Sunday, January 8, 2012

One Day You Too Could be a Badassed Biker

Transportation after the Apocalypse, the topic comes up quite often around here. I assume that there will be a point sometime after the collapse of society where you might want to get out of your basement bunker and go out and get some sun while seeing the remnants of the world. Maybe you'll be looking for some food that doesn't come from a can and is covered in brown 'gravy' or a working flux capacitor or some new nudie mags. You know, the necessities of life.

As you emerge and decide to wander the ruined face of the planet a mode of reliable transportation other than your own feet could be highly desirable. After months in the dark and dank dungeonesque confines, you might not be an efficient ambler. And even if you are, your foraging will be limited by how much you can carry. There is a reason why humans worked so hard to tame horses. And then have since gone onto building greater and more powerful modes of transport.

I've discussed the topic before in a previous post. I don't recall what option I backed at the time.

Hundreds of Millions, of not Billions of people all around the world use bicycles for their routine transportation needs. The Bicycle has been popular for more than a hundred years. Owning and learning to ride a bicycle is a rite of passage for many American children, especially those who live in suburban or rural areas. As a kid it seemed to take an hour to walk even a mile. I attribute this to the fact that children have short legs and a poor sense of time. A bike gives a child some freedom as their horizons expand.

Learning was intimidating as a child. My first bike was black with yellow highlights and came with training wheels. I would wish that the rest of life had training wheels, if I knew what the wish meant. Sounds absurd right?

It is possible to install a small engine to transform them into Motorcycles. This makes the bicycle fantastically adaptable.

I know how to ride a bike. I picked up the skill when I was six, though I'm not too practiced these days. I have a car for long distance travel and prefer my to have my feet on the ground for exercise purposes. I loved my bike as a kid, and had at least one stolen, mostly due to my own lack of care – a hard lesson learned for a 9 year old. My bike sits in storage waiting the final days, where it will remain until it is needed.

The pros: A bicycle is quiet and has unlimited energy. They're light enough to carry up stairs. Mechanically they're really simple and easy to maintain and repair. No additional and exotic fuel is necessary to operate them, just human food. Riding a bike can be fantastic exercise, good for the legs and heart.

Cons: they are relatively slow when compared to either motorcycles or horses. Lots of physical labor, and thus burned calories – calories you may need to survive. The helmets look stupid, even for Wasteland-Chic, unless you're the dorky side-kick and comic relief. There are lighter load limits for baggage, and I'm a hoarder.

In one of the recent issues of Popular Mechanics, there was an article about various motorcycles. They were off-road and Highway hybrids. Bikes built to handle both sets of terrain reasonably well. The article sparked a desire in my heart that my brain quickly quashed, and that is to buy one of these bikes and tour the country.

I would like to learn how to ride a motorcycle. Sort of. Maybe. Really, all the coolest post-apocalyptic survivors wear spiked leather, a cod piece and power around on motorcycles. They have canned dog food for lunch and rape for dinner – because Fuck Sky Cake! I want to be a cool PA survivor, fit in and all that.

I suspect, and mind I've not put the theory to practice, but all the credits I took as a kid in riding a bicycle should be easily transferred to the new school. There are the balance and physics issues that have been hardwired into my brain since childhood – sure there are greater speeds and weights involved – I think of it as an advanced course.

A scary advanced course.

What I worry about is the fact that I have a short attention span, and a tendency to let my mind drift off. Add this to my innate clumsiness and Zipping along on a two-wheeled nightmare of death. I have a feeling that there will be explosions in my future. Motorcycles can be extremely fast. This isn't a good factor to throw into the ring. This fear remains in my mind even as I sit in my living room and type this.

Here's what I am trying to find out: Where do I go to take lessons in motorcycling? And how much do those classes cost? There are driving schools, and piloting schools. Schools for handgun use. Sure there must be some community college somewhere that teaches hacks like me about wrestling a hog.

Pros: Fast. Small. Workhorse. Excellent fuel economy(some of the smaller bikes get 90mpg – the larger ones range around 45 to 60). Highly Mobile over a variety of terrain where an automobile could never pass. Intimidation/cool/rogue factor – you just look good straddling a bike. Skills from riding a bicycle apply.

Cons: Difficult to repair/maintain. Heavy and difficult to move when the engine isn't working. Loud. Limited baggage and few passengers. More difficult than a bicycle to operate.

You know what I like about cars? That metal cage to protect me. I like that they keep the elements off, they're like a rolling shelter. They can even carry more of my possessions. But I will let my car go for a bike of some sort.