February 26, 2015

The Thing About Safety

Over the last few weeks, we have been rocked in the Western Cape by a new series of attacks on runners and cyclists in Tokai forest. One of our benchmark climbs has been declared a crime hotspot and mountain biking in an area we pay good money to bike in, is no longer safe.

It has sparked some really crazy people into getting their names into the local papers, saying they will be carrying firearms and weapons now on their rides in the area.

Indeed, up country, in Gauteng, I know if cyclists who carry firearms with them when riding. Having never owned a firearm, the thought of this scares the living bagezuz (It’s a real word, ok) out of me.

Would I want to ride behind another cyclist in the single track with a loaded firearm in their back pocket? My brain conjures up a vast array of scenarios where the gun goes off, fires out a range of rounds into my chin, the baboon perched on a harvested pine tree and somehow hitting an endangered bird of prey in the vicinity too.

Safety is a huge concern in this country. South Africans are some of the most stressed people in the world, officially: click me

We close off entire suburbs so that people will rob others instead of us. There is that BMW with the flame throwing capabilities lurking somewhere. We all remember that guy.

Realistically though, there are a few simple things you can do to improve your chances of not getting into a scenario, and by following these simple rules, you can leave the getting robbed bit to others.

1. Check with other cyclists / runners if the area is safe. Is there a history in the area of problems?
2. Stick to the trails. Rogue riding in areas where there are no patrols is your own fault and you will reap the full responsibility when things go rubber side up.
3. Be aware. Open your eyes and pre-empt. Being able to get out of a scenario quickly is often a real solution if you are not dealing with the smartest crooks in the world.
4. Carry your emergency contacts, medical aid details and the likes on a piece of paper that is wrapped in plastic. If something does happen to you and someone comes across you unconscious, they can make informed decisions for you.
5. Carry a ‘trail medical kit’. These don’t take up much space and may be of huge help if you are injured. Cable ties, strapping, safety pins, super glue, tampons and a space blanket are all you need.
Not every piece of safety relates to being robbed either. You may come across someone who has fallen, needs help and is unprepared.

In saying that, if you are caught in a no-win scenario, be humble, play it safe, give them what they want and value your life over your carbon full suspension’s value.

In conclusion, if we are all more aware and prepared, there will be less safety issues on the mountains and in the spruits.

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