July 4, 2022
Using Technology to Keep You Safe While on a Gravel Ride
July 1, 2022 – By Kathryn Taylor
Riding solo can be liberating, but as women, we often worry about our safety. Although most of us ride to disconnect from the world, using technology can add an extra layer of safety and peace of mind to our rides.
Fortunately, we live in a world with many options to help keep us connected on our rides. Here are a few pieces of technology that you can use and some ways to protect yourself when using them.
DEVICES WITH TRACKING FEATURES
Both Garmin and Wahoo bike computers offer live tracking links and an incident detection feature. You can give someone access to your link allowing them to track you, or in the case of the incident alert, receive a text message if the bike computer detects a crash. Just a warning, the incident detection feature tends to be quite sensitive. I’ve heard stories of folks who stopped and put their bikes down for a leisurely break while a loved one was panicking because they received a crash alert. Make sure you pause your device anytime you stop for a break.
Specialized has also developed a helmet sensor called the ANGi . The sensor monitors the forces transmitted to your helmet in a crash. Once paired to your phone, if the ANGi detects a force consistent with head impact, it will send an alert and can notify your emergency contact. It also allows you to cancel an alert (in case of a false alarm) so you don’t freak out your emergency contact if you just happen to toss your helmet mid-ride.
If you haven’t invested in a bike computer or sensor, you can use your phone. The first year I was at a SAG stop for UNBOUND, I was surprised to find out how many support crews were tracking their rider using the Find My Friends App. Although Android devices don’t have this app, there are some hearty alternatives that you can use.
The Apple watch also has an emergency feature that makes it easy to call your local 911 by pressing and holding the side button.
If you do a lot of your riding in remote areas without cell service, you may want to invest in a satellite-enabled device, like the Garmin InReach. Although it’s a bit more of an investment, it will allow you to send your location and send/receive messages no matter where you are.
Want to stay low-tech but also want the peace of mind of knowing that someone has your back? Communicate your ride plans to a friend or family member. As someone who lives alone, I always text a friend giving them my start location, general route, and my expected finish time.
BE SMART WITH TECHNOLOGY
Have a backup
As amazing as technology can be, it’s also good to be wary. I was once stuck on the side of the road for over an hour because my derailleur broke. Unbeknownst to me, my phone had been taking pocket video all day and had also died. Several people stopped to offer me their phone…..except I didn’t know a single phone number by memory. Yikes.
Write down emergency phone numbers and keep them in your bike bag If you’re riding with a group, write down the phone number of at least one other person in the group before your ride.
Use Privacy Tools
If you upload your rides to a tool like Strava, be aware of your privacy settings. Many of us have a regular route we ride. It can be easy for someone to track us. Public athletes like Molly Seidel have recently spoken about using Strava more carefully because of these concerns.
Trust Your Gut
The best piece of technology you own is still your inner wiring that says, something isn’t right. If at any point you get that feeling, get the heck out of dodge.
I think it’s also good to remember that there are many really good people out there. We’ve interviewed women who embark on solo adventures like Lael Wilcox and Scotti Lechuga on the podcast. They share amazing stories about the kindness of strangers. With all of the bad news in the world right now, we can start to believe that the world is just bad.
In case you need a little reminder, I’ve included some stories from our Facebook group!