Pushing the Boundaries - Solo Adventure Riding

Discussion in 'The Perfect Line and Other Riding Myths' started by windblown101, Nov 15, 2020.

  1. Ginger Beard

    Ginger Beard Instagram @motopossum

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    For me, one of the main things I think about on solo backcountry trips is whether or not I can get a loaded bike off of me when it has me pinned face down (or some other precarious position). Having dealt with this exact scenario on a 500 lbs bike when I was younger and stronger, I don't think that I could pull off the the 1 arm behind the back while laying on my chest, hoist and squirm, that got me out of that situation.

    I'm now far more cautious and conscientious of my pack weight (I now keep my gear weight under 25 lbs) and the weight of the bike itself, preferring to ride bikes that are sub 350 lbs.
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  2. DSchmidt7of7

    DSchmidt7of7 Been here awhile

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    I have read and appreciate the discussion. Lotsa good ideas.

    One suggestion I haven't seen is to bring along some comfortable shoes. Shoes that can be worn around camp at night or for the long trek back to civilization, cuz dem boots ain't made for walking. Weight and bulk are prime considerations for me. Something like the soft soled boat shoes I'm using now. They pack easily and don't weigh much and are all day comfortable.
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  3. dirtmarine

    dirtmarine Been here awhile

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    Excellent point. Got to have comfort at night and mobility if you have to walk out.
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  4. davenowherejones

    davenowherejones short old guy

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    Who is going to find your broken ass first, the rescue people or the bears?
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  5. davenowherejones

    davenowherejones short old guy

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    Too many things have gone wrong. I quit.

    Fuel runs out. Bikes break. I get lost. Scary bears. GPS quit. Snow is cold. Rain is wet. Guns scare me. Mountains fall down.

    My brain quits working. My body quits. I quit.
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  6. Colorad0

    Colorad0 Long timer

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    Pretty much my entire riding career has been "pushing the boundaries solo". But I live in the mountains, so I was on a dirt bike, rather than an adv bike.

    OP has it pretty covered with that list. But ultimately, you can't account for every possibility. An Inreach or similar is a must, as is the gear to survive the night.

    One thing I've learned, is to start early and give yourself as much daylight as possible. Fixing stuff when it's cold and dark is harder that it need be.

    TBH, after after nearly a decade of riding at race pace, solo up in the high Rockies (about 20,000 miles off road) not that much has gone south. Once I drowned my bike and had to push it out 3 miles to meet the wife (used the inreach to contact her). Another time I gave myself a grade III MCL tear in a low side on the ice at 10,000ft in November, about an hour before sunset. Had to self rescue with that one, picking up the bike and getting it started with the kickstarter wasn't fun. But I got it started and rode it 25 miles home.

    I've been launched off the side of the mountain at 20+ mph, I've low sided at high speeds, I've have countless near misses, some of them in very dangerous places. In fact I learned to ride by myself on a 300 two stroke in the rockies. I've always made it home!
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  7. jdrocks

    jdrocks Gravel Runner

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    riding solo, way the heck out there and a long way from home, foremost in my mind is this...ride to survive, both rider and bike. i'm armored top to bottom, the bike is armored front to back. the pace of advance is modest, neither fast nor slow. the armor-up concept is symbiotic, inclusive to man and machine. flop the damn moto, the goal is to ride away every time.
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  8. davenowherejones

    davenowherejones short old guy

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    A friend of mine is threatening to take a one way ride out into the bush and we are all waiting for the old bastard to hurry up & do it.
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  9. markk53

    markk53 jack of all trades... Super Supporter

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    Kind of like lengthening the bungee cord after every successful jump or waiting longer to pull the rip cord when sky diving... right? Keep riding closer to the edge without any kind of back up. Yep, makes sense to me... :augie
    #29
  10. ZoomerP

    ZoomerP . Supporter

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    Not a motorcycling book, but Death in Grand Canyon takes a systematic look at what has killed people in GC over the years. Many of those risk factors apply to the solo motorcyclist. The book is well written and researched by people that are very knowledgeable with the area and subject.
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  11. PeterW

    PeterW Long timer

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    I generally ride solo, the one rule that's probably saved me is "Turn around if it gets worse than expected"

    Point being that if I got that far I can be reasonably confident of making it back out, heading on into potentially worse conditions just isn't a win riding solo.

    That's something that seems impossible for some people to learn, but unless you want to end up wasting other people's time and money and potentially risking their lives as well it's a big one.
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  12. jacktwitch

    jacktwitch Been here awhile

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    Sounds solid. In my jeep when alone I use 2 wheel in , four wheel out
    I use a similar concept on the bike. Dont push it going out, save the hard work for getting back if you have to.
    I learned that in my teens rock climbing, its a lot easier to climb up than down. I once read that 80% of fatalities on mountain climbs happen after the summit
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  13. ZoomerP

    ZoomerP . Supporter

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    Good point, with a parallel found in Grand Canyon misadventures.

    GC can be viewed as an inverted mountain, in that it's relatively easy to enter and descend, but heading up & out is much more difficult. I've seen vehicles get into similar trouble after a descent down a steep, loose grade, only to find they lack the traction, power, or expertise to climb back up.
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  14. Motopsychoman

    Motopsychoman Not a total poseur Supporter

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    Lots of good stuff here.

    I particularly relate to the start early-end early each day comment. Allows hours of daylight in case things go wrong. I always try to end riding and find a camp spot by mid-afternoon so I can set up camp, relax, cook and cleanup by dark. I've done more than my share of backpacking until late evening and then trying to find a spot to throw down my mat and bag, find water, etc. (one exception is backpacking under a full moon which is an awesome experience).

    Water purification, even if it is only iodine tablets, should be along on every trip.

    Did I miss it or has no one mentioned First Aid training? Specifically Wilderness First Aid or Wilderness First Responder training. Invaluable if you or someone else gets hurt and has to be stabilized. I've been in spots where even with my InReach if something really bad happens, it might be 24 to 48 hours before anyone could reach me and I'd need to be able to survive that long.
    #34
  15. windblown101

    windblown101 Long timer Supporter

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    Having had prior conversations with jdrocks it looks like you misinterpreted his post.

    There is nothing in it about taking continually increasing risk. His focus is to keep both rider and bike intact and functioning as designed in order to avoid unnecessary complications, not armor up to take more risks.
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  16. HickOnACrick

    HickOnACrick Groovinator Super Supporter

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    Of all the sports/activities I love or have loved, whitewater kayaking is the only one I do not do alone.

    I love solo rides, especially when off road, and I agree with everything stated by the OP. I would add:

    1. The gear I absolutely need for survival, water, food and shelter, needs to pack small, be lightweight, and be simple.
    2. I travel with some sort of "backpack" in case I need to walk out. Most of the time I am wearing an Ogio flight vest. I can carry 3 L of water, a water purifier, my tarp, and a number of essentials like first aid kit, phone, multitool, paracord, snacks, headlamp, batteries, etc., in all the pockets. My shelter and dry clothes easily fit inside my tail bag, which has backpack straps, and is waterproof.
    3. I keep the weight down. I have traveled solo with as little as 40 lbs of gear, including tools, fluids and spares; or as much as 80 lbs. Traveling light is much more enjoyable to me. I ride better, I get less fatigued, and in general have fewer mechanical issues related to the extra weight of the bike and gear.
    4. Crocs - lightweight, dry quickly, they float, easily strapped to a ruck, can be walked in all day - these are my go-to shoes for all rides.
    5. I am a fundamentalist about keeping certain gear dry - primarily my gear needed for shelter and keeping warm. I can pull into a campsite in pouring rain, and climb into my hammock in clothes that are dry and warm, with a full belly. For me, it is all about having a system, I pack things in a way for easy deployment in the rain/snow/sleet/hail. I have clothes designated only for sleeping, and clothes designated for riding. I do not carry "town" clothes. My sleeping clothes do not get pulled out of their dry bag until I am certain they will stay dry. Pack clothes that dry quickly, avoid cotton.
    6. If I need to walk out, stick to trails and roads. If I ever think I might possibly shave some miles by bushwacking, I tell myself to STFU and stick to the trail/road. This is one of the lessons taught to me early in scouting, but I forget every few years. Seriously, many of my oh shit moments in the wilderness have occurred when I wandered off the trail, or thought the shortest distance between two points was a straight line.
    7. Don't be afraid to ask for help early - like if I am low on water and come upon a camp, I have no shame, I will go beg some water before I completely run out. I carry a water purifier with me all the time, but if someone can just fill my camel back from a jerry can, and they are happy to do it while talking about my ride, I will gladly accept. I have also bought gas along the trail from camps full of ATV/UTV riders.
    8. Whistle and signaling mirror. If I need to leave the bike, pull one of the mirrors off and take it with me. One can signal with a mirror from a long distance, even aircraft can be signaled. A whistle is much louder than yelling, and yelling for help will find you without a voice pretty quick.
    9. Learn some basic knots - square knot, hitch-knots, prussik knots, and bowline. Outside of the prussik knot, I use all these knots very often. It's like algebra, the people saying they never use algebra are the same people who don't understand algebra. I used a bowline yesterday to pull a log a couple hundred yards behind my UTV. Once finished, it was easy-peasy to undo the knot, because that is what a bowline is designed to do.
    10. In addition to wire ties, wires, duct tape, locktite...I take a race-kit of various fasteners, and if I add some farkle to the bike, I make sure the fasteners do not increase my tool set. For example, every time I add anything from RAM mounts, I replace the hardware with metric fasteners that correspond to a wrench I am already carrying.

    I know the idea of traveling alone by means of something that is already inherently dangerous, is probably foolhardy, but I do not find myself gripped with fear when traveling solo. In fact, it is usually the 2 hours of highway back to home that leave me feeling like a long-tailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs. I have been doing solo trips in remote areas since I was a teenager. I have been bit a time or two, and one day I may die alone in the wilderness, but that is a price I am willing to pay.

    EDIT: forgot to mention cam straps - I carry at least one 12-foot cam strap, like NRS sell for rafting. They are strong enough to use as a tow strap, can be used to lift a wheel if one does not have a centre stand, and can find a solid anchor like a tree, can be used to tie down something that has loosened...many uses, light, and simple design.
    #36
  17. Amphib

    Amphib A mind is like a parachute....

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    Not much to add here. There's a pretty comprehensive list going. I carry basic tools, first aid, epipen, water, tire repair equip.I've gotten into trouble a couple of times and since, I make sure I always have a bit of food in reserve....enough that I could live off of for a few days. Water isn't too much of a problem here in the east and water purification is pretty easy these days.

    I agree with making sure you have dry warm clothes... I carry tarp, at the bottoms of my panniers I keep a few contractor trash bags folded up... (these can turn into make shift rain gear if something happens, can keep you warm, protect gear, separate wet from dry). I have just this year started carrying an inreach. I carry extra fuel in a rotopax..... Can be used as fire starter. If I'm camping, I'll have more food, water capability, sleeping gear of down and wool, hammock, battery light, etc.

    Ive been heading out into the woods since I've been a kid. I feel comfortable and natural out there. I don't have any fears, I accept the possible consequences, but keep a healthy respect for inherent dangers.

    The biggest lessons I've learned is to stay calm, trust my instincts, know my limits, listen to my body, and my biggest survival tool is between my ears.
    #37
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  18. steved57

    steved57 Long timer Supporter

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    Good thread OP and some great ideas / suggestions by many of the other posters
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  19. windmill

    windmill Long timer

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    Like with most things, understanding the difference between good decisions, and good luck is important. Luck works great..........until it doesn't.
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  20. markk53

    markk53 jack of all trades... Super Supporter

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    As do good decisions... until they aren't.
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