Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Prepare: Bicycle Bug Out

Everything I have read online has different people preparing for getting out of dodge by using a variety of means; vehicle, motorbike, boat, plane and eventually foot or bike. Bikes figure prominently in many evacuation plans.

Here's the deal, unless you ride currently and ride often, picking up a bike and counting on it for a quick and simple evacuation plan is harder than you think. Here's an exercise you can try and which I did this past weekend.

We decided to go for a day long ride this weekend. We had three adult riders with one hauling a bike trailer containing a thirty five pound child, which would be similar to the amount of weight we might carry in gear and supplies.

Each rider had two large bottles of water on their bike frame and there were several backups in the trailer along with an air pump, one towel and a couple of other odds and ends. Basically, not a heavy load out.

Each of the riders considered themselves in decent shape and none had any major health problems such as asthma, heart, circulation or respiratory problems.  

The day was warm, as in the upper 80's low 90's. The terrain was not particularly rough, but suburban streets, alleys and a bike paths. There was one decent upward incline we tackled early in the ride.

The results:

The hill killed us. The rider with the trailer had to dismount halfway up and push the bike on foot.
We went through water due to the heat faster than we thought originally. The water got warm as well.
We were forced to take two breaks in the first hour.
Our legs went out after an hour or so requiring us to go slower.
One rider lagged constantly behind the other two.
We were able to communicate and decided at the onset that one person would lead with the route, but he did not share it with the others from the beginning of the ride.

Now imagine if the three of us (+child) had to carry at minimum a 72 hour BOB as well as personal gear like firearms? Imagine if we had to go 40-50 mules in a day? Imagine if we had a time limit such as X number of hours to get Y distance? Imagine if the weather was really bad, or hotter or colder?

If you plan on having a bike as part of your evacuation plans, better start riding now and regularly. Also, make sure others in your group know what is expected for physical performance on the bike. It is more difficult than you think.

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