Getting Home Pt. 2  – Mileage may vary

Hey everybody I hope you’re having a great day. This is going to obviously be the follow-up to the first article that I wrote last week. Here’s a link for that article

Getting home: Pt. 1 – Planning, trial, reality and fitness.

 

So as I left off in the last article, I was discussing the bike as a method of travel. Last week I did my first ride, and a couple additional rides. They 14-16 mile rides. Most of this will be covering my first ride. It went pretty well and I had some unexpected challenges. I figured there would be situations where I thought I had a clever route and things didn’t really pan out the way I expected I just didn’t know in what way these “surprises” would present themselves. I believe that one of the most important things anyone can do prior to being swept up in any emergency, disaster or Insert apocalyptic scenario here, is to be mentally and psychologically prepared to persevere and overcome challenges. Being able to think, problem solve and improvise on the fly will serve you well in most every situation from finding a good deal and negotiating to (god forbid) an actual survival scenario.

 

 

So the first couple miles went pretty smooth my first obstacle came in the form of a 8-foot Security Fence with barbed wire top but fortunately somebody forgot to put a lock on the gate and I was able to get through that though I suspect at some point somebody’s going to see me going through this gate and it’s going to get locked which we all know it’s not a real big issue. My next challenge came in the form of (wait for it….) another fence. When planning my route I was using Google Maps satellite images, yeah… here’s the issue with that. Some of the images I based my route on where out a date and did not account for new construction, nor did it account for people putting up very large galvanized chain link security fences. The frustrating part of this is it I could actually see the ATV trail that I saw on satellite images, and planned on using, about a hundred yards on the other side of the fence. Grrrr.

 

What is a biker to do, well I got through the brush and got on the railroad tracks and thought I might ride down the railroad tracks a little bit boy was that a mistake I’m pretty sure I have a couple of pieces of dental work that need to be fixed now after that bright idea. However it wasn’t too bad I got on the side of the railroad easement and things went pretty smoothly. Thankfully after a few hundred yards I was able to transition from riding next to the railroad track into grass on the side of the feeder of the major highway I was traveling next to. Thankful to be off of rough Rocky Terrain I found myself trying to ride in knee deep grass which is kind of like trying to ride in sand. It’s still preferable overriding over rough Rock though. I knew at this point that I had about a mile to ride in this grassy area so I went down to my smallest gear’s and got after it.

 

I want you to imagine riding or at least trying to in waist deep, thick grass, as you pedal it grabs the toe of your shoes and tries to pull your foot off the pedal or gut gets tangled on your pedal all together. Whatever you do, Don’t. Stop. Pedaling… Oh one quick PSA check yourself for ticks afterwards. No BS I’m totally serious. Anyway, enough on super ridiculous deep grass.

 

My next challenge came in the form of a creek, with a bit of a twist. It has been pretty dry lately here in Texas and I assumed that crossing a low capacity creek bed wouldn’t be that big of a challenge… except for the fact that it was a good 20 feet or more from bank to bank. Oh and once I got under the over pass and down to the water to look for a place to cross I realized that I was uninvited stranger to a homeless camp. Well hell, going back is not really an option, so one way or the other we are going across this creek. I looked at the group of people staring at me I smiled and said don’t worry, I don’t know you are here, I will cross the creek and be out of here in a few minutes. I made sure to dismount my bike with my strong side facing the group and that my holstered Glock was visible and clearly ready for immediate use. Basically, conveying the message “I’m not a threat, just a hard target”.

 

Listen I’m not a wuss but I am not getting my clothes and shoes wet for no damn good reason. So if it can be avoided I will try to avoid it. Having said that, I decided to build a bridge… of sorts. One thing in abundance under the bridge was large chunks of broken concrete. I started at an area where I could see turbulence in the water indicating rocks below the surface. I started grabbing and tossing large chunks of concrete and tossing them until they formed a foot path that I could walk / hop across. Eventually that was possible, so I retuned back to my bike and pack. Donned my pack, picked my bike up on my shoulder, proceeded across with only getting my toes wet on one foot. On the other side a steep ascent through more deep grass. Eventually getting to flat ground that may have been mowed some time earlier this year I was able to re-saddle and ride a bit.

 

As I’m moving through the deep grass after fording the creek I hear a helicopter, honestly I didn’t think anything of it at first. Thinking it was a news helicopter covering an accident or traffic or something I just ignored it and focused on trying to pedal through deep grass. Not until I realized the sound of the helicopter getting pretty loud did I think to look up. When I looked up, I was staring at the unit number and insignia printed on the belly a Texas State Police chopper. I stopped and stared as they hovered and did a couple small circles obviously pointing their camera at me. I assume they dismissed me as anything interesting to what they were doing cause they eventually returned to hovering over the bridge I just went under to cross the creek. I decided to put distance between me and the bridge and police helicopter.

About a mile away I was riding down the side of the highway’s feeder road. I notice something out of the corner of my eye and good thing I did. A power line was sagging across my path. I rerouted around it at one point just dismounting and walking my bike around the sagging wire. Thinking it was strange I grabbed a bottle of water took a swig and remounted. Fairly smooth to this point, no big deal, I started riding towards a staging area for construction materials. I didn’t realize that it was another homeless camp. I quietly but quickly made my way through, and eventually got on the shoulder of a paved street and I was able to make some distance at a decent pace for the first time in the whole trip. From then on the next 10 miles or so are pretty un eventful, it’s a hell of a lot more comfortable riding on pavement. Riding on sidewalks was a possibility for a little while but only lasted about a mile.

Key do covering distance, in my opinion, is to find a gear / speed / pace that you find comfortable let your mind contemplate something other than the burning feeling in your legs. Though I found things getting easier by day 3 and my pace was increasing slightly. I do find it a feasible and legit way to get myself home. I figure I would need 3-5 hours to get home using this method of travel. I found it rather enjoyable to see things at a street view level that I see every day from my car. This did highlight the need for physical fitness as a part of any preparedness plan, all in all it is not a bad way to get exercise. Below is a quick gear list and a couple of photos.

 

 

 

My distance travel bike mods:

  • Stem mount phone mount for using GPS
  • Bar extensions, not for their intended use, I used these as a handle bar mounted gear rack to support my EDC pack. I had to tighten the hell out of the screws
  • Bungee cords, these things are so freaking handy on a distance / MTB bike

 

Overnight gear / just in case:

  • 2 person ultra light nylon hammock.
  • Emergency ponchos (no bs I got caught in a bad storm and got me, my gear and bike completely soaked)
  • Tuna pouches
  • Protein shake powder

 

Recommendations:

  • Do your research, start with google, but take a drive and put your eyes on the terrain. Google maps does not tell all.
  • Make sure you can pack plenty of water, I have two bottle holders on my bike, mounted inside the frame. I also keep a couple bottles in my rear pack.
  • Avoid mud like the plague… M.F.! Nothing annoyed me more, I accidentally rode into and through mud. This made it hard to pedal and made my wheels and brakes drag killing my efficiency and adding several additional pounds to my bike.
  • Learn your hand signals
  • Get a good rack system for your car. The first bike mount option didn’t work with my car.

Post mud shot 😡

 

What did I lack (sure would be nice to have     ? ):

  • helmet, day two I got a helmet, other than the increased amount of sweat trickling down my forehead I didn’t mind wearing it. Thought I found it to be quite a relief to remove it at the end of my ride.
  • some sort of rear view mirror. Not a must but it would be nice to not have to look back over the shoulder cause you drift a bit even if you try not to.
  • contour camera and helmet mount I would have loved to give you guys a time lapse POV clip. But also because it would be nice to have just in case something bad happened.

 

 

Well that’s it for part 2 of getting home. I hope y’all enjoyed it. If you have questions or suggestions be sure to put (Q for TX Joe) in the subject line. Or join us on our discord server where we have a fitness channel, as well as homesteading and gear channels. You can ask us questions in real time, and participate in our ongoing discussions.

Thanks and till next time, y’all stay safe.

-TX Joe

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