I bike a lot. Bikes have been my primary mode of travel for long stretches of my life. I didn’t buy my first car until I was out of college. Hubby and I still share that car, and when one of us is gone to work with it, the other must run errands with the bike (and a toddler.) Let’s look at some of the realities you’ll face if a bike is part of your B.O. plan.
Endurance – Yes, you will need some endurance to get very far on two wheels. Especially if you need to haul kids or food or both. If you have plans to bug out on a bike when the SHTF, you need to be biking every week, pulling weight. Beginning bicyclists can usually only bike a few miles at a time before needing a break. I can comfortably bike 20 miles pulling a trailer with 30 pounds of toddler and food. The difference between the two could be the difference between making it to your B.O. location in 2 days or 4. Plus, if you’re not using the bike every week, routine maintenance could slip, leaving you without your back up plan when you need it the most. Speaking of which;
Routine Maintenance – Tires will need periodic inflation, most will list recommended pressures on the sides. The chain will need oiling every couple of years, more if you bike a lot in mud or rain. Lights will need new batteries every year or two, depending on use. Brakes occasionally need tightening or straightening, it’s easy to tell when this is needed, they’ll drag against the side of the tires and you’ll feel it. I love bike maintenance. Most of it can be done with a screwdriver.
Gear – I love lights for riding in the early morning or late evening. If you don’t mind the weight and cost, there are lights that are really bright, practically a car headlight, and they run off of a battery pack that sits in a water bottle holder. I do just fine with the AA battery lights though. One bright white LED in front, and a multi-pattern red light in the back. Bags, I like the ones that velcro on to the seat bottoms, that way you have the whole frame free for water bottles. You’ll definitely need a couple of those, bonus points for one with a built in filter. Trailers are really starting to have a lot of variety off the shelf. Think about what you want from your trailer, are you wanting to carry 60 pounds of kids and their gear? Or 200 pounds of storage food? Both are possible with the different bike trailer options available.
Bike type – I’m a huge fan of mountain bike style bikes. This style has shocks on the front and back, and knobby tires. I find this allows me to handle things when the gravel trail ends, and to deal with roads that are less than smooth. Roads are really expensive to maintain, and I can’t help but think spring potholes are going to go a lot longer between fillings as cash strapped states whittle down their services. The fancy commuter bikes and road bikes, with their small tires and low slung handle bars, just don’t handle as well if you’re not working with smooth concrete, they do tend to be lighter though. Your plans may have different variables, and you’ll need to match your bike to your style and needs. Just remember to be realistic about what you can pull, and keep in practice so those muscles will be there when you need them.
– Calamity Jane