You'll need more than just your phone.
Here’s how to prepare for a big day out in big hills and remote places. Included is a recommended kit list as well as stuff to do prior to the day itself.
According to a report from Ordnance Survey, mountain rescue callout figures are on the increase for the fourth year running.
A high percentage of these rescue could have been prevented if those being rescued had planned things better, or indeed done any planning at all.
Don’t die because your phone did
83% of the folk who responded to survey from O.S. admitted that they wouldn’t know what to do if they got into trouble and didn’t have a phone signal.
Too many people are heading into the mountains relying entirely on their smartphone. They aren’t carrying paper maps let along a compass or whistle.
Don’t be another statistic. Get prepared. You can never eradicate accidents but we can as mountain bikers take more responsibility to avoid unnecessary rescues.
1. Research your route
As well as looking at trad paper Ordnance Survey maps, take advantage of all the mod cons like digital mapping, satellite imagery and even 3D-flythrough stuff. It can really help you assess which bits are going to be the most exposed or the most heavy going.
2. Obsess about weather
Although it’s easy to focus on whether it will rain or not, it’s arguably wind that is the main thing to look out for. You can’t dress for wind. Strong winds in the big hills can really suck the fun out of the day, not to mention potentially adding danger if your route is exposed. And it’s wind that makes weather changeable, so the windier it is the more clothing options you’ll need to pack.
3. Plan shortcuts
Stuff happens. Mechanicals, injuries, weather fronts, wives going into labour etc etc. It’s rare that a shortcut isn’t available when riding in the UK so whilst you’re plotting your intended route you should also pick out a couple of shortcut links. If your route isn’t that shortcut-able then make a note of where the point of no return is and make sure you pause at this point during the ride and assess whether it’s wise to continue on or whether to turn around.
4. Brush up your navigational skills
Remind yourself how to use a compass and how to give an accurate grid reference (Mountain Rescue hopefulyl won’t need it but you never know). Ordnance Survey have an excellent map reading resource.
5. Don’t rely on your phone or GPS device
There’s probably no phone signal where you’re going. Phones run out of battery. GPS devices get broken in crashes. All technology can freeze up and decide to stop working. Take a paper map out with you as backup.
6. Charlie says…
Always tell someone where you’re riding. Give them a print out (or email them a screenshot) of your plotted route. Also let them know how long you should be out and when you’ll be back approximately.
7. Kit list
This is on top of everything else listed in our existing Kit list for proper rides.
- Survival bag
- Warm gloves
- Extra clothing layers
- Powerbank for recharging your phone