Donderdag! Families are used to getting outdoors. They do it in fall and winter. Haul the gear outdoors, bring the bike and kids, and spend the day figuring out what to do with the weather. It’s usually at Donderdag! Clinics, local bike rides, or race day events. Outdoors, but probably under a tent, which may blow away, but even then, everyone can usually get into a car. Outdoors, but not stranded.
During the CX off-season, you’ll be encouraged to mountain bike, and get some Way Out Doors exploration in. Unlike road and gravel rides, trails and off-road accesses have little signage, few structures, and less phone coverage. Since phone coverage really starts to fall off outside towns and cities, and away from interstate highways, consider the gear you take, and why you may need it. Humans assume their smartphones will be there for them at a moment’s notice, but it doesn’t take long to get out in the woods and end up with a dead battery, or lost signal. People do it all the time, and then what? Backcountry rescues often include hauling out hikers (dead or alive) who counted on their cell phones for navigation. Consider your phone for emergency calls (if a signal is found), and a few pictures, and start building other habits keeping you safe when going Way Outdoors.
Here are some tips. Consider the terrain and the distance you plan to go into the outdoors. Remember that a simple day hike can turn into a stressful odyssey if you are lost or injured. Don’t assume that a simple day hike is free from risk. When headed Way Outdoors, inform your family or friends of your destination, route, and planned return time. When arriving at the park or trail, sign in at the trailhead or ranger station. This will leave evidence of your presence in the area in case of your failed return. When heading into the great outdoors, bring plenty of water, maybe even a filter and purification tablets, and some energy snacks. Carry a rain slicker, if it’s cool weather or dark, getting soaked can lead to hypothermia and exhaustion. A topographical map and magnetic compass will help you keep track of where you are-no batteries needed. Bring a whistle on a lanyard. In the case you are injured, or lost, blowing a whistle will save energy, and the sound carries further than the human voice. Especially if there is any cascading water or wind. A lighter, candle, and foil blanket can save your life if you are unexpectedly stranded outdoors overnight. Always carry some first aid items, bandaids, gauze and steri-strips will help out if a cut or scuff occurs. Lots of outdoors enthusiasts carry a suture gun and skin glue. If you’re allergic to wasp and bee stings, keep an epi-pen in your kit. All of this can be carried in a small day pack.
Since my 20s, I have day hiked or backpacked the North Eastern colonial states, Colorado, a bunch of the midwest, and the Grand Tetons. During many of those trips, news on the trail of injury and death is always sobering. So get way outdoors, but come back safe and sound. Bring the cuts, the bruises, and the stories of amazing views and experiences, and know you’re healthier and happier because of it all.