I want to continue where we left off in Saturday’s comments – asking how you plan to get around if/when SHTF.
Honestly, I’m partial to bicycles for a very simple reason: You can get around with a lot less effort on a bike than you can on foot.
Think of it this way: When you are walking, a good portion of the time you will be walking up a gentle incline. And, unless you’re walking up the side of K2, there’s about an equal amount of time spent walking down gentle slopes.
If you have a bike, there’s no work to coming down. just hop on and coast.
If you happen to live on a glorious hill, like the long Vantage Hill from east of Ellensburg, WA down to the Columbia River Gorge, there will be a mix. See the Elevation Change at MapMyRide. (MMR)
We assume you are smart enough to have already used MMR to figure all your “outs” – right?
For getting out of harms way, there are few things that beat a good old-fashioned bike.
My own bike riding began when I was a kid. But, by the time I was 11, or so, my life-long buddy and I were taking longer rides. Like from the north end of Beacon Hill in Seattle, over to the Fauntleroy Ferry dock, then down the length of Vashon Island. At the end, we’d have a sandwich and turn around and come back. overall, I figure with the side trips and adventuring along the way it was usually about a 50-mile ride. I can therefore write with some authority about via bicycle. I was a member of the old League of American Wheelmen back in the day before the more PC name-change.
Even so, I asked my son (George II) to write up some bike considerations. He’s a great source because he’s worked for the legendary Bike Shop Mike who has several Seattle-area shops, but along the Lake Washington to Lake Sammamish trail is a good place to get acquainted with long distance riders. This is a dandy bike commuter run and Seattle’s damn lucky in many geographical ways..
George II, BTW, is also a several times participant in the STP (Seattle to Portland) Ride held every year. Put on by the Cascade Bicycle Club (with support from Kaiser Permanente and Alaska Airlines, you need to pencil in the middle of July next year to fly in, buy a “hundred dollar bike” and give it a go. Details and link to registration are here. Bring your own wrench and master link.
On to GII’s bike notes…
Bicycles and SHTF.
First: Safety first.
I had a kick ass road bike, clip in pedals, spandex, you get the idea. I was riding and somehow uncliped my right pedal and was pushing down the other side and BAMN!
Just like that the pedal hit my shin and I needed 8 or so stitches.
But really that’s a VERY minor injury compared with how bad you can get hurt riding. I have become more nervous riding a bike these days than jumping out of an airplane.
Bikes CAN be very dangerous. So of course wear a helmet, put your cell phone away, ditch the headphones, and keep your head on a swivel.
If you really want to be a “super safe Stanley”: Wrist guards and other pads. I bring up wrist guards because having a broken wrist just sucks and on bikes they are usually the first thing to get broken. Air splint for bugging out – in case?
And how can I forget: Make sure you can be seen. Lots of bright LED flashing lights, bright colors, the more the better! Only when you start to looking like a electronic music concert lighting show on two wheels are you to the point where you’re almost safe enough.
But also keep in mind you might have to go tactical and want to blend in. Camo in the backpack?
Lastly: Make sure your brakes are in awesome shape.
Second: Keep rolling!
Bicycle tires need air to work (just like us humans). Also just like us humans bikes pretty much stop working without air.
So make sure you have good tires, as tires age the rubber weakens (even if the tread is still good) and that makes them more prone to not just puncture but also weak side walls, and pinch flats.
Carry two extra tubes with you, an air pump (don’t mess with the C02 cartridge inflation methods), tools to take off the tire and replace the tube, and also consider tires or inserts that prevent flats.
Inspect your tires before or after you ride, pull out any little pieces of glass or thorns before they are worked in deeper thus causing a flat (this alone helped me avoid so many flats!).
A winning more like keep rolling combo: Puncture resistant tires (or inserts), new tubes that have had talc powder rubbed all over them prior to install (prevents pinch flats), keeping them inflated (another way to prevent pinch flats, bike tires lose air over time and thus can come unseated thus causing a pinch flat when reinflated then used with the inner tube not seated correctly).
Make sure your chain is in good shape, clean and oiled. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had this a customer come into the shop with a broken chain cutting their ride short. Chain tool in the backpack?
Third: Learn how to work on your own bike.
This is a skill I am lucky to have been paid to do. This will save you money (lots of money) but will also help keep you safe.
You can take classes at REI in Seattle – check locally. And if you don’t have money go to your local shop with a six pack and say “I want to learn to do tune-ups, I’ll work for free, all I need from you is instruction and patience.” (Dad’s note: G2 learned construction this way, too – with the “six pack courses…” No college loan bets, lol.)
Any shop owner will likely let you do this. Learning how do a full tune-up will cover a sh*t-ton of mechanical tasks:
Truing wheels, tube/tire replacement, chain inspection/replacement, brake inspection/replacement, cleaning sh*t, adjustment of derailleurs (gears & shifters), and if you’re kicking ass you’ii learn even more advanced skills like cable housing and cable replacement.
You need to know this right now though: Working on bicycles is NOT that hard.
A little intimidating sure but keep in mind tools used to work on bikes are VERY specific as are the steps in using them for their purpose. But after you do it a few times it’s easy and you’ll have many of those moments you think to yourself “Wow, that’s really not that f*cking hard!”.
Fourth: Be prepared while out riding.
A good kit will have: -A pump. Don’t mess with the C02 cartridge inflation methods. They suck IMHO. -Tools to change a tire (this is a set of three little plastic things, are small, cost like $5, weigh nothing, and once taught are easy to use). -A bike specific multi tool. -At least one new tube, better two.
Note: The above kit will not take up much room.
Also be ready in case you get hurt. Make sure your cell phone is charged, WEAR YOUR F**CKING HELMET, have an ICE contact on your phone so EMS personal can contact your family in case you can’t.
Stay hydrated, and have the right mindset. Biking can be dangerous, thus stay alert, focus on safety, don’t do dumb sh*t (texting and riding: NO. Don’t do it).
In the twenty or so years I’ve been riding these are some of the things that I feel are most helpful. Biking is a great way to get around and to get exercise. I hope this helps you in your quest.
Added Details from “The Old Man”
All good stuff, but here are more things to think about that I consider important.
1. Get the right tires. If your bug-out plans include nothing but roadwork, then thin tires are great and you will get a lot less friction and more speed out of them.
On the other hand, if you have plans that include a mix of hard dirt, maybe some off-road in addition to road riding, then tires like these on one of my bikes are about right: These are about 1.75 inches. Thin tires for faster pavement riding, treads like this for light off-road and mix. I run 80 pounds. It was around 60 when I was younger and lighter, lol.
Riding sand or pea gravel is calf-killer stuff. hard surfaces ride better and we mean lots less effort and lots faster.
2 Buy a Bike Stand: It just makes working on the bike so damn much easier. Not too expensive, either.
I use a Yaheetech Adjustable 52″ to 75″ Pro Bike Repair Stand w/Telescopic Arm & Balancing Pole Cycle Bicycle Rack that cost $52-bucks. Adjustable every which-way it makes working on bikes a pleasure.
A set of tire paddles, a few wrenches, and a couple of hours of YouTube training and you can do a lot of good things to a bike.
3. Learn to Adjust D-Brakes.
This video will fix yah right up:
Got that? Tighten the UNMOVING arm, loosen the looser side. It’s a bit counter-intuitive, buy it works.
Presto…it’s like magic.
4. Is Bugging Out on a Bike Your Best Option?
Consider an old VW Golf Diesel with a 25-gallon tank. These are hard to find, lol. But with 10-gallons of diesel in jugs and a full tank…range is up in the 2,000 miles area.
With a heat, radio, and wipers, sounds like a better all-disaster vehicle option to us.
OTOH if you are locked into SoCal and want out? BMX bike will be way better than going through the freeway pinch-downs on the 8/10 and 5… just sayin!
On Wednesday we will unveil the middle ground – a “motorized survival bike.”
Write when you get rich (or free, lol)