Posts Tagged ‘Fitness’

The bicycle has been around for about 200 years.  There is no denying its impact and importance the world over.  Just ask anyone who has ever been to Amsterdam or China.  Bikes are everywhere!  We are so car dependent in America that we often overlook the usefulness of our two wheeled friends.  I want to draw your attention back to these amazing machines.

It probably wasn’t long after the wheel was invented that someone got the idea to attach two together.  The earliest patented device was the Draisine.  It was invented in 1817 and patented a year later.  It was propelled by using your feet.  The English got a hold of it and called it a velocipede. Eventually someone decided to try make it mechanically propelled.  The details are a lot murkier.  Suffice it to say it was probably around 1839 and possibly (how is that for hedging?) invented by Kirkpatrick MacMillan, a Scotsman (my ancestors! Scots, not bicycle inventors…) And thats enough history… Now you feel smarter don’t you?  Regardless, they were invented a long time ago.  They were and are a major mode of transportation.

  • You should own a bicycle.
  • You should know how to ride a bicycle.
  • A bicycle should be part of your preps!

Why you ask?  A bicycle is a wonderful marvel of engineering.  I uses mechanical advantage (gears, wheels, chains, etc) to move you quickly and efficiently.  You can ride much faster than you can walk.  Secondly, (here is a little secret) it doesn’t use gasoline!  In a disaster, apocalypse, emergency, nuclear holocaust, etc… good luck getting gasoline.  You should make storing gasoline part of your preps.  I would recommened having four 5-gallon gas cans on hand with with an additive like Sta-Bil to help it store longer.  The stuff really doesn’t last long otherwise (it goes bad!  Who’d of thunk?)  Rotate your stores every 6-12 months.  The big but (nice pun) here is that you will eventually run out of gas.  That nice shiney Lexus is pretty worthless without gas.  That pimped out bug out vehicle isn’t going far on an empty tank.  How are you going to get around now?  On a bike!

Prepping aside, I love cycling.  I have been avidly involved for about 6 years, but have had a bike almost my entire life.  I ride for fun and exercise.  I even compete on occasion.  I have ridden 3 centuries (100 mile bike race).  This is another great perk of a bike.  You will get in shape!  Great shape!  I ride between 50 and 75 miles a week currently and this is minimal compared to real cycling enthusiasts.  Being in good shape is a huge part of prepping.  See this prior post.  This is another overlooked area that you should likely be spending more time on. Cycling is also great for the environment if you use it instead of driving your car.  Fitness, fun, prepping, environmental stewardship… I could go on, but what more do you want?!  Get a bike!

What kind of bike should you get?  At this point whatever is the most exciting and interesting to you.  I currently own three, all different for different tasks.  As usual you get what you pay for.  There are a lot of different types of bikes: road, mountain, hybrid, cyclocross, commuter, cruiser, etc.  You could roughly break them up into road and off-road aka mountain bikes.  This is a big generalization so don’t get too hung up here.  For simplicity I am going to focus on mountain and road bikes.

I think a mountain bike makes the most sense as a prepper bike as it is the most rugged and can be ridden over the most variable terrain.  It doesn’t excel on roads but it will work fine on them.  They have fat tires.  Airborne (www.airbornebicycles.com) makes some great mountain bikes.  I believe they are the most bike you can get for the money.  They are direct to consumer so some assembly is required (they are 90% built out of the box).  You can always take it to a bike shop and have them put it together for a fee.  My biggest concern here is fit.  I would always recommend going to a bike shop and getting professionally fitted.  This will yield the best results, but may not be the cheapest option.  Good mountain bike companies are Trek, Cannondale, GT, Niner, Giant, Specialized, Kona, and many more.  For the money this is a pretty good bike from amazon, shipped to your door for under $500 Diamondback Overdrive.  I bought my wife the female version and have been impressed with it.  Diamondback women’s hardtail.  I would be careful of anything less than $500 new.  There is a robust used market out there so that is a great resource if you need to get the price down.  If you can afford $600 I would get the Airborne Guardian – this thing is a ton of bike for the money.

Road bikes are meant to go fast!  On roads!  They have skinny tires.  The rougher the road or terrain the more these tend to suffer (discomfort, flats, breakage, etc.)  I have had many different brands of bikes over the years.  Lately, I think Giant is the best value.  This is likely because they are the biggest bike maker in the world and make almost all of their own stuff (frames, parts, tires, wheels, etc) which keeps cost down.  After extensive shopping and comparison I bought a Giant Defy for my latest road bike.  This is what I would recommend for a first road bike.  It is a slightly more relaxed geometry (you sit more upright) than a true racing road bike and is therefore more comfortable.  Sometimes they call these endurance or sportive bikes.  It is a Bicycling Magazine editor’s choice (has been for 6 years in a row) so you don’t just have to take my word for it.  Giant Defy 3 – entry level, aluminum frame, great value.  You can drop down a level (Defy 5) and save a couple hundred dollars but I would try not to.  The Giant TCR is their pure road/racing bike for those who are only concerned about going fast, like Ricky Bobby.  If Ricky Bobby had road a bike it would be a TCR .

Giant has a kind of hybrid bike called the AnyRoad.  It has a sort of road frame with larger tires.  This would be better for rough roads, dirt, etc.  Most bike makers have many different models to various applications.  I am just using Giant as an example; and I think they are good bikes for a good price.  Trek, Cannondale, Specialized are also great and make all the same kinds of bikes.  Fuji is another lesser known brand that is a high value.

Quick aside… Most higher end bikes don’t come with pedals as.  Most cyclists have special pedals (clipless) that lock into special shoes.  This way your foot and shoe are attached to the pedal making it much more efficient.  You don’t have to do this but will likely want to if you get more into the sport.  You can get regular “platform” pedals that you can use with any shoes.

Accessories

  • Pedals – see above.  I have Look Keo Easy clipless pedals on my roadbikes, Shimano combo clip/platform on my mountain bike.  I don’t usually clip in on my mountain bike.
  • Shoes – Shimano shoes – if you buy clipless pedals you need special shoes for them
  • Helmet – don’t even think about riding a bike without a helmet, doctor’s orders!
    • Giro Revel – this is my mountain bike helmet, great value
    • Giro Savant – this is what I would buy if I needed a new road bike helmet
  • Fenders – keep rain and mud off you in bad weather
  • Rack – Ibera PakRack – attach this and now you can haul things!  This would be very useful, practically essential for a prepper bike
  • Saddle bags – Panniers – once you have the above rack you can now add bags.  This really increases the versatility of your bike.  Groceries on the way home, school books?  No problem!  (I dont’ own the rack or bags, so I can’t vouch for their quality, just examples)
  • Water bottles and cages
  • Cycling shorts – padded shorts with a chamois (internal crotch pad thing, takes a bit of getting used to), these are pretty essential.  I like bibs over shorts. Too many to link.
  • Pump
  • Spare tubes and tires (remember 1 is none and 2 is one) – gotta have spares!
  • Saddle/seat bag – BV Seat Bag – attached this behind/under your seat and put the below in it for emergency breakdowns
  • Lights – you want to see what is in front of you and you want to be see from all sides.  I personally try not to ride at night, at all, ever
    • Headlight – Cateye Nano 
    • Tail light – Topeak Mega Red – it blinks, it flashes, its red, its bright, makes all sorts of visual racket, exactly what you want!

Recommendations

  • Get a bike, any bike!
    • Any bike is exponentially better than no bike.  Some variants and builds might be better for prepper applications than others.
  • Road Bike
    • Giant Defy
    • Giant TCR – Ricky Bobby approved
  • Mountain Bike
    • Airborne Guardian
    • Diamondback Overdrive
  • Check your local classifieds for used bikes
  • Get measured and fitted for a bike
  • Wear a helmet
  • Try clipless pedals to take your cycling to the next level
  • Carry a seat bag with a minor repair kit, and a hand pump
  • Add a rack and panniers to increase you ability to carry gear
  • Carry some ID and an emergency contact in case you are hurt
  • Carry your cell phone (charged)
  • Let someone know where you are going
  • Be visible – the more the better!
  • Get out there, spin those pedals, get in shape, have fun, be prepared!

Here are a couple of my sturdy steeds!

IMG_20150605_143847_787 IMG_20150725_094923_023

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What would you guess are the two most important things you could do to prepare for anything?  Store food?  Store water?  Store guns and ammo?  Buy an old ballistic missile silo and convert it into a sweet bug out bunker?  All these things are useful but I would suggest something else entirely.

The two most important preps are…

1. Knowledge

2. Fitness

Knowledge

Let’s start with knowledge.  Knowledge weighs nothing.  You can take it anywhere.  It is always with you.  The more knowledge and skills you have the better prepared you will be to handle any obstacle.  Knowledge truly is power.  An extension of knowledge is skill.  This is the physical application of knowledge.  This often requires some sort of physical mastery.  I am a surgeon.  Initially I read all about surgery in books.  Then I watched surgery.  Then I assisted in surgery.  Finally I was able to perform the surgeries after years of practice.  I have spent well over ten thousand hours studying and practicing surgery.  I have both knowledge and skill.  Start by acquiring the knowledge.  BUT and this is a big BUT (no pun intended) you need to PRACTICE.  Amateurs practice until they get things right.  Professionals practice until they can’t get it wrong.  If you read a book about rubbing sticks together to make fire don’t assume you can now do it.  Go try it!

How do you acquire the knowledge you need?  Well, this is a great start.  READ!  Find people that know more than you and learn from them.  I’ve added a books link at the top of the main page.  Look over some of those and start there.  Watch you tube videos.  Listen to a podcast on the way to work.  Two great references that I have relied heavily on are listed in the links section.  There is a youtube video channel by a guy named Nutnfancy.  He has thousands of videos.  Most of them are gear reviews about knives, guns, flashlights, tools and so on.  I rely heavily on his videos to make informed purchases.  A lot of my gear comes from his recommendations.  The survival podcast is a daily radio show with a wealth of knowledge.  Download the episodes and listen to them on the way to work.  I will continue to highlight sources of great information throughout this blog.  The internet is a great resource for prepping and survival.  Get learning!

Fitness

Fitness?  Really?  Yes!  The better health you are in, the better you will be able to survive life’s challenges.  Just think about running from a hungry bear or angry mob.  If you are too out of shape to run a mile (or 100 yds?) things might end badly, quickly.  If the economy turns south and you need to chop wood daily for hours on end to heat your home, could you do it?  Most of use could drop a few pounds and this alone would dramatically improve our health.  Build strength as well as endurance.  Perform functional movements with weight that replicate actual things we do in life.  Lift and carry heavy objects.  Run, jump, bike.  I have been doing crossfit lately and it is just one example of a system that fits these kind of goals.  Do something active daily!

Health is huge.  Make it a goal to get healthier.  Eat better.  Eat more fruits and vegetables.  Are there chronic medicines you could get off of if you lost weight and ate better?  What if these medicines were not available or very expensive due to an economic depression or collapse?  What would you do?  This is another consideration of preparation and food storage.  Don’t forget to stock up on some extra meds.  More on this another time.

Obviously, there is no one size fits all approach to fitness.  Everyone has different circumstances.  Enlist the help of your physician.  I would say that there is at least something all of us could do to improve our health and make our lives better for it.

Let me make one quick plug about working out.  You need to perform some sort of weight training.  Building muscle is largely overlooked, especially by women.  This is a huge mistake.  Muscle burns calories passively throught the day.  The more muscle you have the more calories you burn.  You effectively increase your metabolic rate by increasing your muscle mass.  Now let me stop you right there.  I can already hear the women saying, “But I don’t want to bulk up!”  (it is like nails on a chalk board to me)  Stop it!  This is just utter non-sense.  Balderdash, garbage, insanity.  YOU WILL NEVER BULK UP!  I shouldn’t say never but for this purpose I am going to.  You would have to lift so much weight (huge weights), for hours a day, for a very long time to “bulk up”.  Just ask any skinny guy that has ever tried.  Start with body weight exercises (your own body is the weight!) like push ups, pull ups, etc.  Mark Lauren has a great book and app called “You are your own gym“.  It costs less than $9 and is delivered immediately to your tablet or phone via Kindle.

Wrap up

Make it a goal today to acquire more knowledge and get in better shape.  Your life will be that much better for it.  Reading this counts for the knowledge.  Now go do 15 push-ups, doctors orders!