Vandwelling Survivalist: Riding a Bike or Electric Bike
I’m doing a series of posts on how I’m preparing to survive an ongoing recession and an ever-increasing price of oil as a result of Peak Oil. Chances are you have an idea in mind of what a survivalist is and they are mostly negative opinions. Before we look at the specific actions I’m taking I want to first tell you what I am NOT doing to prepare and how I differ from most of your ideas of Survivalist-Prepper.
What Prepping is Not to Me
Prepping does not mean living at any costs. Unlike most preppers, I’m not afraid to die. When people start to die as a result of Peak Oil and Climate Change, I’m hoping I‘m not with the very first, but I fully expect to die and not ride it through to the very end. That’s fine with me, why suffer and fight through those terrible times! My spiritual beliefs totally convince me that death is not a tragedy or the end; it’s just a transition to something else. I’ve had a great life and whatever is waiting for me on the other side will be fine.
Prepping, is not giving away the present for the future. If you’ve read my blog for long you know that I insist on being happy now and think that (speaking for me and only for me!) sacrificing the present for a distant future is a mistake. So when I am making a decision about actions I might take to prepare for Peak Oil, I only do things that make my present life better (or at least don’t make it worse) as well as help me prepare for a difficult future. For example, an electric bike or motorcycle is perfect for Peak Oil and also saves me money and makes me healthier today. Why wouldn’t I have one if I can afford it?! Another example is homesteading. I‘m aware that owning land and growing my own food is the only way to survive long-term. However, homesteading doesn’t make me happy. Only vandwelling makes me happy. So I’m going to keep living in my van
Prepping, for me, is not getting ready to go to war. While I do believe in the importance of self-defense, I’m not stocking up on a huge amount of guns and ammo to protect myself from the marauding hordes. If I have to kill a bunch of people in order to survive, I don’t want to survive; it’s just not worth it to me. I do have guns and ammo I carry for common sense self-protection. If someone directly attacks me, and it’s kill or be killed, I’m ready to do that. But if things get as bad as I think they are going to get, I’m not going to fight and kill for my food stores. If someone asks me for food I feel it is my moral obligation to give them some, not shoot them.
Now let me tell you in one sentence my intention in prepping and for my whole life:
My goal is to live as well as I can, for as long as I can, and do the least harm to the earth I possibly can while I am alive, and through my websites try to do some good.
First Step: Alternative Transportation
We all know too well that the price of gas has gone up drastically in the last few years and there are no signs of it coming down. So no matter what you think about peak oil, it seems like a very reasonable idea to have a second cheap method of transportation. I believe that prices are going to keep going up, but even if they don’t I won’t regret having a way to save on gas today. You and I have nothing to lose and everything to gain by having a second method of transportation!
Imagine if gas keeps going up to $5 a gallon, or $7 a gallon, or even $10 a gallon. That idea may be inconceivable to us right now but in truth it is not unrealistic at all. Look at the price of gas in Europe, there is no reason to believe the same thing can’t happen here. Many of us are getting 10 mpg (or less!) out of our vans or RVs and very few of us are getting more than 18. Even worse the majority of us are already on a very tight budget—what are we going to do if gas keeps going up? Here is what I see as our best alternative choices :
- Bicycle or Electric Bicycle
- Scooter or Motorcycle
- Living in an economy car and a tent
- Towing an economy car behind your van or RV
Today we are going to look at owning a bicycle. I think we should all at least consider the possibility of carrying a bike with us. Their advantages are amazing:
- You can laugh as you drive past the gas station and think to yourself, “So long suckers!”
- You can buy a used bike for next to nothing. I once bought a good quality REI brand bike at a garage sale for $5. I took it to a shop and got it tuned up for $40 and it worked perfectly! You can almost certainly afford to buy a good used bike.
- Riding a bike costs you nothing except a squirt of chain lube every so often! To keep it going for a long time all you need to do is buy some extra tires and tubes and store them under your bed somewhere. Storing gas for long is extremely difficult, and since bikes don’t use any gas, they’re ideal for survival!
- Bikes give you great exercise and are very good for your state of mind. There is something about the rhythmic and meditative nature of bike riding that calms and soothes me. You will be better off physically and mentally if you ride a bike.
- If you break down or your van is in the shop, a bike lets your ride for help or ride it while the van is being repaired. I love having that piece of mind!
I know most of us haven’t ridden a bike since we were kids and I remember the first time I got on one as an older adult; it felt very awkward and strange; and then I took it for a ride! Man, that was hard work and my butt hurt!! So I am not going to kid you, relearning to ride a bike is hard. At first, just riding around the block will be a challenge, but if you keep at it you will build up your stamina, and you can make it around two blocks!! Just kidding, but honestly, nearly all of us can get to the point where we are comfortable riding some pretty long distances.
But what if you have some reason that you can’t ride a bike or just can’t build up your stamina? For example, I’m not sure my bad knee is going to tolerate riding a bike for long. That’s where an electric bike comes in. They have motors that assist you so that you ride as far as you can by pedaling and then the motor takes over. That’s especially important when you come to hills or if you are carrying a load.
As you may know I bought a very inexpensive electric bike last year. I knew when I bought it that it was so cheap that it wasn’t the bike I would own long term, I just wanted to get an idea if it would work for me. If I didn’t like it I would get rid of it, and if I did like it I would upgrade and get a better bike. I have the money to do that but most of us don’t. If this is all you can afford it will still be a great bike for you. However, I would buy the next model up that has lithium batteries if i did it again. Amazon has the model I bought on sale for $450 now: Currie Technologies eZip Men’s Trailz Electric Bicycle And the model with a lithium battery is $609: Currie Technologies eZip Skyline Men’s Electric Bicycle
I’ve decided I like it! But I learned some important lessons that will determine what I buy to replace it.
- The most important thing I learned is I have plenty of solar power to charge an electric bike. So as long as my batteries last, I can ride a bike forever without any gas.
- One thing I learned was that I MUST have a full-suspension bike (that means it has shock absorbers at both the front tire and the back tire). I camp in remote areas and the bumpy roads were pounding me to death. In the future I won’t own anything but a full suspension bike!
- Something else I learned was that I had to have lithium batteries and not Sealed Lead Acid (SLA) batteries. The SLA batteries were so heavy they made riding unpleasant and the lithium will last much longer and give me a far greater range.
- Finally, I need a trailer to make a bicycle practical. Remember that I want a bike to replace my van and that means being able to carry enough freight like food and water.
One difficulty you may have is how to carry a bike. It’s easy to carry one on a bike rack but if you are a city vandweller that may ruin your stealth. I have a friend with a folding electric bike and she has no problem carrying it in her van. For boondockers, carrying a bike is no problem, you just put it inside the van or carry it on a rack or on the roof.
To me its a total no-brainer, owning a bicycle is a win-win-win for everybody:
- it makes me healthier,
- it frees me from the tyranny of gas stations,
- it saves me money,
- it saves the planet and it costs me next to nothing.
Most of all, one day, it may be essential for survival.