"We live in the city. We have made a conscious decision NOT to own a car. This poses some challenges in terms of getting supplies and transportation. I am lucky in that I work 2 miles from where I live. I walk to and from work every day, no matter what the weather (and we get some harsh weather here in Ottawa!). When I worked 8 miles from home, I used a bicycle, the ultimate human-powered vehicle, to travel to and from work. I bike in all weather including rain, sleet, slush and snow and temperatures as low as -35C!
I also use my bicycle to get all of our groceries, supplies, preps, etc. I can carry a lot of weight on my bicycle – up to 100lbs. And if there is ever a long-lasting natural disaster, crisis, emergency or SHTF – let me warn you now, you can only stockpile so much gasoline. In the event of serious SHTF – the gasoline will at some point run out. Horses or any other pack animal might come in handy at that point, but you still have to be able to feed those animals and you must keep them healthy. In short, whether your vehicle is gas-powered or oat-powered, you are still going to have the additional worry of feeding your vehicle.
So here are some of the major advantages to using a bicycle that you probably already know:
1. No need for gasoline as you are the engine. This eliminates a major worry. For fuel all you need is: 1 potatoe, 1 carrot, a few bites of jerky and a cup of water = 1 hour of operation. You “grow your own” gasoline so to speak!
2. Minimal physical impact on the body – a bicycle is easy on your joints, limbs, tendons etc. You can ride a bicycle into and throughout old age - this is important for sustainability of operation.
3. Great low-level exercise for your heart – cycling keeps you healthy whether you are reaching a destination or gathering supplies. This gives you a “2 in one”. I am a 43-year old man, in great shape and I don’t go to a gym. I will be useful to my family for many years to come.
4. No electronics are required. Like gasoline, a major worry eliminated. You DO need batteries for lights during night-riding which I urge anyone to have who rides a bicycle at night, BUT, lights are not required for operation. No matter how old your gasoline-powered vehicle is, you will still need to replace a spark plug at some point.
5. Easy DIY mechanics; fixing and maintaining a bicycle is relatively easy, and a complete toolkit is minimal in size and weight. No power tools necessary.
Now, here is what you might not know about Human-powered Vehicles – the stuff you can really sink your teeth into:
1. Properly outfitted, it is easy to carry 100 lbs on a bicycle. I mean easy. So long as you have the same amount of weight on each side, you can load it up and once you are moving forward, you are good to go. Unlike back-packing where you are providing the motor AND holding the weight of your load off the ground, when you are cycling, the bicycle is holding the weight; you are only required to keep it moving. And trust me; there is no more efficient method of transportation for an individual human being than a bicycle. There just isn’t.
2. With good knobby tires, cross country travel on dirt, gravel, mud, slush, even on packed snow and ice - it is surprisingly easy to ride a bicycle. On flat pavement with slick tires, 15-20 miles an hour is not hard to maintain EVEN WITH 100lbs strapped to the bicycle. I have hauled lumber, fencing, insulation, garbage cans filled with soil, large rocks (for a rock wall in the garden) and firewood… everything short of major appliances!! 3
. With a little practice, you can pace yourself to travel 6-8 hours in a day without ever coming close to exhaustion. If you have a 20 mile round trip, you can do it in a morning. If you need to flee, you can be 200 miles away in two days, 1 day if you really push it…pull over into the bushes and you have disappeared. It’s much easier to camouflage a bicycle than it is to camouflage a car or horse!
4. You can build and attach all kinds of racks, saddle bags, carts, trailers, etc. that will accommodate camping gear, hunting and fishing supplies, water jugs, hand tools, survival gear, etc.
If you learn to rely on a bicycle, you will get a fantastic return on investment. A great all-purpose brand new bicycle (that isn’t a vanity purchase for an idiot with too much money) costs the equivalent of 1 to 3 months car INSURANCE ALONE, about $350.00US. Under HEAVY, DAILY use, a proper utility bike will last no less then 15 years. Parts will wear out to be sure, but not that many and they don’t cost a lot to replace.
I hope that this post is useful to both city and country preppers and I hope that this post makes people think differently about the usefulness of bicycles."
you may be skeptical, but i have pushed the limits of what a bicycle can do and no vehicle is as versatile. i have a big f150 4x4 now which is vital to us... BUT... if there is no more gasoline, i will be one of the few who has an alternative. here is proof: 10 k (6 mile) winter commute each way - january 2010, -20 c (-2 f)...
2009 christmas dinner fixin's arrive @ 804 wakley road...
for a while i worked at a facility and it was 13 km (8 miles) from home, i rode this setup to and from work, 25 mins each way:
oh.... i forgot... i made a trailer, another old 2009 spring post from the Nova Scotia Preppers Network ...here is another long verbatum post - with pics!!! ;-)
"This is going to be a long post, mostly because of the pictures, but a picture is worth a 1000 words, so if I wrote it out, it could be even longer ;-) So before anything else, here is a BIG shout-out to my wife, Kymber, for taking all the pics – I love you babe! If you missed my earlier posts on Human Powered Vehicles, they might provide some background and btw - I am a bike nut: I bike everywhere and I can carry a TON of stuff in my saddle bags. The other day I came home with: 28 kgs (61 lbs) of rice 18 kgs (39 lbs) of beans 6 kgs (13 lbs) of sugar 3 kgs (7 lbs) of chicken I hauled 120 lbs of food, plus myself on this - I call it "the monster":
However, there are certain items that don’t fit so easily on a rack or in saddle bags. I had read about DIY bike trailers so this spring I decided to build one out of scrap. The first thing I did was decide what to make it out of and how. I spent a lot of time on the internet and pulled ideas from a dozen different sites and put together a plan of my own. Here are pictures of the materials i planned on using:
The red bike that you see there is my winter bike that has tiny spikes on the tires which I use in the ice snow and bitter cold…I needed to “borrow” the front wheel and put a summer tire on it and add it to another front wheel from another old bike. The rest is scrap wood and metal I’ve had lying around in the garage and basement, a good deal of it came from garbage picking. I wanted to have a bullet proof frame, so I used 2x4s for the base. I used 2 old pressboard shelves for the wheel well covers and an old table top I got in the garbage for the platform. From all that crap, I built this tank of a cart!
The integral part was the wheels. I chose mountain bike wheels because there is a lot more “roll-over” capability with lager diameter than there is with casters or smaller trolley wheels. Additionally, mountain bike wheels are incredibly strong. A lot of plans I ran across suggested welding wheels to an axle, but I decided against this for a few reasons. First off, it would ruin the wheel. Secondly, it would be much more difficult to change the tube if there was a flat and, third, I don’t wave a welder.
This decision led to the only failure in my cart building, the brackets to hold the wheels. I tried sawing electrical outlet receptacles in half, getting my inspiration from one of the plans I found. These halves were punched out and screwed to the bottom of the frame. As it turned out, it was hard to seat the wheels AND they would slip out of anchor under load and wobble.
About a week after I realized (read..Kymber noticed ;-) the crappy anchors; I found an old metal bed frame in the garbage on the way home from the store. With a jigsaw and angle grinder, I made these new brackets – absolutely bullet proof!
I attached a U-bolt to the drop out on the rear wheel of the bike. For the trailer hitch I salvaged a fantastic steel bar from a restaurant's dumpster that I bent on the vise of my work bench, nearly destroying the bench in the process. I drilled holes in the bar, attached it to one side of the cart's frame and finally…HOOKED IT UP TO THE BIKE!
I needed a test - a true proof of concept. Kymber is a tire gardening fanatic and last year we had to hire a local with a truck to help us get free tires from a garage down the street. We need more tires this year…so, off I go:
And here is the successful result!!!
The next load was 5 tires. I am pretty pleased! I’ve since had a couple of garbage-day runs that netted a bunch of free flower pots, more wood, free soil and some food-grade buckets. And just this weekend I hauled eight 20lb bags of soil home - twice! I WOULD suggest that if you want to start hauling heavy stuff home on your bike (groceries, preps, lumber, garbage, wood, soil, etc.), start with 2 saddle bags first, then 4, then a cart. The big challenge is counter balancing your goods on the sides and fore/aft on the trailer – it’s all about balance and I have lots of practice. With some practice any of you can do this too…in a bug out scenario, I could load the bags with supplies and put Kymber on the cart with the cats and yes, I could get us out of harm’s way under my own steam (although admittedly, very slowly ;-) So, if you have any questions about biking or saddle bags or building a bike trailer - leave a comment!
The bike trailer I built is fantastic!!! I can load it up with 150 lbs, no problem - it has been to Home Depot, Canadian Tire, the grocery store etc.
As I am a scavenger at heart I decided to try using the cart for garbage picking; the low speed, agility and ease of "loading 'er up" make a bike with a trailer the perfect garbage picking vehicle!
For the most part I look for stuff like wood, plastic, metal etc. Using second-hand materials is a great was to save money because used materials can be as good as new materials. This frees up money for things like screws, nails, bolts, tape, etc. which, in my experience, work best when new.
Plus, I really believe that, as a society, we are conditioned to be too picky and as a result we waste too much. Every board that I re-purpose could be seen as a tree that doesn't get cut down.
Good for your health!
Good for the environment!
Good for your bank account!
Etc….."Here are pics of some of the stuff i hauled - i used all of it, i built shelves, raised beds, storage canisters, trellises - etc. - notice all the plant pots - there is a way to save money.... seriously, i am now doing it here in framboise, we have 30 windows i got in people's garbage that we will cold-frame with.. NEVER overlook garbage day treasures - reduce, reuse, recycle = $$$$ for other things, plus it is great practice for the brain!!
anyway - the junk i got on the bike cart, enjoy!!
btw - i am serious, i could go back to the bike if i had too, if SHTF, i would be the most sought-after delivery service money, er bullets and coffee, could buy - cheers!!!