Out of Reach

Out of Reach

When I am riding alone, cycling is meditation for me. When riding with friends, it’s uninterrupted time together. In both cases, it means leaving my busy life behind. No random e-mails, no urgent phone calls, nobody coming to my desk. Usually no one even knows exactly where I am (although I leave an itinerary just in case something unexpected happens).
It’s an important for me to keep relearning the ability to live in the moment – for significant periods of time. I value it greatly. I need it in order to refresh my creativity which is behind every issue of Bicycle Quarterly and every product we develop for Compass Bicycles.
You may have figured out that I don’t have a cell phone. Of course I have been told repeatedly how cell phones have saved lives when they were used to call for help in emergencies. That is undeniable. One can also argue that these are rare exceptions. In any case, it’s a risk that I find is an acceptable trade-off for being out of reach.
For me, careful planning, anticipating problems and being alert are more important than the ability to call for help – if there is cell phone connection at all. (Many of our favorite rides are out of range.)
So for some of you readers and customers, this means that it can take a few days until your e-mails are answered or your comments on this blog are approved (although staff addresses some of them). That is OK – we don’t deal with life-threatening crises at Compass Bicycles and Bicycle Quarterly.
In today’s busy, hyper-connected world, being out of reach is a rare, profound freedom.

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Comments (56)

  • jay

    no cell phone? good grief; how will you take “selfies”?

    July 21, 2014 at 4:43 am
    • Jan Heine, Editor, Bicycle Quarterly

      I do bring a camera and often even a mini-tripod.

      July 21, 2014 at 10:22 am
      • GuitarSlinger

        Personally … being the luddite … eccentric … or artist if you prefer that I am [ I’d vote for artist ] I drag along a Leica M6 .. loaded with Ilford DELTA 400 Pro … and have never so much as even considered a selfie … never mind taken one . The Leica is a little on the heavy side yes . But IMO .. like tire liners … well worth the minor weight penalty in light of the benefits gained

        July 23, 2014 at 10:18 am
  • Greg

    We recently (and very reluctantly, on my part) switched to ‘smart’ phones.
    There is no ‘off’ switch! Not liking that……

    July 21, 2014 at 7:05 am
    • Greg

      That said, if your ‘phone has an ‘off’ switch, you should carry it, but turned off, in my opinion….

      July 21, 2014 at 7:06 am
      • Jan Heine, Editor, Bicycle Quarterly

        You could… but once you don’t rely on your cell phone any longer, it becomes just another piece of superfluous equipment. Especially since most of the places where I can’t just flag down a passing car are out of cell range anyhow.

        July 21, 2014 at 10:23 am
    • msrw

      In areas of sparse cellular coverage, cell phones sometimes can pick up a signal near the tops of peaks.

      July 21, 2014 at 7:53 pm
  • Larry T.

    Good for you! In Italy I must be reachable during the day so a cell phone’s important. In the USA I carry one switched off so it’s only used when I need it. I like to have time “disconnected” for various reasons. Too many live their lives dominated by the next tweet, email, social network posting, etc.

    July 21, 2014 at 8:13 am
  • Skip Montanaro

    I haven’t been following your blog very long, but it seems to me that in many of the places you gallivant off to, a cell phone would be useless, unless you could hit a bear in the nose with it.

    July 21, 2014 at 10:34 am
  • heather

    I do not have a cell phone and have no desire for one(although the iphones are pretty). I did have a cell phone for a short period years ago when someone was insistent on keeping in touch with me for no reason which I abhorred. Too many issues for me. Smart phones using rare earth metals mined by children, tin mined by children, phones made by children, the enormous waste cycle etc etc… Never mind the potential EMF stuff.
    “In an emergency” would be the only use for a cell phone, but what on earth did we use before in emergencies? If you are in an area with no cell reception, you still have to get real physical help. It is unlikely for me to stray too far from reachable help though, as I tend to imagine dreadful things. Sometimes I get nervous in a track of salal! I live in a semi rural area, so it does not take much to get into another world. If I were out alone more I might consider having one, as women do have to consider safety. Once you get into wild areas, you see plenty evidence of red neck activity, which is the one sad thing about going into nature! How can going somewhere so beautiful make people act like fools, drink excessively, burn cars, shoot at things, break things, damage trees, and dump garbage?
    Getting away from electricity, power lines and habitation is so grounding and wonderful. Bicycles can take one to beautiful places.

    July 21, 2014 at 11:15 am
    • blueride2

      “Once you get into wild areas, you see plenty evidence of red neck activity, which is the one sad thing about going into nature! How can going somewhere so beautiful make people act like fools, drink excessively, burn cars, shoot at things, break things, damage trees, and dump garbage?”
      I ride in rural areas and find none of this to be true. I respect, and am courteous, to all drivers, and haven’t had any problems, nor have I witnessed what you describe.

      July 22, 2014 at 3:10 am
      • Jan Heine, Editor, Bicycle Quarterly

        Around Seattle, it’s the semi-rural areas that have the rednecks. Once you truly get out into the wild, the people you meet are usually very friendly and nice.

        July 22, 2014 at 9:41 am
  • lawschoolissoover

    I admire your ability to unwire, but I don’t disconnect as you do.
    I do carry my “smart”phone (which has a power switch, fortunately) but I tend to leave it silent and/or off. For me, it replaces a lot of equipment I would otherwise need (or want) to bring along, including camera, map, GPS, clock, notebook, and eReader (for this latter function, I greatly prefer a paper book or my single-function Kindle, but I tend to forget it at home). In an emergency, it can even serve as a flashlight
    I could live without it (and of course, did for many years) but it’s just a tool, and if I don’t use it, it’s not the worst thing to carry. I’ve carried (and not used) other tools for many years.
    The trick is managing to forget you have it until you do need it!

    July 21, 2014 at 11:24 am
  • David Pearce

    No cell phone, man, that is hard core! I have an iPhone, which is great, and it has “airplane mode”, which I think turns most of it off (I haven’t used that feature yet). I do like the Map My Ride app, and stuff like that.
    But as my Minox collection fills out, I have been excited to start using those (film) cameras on my rides. It’s kind of fun wondering how a shot has turned out, and I’m only just getting all the steps down: the focus to infinity, the exposure / shutter speed, and what filters to use, in any. It’s kind of fun not knowing how the pictures came out until they come back from the developer. I’m very excited about still photography and landscapes, always looking around with a photographer’s eye, and getting into the personality of each camera.

    July 21, 2014 at 11:31 am
  • Don Genovese

    Agree wholeheartedly.

    July 21, 2014 at 12:30 pm
  • blueride2

    Yes, every solo ride is a meditation. Maybe it’s the rhythm of the pedal strokes that does it. It definitely relaxes me and allows for some creative thinking.
    I do like my smartphone though, and take it on every ride. Who needs a bike computer to keep track of milage, when there are numerous free cycling apps.

    July 21, 2014 at 1:18 pm
  • Cynthia

    When I moved this past year I got my first cell phone with much regret. A cheap thing for $20. The apartment building I live in had the phone line ripped off in a storm several years ago and the landlord never had them reconnected. So I was kind of forced to get one, given what it would have cost to have the phone line reconnected to the building.
    I find any cell phone, smart, or not so smart, to be the most annoying things. I do not like to be in a public place and hear a person having a phone conversation with someone else, and at times being able to hear both persons speaking with the volume turned up. Wherever one goes a good portion of people are tapping away at their phones, not even talking on them. I once saw a father, mother, and their teenaged son sitting in a restaurant, each tapping away on their own phones, and not interacting with each other as we once did before these devices infected our world.
    I agree they can be useful in an emergency, but we humans survived quite finely in my opinion before they came along. Yes, I know I am a real grouch when it comes to all things digital (for personal use) because the world is a three dimensional place and that’s how I like to interact with it. It’s very annoying to have these info gadgets suddenly go poof! And whatever you’re doing on them just disappears. Manufacture marketing likes to espouse how these phones keep us all so much more connected to one another. Sure, but in the most impersonal way. A hand-written letter is more personal in my opinion.
    When I was able to ride more, I’d go out on singletrack trails mountain biking alone, without a cell phone, happy to be away from the noise and commotion of this 24/7 world we’ve created. Where I could forget all the other stuff and actually breathe, physically, mentally, and spiritually. Riding alone I rarely let anyone know where I was going riding (which was not a good thing), but I felt I was fully prepared to handle almost anything that came along.
    I’m competent in bike repair and maintenance and built up and took proper care of my bikes. I took along plenty of liquid and food, and a little extra just in case. Depending on the season, I brought along extra appropriate clothing. Also, in my pack I included a first-aid kit and a survival kit (Yes, I really did) that would serve me a couple of days if necessary. Most importantly, I knew my cycling abilities and never took any undue risks, and went into the woods with the attitude that if something were to happen, I would have to self-rescue, or accept any consequences of my decision to ride solo. I did the same thing on long solo road rides. And I was comfortable with my decisions and had many great rides.
    Jan, I’m surprised to learn that you don’t have a cell phone considering you have your own business, but I say, good for you. I’m sure it relieves some of the stress you would otherwise have if you had one permanently attached to your hip like so many do.
    My apologies for such a long rant.

    July 21, 2014 at 2:51 pm
    • Richard

      “I’m surprised to learn that you don’t have a cell phone considering you have your own business, but I say, good for you. I’m sure it relieves some of the stress you would otherwise have if you had one permanently attached to your hip like so many do.”
      I always ride with a smartphone. It doesn’t cause any stress at all. I also use a Bluetooth headset ( plugged into one ear only) when I ride. I can take a call, or not, when I’m riding. All without removing my hands from the handlbars. I like having choices, and use the incredible technology we have to enhance my riding.

      July 22, 2014 at 4:29 am
    • Steve Palincsar

      “I agree they can be useful in an emergency, but we humans survived quite finely in my opinion before they came along.” Shortly after the first portable cell phones — ones that weren’t bricks with a hand-set you plugged into your car cigar lighter — came along the tandem group was out on a ride. It was a very hot day, out in what was then a very remote rural area. The captain of one of the tandems had a heart attack out in the middle of absolutely nowhere; and all they could do was watch him die. In the month that followed, everyone in the tandem group got a cell phone, so that in the next time there was an emergency they could call 911 and at least have a chance of calling for help.

      July 24, 2014 at 4:16 pm
      • Jan Heine, Editor, Bicycle Quarterly

        That must have been a traumatic experience. Among the Seattle International Randonneurs, we had a similar case. Even though several EMTs, who were on the ride, arrived within minutes, the rider died as well. It is unfortunate, but in many of these cases, there isn’t much that can be done.

        July 24, 2014 at 5:35 pm
  • Tobin H

    Wow I love my phone and always take it with me on rides. I call it the “magic map”.

    July 21, 2014 at 4:45 pm
  • rodneyAB

    interesting situation. . .i have an iPhone and i use it for internet access, especially during the boring times at work. i get very few if any incoming calls, and only seldom use text. i know i do not need a smartphone. the iPhone provides the ability to make a photo of a bicycle or a cup of coffee and upload it to instagram, and i did that this morning on the ride up cold mountain, stopped near a shed with a green door and and took an iPhoto of a nondescript 650B bicycle. i wrote a note in my Field Notes with a pencil, and wrote to ‘see iPhone Photo’. . . .i have not listened to NPR in over a year, i do not own a television, i no longer care about j. boehner and m. mcConnell’s collective inability to work for the common good of the american people, i did not read about any current events last week. . . i look forward to a trip to the high-desert of california where there is no water and no service.

    July 21, 2014 at 5:59 pm
  • Paul Glassen

    My work (mental health professional) required me to be on-call for periods of time. Starting with pagers and then cell phones I carried what was required for work. I have not carried a cell phone since I retired 7 years ago. On canoe outings to remote lakes (here on Vancouver Island) others have spent time staring at hand held electronic devices (I can’t keep up with what the latest is called) and tried to relay information. I assure them that I could wait until I get home to seek that information – or do without it. Your valuing independence, separation, self-reliance, is something I fear the loss of in my son’s generation. So often when we hear the story of a cell phone saving a life, it is of a person who was ill-prepared to be in the situation they got themselves into, overly reliant on the cell phone bail out. David Pearce makes a good point about the delayed gratification of the photo not seen until it comes out of or back from the developer. That’s the kind of photography I remember and I have little doubt that in its way the discipline made better photographers of us. And travelling without dependence on the cell phone can make us better prepared outdoors recreationalists.

    July 21, 2014 at 6:38 pm
    • Jan Heine, Editor, Bicycle Quarterly

      David Pearce makes a good point about the delayed gratification of the photo not seen until it comes out of or back from the developer.

      I remember the magic of seeing a photo appear in the lab as I developed the print. If you do something because you love it, making it faster and more convenient can be counterproductive. It’s as if you installed an electric assist on your bike during your rides for fun.
      On the other hand, if you do something for work, it sometimes makes sense to make it simpler. For example, I use digital photography for this blog and Bicycle Quarterly. It simply saves time. I do look forward to going for a ride some day and bringing an old film camera. It would be a ride that wouldn’t be featured in the blog or the magazine…

      July 21, 2014 at 9:40 pm
      • David Pearce

        I agree with every one of the points you make here!

        July 22, 2014 at 6:30 am
      • David Pearce

        Digital cameras have gotten so good, of course it makes perfect sense to use them. In fact, my little film learning immersion I think will of necessity lead me around learning more about digital, all of the basics. I want to know the basics of photography and optics–like what focal length means, and what it does to a photo. Of course, Isaac Newton (and many others) wrote about optics–it’s an overstated joke on my part to say that optics may be important in our lives!
        What about the beginnings of Bicycle Quarterly? Of course, there were already digital cameras then (good enough for publication quality?). I guess you always used digital for your current photography, but had to deal with film negatives for all your historical photos.
        Now that I mention it, I think modern photo printing and reproduction for your books, magazine, blog & calendars is a bloody miracle!
        It’s still July: How’d you get the calendar photo of the Humber so crisp! I guess good photography is a fantastic miracle, considering how many opportunities there are for taking bad photographs! 🎥 📷 😎

        July 22, 2014 at 6:54 am
        • Jan Heine, Editor, Bicycle Quarterly

          Bicycle Quarterly used film for a long time. Having three beautiful Nikons made me reluctant to do the switch. Similarly, the studio photos for our first two books, as well as many of the photos in the latest on René Herse, were taken with a medium-format camera and film. However, the scanning of film for print is costly and time-consuming, and the quality decreases inevitably. The Humber is one of the medium-format images, which still are hard to beat. You need a very, very good digital camera to match that image quality.

          July 22, 2014 at 9:45 am
  • bcebicycle

    Precisely. Great post

    July 21, 2014 at 7:36 pm
  • Frank

    Thanks Jan.
    And on the same topic … everyone has probably seen ‘look up’ on youtube?… if you haven’t it’s worth the 4.5 minutes.

    July 21, 2014 at 11:02 pm
  • Len Clark

    There is an almost, spiritual, feeling when riding alone. Cleanses the body and soul.

    July 22, 2014 at 5:51 am
  • Champs

    I don’t understand this absolutist abstention. Phone in tow, I have set down the road many a time with heavy shoulders and returned much lighter. The off switch you need isn’t on your phone; it’s in your mind. Riding helps me find it.

    July 22, 2014 at 7:46 am
    • Jan Heine, Editor, Bicycle Quarterly

      It’s not absolutism, but I simply don’t need or want a cell phone. Owning one would simply be a waste of money for me. Similarly, I don’t own a motorbike, even though I am not opposed to motorbikes in the slightest.

      July 22, 2014 at 9:47 am
  • Michael Schiller

    I certainly understand and appreciate the meditative effect of cycling. But I view not bringing such an easy thing to carry as a cell phone kind of selfish. While we all managed most of the time without one before, the capability to contact others in an emergency or for your family to contact you for the same purpose is a modern technology no one should be without. Yes there are places that coverage is minimal or non existent but for most of the rest of the planet a cell phone is an important emergency tool.

    July 22, 2014 at 10:22 am
    • Jan Heine, Editor, Bicycle Quarterly

      I understand the sentiment that you want to be there for your family, and also be responsible so that your family needn’t worry about you. I am not sure how cell phones fit into this…
      I think it would have been selfish to call my family at 2 a.m. when the Phil Wood bottom bracket spindle on our tandem moved sideways, and we were stranded 130 miles from home. We didn’t have a cell phone, and it took us an hour to figure out how to get the tandem moving again, but I didn’t ask my family to come out and pick us up. It also taught me to use reliable components on my bikes…
      When I did the field work for my Ph.D. on Mount Rainier, the park rangers all lamented the then-new cell phones. They didn’t cause fewer people to die on the mountain than before. With cell phones, people a) were less prepared, since they felt that they were just a phone call away from help, and b) were calling for help in situations that they should have been able to resolve themselves.
      The former actually led to the deaths of a few park rangers on rescue missions, while the latter simply took their resources away from more useful things.
      As far as my family contacting me in emergencies, there isn’t much I can do to help when I am many hours away from civilization. If it’s a life-threatening emergency, they are better off calling 911 than calling me. Otherwise, they are able to handle most situations on their own.

      July 22, 2014 at 11:41 am
      • Michael Schiller

        I agree a cell phone is not a replacement for reliable, well maintained equipment or having the right survival/repair/first aid skills . As someone trained in wilderness survival techniques I can, in most cases, handle almost any issue that arises. But there are potentially life threatening situations that occur. Maybe not for you or your fellow cyclists but it could be even someone you find in the mountains injured that a simple phone call could mean the difference between life or death.
        There are always going to be people unprepared for the mountains, cell phones or not. Perhaps if your spoke with the Park Rangers today you would find a different story. The Search and Rescue personnel I know have countless stories of how cell phones with GPS have led to the rescue of lost or injured people.

        July 22, 2014 at 2:32 pm
      • Frank

        A Phil Wood bottom bracket is not reliable?

        July 24, 2014 at 2:48 am
        • Jan Heine, Editor, Bicycle Quarterly

          Phil Wood bottom brackets are a very simple design. You could make one on a lathe in less than an afternoon. The bearings aren’t sealed. (The dust seals on the cartridge bearings aren’t designed to repel moisture). So if you ride in the rain, the bearings will last one season. The spindle is straight, without shoulders to locate the bearings, so the spindle can move sideways under hard pedaling. That is what happened on our tandem.
          So in conclusion, Phil Wood BBs are reliable only if you don’t use them hard. Fortunately, there are many better designs available today.

          July 24, 2014 at 9:42 am
  • GuitarSlinger

    Couldn’t agree more . On all counts . Those times that I do take the smartphone [ long extended solo rides ] I leave the blankety blanking thing off … having it along strictly in case of emergencies .

    July 22, 2014 at 11:09 am
    • GuitarSlinger

      …. and on the subject of cell phones …. being ‘ connected ‘ etc . May I recommend reading the chapter on cellphones in Umberto Eco’s ” How to Travel with a Salmon ” . A timeless and priceless not to mention humorous essay on the subject if there ever was one

      July 22, 2014 at 11:18 am
  • Giovanni Calcagno

    I carry an IPhone in “airplane mode” . Since I bought I have made thousands of pictures.

    July 22, 2014 at 11:51 am
  • Steve

    Used to carry a dime, then a quarter in my seat bag. Since it’s really hard to find a pay phone these days, I’ve switched to carrying a cell phone. Didn’t realize I was making a fundamental choice and statement about the nature of connectivity and technology in our modern world. I just consider it the “tool of last resort” in my toolkit. That being said I probably don’t really need it on most rides I take. It’s rare that a mechanical problem makes a bike completely unrideable.
    My phone did come in handy arranging a meeting time at the finish of STP. I texted my wife my best guess of our arrival time. She was able to track my location to know that I was being overly optimistic about my riding abilities, as usual.

    July 22, 2014 at 4:50 pm
  • Brian

    The “phone debates” always puzzle me. I just turn mine off when I don’t want to be contacted. Simple and effective. The idea that I might “miss” something is a construct more in the head of the user than the reality.

    July 23, 2014 at 6:19 am
  • Paul Ahart

    Like writer Steve, I carry a cell phone for emergencies, since finding a payphone is nearly impossible these days. What do I carry? A PayAsYouGo phone, which costs me $25 every 3 months, and I never use up my pre-paid time. It’s a cheap, small and light Nokia that slips into one of the back-facing pockets of my handlebar bag. There if needed; otherwise, I don’;t even think about it.
    As many commentors have said, nothing takes care of emergenies better than being prepared, knowing how to make simple repairs, and better yet, having the bike in good condition and checked over in advance of a ride.

    July 23, 2014 at 7:30 am
  • Drew Devereux

    I always take my phone (iPhone 5).
    It is an accessory of considerable value, like good quality fenders. It’s a lightweight tool worth carrying, like a chainbreaker.
    With maps already loaded on it (no signal needed) and gps capabilities, I always know where I am and more likely to explore places I would otherwise not go. It has saved me many miles and hours where I would otherwise be lost and anxious. I always take paper maps too, but the phone hasn’t failed me yet.
    If nothing else, its a powerful flashlight. One has the option to stop at a nice spot and read a book on the phone.
    It’s a compass, camera, watch, and a radio all rolled into one device. On a night ride I can use it to identify the stars and planets. Sometimes listening to a podcast can turn a long slog into something more interesting.
    An iPod touch is the same thing without the cellular connectivity (wifi only). No monthly bills. Maybe something like that could be more acceptable to those wanting to be disconnected for awhile.

    July 23, 2014 at 7:58 am
  • Dave Cain

    I don’t own a cell phone either, quite. Some people are mystified by this decision, but I always come back to the question “Do I need it?” and the answer thus far is still “No” 99% of the time. As others have said, we did fine for eons. That said, I do carry an aforementioned iPod Touch as an everything-but-the-phone bundle of services on almost all rides. This allows periodic wifi-check-ins, camera, etc…
    After riding a 400k two years ago and finding myself in the proverbial middle of nowhere at 3:00am I started thinking that I wouldn’t mind having a phone with me. Conveniently, my wife finally decided to buy an iPhone in the meantime and I have since carried her phone on rides that feel out of the way. I guess I’m trying to have it both ways!

    July 23, 2014 at 11:52 am
  • Andy

    Interesting statement in this post: “For me, careful planning, anticipating problems and being alert are more important than the ability to call for help”
    On some recent ride reports, you’ve talked about being unprepared without extra clothing on passes you hadn’t planned on riding in Japan, and resorting to stuffing papers in your shirt. On another post, you reveled in seeking unknown roads beyond the maps you had carried, which yielded a fine for trespassing in a reservation. While these make for interesting stories to read about, both could have led to far more serious consequences (hypothermia, possible detainment?).
    This just solidifies another reason why I choose to carry a phone with me – I’m still fairly new to exploring by bike, but reading about those with significantly more experience than I dealing with these types of circumstances proves to me that I should remain cautious, and my small cell phone only seems appropriate in addition to the knowledge I accumulate to help me never need to use it.

    July 23, 2014 at 6:52 pm
    • Jan Heine, Editor, Bicycle Quarterly

      I think carrying a phone can be useful if it gives you peace of mind. Like many others, I started riding off the beaten path before cell phones were available, so I am used to not having one…
      I am not sure what a phone would have done during our ride in Japan, or when I rode across the Yakima Reservation by accident. In the first case, we actually had a phone (Hahn carried one), but even the latest Smartphone cannot make hot beverages on the go! In the second case, Google maps didn’t show the area as restricted, so again, a phone wouldn’t have helped. (I also have to admit that I am glad I didn’t know that the area was restricted, since it was such a wonderful ride…)
      In the end, it shows that you need to make do with what you have. Neither situation was truly dangerous – in Japan, there were cars coming by every 10-15 minutes, so we could have flagged one down if we got close to hypothermia. (Most of all, it reminded us that we shouldn’t treat any ride as “just a quick ride on a sunny day”. As far as the Yakima Indian Reservation, it seems that I already experienced the worst-case scenario – a $ 100 fine for trespassing. Still less than the cost of an iphone for a year…

      July 23, 2014 at 10:48 pm
  • Brian Gangelhoff

    A couple of years ago I was very anti-cell phone but was required to get one for work, I was then given an Iphone and it’s pretty amazing how attached I’ve become to it. Like others have stated I use it more for mapping and listening to the occasional podcast and camera. Rarely do I use it as an actual phone and I don’t have to much of a problem turning it off.
    You mentioned in an earlier blog that your son is now riding a bit on his own now and I was curious if you require him to take a phone along?

    July 23, 2014 at 8:01 pm
    • Jan Heine, Editor, Bicycle Quarterly

      My son doesn’t have a phone. When he gets lost, he figures out how to get home. (That has happened a few times now, and he’s learned from the experience.) We are lucky to live in a city full of landmarks and waterways that make it difficult to get very lost. If we lived in a flat, featureless place, maybe I’d have him carry a cell phone.
      He knows how to fix flats. For true emergencies, he knows our phone number. He’s had to use it once – when I broke my hand on the ride with him, and he called my wife from the ambulance… My daughter doesn’t ride further than she can walk home (2 miles or so). When she had a flat, she did just that – walk her bike home. Children used to ride bikes all over the place without having a cell phone…
      As I said before, I am not anti-cell phone. It’s just that we don’t need one right now.

      July 23, 2014 at 10:52 pm
  • Scott G.

    Cell phones are good way to recover a snapped spindle on a TA Axix bottom bracket.
    Drive side crank and a bit of spindle fell off the bike going uphill, slowly.
    Even St. Sheldon of Brown doesn’t have a road side repair for that contingency.
    Using the bike in drasine mode with a Zephyr crank in your back pocket was poor second choice.
    Moderation in all things.

    July 24, 2014 at 10:16 am
  • Michael

    I am still mulling over using my iPhone Bike Brain app as a cyclemeter or getting another Sigma cyclemeter if the one I have goes up one day. I like to carry my cellphone on the bike for emergencies and also to update family when they call asking about how long till I am home as they wait for me to get back before going to lunch after my training rides!
    I have read that a cyclemeter is more accurate than GPS for speeds and mileage but don’t know if true or not.

    July 24, 2014 at 10:49 am
  • Tom

    My flexible and varied sales career has truly enabled my cycling and outdoor play obsessions. The payback is being tethered to a cell phone for the last 20 years. Here’s how I currently cope.
    1. Must use group ringtones. Assign different group types so you can identify-ignore selected clients, family, etc.
    2. Use do not disturb, on the iPhone at least. In an emergency, one who dials you more than once, back to back, will override and break through the do not disturb feature if you program it correctly.
    I’m sure many other high tech users here could provide better tips to help as well, at the risk of Jan allowing these comments to turn into an off topic tech support group.
    With over 50 comments posted so far, good thing nobody mentioned helmets………..

    July 24, 2014 at 3:27 pm
  • ed b

    I have had several emergencies riding alone in the pre-cell phone era mostly due to bikes and parts breaking. In all cases, passing motorists came to the aid. In many areas where I currently ride, there is no cell phone service or it is very spotty. Why bother carrying one? I carry a lightweight burner for my wife’s peace of mind. Helplessly watching someone die of a heart attack on a ride? How about CPR training instead of a new smartphone or any cell phone for that matter. Statistically, the life you save with CPR will be someone with whom you live.

    July 25, 2014 at 4:34 am
  • Russ Paprocki

    A cell phone is not required?! Pass the joy of cycling to your children?! A helmet is no substitute for skill and attentiveness?! High pressure skinny tires are not faster?! 200K is a pleasant day ride?! After 47 years in cycling I am beginning to not feel like John the Baptist. Thank You!!

    July 25, 2014 at 6:22 pm
  • Michael

    Maybe we owe it to our riding partners to carry a cellphone for their benefit at least on rides together.
    If my riding partner hops a guardrail and tumbles into a ravine I would hope I have a cellphone and there is signal so I can get him rescue squad help before he perishes if I can’t manage to get down there to get his unconscious body out myself somehow while waiting for help to arrive. If he’s out cold, he can’t dial his phone.
    If I don’t have a cellphone, but there is signal, and he perishes, I’ll probably be hated by his family, and blaming myself, for life. Non cyclist families would definitely want to know why you “went out there without a cellphone!?!?!”.
    Preventive medical training and bike handling training is good prevention. But sometimes things can happen.
    Maybe we owe it to our riding partners to carry a phone on our rides together.

    July 25, 2014 at 7:53 pm

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