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Trail essentials for newbies?

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Hi guys,

I've had my CRF250L for a month now, prior to this I had a CT110 'postie bike' and although i have been on gravel roads, farm roads and general unsealed roads, today I went on my first proper trail. Well, what I'd call one anyway. I thought it was just a normal track but it thinned right out and there were rocks, weird steep parts I had to 'climb,' ferns brushing my arms and face etc...

I got a fair way into this track which was well over my experience level (I'm surprised I even stayed on :() and I realised I'd only brought my wallet, phone (no reception anyway) and a map (I'm vaguely familiar with the area). Oh and I ride and live alone so no one would've even knew where I was. When I got home I thought I should probably buy a first aid kit at least, but does anyone have any tips on essential things to take for lone wolf newbies like me?

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Water, water, water. Something to fix a flat, zip tie in case you can't fix the flat put them on the rim to hold the tire down and you can still ride out slowly. An first aid kit if possible, a emergency blanket . If you can afford it, a spot for emergency.
I'm also a newly when it come to dirt, I always ride alone and try to keep it slow (and I know very well the trails in doing)

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Water, a bit of food and the basic tools required to work on the bike.  A minor tipper can make the bike unrideable with a basic tool kit.

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Mate, the fact is you could never carry everything you might need, so you have to prioritize.

Personally, I don't carry any tools (just lots of big zip ties and gaffer/duct tape).  But I always carry a very serious first aid-kit, some food and water and an inreach tracking device.

If I get a flat I just ride it out, and now that I have tubeless, I don't have to worry about flats.

I've also switched to riding mornings, so I have all day to 'rescue' myself if something goes wrong.  At night, here in the Rockies it get to below freezing even in the summer.

I also cocoon myself in as much body armor and braces as I can.  Two days ago, I was riding alone and my front wheel washed out at over 20mph.  I went off into the trees, but luckily I didn't hit any.  But I did get punched in the chest from what I think was the handlebars.  The force was enough that I have very sore shoulders from my arms getting thrown forward, also my gopro got ripped from my helmet.  My chest is also obviously very sore, but without my leatt 5.5 body vest, I would have not been able to get up and ride back home. 

At a minimum you need a tracking device and someone to monitor it.  Anything less is game of Russian Roulette.

Ever had a concussion?  You wake up and wonder three things.  Where you are, what the hell happened and why do you hurt.  You're not going to remember where you are, what is in your pack, how to get home etc.

You might get lucky and be able to self administer first aid, but if you've broken some fingers, and arm/leg how are you even going to get all your armor off and check yourself and/or control the bleeding.  You might even be pinned under the bike and be unable to get your pack off.

IIRC all it takes is 25mph into an immovable object (like a tree) to kill you, from the blunt force trauma damaging your internal organs.  My average speed where I ride is 24mph.

Edited by Colorado^
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Thanks so much for your help guys. Really appreciated.

And yes concussion isn't fun, I've played a lot of sport. I didn't even think about flying off and hitting a tree :(

Edited by TassieTiger
needed to add on extra
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13 hours ago, TassieTiger said:

Thanks so much for your help guys. Really appreciated.

And yes concussion isn't fun, I've played a lot of sport. I didn't even think about flying off and hitting a tree :(

It is the things you don't think about that get you. I lone wolf it a lot, but I try and let somebody know generally where I will be just in case.

Edited by Chaconne
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On 7/3/2017 at 5:06 AM, TassieTiger said:

I didn't even think about flying off and hitting a tree :(

And it doesn't even have to be your fault.  The tree's sometimes jump right out at you!

I also forgot to mention that, IIRC, there are sites where someone will monitor your spot/inreach device in exchange for you doing the same for them.  Not sure about what's available in your time zone though.

There are also some tracking phone apps, that might work for you if you have mobile phone reception where you ride.

Edited by Colorado^

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I'd probably just take cable ties to dodgy a flat up if you dont have to do highspeed riding to get home.

That will save you carrying tire levers, patches, wheel nut spanner, and a bike pump at the very least.

It also depends on your mechanical knowledge. If you cant fix a carby in the shed no point trying to work on it on the trail.

The BEST way to decide your toolkit is to do maintenance or repair tasks at home with it.

Then you'll realise you need an 8,10 and 19 to adjust the chain tension for example (yes I pulled those out of thin air, pretty sure my bike is a 13, 10 and a 19 but would have to look at the fasteners to know for sure)

And then you go out and buy extra tools to add to the kit. Don't throw your actual sets in, because its a pain in the arse. Trust me.

Edited by BushPig
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I wouldn't go riding without at least a basic set of tools.  The smallest thing can strand you out in the woods.  Something as simple as bending a bark buster so it impinges on your brake lever.  You aint going nowhere without the tools required to loosen that bark buster.  

Also getting a thrown chain back onto the sprocket without being able to loosen the rear axle is a serious PIA.

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I ride solo regularly.  On snow I'm not riding alone, but as a leader/instructor I need to be prepared to manage a situation with a dozen or so students.  (Snow/winter is a lot less forgiving when shit goes wrong too.)

 

Tools - not just wrenches/sockets/etc, but knowledge/skills.  Keep a parts fiche on your phone (I have repair/owners manuals, fiche, schematics for the wiring .... *everything* ... takes up no space on the phone, so why not have it).  Have some idea of how to troubleshoot/diagnose/repair the machine.

And probably more importantly - Keep your shit in good working order so it doesn't leave you stranded, and do a decent pre-trip before you leave.  Fluids good?  Tires holding and at proper pressure?  No overdue maintenance items?  Lights/horn/gauges all working? 

As far as the toolkit goes, pack what you need for most basic repairs on the machine.  When i'm working in the garage I work out of my trail toolkit.  Much rather find out I need a 17mm socket for something in the garage than innawoods.

 

You.  Are you physically/mentally prepared for the ride?  Have a plan (Even something basic - "I'm going this way, want to be back home by midnight, cutoff time 2100" is fine), and let someone else know that plan (Text a buddy)? 

Have an emergency plan?  Obviously can't cover every scenario, but leaving the house with a rough game-plan of what to do when something goes wrong makes you much more prepared when you do experience a situation.  Check the weather forecast - rain? snow? high or low temps?  Plan and pack accordingly. 

Carry a basic first aid kit, know how to use what's in there.  Don't carry anything you're not comfortable using - added weight to your pack/kit, and may cause more harm than good.  First Aid/CPR classes are cheap, two-year cert, and worth having.  (Do what I did - convince your employer to start a first-aid program, bring an instructor in for a 4-hour FirstAid/CPR/AED course and get a handful of people in the company certified - they pay for it 😉 )

Survival stuff.  Prepare to spend the night, but plan so you don't have to.  Wind/rain/snow protection - I carry a cheap survival blanket and trash bags, along with some mule tape/carabiners.  Firestarters - "one is none, two is one", and so on.  I like road flares - 15 minutes of &%$#@!ing hot - if you can't start a fire with those, you shouldn't be in the backcountry.  I've torched off wet wood in the winter with one of those, where everything else the crew tried couldn't get things lit.    Lighters are cheap, I carry a few of those on me and on my sled.  Being on a moto/snowmo, you've got some fuel to get things going too.  Some guys carry a couple tampons to dip in the fuel tank and use as tinder.  Matches suck.  I woudn't rely on bushcraft methods (bow drill, flint/steel) in an emergency. 

 

Navigation.  Know where you are?  Fantastic.  Know where you are when it's foggy and viz is limited to 50 feet or so?  Now what?

GPS is great.  Fairly simple/straightforward to use, tons of options and features.  Mine logs bread-crumb tracks of where I've been, and the maps on there have all kinds of information/resources.  Remember that it's a navigation aid, not a replacement for common sense.  I've watched people get turned around relying on their GPS without understand how to interpret the information its giving them.  Also, batteries fail.  I've smashed mine in a wreck and peeled it open like a banana.  No worky after that, although I was able to repair it when I got home.

A paper topo/trails map is a good idea.  Ranger stations usually have MVUM's they'll give you for the district.  Boy scout handbook is a good resource for basic orienteering.  I carry a compass on my keychain (along with spark plug gap gauge, truck/house/trailer keys) and use the compass with GPS a lot.  Cost and weigh almost nothing.  Don't need anything fancy there.

PRE-TRIP!!!  Going to explore somewhere new?  Fly around in Google Earth, see what's out there.  Make note of major boundaries/landmarks - things like wilderness areas, roads/highways, towns (fuel, hospital)... and the terrain.  Anything "oh-shit" that you should be aware of when you're riding - cliffs, rivers/lakes, avalanche hazard areas?  Mental note of that.  CalTopo.com has a real neat "Slope angle shading" feature I use for pre-tripping snowmobile adventures, helps me plan and navigate safely in avalanche terrain.

 

Communications.  Should something go wrong, how can you let someone else know?  If you're late for your check-in, will your emergency contact buddy that knows your plans raise the alarm?

Phones, calling 911, will try their hardest to push a signal out even if there's "no service" in the area.  Some districts with enhanced 911 services are textable - I wouldn't rely on that being provided, but it's worth a try.  A lot of times a text will go through when a phone call will not.  If you are in service, that's the preferred channel to get to the local PSAP where help can be dispatched.

I carry a two-way radio with me.  Big scary commercial/fire/law radio with a lot of buttons on it, with statewide networks and interop channels programmed in.  It works where phones don't, covers a huge area, can connect me straight with law/fire/medical if needed.  Downside is licenses, training, and access keys in some cases.  Ham radio is awesome as well (have a bunch of freqs for local repeaters plugged in too).  Satellite phone is another option.

A PLB, or SPOT/InReach device is a good idea.  A one-way*, come-get-me-heres-my-coordinates device.  If something major happens, life on the line kind of emergency, i'll deploy my PLB.  Make sure the registration is updated if you decide to carry one of those - your vehicle info, your contact info, about how many are in your group, where you're staying (hotel info if you're travelling), and valid emergency contacts. 

*(There are some two-way communicators available, but as an emergency device, consider it a one-way, transmit-only device.)

 

Water, gatorade, snacks, some cash, a credit card... ID card/drivers license, insurance cards (health/med and vehicle), carry permit...

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On 7/1/2017 at 0:37 PM, TassieTiger said:

Hi guys,

I've had my CRF250L for a month now, prior to this I had a CT110 'postie bike' and although i have been on gravel roads, farm roads and general unsealed roads, today I went on my first proper trail. Well, what I'd call one anyway. I thought it was just a normal track but it thinned right out and there were rocks, weird steep parts I had to 'climb,' ferns brushing my arms and face etc...

I got a fair way into this track which was well over my experience level (I'm surprised I even stayed on :() and I realised I'd only brought my wallet, phone (no reception anyway) and a map (I'm vaguely familiar with the area). Oh and I ride and live alone so no one would've even knew where I was. When I got home I thought I should probably buy a first aid kit at least, but does anyone have any tips on essential things to take for lone wolf newbies like me?

I see a lot of assumptions in this thread.

How far from home do you ride?

 Just because he has no phone reception doesnt mean he's miles and miles and miles from help. At times I ride on my parent's property, just a small farm. No phone reception, no people no sealed roads. I can ride for hours (albeit I might ride the same trail a few times) within 2 kilometres from the house.  I would take nothing except water and a V basic toolkit in that instance. I'd rather limp the bike back on a flat etc or hike tools to it IF something happened. And 99.99% of the times it wont on a ride like that. If the bike shits itself I'll curse it and enjoy the walk out. No point planning for a solo Dakar if you're just riding the rural area close to home or playing on the farm IMO. 

now if you're going more than 10 minutes away at trail pace things change, or if you're in a public area where you cant leave the bike. 

Also, as a new rider, how mechanically inclined are you mate? No point packing a diesel fitter's truck in your bumbag if you're new to working on bikes. Practice at home. Then I guarantee you wont need a thread like this to ask what you need (unless it's to compare). You'll know.

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If you need to make fire, keep the lint from your drier filter (very flammable) you can add some petroleum jelly and put in Ziploc bag. Doesn't take space

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Still need something to light it off with.

These are my preference.

DSC01105_-L.jpg

 

Two on my sled in that tunnel case, wrapped in a bag. 

Two more go with me, in my pack.  Stitched together a pouch for them, I wrap them in a gallon ziploc along with some plastic trash bags.

IMG_20160119_211549693-L.jpg

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Thanks again, some good suggestions, help me be a bit more prepared next ride.

On 05/07/2017 at 4:55 PM, BushPig said:

I see a lot of assumptions in this thread.

How far from home do you ride?

 Just because he has no phone reception doesnt mean he's miles and miles and miles from help. At times I ride on my parent's property, just a small farm. No phone reception, no people no sealed roads. I can ride for hours (albeit I might ride the same trail a few times) within 2 kilometres from the house.  I would take nothing except water and a V basic toolkit in that instance. I'd rather limp the bike back on a flat etc or hike tools to it IF something happened. And 99.99% of the times it wont on a ride like that. If the bike shits itself I'll curse it and enjoy the walk out. No point planning for a solo Dakar if you're just riding the rural area close to home or playing on the farm IMO. 

now if you're going more than 10 minutes away at trail pace things change, or if you're in a public area where you cant leave the bike. 

Also, as a new rider, how mechanically inclined are you mate? No point packing a diesel fitter's truck in your bumbag if you're new to working on bikes. Practice at home. Then I guarantee you wont need a thread like this to ask what you need (unless it's to compare). You'll know.

Well at the moment I'm only riding about 20kms from home, in an area I grew up bushwalking in which is either public or forestry...I don't know...but it is used by bushwalkers, mountain bikers and 4x4s too. I used to know it relatively well but it has been about 15 years since I've walked there so many of the areas are washed out/overgrown/changed slightly. The original post was more about when I get a bit of experience and move up to longer rides, and wondering what people take on them. It's not like I'm camping or whatever and have my whole car to pack out with gear.

I'm not a new rider, just new to trails. I always carry basic tools with me because my CT110 used to break down a lot so I have had to do the odd roadside repair. I'm good with fixing older bikes and I fix instruments from time to time in my day job but...my CRF is modern and far more electronic than my CT. Still, I think I could work out the basics. Nowhere in Tasmania is too far from a town unless you're riding in the SW which is unlikely.

 

 

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