I estimate that 80% of my mountain biking has been done solo. There are dangers of riding solo. An injury, animal attack or a mechanical far from the trailhead could all put the solo rider in jeopardy of a safe return. I accept the risk because it builds confidence in one’s skills and sure, it adds a little sense of danger (and that keeps you young if it doesn’t kill you). But now there is a new threat to the solo trail rider that I never imagined in my 30-plus years of mountain biking. Singletrack robbery!
The SFGATE is reporting of multiple incidents near Oakland, California, of mountain bikers being robbed at gunpoint while riding, not in the city, but on the trails surrounding the city.
I’ll continue to take my chances riding solo on the trails near my home but if I lived closer to large urban center, I would throw in the towel and give up on solo excursions. My advice (that I don’t follow myself) is to ride with one or more friends. If you encounter people on the trail who trigger a silent alarm in your head, pay attention to your instinct and avoid contact (by turning around and hauling butt if necessary).
It is really sad that it has come to this for mountain bikers.
Safety in numbers: Riding with friends reduces, but doesn’t eliminate, the chance of becoming a crime victim. Best advice…if it doesn’t feel right, go for flight. You may feel silly later, but a good self-defense instructor will teach students that the first thing you should should do is create space between yourself and the danger. Or more bluntly, turn around and pedal away!