That first successful sendoff is a bittersweet moment for both parent and child. For the child, that pulse of confidence and stability is a moment of self-worth that lasts a lifetime. For the parent, it is often the first sign that as parents we need to let them go and learn on their own. And when they take a fall on occasion, we have an opportunity to help them move past the bumps and scrapes and encourage them to get back on again.
As a kid, it was my freedom and my brother and I traveled the streets with the neighborhood kids attempting to make our bikes fly off ramps and hillsides. And, as we used and abused these machines almost daily, we learned at a very basic level the ways of bike mechanics, maintenance and repair. Through high school and college, it was my preferred choice for travel. But for different reasons. The toy turned into a versatile tool. I noticed how we could often travel through city traffic with ease and shed the frustrations of sitting at a light through two or three rotations. I could park anywhere or shoulder it and hike through a building or disappear off into the hillsides with covert spy-like efficiency.
One morning not too long ago I had gotten up and made some coffee and was sipping on it inside and I started looking around for my son. Eventually I saw him in the driveway, dressed and ready for the day already and he sat cross-legged working the pedals on his bike, tipped upside down so it rested on the seat and handlebars. I have to admit it took me back. It took me back to that time of wonder and fascination with this simple machine. And it made me realize that the spirit is still there.
I couldn’t help but wonder where is the Next Generation of young bikers is going to take this tool? – Well, bike options from my generation were limited but are becoming more and more versatile. The ability to trek long distances with several pounds of gear at much greater speeds than on foot still makes the pedal bike an excellent option for bug-out and get-home scenarios for kids – and adults. Who knows – maybe that flying bicycle won’t be too far-fetched over the next few decades…
Believe it or not, bikes have been a tactical tool for decades. Even during WWII, paratroopers used them with their gear as a way to get to their drop point destinations quickly with several pounds of added weight. These days, bikes are used in police activity for rapid deploy crowd control and even in search and rescue efforts.
At any age, the bike shouldn't be discounted as a bug out vehicle. One of the first things in mind as an adult who routinely uses a commuter car for work, is the idea of a folding bike in the trunk that would allow me to get home in almost any large scale disaster - much faster than on foot and with the ability to carry several pounds with ease. There are several out there, but the "Paratrooper" at http://militarybikes.com/the-paratrooper/ piqued my interest. If it's good enough for the military it's good enough for my dirt road travels back to the homestead.
Another facet of the bike is the potential to haul kids as a quick way to get somewhere (or away from somewhere). Walking away from a dangerous situation is made more difficult if you have to eliminate the ability to pack gear when you have armloads of kids. This is where the Xtracycle comes in. This handy hack allows you to have an extended base out the back tire frame for added equipment, seating, etc. It's something that can be used in a non-crisis situation like large summer events, or camp trails. They have several options, but for kids they offer a co-pilot passenger system here: https://www.xtracycle.com/junior-co-pilot-passenger-system/
For more on-bike preps, check out these handy hacks:
1. Removable bags, like the ones at gotravelsport.com: https://gotravelsport.com/rockbros-mtb-road-bicycle-bike-bags-touch-screen-cycling-top-front-tube-frame-saddle-bags-for-5-86-0-cell-phone-cases/
2. Nuun effervescent tablets for added carbs, minerals, vitamins and electrolytes: https://nuunlife.com/
3. Lightweight food suppliments from Gu energy here: https://guenergy.com/
4. Bike holsters for firearms (now discontinued but you can see an example here): http://www.alaska.net/~away2/prod02.html
5. You can always do your best travel with thorn proof inner tubes and Slime, but here's a decent glueless puncture repair kit and bike pump for cheap: https://www.amazon.com/Glueless-Puncture-Schrader-Changing-Portable/dp/B010JFWDHS/ref=sr_1_5?s=outdoor-recreation&ie=UTF8&qid=1481624074&sr=1-5&keywords=Bike+Pump&tag=offersamzn-20&ascsubtag=bst-13-1608610737860707837
6. You should always keep a few basic tools on hand, but multi tools help reduce the clutter in your bike bags. Check out the best from this year right here: https://products.bestreviews.com/best-bike-multi-tools
Pannier racks and saddle bags are the best way to go for carrying weight without burdening your back. They can seem spendy, but remember you get what you pay for. Keep your stuff dry and close (and off your shoulders) here: (under seat - https://www.bikeradar.com/us/road/gear/article/best-saddle-bags-51361/ ) (above rear wheel - https://www.outdoorgearlab.com/topics/biking/best-bike-panniers )
8. And what would we do without power? Create our own. Check out ways you can use your bike (whether traveling or stationary) to generate power anywhere. Add a Dynamo. https://www.tigrasport.com/power-solution/136-bikecharge-dynamo-4895161700854.html
Wherever you may go with your bug-out bike, keep in mind that you are only limited by your imagination when it comes to using a bike as a tool for teaching self sufficiency to your children.
By teaching them to ride safely, prepared, and with a healthy dose of self-sufficiency, you are allowing them to take control of their own destiny a little at a time. But more importantly, you are teaching them to follow trails that will lead them to a more self-sufficient and independent life. From this one simple two-wheeled device, you can expose kids to basic first aid, day and nighttime travel techniques, basic mechanical forces, the importance of hydration and purification and navigation and emergency shelter and every day carry and on and on! I encourage you to take this simple device to the next level with your kids and instead of shuttling them on their way, take a moment to sit with them in the gravel or on the lawn and really get into it with them. Make a few modifications just for fun. And while you’re at it, maybe you’ll wind up finding the time to dust off your old bike and breathe a little life into that little piece of freedom in your own garage.