The Post-Apocalyse Bicycle
The Apocalypse Survival Bike
1. Why a bicycle?- Premises and rational.
Okay, about a year ago I moved to a new town and opened up a bike shop. Since then I’ve been trying to determine the ideal bike for my new home. Maybe I’ve been surfing too many prepper sites on line, but after reading articles on “bug-out bikes” by people who know a lot about surviving the upcoming End Of The World As We Know It, but generally diddly-squat about bicycles, I decided I could design a better Mad Max bicycle, ad realized it would meet my criteria for a local back country shred machine.
This is the first in a series of posts on the topic of the bicycle as a tool for emergency conditions. I will explain why I feel a bicycle is an appropriate vehicle for when SHTF, the conditions I believe to be realistic scenarios, and my stand on prepping and how it relates to my choices here.
First things first, I don’t have a fortified cabin hidden in the woods with a stockpile of food, guns and ammunition. If you do, that’s fine and you should still find some value in this series. I live in a small, fairly remote high-desert town. In good conditions we are an hour drive to the next larger town, and over three hours to any major population center. I don’t believe in the zombie apocalypse and we are not a likely military target in the case of hostilities, foreign or domestic. Natural disasters are a more likely scenario- earthquakes, major storms or the eruption of any of the “dormant” volcanoes in the Cascade Range. Flooding during spring thaw after a heavy snow year is also possible. I don’t plan to “bug out”, and I’m not going to cover other considerations for sheltering in place. This is a bicycle blog, and my focus is on getting around in the absence of the infrastructure support we are accustomed to.
So, why a bicycle? The two biggest mobility-related infrastructure collapse issues are severe damage to your immediate road system, making day to day transportation challenging, and severe damage to roads leading to your area, hampering movement of goods and services to you. Storing adequate gasoline or diesel to wait out a long-term disaster is difficult/dangerous/impractical in most settings, and even the most capable off-road vehicle has limitations even when the tank is full. Even ten feet of “no way I can get my vehicle through this” is a game stopper for anything four wheeled, and for all but the lightest motorcycles. A bicycle, however can be pushed or carried over anything the rider can scramble their way through and then re-mounted on the other side. If the obstruction consists of all the other vehicles that tried to get through and are stuck and/or abandoned, the bike can usually get between or around the congestion. As long as the rider has food, that is all the fuel a bicycle needs.
A person on a bike can move more quickly than one on foot and go farther. Ten to twelve miles an hour is an easy pace on relatively easy terrain, and a person with even a moderate level of fitness can cover 25 miles in a day easily, 50 with a moderate level of training, and a dedicated cyclist can do 100 miles in a day without undue duress. In comparison, three miles per hour is an average walking pace, and 20 miles a day is a stretch for most people unless they are specifically training to cover more distance.
The ability to move goods and cargo by bicycle is a mixed bag. With passable roads and available fuel even a compact car can carry much more weight and volume than a bicycle, and any van, truck or SUV will far exceed that. Compared to a person on foot though, a properly equipped (more on that in a future post) bicycle can haul more weight and bulk easier, faster and farther.
Quicker than walking, more maneuverable around damaged or blocked roads than a motor vehicle, not impacted buy supply chain issues for fuel. Sounds to me like a bicycle is the ideal disaster response vehicle. Watch the next Blog update to learn how to select the best bike for the task!