suspicions were confirmed following our previous incident. When we got to the cut-off, it was a tiny dirt road that hadn't been used in years. We stayed on the highway.
« Last Edit: February 21, 2011, 12:02:32 pm by mucknort »


Offline Westinghouse

Re: lone female traveling through Utah to California - silly?
« Reply #12 on: February 22, 2011, 05:30:03 am »
Valygirl is quite right about that. Going alone may be your best choice. There is something about the freedom of
transcontinental cycling, and shorter touring, on your own that might just make it a lot more adventurous and enjoyable for you than with someone else.

Of course, the fact that you would be a woman cycling alone could possibly make you a target of opportunity for some kind of sexual offender. These things do happen. But don't worry about it. You should be fine. There are no real guarantees in life anyway. Go and have a good time. We must not stay at home and lock ourselves inside just because there are offenders out there. I certainly would not seek the company of offenders, but I am not going to hide at home just because there are a lot of them running free. If I see someone I suspect, I'm out of there. If one attacks, he better be ready for a very bad time. That's the way I see it. I was approached and attacked one time by somebody who I think was under the influence lof alcohol and drugs. He soon got the message that he had better leave or those were his last moments on this earth. He got the message and hightailed it out of there. I mind my own business and just cycle cross-country. But if some miscreant should decide I am an easy target, I would do what I had to do.

Personal security is a valid concern. The fact is nobody can really guarantee your safe passage should you decide to do your trip alone or even with somebody else. The fact is people cross the entire continent by bike without incident.

In fact, underneath it all, a lot of people think cross-country cycling like that is really cool and they wish there were doing it themselves. Your concerns are valid, bt I don't think you should have anything to worry about.

Offline JHamelman

Re: lone female traveling through Utah to California - silly?
« Reply #13 on: February 22, 2011, 09:26:28 am »
Is google an appropriate source for route planning if there is no ACA map to get me west through southern NV and CA?

You might also want to check the resources that both Nevada and California have available online for some routing suggestions. If you don't find what you are looking for, call and talk to someone in their Bicycle and Pedestrian offices. They know their roads and routes better than anyone.

NEVADA

Web: http://www.bicyclenevada.com

Bill Story
Bicycle, Pedestrian & Safe Routes to School Programs
Transportation and Multi-Modal Planning Division
Nevada Department of Transportation
1263 South Stewart St
Carson City, NV 89710
775-888-RIDE(7433); Fax 775-888-7207
E-mail: wstory@dot.state.nv.us


CALIFORNIA

Web: http://www.dot.ca.gov/hq/tpp/offices/bike/index.html

Penny Gray , Chief
Bicycle Facilities Unit
Division of Local Assistance, MS-1
California Department of Transportation
PO Box 942874
Sacramento, CA 94274-0001
916-653-2750; Fax 916-653-1905
E-mail: penny_gray@dot.ca.gov

Ann Mahaney
Bicycle Facilities Unit
916-653-0036
E-mail: ann_mahaney@dot.ca.gov

Richard Haggstrom, C.E., T.E.
Pedestrian Program Manager
California Department of Transportation
PO Box 942874
Sacramento, CA 94274-0001
916-654-6600
E-mail: richard.haggstrom@dot.ca.gov

Good luck and have a great ride!

.Jennifer.
*_*_*_*_*_*_*_*_*_*_*

Jennifer Hamelman

Adventure Cycling Association
Inspiring and empowering people to travel by bicycle.
800/755-2453, 406/721-1776 x205
www.adventurecycling.org

Follow Routes & Mapping on Twitter: @acaroutes