Road ID: Protect Yourself
Do you ride a bike? Do you run? Do you do these things for the same reasons I do? For fresh air on your face. For the endorphin rush. For how great you feel when it’s done. To get away from your thoughts. To get away from people. To explore new places? Do you ever head out on your own for a solo ride or run? It’s amazing isn’t it? There’s nothing like going out and pushing yourself, with no one to beat but yourself, and pushing yourself even harder, trying to beat yourself to that finish line. I love long solo runs. I love going out and crushing myself on the road bike. It’s an amazing feeling.
Unfortunately, as with so many great things out there, along with the reward of the experience comes some risk. It’s easy to forget that you are vulnerable out there. You could get hit by a car and tossed into the ditch and left in a hit and run. You could crash on wet railroad tracks. You could twist an ankle on a trail run. You could have an allergic reaction, a heart attack, anything could happen. Do you always bring your drivers license with you? I don’t. Not always.
What would happen to you if you were left incapacitated? What would happen to you? Even if someone found you and got your transported to a hospital, how long would it be until the hospital figured out who to call? How long would it take for your family or friends to realize that you should have been home by now? Would they just assume that you’d gone for a longer run or met up with some friends somewhere for a post ride beer? How long would it be until they started to worry? When would they start calling hospitals, and how long would it take until they figured out the right one to call?
I’m not just throwing out a worst case scenario. A very close friend of mine found himself in a similar situation yesterday. I don’t yet know a lot of details, and I don’t feel right sharing speculation, but here’s what I do know. He had a bad crash on a mountain bike. He was found some time (I have no idea how long) later, and transported to the hospital. He is now “stable but in very serious condition” in a spinal trauma unit. He was lucky. He had a cell phone with him and the people who found him started calling numbers in his phone, and now his family is by his side as he faces a very scary surgery.
I’m not advocating for you to stop doing solo runs or going out for long rides by yourself. I’m certainly not going to stop. I’m asking you to be smart about it. Don’t be naive and tell yourself it will never happen to you. If you spend enough time on the road, the law of averages suggests something will happen to you eventually. Don’t let these risks scare you out of doing the things you love, just be go out prepared. I year ago I asked my mom for the greatest Christmas present a parent could give their dumb kid like me who goes out to do this kind of thing all the time – a Road ID (affiliate link). Now if anything happens to me, there’s no question who to call. It’s got contact info for my parents, my roommate, and my work listed. You can get them customized with a motivational phrase, and even sign up for a program that allows you to have a code that links to an online database with medical information that would be important for a doctor to have. One of the more creative uses I’ve heard of is creating a Google website and putting a bit.ly link to that site on the Road ID – allowing you to have that customizable and updatable information on your ID without paying the annual fee.
I’m not ordering you to go spend your hard earned money on a Road ID. That’s not my place. I’m simply asking you to be safe. Have a contingency plan. The way I choose to do that is with a Road ID. It’s a plan that works brilliantly for me. I recommend it to everyone. I wear mine all the time, so I know I’ll never accidentally leave the house without it. Even if I go for a ride and forget to grab my ID and some cash, I’ll have my Road ID. If I’m going for a run where I won’t bring anything with me but an iPod, I’ll have my Road ID. It’s my insurance plan. What’s yours?
Don’t stop going on solo runs or rides. They’re too awesome. Just be safe out there, friends.